+ ‘Boko Haram not Islamic group’
ON Sunday, July 19, 2015, ENCOMIUM Weekly visited the Chief Missioner, Ahmadiyyah Muslim Jamaat of Nigeria, Ijaiye-Ojokoro, Lagos and university don, Dr. Saheed Olurotimi Timehin in his Ijegun, Ikotun, Lagos residence, where he spoke on what activities Muslims should be involved in after Ramadan fasting, the role of Muslims in the society, Boko Haram insurgency and more…
Ramadan has come and gone, we give thanks to Almighty Allah on that. What next after the fasting?
Ramadan is nothing but a one-month spiritual workshop to equip Muslims with basic moral and spiritual tools for their survival throughout the year. So, it’s like if you work in an establishment, you have to sharpen your knowledge and hone your skills on yearly basis with special training and workshops. So, Ramadan fasting is just like that kind of a programme designed by Allah to rejuvenate us spiritually so that whatever spiritual lessons we learn during Ramadan will now be carried forth into the following months. So, after Ramadan, the average Muslim is expected to bring forward everything he or she has learnt during Ramadan. For example, we have been able to learn self restraint, time consciousness, patience, forbearance and perseverance. Equally, we also develop ourselves in the area of charity. We have discovered that people tend to be more charitable during the holy month.
We have also been able to listen to admonitions in a more relaxed mood. Ordinarily, outside Ramadan, people hardly want to listen to lectures, they are always in a hurry, but we discovered that such people wait and listen attentively because they are not going home to eat. So, all these things we have done during the fasting period are not expected to be limited to the period alone. For instance, when you’re provoked during the Ramadan, you let the person know that he or she is lucky because you’re fasting, we should also do the same even after Ramadan. Anything that’s forbidden for us as Muslims during Ramadan is also forbidden after Ramadan. So, also whatever is lawful for us during Ramadan is also lawful after the 29 or 30-day spiritual exercise. So, we should try and exhibit those qualities even at the end of the month. Apart from all these we have mentioned, so many Muslim organizations and individuals sponsor programmes on radio and television stations, and these programmes actually recharge people spiritually, intellectually and morally. They should know that these programmes are not supposed to be limited to Ramadan. As they usually have special budget for such programmes during Ramadan, they should also take them to the other months even if they’re not going to be doing such on a daily basis as they do during the fasting period.
If people have access to spiritual admonition after Ramadan as they are opportuned during Ramadan, it will have great impact on the spiritual and moral well being of a society. And in the area of charity, it’s like people have special budget for that as well. We should know that as we have taken care of some people during Ramadan, we should enlarge the scope after Ramadan. It’s not a matter of just giving them what to eat now, we also need to build them, give them the wherewithal to survive beyond that period. Most people also tend to pay their Zakat during Ramadan. It’s just that people have to pay it during the holy month. Zakat is different from Sodaqat (alms), it’s not the kind of money you give people N1,000 today, give them N500 tomorrow. Zakat is meant to be an empowerment thing. It’s supposed to create jobs for people, put food on their tables. So, the Zakat some of us ventured into during Ramadan should be taken forward as well. Some people thought the measure of Zakat from their money is huge, that’s not true. It’s not huge. During Umar II, that’s Umar Ibn Abdulazeez, Zakat was taken to some towns and villages under the Islamic empire because they had empowered the people after taking the Zakat to them, it got to a stage where there were no people to collect the Zakat again because they’d all been empowered. That’s the reason for the institution of Zakat in Islam. When people are empowered, within two or three years, such people should also be able to pay Zakat to empower other people.
How can Zakat be paid?
A lot of people don’t have knowledge of that. They think it’s something very big. And there are those that have knowledge but their knowledge of Zakat is limited to the reckoning of gold, that’s when the price of gold was the minimum amount of Zakat that can be paid which made it big then. But some Islamic jurists had also opted for silver as the basis of reckoning, and when that’s used, it’s far cheaper which in turn allows many people to take part in Zakat. Apart from that, we should also liberalise Zakat because during the time of Prophet Muhammed (SAW), we didn’t have this kind of wage system. We can also draw an inference on food and farm produce by paying what is due on them on the day of harvest. The day of harvest for someone in a paid job is the day you collect your salary. So, one can on his own decide to pay certain amount as Zakat particularly when your salary is big enough to make the requirement of Zakat.
But can a debtor also participate in the payment of Zakat?
If you’re a debtor, you can only pay after you have settled your debt. But if you’re servicing your debt, you can only set aside certain amount as Zakat after having deducted the amount you’re paying to service your debt and you have a reasonable amount left. We’re not talking of the people earning N10,000 or N15,000 in a month, we’re talking of those earning about N500,000 and above, yet they do not pay Zakat because they believe the money would have stayed untouched for a whole year. That’s practically impossible unless one is a very big businessman who has big capital somewhere. In the case of a farmer, after harvest and you remove all your expenses and contingency, what you have left can still meet the requirement of silver or gold as a measure of Zakat. So, you need to pay Zakat out of it. Whatever you spend in the cause of Allah, He appreciates it and He is the one to reward you abundantly. You don’t even need any imam or alfa to sanction that for you. This is something you’re doing to engage in a transaction with Allah. Allah has invited you to invest in His cause and He will be the one to reward you. That’s exactly what one of our fathers, Professor Gbadamosi called divine stock exchange. It’s a stock exchange that can never collapse because it’s managed by Allah Himself.
What’s the exact percentage of what one can pay as Zakat over his or her money or harvest?
It’s just one and a half per cent which is one forty of whatever your earning is. As a monthly income earner, you can even be saving the amount you want to set aside as Zakat on a monthly basis. Then, when you have completed a year, you now pay it. You will definitely derive the spiritual benefit for doing so.
What are the roles of Muslims in the society?
Allah says in the Qu’ran, “You’re the best community evolved for the salvation of mankind, why? It’s because you enjoin what’s good and you forbid what’s evil and you have firm faith in Allah. If others had believed the way you did, it would have been better for them because they also enjoin what’s good and forbid what’s bad but where there’s a problem is their faith. Muslims are supposed to guide the society. They’re supposed to be like societal mirror. If there are Muslims in a society and corruption still persists in that society, it means there’s something fundamentally wrong with the Muslims in that society. Muslims are supposed to be the light of the society, they’re supposed to be the reformers of that society. They are supposed to have moral conscience. If any Muslim chooses not to do what’s right, by guiding the society and educate the people on what’s right, that means whatever those people in that society do will surely affect him. So, a Muslim must work assiduously to bring about positive change in his society. And you can only achieve this by first discipline yourself to that level. Whatever you want to preach, let it reflect in you first so that your action alone must have replicated those ideals before your tongue expresses it.
What’s the reward for fasting during Ramadan?
Nobody knows the extent of the reward for fasting in the month of Ramadan. It’s only Allah that knows how He’s going to reward those fasting. Allah told Prophet Mohammed (SAW) in the divine tradition (Hadith Qudusi), “Every action of the son of Adam belongs to him except he’s fasting. It’s for me, Allah, I am the only one who can reward fasting. All we know is that the reward is limitless. There is a tradition in which Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said, “On the day of judgement, when all the good deeds of a man are weighed on the scale and they fall below the expected level, the angel will be deliberating, “Oh Allah, where should this man go? Paradise or Hell because his deeds have fallen below the requirement of Al-Janah (Paradise).” The Prophet (SAW) said Allah will ask them, did he not fast? If he did, examine his fasting. Then angels will now tell Allah, “It’s you who knows the amount of magnitude due to somebody who fasts. Allah will not tell the angels I have forgiven him because I alone have the criteria to judge fasting. And that’s why it’s better for a Muslim to fast and stop pretending to be sick when you’re not. And even when you know you’re embarking on a journey and the journey is not too far, and you have the power to fast, fast. If at all you’re exempted from fasting, whatever the alternative step taken in feeding the poor is not like fasting because the reward of fasting is different. What you have just done is to lift the burden off your shoulder.
Now, the Boko Haram insurgents still struck on Eid-id-Fitri day, killing a lot of people, despite claiming to be Muslims. What’s your comment on that?
That’s a very good question and your presentation is also very fantastic. I think all those who have been smearing the good name of Islam, who have been trying to paint Islam in a bad light should understand now that Boko Haram insurgents are not Muslims. Whatever they claim, it’s now obvious they’re not representing Islam. During Ramadan, they killed people in the mosque during Jumat service. Also at the Eid praying ground, they bombed up people when they themselves were supposed to be at the praying ground. Whatever they say they are, it’s very clear that they are non-Muslims even let them speak Arabic, it doesn’t mean anything because there are Arab atheists who do not believe in the existence of God. It’s obvious that these people are being driven by another motive. It’s certainly not religious but it could be political. Those who’re saying before that they were killing Christians, can now see that it’s not about any religion. It’s just a motive that’s so obscure. Nobody seems to know because if it’s political, there is a change in the political system now, what then again do they want? If it’s religious, surely they won’t be attacking the people of the same faith. Even before now, they have been attacking Muslims. This one they did on Eid day when people just finished a one-month spiritual exercise, and you went and bombed them, I think it’s high time we looked for other explanation for insurgency. I think I will subscribe to the view of those who say that it’s a political agenda and it’s root is within the military itself. Nigerian Army has not told us the truth and Nigerian government has also not told us the truth. Then, who is fooling who?
Okay, what’s your advice for Buhari on the issue?
Before advising him, I think we should all continue to pray for him. We prayed for his victory, but we shouldn’t just stop there. We should continue to pray for Allah’s guidance and protection because there have been several attempts on his own life too. But so far, he seems to be calculating his steps but as a former military leader, he knows how to tackle the issue. But I think the military intelligence should be restructured. And all the names in the Boko Haram crisis that have been indicted should be properly investigated to fish out who really are responsible for the dastardly act of these faceless insurgents.