The Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, on Sunday enjoined Muslims across the country to always demand their rights, whenever they are being denied, within the ambit of the law.
He gave this advice while speaking at the 4th General Assembly of the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), themed “Muslim Unity and Contemporary Political Challenges in Nigeria”, held at the University of Ibadan.
Mr Abubakar, who doubles as the President General of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), while speaking on the recent Hijab crisis at the University of Ibadan International School, said Muslim students have right under the constitution to use hijab.
He however cautioned those advocating for the use of hijab and various organisations championing the welfare of Muslims in the country to demand for their rights within the ambit of the law.
He advised them to always seek redress in a peaceful manner instead of open confrontations.
“Muslims must be law-abiding, the moment we are attacking each other, then there will be no peace. So we need peace and we have been doing our own in silence,” the Sultan said.
“I urge all of you to be law-abiding. The issue is at the court and since it is in the Court, we can’t make further statement, so that we don’t commit contempt of the court.
“Demand for your rights within the ambit of the law. I urge all of you to be patient because Almighty Allah loved the patience ones. On the issue of hijab at the university, there are some organisations that are advocating for it, let them continue advocating, but at our own level we have been doing ours silently.”
Mr Abubakar said the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, arguing that if his religion allows him to wear hijab, nobody should stop him from doing so.
The Sultan identified unemployment, poverty and absence of small scale industries in the rural areas as some of the major problems in Nigeria.
He said, “If people are engaged, they will be enjoying. We need employment opportunities for the youth. We need to create jobs. We need to establish more industries in the rural areas and villages. There are some people in the villages that need little capital. It is only our political leaders that will be thinking of mansions.
“Let us face our challenges as Muslims. I want you to do more. There are challenges. Do more. Our doors are open. And don’t allow politicians to smear Islam. When we are not in unity, the politicians will be happy that we are not in unity.”
Delivering a paper entitled “Muslim Unity and Contemporary Political Challenges in Nigeria,” the Chairman of MUSWEN Education Committee, Muibi Opeloye, urged Muslims holding positions in government to unite when issues of national importance are being discussed irrespective of their political leanings.
The Professor of Islamic Studies recommended that “Wealth should not be the criterion for eligibility for public office. Such factors such as qualities of head and heart, education, wisdom, mental and physical health should be the criteria.”
He called for the creation of Shariah courts in the southwest zone of the country to replace Shariah panels.
Mr Opeloye also decried the recognition of 91 political parties by INEC, describing it as unwieldy.
“The number has to be drastically reduced. I consider seven be manageable and it is so recommended. Muslims in the parliament should regardless of their party affiliation always unite to support not only matters of Islamic concern, but also matters of national interest in furtherance of national development.”