|*As Obasanjo, Amosun, others say Muslim sect is pace-setter|
By TUNJI WAHAB
All roads, at the weekend led to Ilaro, Ogun State, the venue of the Ahmadiyya Jama’at, Nigeria’s centenary celebration. And it was encomium galore as the Islamic organisation celebrated its 100 anniversary of existence.
The occasion was graced by dignitaries across the globe including former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo who gave the keynote address as special guest of honour at the august gathering. Other speakers at the event included governors Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and his Osun State counterpart, Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola. While Obasanjo and Aregbesola put up appearance, the host governor, Amosun sent a representative.
In his keynote address, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo described the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at as pace setter and trail blazer in several human endeavour in Nigeria.
Obasanjo spoke yesterday at Ilaro, Ogun State as special guest of honour at the National Convention of the movement organised to mark its 100 years of existence.
According to him, whether the people like it or not, “the contributions of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at to Islam in particular and national development in Nigeria at large cannot be over-enphasised,” stating that, “without equivocation, it was this great organization that blazed the trail for the emergence of highly respected Muslim intellectuals and professionals.
The former President expressed the delight that, one hundred years on, the professionals are still making Nigeria proud with their enormous contributions to nation-building and national development,” asserting that, “something striking about the emergence of the organisation that must be acknowledged is that it is a pace-setter or trail blazer for Muslim organisations in Nigeria.”
He spoke further: “It is on record, for instance, that the first Muslim school in Nigeria was established by the Ahmadiyya and the same thing is applicable to the first Muslim hospital and Muslim newspaper. Since the organization became a rallying poit for the Muslim elite when it birthed in 1916, there is no doubt that many successes have been recorded in every human endeavours inspite of challenges the Jama’at has faced in its quest for existence, relevance and acceptance.
“wWe cannot deny the fact that the Ahmadiyya movement is regarded as heterodox by the majority of mainstream and Ahmadiyya have been marginalized, discriminated against in various ways and sometimes violently oppressed particularly in Pakistan, where they were categorized as non-Muslims minority in national law through the efforts political and religious in 1974.
“Nonetheless, Ahmadiyya Muslims and organizations are active in educational, missionary and community efforts worldwide.”
Speaking in the same vein, Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun commended the organisation for its contributions to the world peace with its mantra of “Love for all, hatred for none.”
Amosun, the host governor, who was represented by his religious affairs consultant, Alhaji Musbau Oyefeso, congratulated the Jama’at on their centenary celebration and wished them more fruitful years of nation building.”
In his own address, the State of Osun Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who flew in from Abuja to be part of the august ceremony expressed the delight to be associated with the success story of the organization.
Quoting copiously from the glorious Qur’an, the vocal governor, who also is an Islamic scholar commended the Movement for its dogged efforts at maintaining peace ant therefore urged them to imbibe three characteristics of a good Muslim Umma (Community) as divinely stated in the glorious Qur’an.The three virtues, according to Aregbesola are; patience, love for goodness and hatred for evil.
In his opening address earlier, the Amir (National President) of the organization, Dr. Mash-hud Adenrele Fashola enumerated the achievements of his Jama’at since its inception in 1916 and thanked God for the success story of being first in many human endeavours.
While lamenting the sorry state of the nation, Fashola said the cause of the decay was lost of value saying that informed the theme of the conference: Redefining Moral Revolution for sustainable peace and development: Post-Hundred Years of Ahmadiyyah in Nigeria.”
The three day event, which would rounded off today was attended by dignitaries across the globe.
The highlight of the event were takwando demonstration, exhibition and mass wedding ceremony where 23 grooms and bride grooms were legally pronounced husbands and wives.
2 thoughts on “Encomium galore for Ahmadiyyah at 100”
HUNDRED YEARS OF AHMADIYYA IN NIGERIA
– A BRIEF APPRAISAL
Taoheed Ola. Shoboyede- (A Central Missionary in Otta Jamaat & Former Assistant General Secretary, Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Nigeria and Former Editor The Truth Newspaper).
“…….and if He(Allah) intends good for thee, there is none
who can repel His grace…….”(Q. 10 : 108)
The history of the establishment of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in Nigeria in 1916 (formally), for there are some evidences of its having been heard of in the country as early as between 1913 and 1914), was more of circumstantial (borne out of the condition of the Muslims at the time) rather than as a result of yearning for TRUE RELIGION(ISLAM) by most of the pioneering converts.
This explains why some of the pioneer members broke away from the Jama’at between 1920 to 1924, on various flimsy excuses, to form their own groups/societies, even without having really had any fair understanding of what Ahmadiyyat was really about; having had just a little taste of the Jama’at Administrative standard from the first expatriate Missionary to Nigeria, Malana Abdur Raheem Nayyar.
It needs be recalled that the first five years of the establishment of the Jama’at in Nigeria (1916 -1921) was a period when it was the pioneer members, who were not yet trained in the principles and values (Nizam) of the Jama’at, who were the sole determiners and decision makers on how the Jama’at was then to be run and at what pace, with little or no input from the Jama’at headquarters, then ONLY based in Qadian, India, which was also the Seat of the Khalifa.
Their main and major contacts with the headquarters during this early period was through some books and pamphlets being sent to them from Markaz for their guidance, and occasional letters or Tele/Cablegrams on some minor issues. In other words, though they signed the baiat of the Jama’at, but they continued to administer the Jama’at along the same line in which they were administering their erstwhile Muslim Literary Society, which later metamorphosed into the foundation of the Jama’at; as there was no well-groomed Ahmadi Missionary to train them.
This situation also, perhaps, explains why there was no record/evidence of the Jama’at ever spreading beyond the Lagos Island during this period.
However, the establishment of the time it took place in Nigeria (1916 to be specific), twenty-seven years after its inauguration by Allah through the hands of the Promised Messiah (a.s.) in 1889, whatever form or colouration it might as-sume then, was a clear fulfillment of Allah’s assurance to the Promised Messiah (a.s.) in 1886 that: “I Shall convey thy message to all the corners of the earth.” It was also a vindication of the divine ordination of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad as the Promised Messiah/Imam Mahdi (a.s.). Afterall, Allah Himself vows that:
“If he had forged (and attributed) any saying to Us, We would
Surely, have seized him by the right hand, And then, surely,
We would have cut his life vein; And not one of you could have
Held (Our Punishment) off him.” (Q. 69 : 45 – 48)
THE FIRST TEST OF FAITH
The first test of faith, loyalty and commitment came on the nascent Jama’at and its members with the arrival into their midst, the first expatriate Missionary sent by the Khalifa, Maulana Abdur Raheem Nayyar of blessed memory in 1921.
At first, his arrival and activities gingered the Jama’at to some progress, both in membership and expansion; obviously, because of his being an expatriate (he was being referred to as “Oyinbo” – a white man), which had psychological effect on the enthusiasm of the local people, who hearkened to his call and joined the Jama’at in droves. They felt that they had found in the expatriate Missionary, “a Crusader” of a sort who would lead then against the then dominance of the Christians on the Muslims in the country.
For instance, Maulana Nayyar was warmly received by the entire membership of the Ahlil Quran (Alalukurani) Mosque, who signed the bai’at enmasse, on the “conviction” that his arrival was a literal fulfillment of a dream reportedly had by their late leader and narrated to them, of “the coming of a White Man with the Holy Qur’an in his hand.”
But unfortunately, not quite long after the departure of Maulana Nayyar from Nigeria, that a sub-group from among the Ahlil-Qur’an sect, seceded from the Jama’at and instituted a Court process to eject the Jama’at from their Mosque.
Meanwhile, while the short stay of Maulana Nayyar in Nigeria lasted, not only that the Jama’at had spread to other places outside Lagos Island, such as: Ebute-Meta, Yaba, Agidingbi, Epe and even up to Kano, in the Northern part of Nigeria, but the Jama’at also established the FIRST Primary School by any Muslim group in Nigeria, at Elegbata on the Lagos Island –TA’LIMUL ISLAM SCHOOL—which was built between 1921 to 1922 and was officially opened on 4th September, 1922, about two months after the departure of Maulana A. R. Nayyar.
AN INTEREGNUM (1922 – 1932/33)
After the departure of Maulana Nayyar from Nigeria in 1922, up to around 1932/33, no expatriate Missionary was sent to the Nigeria Jama’at from the Headquarters in Qadian. The Jama’at was therefore, throughout this period, left at the hands of its yet-to-be-properly-groomed indigenous leaders to manage and administer.
No doubt, the Jama’at further spread to many parts of the country, both in the South and North, during this period, but the foundation for the crisis that later erupted within the Jama’at, which led to the infamous SPLIT, was inadvertently laid during this period, especially with the adoption of a localized “Constitution” by the leadership of the Jama’at, in the guise of fulfilling the requirement of the government of the day for the official “recognition” and “registration “ of the Jama’at in the country.
ARRIVAL OF MAULANA F. R. HAKEEM AND CRISIS PERIOD
The second expatriate Missionary of the Jama’at (sent from Qadian) , Maulana Fazlur Rahman Hakeem, arrived Nigeria in 1934 to assume the leadership of the Jama’at as the Amir and Missionary In- Charge, representing the Khalifah.
His arrival was true test of understanding of and loyalty, as well as commitment to principles and values of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, of some of the leaders of the Jama’at then.
It would be recalled that, not quite long after the departure of Maulana A. R. Nayyar that the Nigerian (or may be African) factor set in to the administration of the Jama’at, as a result of which leadership tussle, especially in respect of Imamship, became an issue, the same thing which culminated in a sub-sect within the Ahlil Qur’an group, who signed the bai’at at the hands of Maulana Nayyar and whose Central Mosque was then being used by the Jama’at, breaking away from the Jama’at and reclaiming their Mosque through the Court.
So, immediately Maulana F. R. Hakeem assumed office as the head of the Jama’at, being the representative of the Supreme world head of the Jama’at (the Khalifah), the same issue of Imamship was brought to the fore by those who had been holding sway as leaders/Imam since the departure of Maulana A. R. Nayyar, for more than one decade.
This crisis dragged for a considerable length of time, first leading to a long-drawn SCHISM within the Jama’at and eventually culminating in the devastating split of 1939/40, when those loyal to the Khalifah took new bai’at, while those revolting against the Khilafah parted ways.
So, the Jama’at of the Promised Messiah (a.s.) in Nigeria, under the Khalifah, was re-organized on a sound footing and re-incorporated under the Land (Perpetual Succession) Ordinance, as: THE NIGERIA BRANCH OF THE SADR ANJUMAN AHMADIYYA, QADIAN in 1941, with Alhaji Maulvi Fazlur Rahman, Abudu Gbadamosi Kuku and Abdul Yaqeen Abaniwonda as Trustees.
This period marked the foundation for the modern day Ahmadiyya Community in Nigeria; having evolved through different names, from Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam, Sadr Anjuman Ahmadiyya, Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, finally to Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, with Alhaji (Dr.) Mashhud Adenrele Fashola (the incumbent Amir of the Jama’at), Maulvi Zikrullah Tayo Ayyuba and Alhaji Ahmed Alhassan as the Trustees of the Jama’at, at the moment.
To get to this great landmark, there had been three groups of “Pioneers,” as it were. At the inauguration of the Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam, Nigerian Branch after the formation of Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam, Nigeria Branch, Adam Yakub became the Chairman 1916 to 1919, Alfa Badmus A. Fanimokun the Secretary and Alfa Kasumu Rufai Ajose, the Imam 1916 to 1921 and from 1928 to 1941. In 1919 to 1920 Muhammad Lawal Basil Augusto became the President. Alfa Adam Yakub, assumed the post of President when Agusto left for Britain to study law from 1920 to 1930. Then Alfa Saka Tinubu became President from 1930 until 1940; Jibril Martin from 1940 to 1959.
The Secretaries include Badmus A. Fanimokun, Jibril Martin and Alfa Y.P.O. Shodeinde. When Jibril Martin left for Britain, Alfa Abdur-Rahman Ashafa and Musediku Buraimoh Adeniji Adele (who later became the Oba of Lagos 1949 – 1964). Other pioneers were Imam Kasumu Rufai Ajose, Alfa I.L. Durosinmi-Etti, Tijani Adele, Prince Musediku B. Adele (who later became the Oba of Lagos), Yunusa Hameed, Imam Yushau Popoola Oyeshile Shodeinde, Muhammad Jimoh Abdus-Salam (alias “Selem”), Tijani Ariyo, L.A. Bada, Abdur-Raheem A. Smith, Alhaji (Lawyer) Jibril Martins, N. Said, Abas Elegba, Alfa Saka Tinubu, Abas Elegba, Alfa Ismaila Ayinde Shitta, Teacher Yunus, Junaid Yusuf, M. Imam Imoru of Mushin (Kanuri), B.B. Salami, B. Gbajabiamila, and Imran Adewusi Onibudo.
Most, if not all of these “Pioneer Ahmadis”, have gone to the other side of his-tory, unfortunately. So, they need our prayers. Perhaps, with our prayers, Allah may guide some of their progenies back to their fore-fathers’ lost track.
“Those are a people that have passed away; for them is what
They earned; and for you shall be what you earn; and you shall
Not be questioned as to what they did.” (Q. 2 : 142)
Achievements and Challenges
what are those things that happened within the last hundred years of Ahmadiyya in Nigeria (i.e Achievements and Challenges) and what we, either Ahmadi Muslims of today could learn from those things for our own future gains, when we shall also become history.
1. The first group of “Pioneers” were those who pioneered its formal estab-lishment in 1916, some of who left the Jama’at in its very early days to form their own groups soon after.
2. The second group were those who remained to later become part of negative and unfortunate history, by being responsible or/and instru-mental to the devastating SPLIT in the erstwhile progressively dynamic Jama’at from the mid-1930’s up to 1940.
3. The third group were those who picked up the “CRUMBS” and ruggedly weathered the storm, against all odds and uncertainties, for us to enjoy the blossoming Jama’at today.
1. If we reflect a little deeply, we would, without doubt, agree that most of the “Pioneers” who left the Jama’at early (within 1920 – 1924) or there-about, were not patient enough to study what the Jama’at was actually about.
It was clear, by their hasty retreat that they were not actually searching for TRUE ISLAM by the time they came across Ahmadiyyat, but rather, they only saw Ahmadiyya as an EXTERNAL FORCE, SUPPORT, INFLUENCE or/and PARTNER on their side against the then ravaging Christians’ on-slaught/domination on Muslims.
Hence, they left on flimsy excuses, based on mere UNVERIFIED HERESAYS; to form their own different groups, in which they became LIFE LEADERS with the little knowledge from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
2. Those of them who remained a little while thereafter, between 1937 to 1940, also did not go into conscious study of what Ahmadiyyat Muslim Community represented and taught. The Ahmadiyya muslim jamaat was teaching UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD of all human beings without any form of discrimination, High standard Humility and OBEDIENCE to consti-tuted authority as stated in the Holy Quran , (Q. 49 : 12-14 and 4 : 59-60)
But they were then only developing and promoting the “Nationalist Ac-tivism”, especially the agitation against “White Domination” that was in vogue by some Nigerian elites then (after the First World War), as against the UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD of Islam, which Ahmadiyya muslim group was rejuvenating then.
Hence, they saw the Khalifah or his representative (Amir F. R. Hakeem) as ONE AMONG EQUALS, who should bow down under their “Constitution”, rather than the Khalifah guiding and directing them. And that was their real UNDOING!
Their initial indignation was against the representative of the Khalifah (the Amir), but as their arguments progressed, they revolted against the Khalifah himself, which eventually led to losing touch with the Promised Messiah/Imam Mahdi (a.s.) himself; founding themselves outside his HOUSEHOLD; not minding the promise by Allah to the Promised Messi-ah(a.s.) about his Household in a revelation, that:
“I shall myself protect all those in this house.”
To further assist them to realize their inordinate ambition then, the Khalifah of the time (Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II) directed that the posses-sion of ALL the properties of the Jama’at should be conceded to them, assuring that Allah would provide better and more long-lasting properties to the Jama’at in future. That “future” is now here with us.
In spite of their taking possession of all the properties then, over which they even fought within themselves, rather than increasing in Eaman, only God can now determine what has now become of their relationship with the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) and even Allah Himself.
Majority of those Splinter Groups (either here in Nigeria or even abroad) are no better than Socio-Political Movements, rather than being Islamic groups; and that is even where they are still existing at all. Hence, it is always for them, from one internal rift to the other. Afterall, they also created rifts in the Jama’at which resulted in eventual secession from the Jama’at and they also laid the foundation of their groups on rifts. These are, definitely, great points of deep reflection, for any positive development for the future.
3. For those in the third group, those who picked up the “Crumbs” from the SECESSION (from 1941) and weathered through the storm, they’re great lesson to learn.
Apart from Pa Onibudo, who constituted a BRIDGE between the first, se-cond and third “pioneering groups”, there are many other big names, such as:S.O.Bakare,AbdulQadri(Ebute-meta/Somolu),Kuku, Abaniwonda, Johnson,Folawiyo,Olokodana,B.B.Balogun,H.O.Sanyaolu, Yusuf(Agidingbi),Agbaje(Epe),Aina(Ota),Oluwa(Ife), and others.
While they were struggling to find their feet; moving from one temporary Headquarters/Mission House to the other(mostly rented), the second world war struck and slowed down the pace of progress a bit.
Going down memory lane, the Jama’at itinerary which started from 62, Bamgbose Street; through 35/37, Aroloya Street; 255, Igbosere Road; 39, Daddy Alaja Street; 10, Egerton Road, Oko-Awo, all on Lagos Island. And, later, 45, Idumagbo Avenue, Lagos (owned by the Jama’at) and finally the AHMADIYYA SETTLEMENT; Km.27,Lagos-Abeokuta Express Way, Ojokoro, via Agege, where Amir Fazlillahi Anweri moved in 1985, and has been the headquarters till date.
Yet, they were resolute and determined not to fall in the same pit which ditched their predecessors (i.e. revolting against the Institution of Khilafat). They therefore became “ONE-WAY” to whatever decision the Khalifah of the time took, or whatever was reported to them to have come from the Khalifah without any reservation or question. This paid off tremendously afterall. NONE of these personalities ever met ANY Khalifah. Even only an infinitesimal few, had the” luxury of personal communication” with the Khilafah. Their major interaction with the Khalifah was through telegrams/cablegrams, through the Amir/Secretariat, always brief and written in coded words to save cost. So, there is need to reflect and learn from whatever must have inspired the pioneers’ commitment to the Khilafah at that time! It never crossed their minds to think of what they would benefit from the jama’at. Rather, they were always ready to make great sacrifices to benefit the jama’at.
We may recall how the building of the FIRST Mission House (45, Idumagbo Avenue) constructed between 1945 and 1946 and completed within a short period (and the Ojogiwa Street Mosque) with personal contributions without expecting anything in return. (Do we still remember the episode of submitting complete one month Pay-Packet and the benefits by that singular action.
We need to also reflect on this and learn for the future in many respects:-
1. While they were spending their days and nights in the course of the jama’at, they did not feel the need to give special attention to the moral and spiritual trainings of their households. Unfortunately still, there were not, at that time, different schemes/programmes and organizations as at today, to take care of trainings of their wives and children. (Like Ansarullah, Lajna Imaillah, Khuddam, Nasirat Atfal, different Waqfeen, etc.)
There were very few (formally-trained) Missionaries to fill this vacuum also,(except few volunteers/Auxiliary Missionaries of a sort), there were no Jama’at schools (apart from the Primary School at Elegbata) in which they could register their children, Mosques were far-between for Quranic Classes, etc., all the opportunities which we have and enjoy today. But only God knows how many are taking advantage of these facilities for all-round development
As earlier asserted, the pioneers had no regular contacts with the Khalifah as at today on daily basis, including physical meetings, apart from through MTA.
So, what this third generation “pioneer” Ahmadis Muslims concentrated on was how to give their children “the best” of secular education, what-ever it cost, so that these children could be distinguished personalities in the larger society, and then come back to assist the Jama’at growth, which most of them accomplished. But to what effect? Because most of these children eventually left the Jama’at out of ego, as they never saw their worldly successes as the results of their parents’ great sacrifices in the course of Islam through the Jama’at.
So, if we are talking of NOT SEEING THEIR LATER GENERATIONS/CHILDREN in the Jama’at, we can now understand why? But are there really learning anything from all these for our own future development?
One thing which should specially reflect on and work seriously on is the fact that; whatever opportunity available today, either physically, morally, spiritually, and even materially, is as a result of the Institution of Khilafat to which we owe allegiance, especially if members recall that this is what was responsible for the fall of the pioneers , either intrinsically or extrinsically.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE JAMA’AT FROM 1940
After all the debilitating crisis of the 1930’s, which reached its frightening climax and glorious denouement in 1940, it then became clear, who the real loyal, sincere and committed members of the Jama’at were, especially with the revalidation of bai’ats, as directed by Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II (r.a.) then.
With the re-incorporation of the Jama’at in 1941 and rejuvenation of its mem-bership, the Jama’at was then established on a sound and promising footing, under the Imarat (leadership) of Maulana F. R. Hakeem. The stage was, from that moment, set for the Jamaat’s progress in leaps and bounds so much that, despite the Second World War, the expansion of the Jama’at to many parts of the country was not hampered much, especially with more expatriate Missionaries sent to Nigeria from the international headquarters.
A NEW ERA OF THE JAMA’AT’S DEVELOPMENT (1945 – 1965)
The third and, of course, the longest serving Amir and Missionary In- Charge of the Nigeria Jama’at, Maulana Noor Muhammad Naseem Saifi (THE PEN WIZ-ARD), assumed duty and his two-decade tenure actually witnessed what could conveniently be termed: “A GLORIOUS” chapter in the history the Ahmadiyyat Muslim Jamaat in Nigeria.
This is because it was during this period that the qualities of the Jama’at-i-Ahmadiyya, not only as THE REAL PICTURE OF THE TRUE ISLAM, but also as AN INDISPENSABLE AGENT OF ALL-ROUND DEVELOPMENT in any society, were ac-tually brought to public focus and the Jama’at was therefore, warmed into the hearts of all those who mattered in the Nigeria larger society.
During this period, Amir Naseem Saifi brought his specialties (as a Writer, Orator, Public Relation Expert, Schemer and Team Player) to bear on the Nigeria Society; interacting freely and closely with eminent personalities, either in government, media, business or/and social circles. He was either an architect/originator or major contributor to the establishment of a good number of developmental interest groups/bodies such as: Nigeria Union of Journalists, Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, Council of Muslim Schools Proprietors (through which two Teachers Training Colleges and a Muslim International School were established), Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board, as well as a member of some government Committees at different times.
Apart from many booklets and pamphlets published and distributed by the Jama’at during this period, the first and longest enduring Muslim Newspaper in Nigeria (THE TRUTH) was also established in December, 1951, as well as being a part of the pioneering team in Radio Broadcasting by Muslims in Nigeria. In fact, there was hardly any government official or agency which Maulana Naseem Saifi did not interact freely and closely with, either at the National or Regional levels.
This developmental trend continued unabated through the Imarat of Maulana Alhaji Naseerud-deen Ahmad and Maulana Fazli-llah Anweri, up till 1972 when Maulana Muhammad Ajmal Shahid (a.k.a. NO PROBLEM), another workaholic, assumed duty as the sixth Amir and Missionary In-Charge of the Nigeria Jama’at.
His ten-year tenure (1972 – 1982), which was later tagged: “A Decade of Pro-gress”, in a Publication, also witnessed giant strides in the progressive march of the Jama’at, especially in the areas of Mosque Building, Book Publishing, Books/Qur’an Exhibitions and Distributions, Up-grading of the Jama’at Printing Press from “Letter Press system to a Modern Off-Set Printing Outfit”, Sponsored Radio Programmes (VOICE OF ISLAM) and Annual Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) for Ahmadi Muslim Children during long vacations.
It was also during this period that the auxiliary organizations of the Jama’at (Lajnah, Khuddam, Ansarullah, as well as Atfal/Nasirat subsidiaries) were re-organized on the International standard, Jamai’ah Ahmadiyya (then Ahmadiyya Missionary Training College) was established at Ilaro, Ogun state and acquisition of a vast expanse of land at Ojokoro, as “Ahmadiyya Settlement” ( GREAT FORE-SIGHT it was then!).
GOLDEN ERA OF AHMADIYYA MUSLIM JAMA’AT IN NIGERIA
The golden era of Ahmadiyyat in Nigeria actually commenced in 1970 when the Jama’at started enjoying the luxuries of playing hosts to the Khulafa of the Promised Messiah/Imam Mahdi (a.s.) in the country.
It was Hazrat Khalifatul Masih III, Mirza Hafiz Nasir-ud-deen Ahmad (r.a.) who blazed the trail for the glorious visits of Khulafa-i-Masih to Nigeria. It was during this his epoch-making visit of 1970 that the now famous watch-word/motto of the world-wide Jama’at: “LOVE FOR ALL, HATRED FOR NONE”, was first in-troduced to the Nigeria Ahmadi Muslims and the Nusrat Jehan Scheme, for the establishment of series of Educational and Health Care Institutions in different part of Africa was inaugurated.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih III also met and held discussions with the Nigeria youngest Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd.).His second visit in 1980 was to assess the progress made so far by the Jama’at. Impressed by the standard, Huzur (r.a.) delivered a landmark speech and published entitled: A MESSAGE OF HOPE.
Huzur also made a historic visit to Victory High School, Ikeja and addressed about One thousand five hundred Ahmadi Muslim children (boys and girls) more than two hundred handlers, comprising, mainly Khuddam and Lajnah, during the Annual Islamic Vacation Course (IVC).
A MAJOR TURNING POINT
A major turning point was reached in history of the Jama’at in Nigeria, when Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (raheemahullah) visited in 1988, during which he graciously presided over the Jama’at Majlis Shoora( National Consultative Meeting). At that meeting, the first Nigerian Amir and Missionary In – Charge, Maulvi Abdur Rasheed Ahmad Agboola, of blessed memory was graciously ap-pointed. He became the first Nigerian missionary to hold both offices. Thereafter, the offices have been separately occupied by Non-Missionary as Amir; starting with Alhaji (Engr.) Hussein Oyekanmi Sunmonu, to Alhaji Muhammad Mahmud Maishanu and now Alhaji (Dr.) Mashhud Adenrele Fashola. The office of the Missionary In – Charge, now occupied by a Central Missionary.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (raheemahullah) also held mutual discussions with eminent Nigerians such as: the then Military Head of State, General (rtd.) Ibra-him Badamosi Babangida, Business Magnate, Chief (late) Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola; and the leaders of the Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam of Nigeria, among others. Huzur also laid the foundations of some Mosques at different locations in the country, including that of the headquarters, Ojokoro.
The Nigeria Jama’at has also been blessed with the visit of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (Ayyadahollah bi-nasrihil Azeez) twice: in 2004 and 2008 (for the Cen-tenary Khilafah Jalsa at Abuja, and all these visits have always elicited so many developmental projects and programmes for the progress of the Jama’at in dif-ferent parts of the country.
It is worth mentioning that the Nigeria has also joined the rest of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, in commemorating the Centenary of the following historical events:
1. Centenary of the establishment of Ahmadiyya in the world (1889 – 1989).
2. Centenary of the twin eclipses as great signs for the coming of Imam Mahdi (1895 – 1995).
3. The Great Conference of all Religions, which culminated in the publication of a book : THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE TEACHINGS OF ISLAM (1896 – 1996).
There is no gainsaying the fact that Jama’at-i-Ahmadiyya, Nigeria has evolved through different stages, sweet and sour, and has come a very long way over the years. There was a time in the chequered history of the Jama’at when the then One-floor Mosque at 21/23 Ojogiwa Street, Lagos was not spacious enough to accommodate participants of the Jamaat’s Jalsa Salana (Annual Conference). Later, it was moved to Muslim Teachers Training College, Surulere, Lagos; later Ahmadiyya Settlement, Ojokoro via Agege; then to Ilaro and Abuja. Yet, all the Centres being used at present for the Jalsa Salana, either Ilaro or Abuja may also prove to be in-adequate in the near future, considering the ever-increasing influx of people joining the Jama’at and attending the Jalsa Salana yearly.
A time there was also, when the whole annual budget of the whole Nigeria Jama’at was only a few TENS OF POUNDS and a little while later, a few TENS OF THOUSAND NAIRA. If today, the budget of the Jama’at runs into three-digits millions of naira, it is an evidence that Allah the Almighty is STEADILY AND SOL-IDLY, not only BEHIND, but also WITH the Jama’at. To Allah the Almighty be all the glory and praise!
This feat, though monumental as it is, at least, to a great extent, however, does not only call for jubilations, but continuous PLANNING, RE-STRATEGIZING and PRO-ACTIVENESS. This is because the progress and achievements of the Jama’at have, not only stunned many of its detractors, but has also woken up in some of them, mischievous envy and antagonism. If therefore, the Jama’at relaxes and is not pro-active, it may be that, it only dwells on past glories, with little or no new feat added.
May Allah the Almighty keep all steadfast in His cause; continue to elevate all from one divinely- ordained height to another from generations to generations.
Ahmadiya has truly made its landmarks in the last 100 years. Kudos to the Islamic organisation or repute.
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