An Influential Friend

2 frndsRising up at 4:30 a.m everyday was a normal routine. The senior boys stormed our dormitory waking up Muslims to prepare for Fajr. This was one of the most difficult tasks we had to cope with as junior students in my early days at high school. I seldom attended Fajr prayer in the Masjid, thus as soon as the seniors arrived; I jumped out of my bed space pretending to have left for Salat. While the duvet would be over my body to begin a third round of sleep. This was constant on a daily basis. The cold in Kaduna was like that of the Hazzle-Glend and the distance to the Masjid was similar to crossing the Niger Bridge on foot. Sometimes, I hurriedly observed the prayer before others returned and in a few instances, even missed Salat. I recall having bad experiences on the days I missed Fajr . Either seniors sent me on difficult errands, extorted me of my belongings or I would misplace something precious – however, all these never taught me a lesson.

It was not as if observing Salat was a major chore because I grew up in a family where Salat was an  essential start to the day. However, the sways of my bunk mate and friends influenced me negatively in the boarding house. We were a clique of four: two Muslims and others non-Muslim.  Our non-Muslim friends were not the conscious Christian types who attended morning devotion and evening fellowship. We collectively –went on fruit-picking voyages of mangoes and guavas while other students attended the chapel or mosque for weekly convention. We attended social gatherings where we mimed and thrilled with the vibes until midnight. This was how I lived my life in the Machiavellian jungle of FGC Kaduna.

In the eighth grade, I was appointed the class captain to my class. This was after my predecessor was removed owing to his bullying attitude towards his classmates. At this point, I had access to teachers and made more friends – especially among the female folk. This easily paved way for the Fitnah of intermingling with the opposite gender. We played, chatted and enjoyed the company of each other. I saw no harm in listening to music, shaking hands and even hugging the other gender; all in the name of socialization. I was accepted and adored by many, owing to my sense of humour, oratory skills and brilliance. But to what avails were these traits if championed in the wrong course. My journey to self recognition, better orientation and personal reformation began when I met a friend –Muhammad Mukhtar. He emerged as the best student in my class after the second term result computation. It was the first time a Muslim student victoriously led my class: a class of over 70 students. It was awkward to many because they believed ‘Malo-boys’ were not fit to compete on academic grounds. It became apparent when our Business Studies teacher pronounced it in class during one of the lessons. This incident left a mark of rejection and intimidation as well as motivation for us to strive better in our academic ordeal.

My new friend and I had a chat regarding this during a long walk soon after. On our way, he made me realize the natural gifts Allah bestowed upon me. My oratory skills channelled towards comedy can be reserved for Dawah activities. He made me see reasons why we need a new breed of Muslims who will understand the rudiments of the Deen and remain focused individuals who aspire to make a change positively. His words were soft and sank through my nerves like the blood flowing through my veins. And for the first time, I was inspired by this young lad who was barely 13 years of age.

Without delay, I packed my baggage from the cubical and moved to the long corridor section of the hostel –this was where he resided. Then we became roommates, slept on the same bed and dined from the same plate. We walked together to the class, class to Masjid, Masjid to dining hall and dining hall to prep. We apparently spent more time together to love and care, share and learn, forgive and overlook. He helped me overcome my addiction to music by replacing songs with Nasheeds and through him I knew Yusuf Islam – Cats Stevens. We started reading Islamic books and sharing summarized reviews with each other.

I admired his poetry such that it enhanced my writing skill and my weekly article was consistent on the mosque notice board. One of the greatest challenges he gave me was when he said: ‘next week Insha’Allah we shall deliver a lecture at the Muslim students gathering so be prepared Abdulkabeer’. I said to myself, this guy must be kidding me. I did not see myself as a knowledgeable person and I feared the fact that I will be mocked and called an Ustadh by many who knew my background and may assume this as an act of derision. However, I prepared myself and delivered the speech with shaking hands in front of a dazzling crowd.

Mukhtar was of a humble personality, simple character, neat attire, easy going and never trouble making. He was a lover of peace and preacher of perseverance. He taught me patience through difficult times, act of seeking to understand before being understood and the love of your brother over yourself. I was gradually doing away with my bad habits viz negligence of Salat, shaking hands with girls, doing musicals and attending informal parties. There and then I understood the adage ‘show me your friend and I tell you who you are’.

I was gradually doing away with my bad habits viz negligence of Salat, shaking hands with girls, doing musicals and attending informal parties. There and then I understood the adage ‘show me your friend and I tell you who you are’.

My quest for knowledge continued while striving to attain academic excellence along with spiritual strength. I memorized more verses of the Qur’an and learnt several Ahadeeth in order to broaden my scope ahead for public presentations; for verily students must ask questions. I was gradually improving academically, spiritually, morally, intellectually and even physically. We became active members and volunteers for the Muslim Students’ Society through the pen and mouth. Our Dawah activities intensified, creating a platform –Islamic Youth Awareness Forum [IYAF] – through which young Muslim students were tutored and tailored towards a sound creed, intellectualism and Islamic propagation.

The good side of this story is that the legacy still lives in that school ten years after we have left. I recently met an old student who finished in 2011 and narrated to me the success stories and meaningful impacts IYAF has made in the life of young Muslims in Northern Nigeria. This was with the help of Allah who guided Mukhtar – and some of his friends – to start that meaningful project in the year 2001.

Alhamdulillah! Today, I am a better me who aspires for tomorrow to be the best when I meet my Lord; I hope He is pleased with me and I am forgiven. I have had it rough and tough, however my understanding of the Deen has always been a light in the dark, a guide when I am lost and a torch-bearer leading me to felicity.

Travel Nigeria

Vol 3-Issue 2 Travel NigeriaNigeria is an interesting unexplored paradise. A country with vibrant diverse cultures, exciting festivals, rich history, equatorial forests, clean un-spoilt beaches, exotic landscapes, cascading waterfalls, towering rocks, rolling hills, ancient caves and hospitable people.

Food

Although fast food is growing in popularity in Nigeria, most of the people prefer eating at home. Below are some of the most popular Nigerian dishes:

Obe Ata (pepper soup): this is a thick sauce made by boiling ground tomatoes, ground pepper, meat or fish, meat or fish broth (depending on whether you are using meat or fish), onions, vegetable oil or palm oil and other spices.

Obe Egusi (plain): made by grinding melon seeds and then cooking them with meat and spices. It usually ends up being yellowish-orange in colour.

Amala: dish made from yams. First, the yams are ground and dried to form a powder. This powder is then put into boiling water, and stirred / beaten, until it has a thick smooth form. The cooked product is dark brown in colour.

Shopping

Markets are the most interesting places to shop. Special purchases include Adire (patterned, indigo-dyed cloth), batiks and pottery from the Southwest, leatherwork and Kaduna cotton from the North, and carvings from the East. Designs vary greatly, many towns having their own distinctive style.

Other purchases include herbs, beadwork, basketry, etc.

Economy

Nigeria is well connected by a wide network of all-season roads, railway tracks, inland waterways, maritime and air transportation.

Nigeria’s economy could be aptly described as most promising. It is a mixed economy and accommodates all comers: individuals, corporate organizations, and government agencies that invest in almost full range of economic activities. Since 1995, the government introduced some bold economic measures, which have had a salutary effect on the economy. This they did by: halting the declining growth in the productive sectors and putting a stop to galloping inflation; reducing the debt burden; stabilizing the exchange rate of the Naira; and correcting the balance of payments disequilibria.

Festivals

New Yam Festival

New Yam Festival is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by the Igbos. The individual Ibo communities each have a day for this August occasion. Invitation to the new yam festival is usually open to everyone. What this means is that there is abundant food not just for the harvesters but also for friends and well-wishers.

Arugungu Fishing Festival

This is a leading tourist attraction in the area. The festival originated in August 1934, when the late Sultan Dan Mu’azu made a historic visit. Since then, it’s become a celebrated yearly event, held between February and March.

Vast nets are cast and a wealth of fish is harvested, from giant Nile Perch to the peculiar Balloon Fish. Furthermore, there’s canoe racing, wild duck hunting, bare-handed fishing, diving competitions and, of course, swimming. The festival marks the end of the growing season and the harvest.

Tourist Attractions

Yankari National Park

This can be reached by road from Jos airport through Bauchi state route. There are species of large mammals, such as elephants, hippopotami, lions, and about 153 known species of birds, fish, reptiles, and monkeys. It is also rich in ethno-historical and archaeological attractions.

Kainji Lake National Park

It can be reached through Lokoja, from Lagos through Ibadan, Ilorin, and Jebba. The park is full of diverse wildlife. Available in the park are chalets, restaurants, conference halls, and a waterbus for lake cruising.

Gashaka Gumte National Park

This park is regarded as the most scenic of all the parks in the country. It is full of natural scenery such as mountains, valleys, rivers, streams, etc. It comprises two sectors, each rich in its own unique flora and fauna species. The park contains some historic sites, one of which is the old German Fort at the Gashaka hill.

Farin Ruwa Water Falls

The Farin Ruwa Falls is one of the most spectacular natural features in Nigeria. The force of its gushing water is so torrential that from afar it could be mistaken for white smoke, which earns it the name.

Silicon Hill

This very important mineral deposit is found near the Nkpologu campus of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT). The hill, which is more than 300 metres above sea level and almost half a kilometre long, has silica an important raw material for the manufacture of glass.

The surrounding environment is very captivating with hills, valleys, and plains so beautifully wrapped up that one cannot ignore the breath taking views and awe inspiring blend.

The Mambilla Plateau

This is a plateau of about 1,830 metres above the sea level. It has temperate climate within the tropical region. It has an undulating landscape free of insects. One can find here temperate crops, such as the avogad’s pear, strawberries, and coffee. The popular Mambilla Tourist Centre is located at Gembu in the high land.

Wase Rock

Located in the outskirts of Wase town about 216 kilometres south-east of Jos. Available records indicate that this beautiful massive dome shaped rocky inselberg is one out of only five in the world. It is one of the very few breeding places for white pelican birds in Africa. The remarkable rock, which rises abruptly to 350 metres above the plain of Wase town is a centre of attraction for curious geographers, geologists, mountaineers, and bird watchers.

The wonders of Allah’s (swt) creations are visible aplenty in Nigeria. If one simply wishes to witness serene untouched beauty of nature and the wild life, Nigeria comes highly recommended as a promising destination.

Islam in Nigeria

Contributed by Affaf Jamal

The spread of Islam in Nigeria dates back to the eleventh century. Islam was for quite some time the religion of the court and commerce, and was spread peacefully by Muslim clerics and traders. Later, a Muslim revival took place in western Africa, in which Fulani cattle-driving people, who had adopted Islam, played a central role. The Fulani scholar Uthman dan Fodio launched a Jihad in 1804 that lasted for six years, aiming to revive and purify Islam. It united the Hausa states under Shariah law. In 1812, the Hausa dynasties became part of the Caliphate of Sokoto. The Sokoto Caliphate ended with partition in 1903 when the British incorporated it into the colony of Nigeria and the Sultan’s power was transferred to the High Commissioner. However, many aspects of the caliphate structure, including the Islamic legal system, were retained and brought forward into the colonial period. Presently, Muslims constitute 50% of the population, whereas Christianity and other indigenous beliefs constitute 40% and 10% respectively.