Sheik Dahiru Usman Bauchi is a controversial Islamic Scholar and leader of almajiri in Nigeria. He is among the leaders of the Islamic Sufi group known as the Tijaniyyah in Nigeria. In this interview with PAUL ORUDE in Bauchi, the fiery cleric explained why Boko Haram and their violent attacks won’t end anytime soon. He said no governor, government or group has the power to ban the almajiri system and the free movement of almajirai to any part of the country.
“The constitution of the country gives us the freedom to practice our religion the way we want it. Our biggest religion is the Quran. Since the Quran has given them (those in power) laws that they have refused to abide with, what right do they have to give instructions or law to the Quran? Based on that, we will not accept the ban on Almajiri by northern governors. Our right to freedom of worship is being violated. We will not accept violation of our right to go to any part of the country to practice our religion”, the nonagenarian Islamic scholar vowed.
As a notable and respected Islamic leader, why are you opposed to the abolition of the Almajiri system by Northern governors?
The reason is because there is a government and the government operates by a constitution. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria gives every citizen the right to movement, the right to practice their religion. These students (Almajirai) are Nigerians.
Packing our people like animals and moving them from one place to the other, we will not accept. As Nigerians, we have a right to practice our religion. The Quran is the basis of our religion. We will not accept any violation of our rights. Every Nigerian has a right to go to America to study, he has a right to go to the United Kingdom to carry out western education, to go anywhere to read western education but
Nigerians have no right to go to another community to study the Quran?
We will not accept the ban on Almajiri. We have the right to go anywhere in the world to read the Quran. This is a right given to us by God. The constitution of the country gives us the freedom to practice our religion the way we want it. Our biggest religion is the Quran. Since the Quran has given them (those in power) laws that they have refused to abide with, what right do they have to give instructions or law to the Quran? Based on that, we will not accept the ban on Almajiri by northern governors. Our right to freedom of worship is being violated. We will not accept violation of our right to go to any part of the country to practice our religion.
Did the governors seek your view before their decision or did you reach out to any of them to stop the decision?
They did not consult me before abolishing the almajiri system. No. They didn’t. The governors should go and stop others in other countries from reading the Quran, not in Nigeria. The governors are free to go to other countries to make laws that would infringe on the rights of people, rights that are inalienable and given to every man, not only Nigerians. Like I mentioned earlier, Nigerians have the rights to go to other parts of the country to seek knowledge. Any governor that wants to ban almajiri should go to other country to do that because as for us in Nigeria, the law gives us the right to practice our religion without any fear or hindrance, to move freely to other places within or outside the country to practice our religion. We will not accept what the governors are doing.
The governors said Almajiri system breeds insecurity and poverty in the north, do you agree with them?
Is it the recitation of the Quran that breeds poverty or Insecurity?
Or hunger? These are the thinking of atheists. I am asking the world, does the Quaranic education bring hunger or poverty? These are the thinking of infidels and those with misconceptions about religion. Are they the only group that make the country?
How will the abolition of Almajiri affect Quranic teaching among northern youths?
The youths are the ones that read the Quran more. Will the Quran read itself? The almajiri is the pupil that reads the Quran and if you stop him from practicing it, you have infringed on his freedom of worship.
What’s your view on the security problems facing the country? Do you agree it’s a religious or socio-economic problem?
Which problems are you talking about? Mention them.
Problems of insecurity, poverty, violent conflicts like Boko Haram….
Insecurity and Boko Haram are caused by Izala sects. Izala sects are Boko Haram. Boko Haram members are not hidden. They are in three levels. They hate western education. In western education, we have three stages, lower, middle and upper like the university. Izala sects are the Boko Haram. Those that converge and abuse other worshippers.
They believe Muslims that accept western education are infidels. That Muslims that wear amulets are infidels or not true Muslims. Their leaders abuse other Islamic sects’ mode of worship. If these people are a threat to others why did we leave them? Let us fight them, let’s carry out a Jihad and if they kill us, we will become martyrs. These is what Boko Haram is doing. Boko Haram members are practicing what the Izala sect is preaching; the first, second and third level. They are the scholars to Boko Haram. We have said it before. There was an Izala leader Jafar Adamu and Albani Abba Umar Hotoro, they are Izala leaders. What the Boko Haram sect is doing is what they preach. Just that the Izala people are afraid to come out openly because of fear.They are in three levels like I said: the first stage that abuses, the second level that carries arms and the third level that are Boko Haram.
If you meet President Buhari today, what will you tell him about his government and the country?
What is my interest with meeting President Buhari? I am just an almajiri, I am not a politician. If he looks for me, I will respond as a law abiding citizen. If he doesn’t look for me, we are all living our lives separately, he as President and I as a citizen. I am not the one to show him the direction to follow as far as leading the country is concerned. He has advisers.
Is there anything respected Islamic scholars like you can still do to bring Boko Haram leaders to a negotiation table with the federal government?
Negotiation will not be possible because Boko Haram will not end anytime soon. The Izala sect has sworn that Boko Haram will not end. Jafar Adamu, Albani of Zaria said it in one of his sermons.
Why did you announce a different sallah day beside the one by the Sultan of Sokoto?
Religion stands on its own and not under anybody. I have two books; one is the Quran and the second is the lifestyle of Prophet Mohammed SAW.
These are the two pillars of Islam, Islam is anchored on this pillar, not on the leadership of any man. What really happened that led to announcement of two sallah days is because the leader of the Muslims in Nigeria, His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto did not observe well the sighting of the moon. We have been mandated by the religion on how to observe the month of Ramadan. If the month before Ramadan, that is month of Shanbana, reaches full 30 days, then Ramadan starts. If the month before Ramadan has 29 days, if two people sights the moon, then the month of Ramadan has started, not to talk of if five people sight the moon. God that instructed us to observe these months, mandated that even if it is two people that sight the moon, the Ramadan can start. What happened was that on the 29th day, a lot of people sighted the moon and there were some that were sent to Sokoto but could not meet with the Sultan, who is the head of Muslims in Nigeria.
Do you agree with northern governors that foreign herdsmen should not be allowed to enter Nigeria again?
If everybody follows his route, if herdsmen follow their route and farmers theirs, the herdsmen do not enter peoples’ farms and farmers would not cultivate land meant for grazing, everybody will be on the right path. But the problem is that the grazing routes have been turned to farmland while farms have been turned to grazing land. This is what causes the clashes. The government failed to address the problem. It is the herdsmen in the country that are having problems with farmers, not herdsmen from outside the country. Government has responsibility to address the problem.