Friday sermon at a Sunday Pulpit

A sermon is supposed to be short and precise, making it a collage of knowledge that is comprehensible and can easily be recollected, especially at the most auspicious times — when it needs to be applied or utilised. These days, sermons and the custodians of sermons in religious spaces have found it hard to remain apolitical and they have dabbled into too much politics, you would believe they were chairmen of political parties and campaign directors of political aspirants. The sermons become too long and lack proper ‘sermon content’. We remain keen on learning from the preachers, hoping to enjoy the body of knowledge that can be harvested from enjoying such sermons; but many at times we are let down by unnecessary and unsolicited banter over political content and other matters of social discourse. I found myself at a mosque on the outskirts of town in Bauchi as Tami had taken me to a mosque nearby, close to his residence and luckily for him, his office as well. We of course couldn’t help but lament the fact that there were over 5 mosques that offered Friday prayers in the same vicinity, and how they all have to inconvenience motorists, as all access roads are blocked from around 1pm till after 3pm. Insecurity situations around this practice have long receded but yet, we are faced with precautionary measures that have more or less become traditions; that have probably come to stay, untill we have a Zulum as state governor in every state in dear naija.
I had to redo my ablution as we reached, while Tami headed into the mosque to listen to the sermon and to pray the voluntary prayers, before the main course Friday prayer. As I took time to find water and a rubber kettle to perform my ablution with, the sermon of the Imam from the mosque was rendered via the public address system and I listened on. Though at the back of my mind I was dejected at the flow of ‘talk’ that wasn’t necessarily centred on ‘deen’ and the teachings of Islam, I was half-heartedly attentive, and my half-piece attention was rewarded with a sermon that served a different kind of material. I was partly listening as I was trying to while away time, but at the same time, glued-in, trying to make sense of it all. For the first time in over a year, here was a mosque with an Imam talking deen and delivering a sermon that could actually improve one’s religious practices.
My new Imam said, (in hausa), “You are wearing a long beard, posing as a saint, yet you sell all manner of cigarettes and substances that are injurious to the health of your customers, my dear brother, God will judge you as sinner, do not be deceived”. He turned another leaf and said, “You are paid to kill as a terrorist, and you earn pittance as livelihood, my dear brother, you will go to hell immediately you leave mother earth. You collect bribes and block motorists from making their journeys in due time, because you carry a gun, a belt and a dirtily starched uniform, my dear brother you belong with the previous two I have mentioned”.
My sister, you know the prophet married nine wives and also ordained man to marry four, yet you will kill your husband, anytime you feel a whiff of another woman, coming to marry your husband. My brother, you maintain one wife, but roam all over town, rummaging the Savannah, chasing women and girls, instead of marrying one more; the Lord will put you in an abode where you will perish with the condemned! All the same — today, women will do their worst to make sure they don’t have a ‘mate’ in their homes.
My new Imam fired on, now in a ranting delivery, condemning those that maim and kill and invoke the name of God, while all they are doing is invoking the wrath of God actually. He swears that Allah will on the day of judgement, seek recompense for those that were destroyed by these ruthless killers, who do so for vain and unholy glory. My ablution took almost 30 mins as I listened to this man of God who told the truth like the truth. No coloration no laceration, no dilly-dallying, and no bars held. I found myself redoing my ablution and redoing it again, as if I wasn’t sure if I had done it properly. He went over to the class of people that are in power and touches on the incarceration and condemnation of other people by leaders who forget that in four or eight years, the power and the sirens are gone. He reminded them to remain steadfast and act accordingly, as the constitution teaches them, and as their religion preaches to them. In my mind I exclaimed, “What”!
For so many fridays I had lamented the drag in sermons and the way and manner in which our preachers, both Muslim and Christian, have so migrated from preaching, and have transmitted into politicians, always talking politics, and in one way or the other, getting in the way of politics. Since as clerics they have our people’s attention, then they have a duty to be actually Godly, and teach the word of God and the ways of the lord. Religion has long been conceived into an industry and the riches found with leaders of religion is staggering and mind wobbling. What obtains in Islamic spheres has almost an exact replica in churches and other forms of traditional or modern worship circles.
Our churches and mosques must be used as tools for national unity and made use of as catalysts for a national advantage. Government must censor religious practices and religious preachers. Traditional institutions must be constitutionally adopted in a such a way that they carry some pound of authority, that can be used to enhance national security. Just as all politics remains local, so also does security. Amitokun, the Igbo counterpart, and the proposed Shegekapasa outfits can be merged into a traditional institution appendage, working hand in hand with the proposed community policing idea. The British prime minister goes to the queen for approvals, yet we continue to behave as if we are borrowing their systems of leadership, while effectively abandoning our own cultural heritage. Prince Harry and wife Meghan, left the fold of a traditional institution of one of the most civilised democracies in the world, so that they can live a private life in Canada. The whole world was keyed in and almost stood still over such silly drama. This underlines the importance and relevance of tradition as a way of life, and its relationship with democratic governance, as a style of leadership.
The hausa’s say, “kowa ya bar gida, gida ya barshi”. That if you leave your abode or ancestry, then your abode or ancestry has left you as well. Emir Lamido Sanusi may sound controversial, but most times, is right on the most pertinent of issues. He warns that if poverty is not eradicated from the north, then Islam as we know it will be wiped out of existence in the north. This is hard and core truth and reality. Poverty is the greatest weapon of mass destruction in my humble opinion. The north especially, needs to stand up to this challenge, as the statistics do not lie and they do not favour the once giant and princely north!

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