Thursday, 13 August 2015
(108): The Legacy of Shaykh, Dr Aminuddeen Abubakar (II)
Praying in accordance with the Sunnah
When Shaykh Nasiruddeen Albani wrote one of his scholarly classics, Sifatu Salaatinnabiy, minattakbiri, ilattaslimi, ka’annaka tarahaa, (The Prayer of the Prophet From the Beginning to the End as Though You Saw It), Shaykh Aminuddeen was the first Islamic scholar to bring it to Nigeria. He sent a copy to a number of scholars within the country. But he didn’t stop there, he included it among the books he taught his students, and he did it practically.
Those who visit Daawah Group at the time would have witnessed how he dedicated his energy during each prayer, ensuring that every aspect of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) command; Sallu kamaa ra’aitumuniy usalli (pray as you have seen me praying), are adhered to. He would walk from the beginning of the row to the end, sometimes using his hands to ensure that people were standing shoulder to shoulder, feet by feet, and admonish everyone to pray with full concentration. During one of his visits for Hajj (pilgrimage), it was in the 1990s, he performed the pilgrimage with some of the leading students of Shaykh Albani.
On his return to Nigeria, he delivered a Friday Khutbah on how he saw the students of Shaykh Albani were praying, practicing the Sunnah (tradition of Prophet Muhammad, pbuh), step by step as Shaykh Albani taught them. For months, after that Khutbah, he intensified his effort on daily basis, taking as much time as he could, during each prayer, until everyone on the row stands in a proper manner. He sometimes use humour to ensure that the message gets across. “When you stand for prayer, your legs must be straight like figure eleven, if your feet resembles figure seven, then you are not standing correctly”, he would normally say, an example that attracts a smile from the congregation.
It reached a point in the 1980s, when people would travel from Wudil and other Local Governments in Kano in order to pray the Fajr prayer at Daawah mosque, and participate in learning Almaathurat, a book of remembrance of Allah (SWT). During the rest of the daily prayers, the mosque was so full, that on a number of occasions, a traffic warden from the Nigeria police, would have to direct the traffic due to the number of people attending regular prayers. This was how lively the centre was.
An exceptional legacy of Shaykh Aminuddeen was his contribution to the education of women. Although his emphasis was on religious education, he encouraged people to enrol their daughters and wives in the conventional Western schools. The women section which runs for five days from Saturday to Wednesday in the evenings, between Asr and Maghrib was a revolutionary contribution.
Those familiar with Hausa society knew how women were left in a perpetual state of ignorance. With the exception of few, it was common to find an Islamic scholar whose wife and even daughters were as ignorant as the ordinary women in the society. Educating women, despite clear example in the Islamic tradition of brave and highly knowledgeable women such as Khadija bint Khuwailid, Aisha bint Abibakr, Hafsa bint Umar, Fatimah bint Muhammad (pbuh) may Allah be pleased with them, Nusayba bint Ka’ab Al-Ansariyya, Khawla bint Al’Azwar, Rabi’a Al Adawiyya, Zainab bint Ali, Umm Habiba, Rubiyya bint Mu’awwidth, , and in more recent history Asma bint Fodio and her grandmother Ruqayya, the mother of Shyakh Uthman ibn Fodio, yet the education of women in Hausa society took back stage. For more on women scholars in the history of Islam, refer to the book AlMuhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam by Muhammad Akram Nadwi.
Therefore by encouraging women education, and establishing the first organised school for women in Kano, Shaykh Aminuddeen was taking a huge risk. But it was one worth taking, as no serious society could afford to exclude the primary source of socialisation in a state of ignorance. Although, people signified a lot of interest in educating their wives and daughters, Shaykh Aminuddeen introduced official buses for women only, transporting students from different parts of Kano to the school. One of them carries students from the inner city, another one covering eastern part of Kano such as ‘Yankaba, Dakata and Sauna, while another one covers different areas in Nassarawa such as Bompai, Gawuna, Brigade, etc.
As an example of the level of resistance to women pursuing religious Islamic education at the time, let me highlight one example. Around 1985, my father enrolled my mother (May Allah bless both of them and increase them in health and purposeful life) in the women school. To benefit from the Qur’anic school, my father registered me in the children section in the evening, making me partake in both the evening and night classes. On numerous occasions when my father was at work, we join the bus to go to the school. On our way, sometimes children would be throwing stones at the bus, expressing anger at women wearing hijab or furthering Islamic education. I was a small kid, and so will only watch as the driver patiently drives his way out. The irony was that these children were either playing football or just wasting away time on the streets, while we were on our way to school.
Even some Islamic scholars, were vehemently against women furthering their education, and Shaykh Aminuddeen had to bear the pressure of their criticism. Some members of the society troop to the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero to express their displeasure. To the credit of late emir, a prominent member of the Kano Emirate Council, Alhaji Babba dan agundi became a regular member of Daawah Group. He visits the centre and listen to the studies between Maghrib and Ishaa. He sometimes even visit our classes at the night school for children.
The women school was highly organised. He introduced a uniform, blue in colour, consisting of hijab, long gown and trouser for all students, making them look equal. The classes were organised according to the level of proficiency in Arabic and other aspects of Islamic education. Books from Al-Arabiyyatul Jadida fiy Nijeria, also known as Bari da Biba, Khulasatu Nurul Yakin, Arba’una hadith (40 collection of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, pbuh) by Imam Annawi and Qur’an Juz amma, Tabaraka, upward, were taught at the school. Other subjects taught include Imla’, Insha’ and Nasheeda among others.
Teachers of the school at the time include Shaykh Aminuddeen himself, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Bomba, Shaykh Yahya Tanko, Shaykh Nouh Musa Nouh, Shaykh Muhammad Sanusi Abubakr, Shaykh Musa Ibrahim Abdurrahman, Shaykh Murtadha Umar, Shaykh Tahir Suriy, Shaykh Mustapha Miga, Shaykh Muhammad Ghali Musa, Shaykh Baita Muhammad, Dr Qasim, Shaykh Idris Donga and my father. Some of these scholars were also teaching in the male adult classes as well as the children section.
In the early 1990s, he established Daawah Comprehensive Secondary School for women and girls. Upon completion, the school offers Senior Arabic and Islamic Studies Certificate which enables students to pursue higher education in tertiary institutions. An advantage offered by the school was opening the window for the women who attended the evening classes, to join the secondary school, paving the way for them to pursue higher level of education without limit. Products of this school have successfully completed degrees in Nigerian universities and abroad.
Some of the women who attended some of the schools established by Dr Aminuddeen have excelled in various fields in both Islamic and Western education, with some of them holding professorial chairs in some universities in Nigeria.
Today, the education of women has become a norm rather than an aberration in northern Nigeria, despite the pocket of resistance that remains from some groups.
To be continued insha Allah.