By Femi Abbas
Nights are pregnant. They give birth to wonders in the days. The paradoxical issues between days and nights are like those of the cloudy sky which is earnestly expected to pour down rain water, in torrents, for crops to grow. If the rain falls, it is not because of human expectation. Rather, it is because the Almighty Allah has a message to pass to a section of the world through the rain water. After all, the cloudy sky could have throbbed through the environment either with a wild storm or a devastating tempest, if not for Allah’s mercy.
As human beings, we do many things without noticing the role of a
third eye around us called destiny. It is only when the effect or outcome of such a role becomes manifest that we try to adjust, either by increasing the tempo of our efforts, for posterity sake, or by inadvertently relenting, out of sheer complacency.
Two remarkable events came up two years ago (2020). Each of those events warranted profound appreciation to people who played distinguished roles in them, directly or indirectly.
One was a special prayer which the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) organized for the success of a trusted brother, Barrister Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, the current Chairman of National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), in piloting the affairs of Hajj operations, despite the threat of a deadly artifitial ailment cde-named COV I D 19 pandemic. The motive of the prayer was to invoke the mercy of Allah in bailing out Nigeria from the multi-faceted calamity that was then ravagung the corporate existence of Nigeria, as a united, indivisible country.
The second event was the recognition of yours sincerely as the ‘Nigerian Muslim Media Person of the Year, last year (2021). The selection of yours sincerely for that spectacular recognition was done by a foremost Nigerian Muslim Online Media Outfit called ‘Muslim News’ in collaboration with the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN). The latter is the highest professional ‘Muslim Media’ body in Nigeria. Although both events came up withun the days of Sunday, February 7, 2021 and Monday, February 8, 2021, respectively, the ratification of their conceptions had been done in the serenity of the preceding nights. And, that was a confirmation of the assertion that nights are pregnant.
The Third Eye
Who could have thought that the paltry messages dished out to the world from this column, every Friday, since 1982, has been attracting the attention of some observers with a mark of notice?
Last Monday, February 8, 2021 was a rare day of a common message from various countries around the world. And, the message had only one tone: CONGRATULATION!
That message was in reaction to the fortuitous announcement of the name ‘Femi Abbas’ as the ‘Nigerian Muslim Media Person of the Year 2020’. The announcement was made through the blog of the ‘Muslim News of Nigeria’.
The magnitude of the barrage of congratulatory messages that bombarded me through the throbs of android phones, the Email and the Social Media generally, from all parts of the world, cannot be vividly described here. Although I am personally averse to conferment of awards, as a matter of principle, the fact that a fast growing Muslim Media outfit like ‘Muslim News’ came up, fortuitously, with such recognition, could not be ignored, if only to encourage the continuity of excellent media work by Muslim professionals who are aspiring to become worthy successirs.
It had always been my fervent wish and prayer to see a well groomed, vociferous media outfit like ‘Muslim News’ to take the mantle of competence with which to surpass the old generation and become a successor to ‘The Message’ column. Thus, when ‘The lagos-based ‘Muslim News’ emerged with an incredible ability to keep the flag flying. I considered it as an act of ingratitude to Allah for enabling the emergence of the laudable activities of that outfit with a befitting appreciation. After all, it takes only a sound sound mind to recognize good performance in other people. And, in journalism, it is your work, rather than your boastful words of mouth that shows who you are in meaningful terms.
Growth of Ability
Ability to speak or write is a special gift from the Almighty Allah. With time, such ability may grow to become a hobby which may be developed into a specialized skill. And, with further training and advanced experience, the skill may become an appreciable profession that will be emulated by thousands of others.
Speaking, no matter how eloquently it may be, cannot be as important as getting audience for it. A speaker can be classified as an orator only by his audience. Radio and television broadcasters as well as public motivational speakers can testify to this assertion.
The similitude of an orator, on a radio or television station, is like that of an author of books or a weekly columnist in reputable newspapers or magazines. Thus, as a writer, he/she can be celebrated or denigrated only by his readers. That is why, any writer who takes his readers for granted can only do so at his/her own peril. Such a writer may not be qualified for an author or a columnist.
Ever since yours sincerely was privileged to continue the writing of this column (The Message) in ‘The Nation’ newspaper, in September, 2006, no week has passed by without receiving a barrage of reactions from many countries. Even on some occasions, when the column was not published, for one reason or another, reactions never ceased to come in torrents.
The reason for this was not just because I called the column a participatory one in its maiden edition but mostly because some ardent readers who had long been familiar with it, since its inception, in the now defunct Concord newspaper, 40 years ago (1982), appreciate its quality and acknowledge the methodology and style with which it is presented to showcase Islam, to the world, every Friday. For instance, on a particular article entitled: ‘NO! MR. PRESIDENT, NO!’, which was published in this column, on February 2, 2007, when a onetime Army General, (Chief) Olusegun Okikiolakan Aremu Obasanjo was at the twilight of his second tenure of four years in office, as a Nigerian President, and, he was alleged to be clandestinely planning for an unconstitutional third term in office, I received 189 phone calls, 107 text messages and 143 writtenl comments through the e-mail, all in one day. That was about five months after the resumption of this column in The Nation newspaper, in 2006.
After I left Concord newspaper, in 1989, most readers of this column followed it to other newspapers such as, ‘The Vanguard’, the Monitor and ‘The Nation’. Some even followed it to some foreign magazines such as ‘The Inquiry’, ‘Al-Afkar’, Africa Now, ‘At-Tawheed’ and a host of others including academic journals. Thus, questions, observations and comments were consistently coming into the column from various parts of the world in form of reactions.
This is a confirmation that it is only a bad writer that will close his ears or eyes to readers’ comments, even if such comments are reprobate.
While thanking all the readers of this 40 year old column, particularly those who have been reacting to it from home and from abroad, since its inception, for their encouragement and well wish. I pray the Almighty Allah to appreciate their good intentions and encouraging spirit, as He (Allah) alone, can reward them abundantly.
First Meeting With the Sultan
It came as an undreamt surprise when my telephone rang at exactly 11.50am on the first Sunday in February, 2007. My first reaction after picking the call was: “who is on the line, please?” especially when the call came without a recognizable identity. In answering my question the caller only identified himself as SA‘AD ABUBAKAR. I immediately searched my brain for a possible familiarization with that name. But while doing that, I did not know that I was repeating the name ‘Sa‘ad Abubakar’ in a seeming soliloquy until His Eminence said: “Ah! Don’t you know anybody bearing that name?” And, in my reaction, I said “well! the only person I can think of, that bears that name is the new Sultan”. It was then that His Eminence said: “alright, this is the Sultan”. At that moment, I became so dumfounded that I did not know what to say again. The only clear words that I could utter were “Your Eminence!” before I went stammering. I was simply overwhelmed.
In that telephone conversation, His Eminence expressed deep appreciation of my writings with a tone of royal commendation saying he had been reading my column since its days in the now defunct Concord Newspaper. He counseled me never to relent, especially in calling a spade a spade as I had been doing. And, as the Commander of the Muslim faithful, (Amirul Muminin), he showered me with royal prayers and promised to be calling again in future.
That was one telephone call that made, not just my day, but probably my year. It was one reaction that confirmed my observation expressed in this column about His Eminence, shortly after his installation in November 2006.
By that surprise call alone, the Sultan added to the chain of “FIRSTS’ which I had listed in the mentioned article. In my 25 years of experience in journalism, (as at that time), I could not remember an occasion when any public figure of Sultan’s status ever made a similar call to any ‘common journalist’ except when seeking a media favour.
A Lunch With His Eminence
About two weeks after the above narrated encounter with him, His Eminence called again to invite me to Kaduna for a lunch with him, in Kaduna, This great Sultan sat down with me on bare carpet where we took a special lunch together. That was my first experience of royal conduct in Nigeria’s Sultanate.
Conduct and Actions
By his conduct and actions since he came to the exhalted throne, Sultan Muhammad Sa‘ad Abubakar, CFR, mni, has shown, by all means, an exemplary leadership for other Nigerian leaders or aspiring leaders to emulate. With him, we are being reminded of the Caliphate time of Umar Bn Khattab and Umar Bn Abdul Aziz as a confirmation that leadership is neither by vicious display of force nor by crude bully and animalistic brutality. May the Almighty Allah be merciful to Nigerian Muslim Ummah by preserving the life of this Sultan for the good of this world and that of the Hereafter. I also pray that the flame of His Eminence’s crescent glows brazenly for a long, long time to come without experiencing an eclipse. Amin.