Torrents of encomiums have continued to pour in for Alhaji Abdullahi Abubakar, since the day he saved the lives of no fewer than 300 Christians by accommodating them in his mosque and house, during the June 2018 Plateau crisis, which claimed scores of lives.
The 83-year old Imam of Nghar Village, Gashish District in the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State risked his life to save the large number of Christians and some Muslims who sought for protection in his mosque against ravaging gunmen who invaded their community.
The Governor of Plateau State, Barrister Simon Lalong commended the Imam for the heroic act, saying: “What he did not only saved the people of Barkin Ladi LGA, not only Plateau State, but I think the whole of this country because 300 lives is not a small number.”
The US Embassy in Nigeria has also honoured Imam Abubakar. The Deputy Chief of Mission and Charge d’Affaires, US Embassy in Nigeria, David Young extolled the virtues of the Imam, describing his action as heroic. “This man is a challenge to all of us,” he said.
President Buhari has also promised to reward Imam Abdullahi with a national honour at a yet to be announced date, Muslim News can confirm.
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella body for Nigerian Christians has not deemed it fit to commend Imam Abdullahi to date. This is despite the fact that according to a BBC report, he acted on the passion for the security and safety of humanity according to Islamic teachings, while saving over 300 Christian lives.
Instead, one of Nigeria’s most controversial hate preachers, Bosun Emmanuel, who is also the Secretary of the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) threw caution to the air, and warned that Christians could be wiped out by 2043 if “widespread massacres” continue.
Mr Bosun was quoted by christainpost.com to have said: “Realistically speaking, Christianity is on the brink of extinction in Nigeria. The ascendancy of the Sharia ideology in Nigeria rings the death toll for the Nigerian Church”.
“In 2018, we can say in 25 years from now, we are facing the risk of being the last Christians in Nigeria. Therefore, Christians should be in the frontline of defending democracy in Nigeria”, he urged.
Nigerian Muslims and some peace-loving Christian netizens jointly lambasted the Christian body and other Christian hate preachers for their criminal silence on Imam Abdullahi. They also accused some sections of the mainstream media of not giving the Imam’s heroic feat prominence on the covers of their newspapers.
‘Media under-reportage of his humane act unfortunate’ – Sheikh AbdurRahman Ahmad
Sheikh AbdulRahman Ahmad, the National Missioner of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, described as unfortunate the under-reportage of Imam Abubakar’s humane act by some sections of the media, saying that: “Humanity and the man’s faith does not make the news as far as the Nigerian media is concerned, because it is not bad news.
“To the media, since bad news spreads faster than good news and events like this, such as a Muslim man saving people’s lives without discriminating over their religions and ethnicities, it definitely won’t make cover headlines.
“It doesn’t fit the image of the intolerant Muslim they are always eager to portray. That is why such positive Muslim news is barely reported by the media. The news was grossly underreported. Maybe they think it does not have the capacity to sell their papers, because it is not bad news. That is very unfortunate indeed.
“What could have been more newsworthy than that humane act. That act of kindness and show of bravery should be celebrated and splashed on the front pages of the newspapers. It is not just about the story of the Imam who saved lives; he also put his life on the line, because he could have been attacked. This is not just ordinary,” Sheikh Ahmad said.
Muslim News can confirm that it took weeks before the mainstream media featured Imam Abubakar, following lamentations from Nigerian Muslims who have always expressed concern over the media hatred and bias against Islam and Muslims.
The eloquent Islamic scholar berated the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)’s criminal silence on the matter, saying that he was not surprised that the Christian body did not celebrate the Imam, despite the fact that he saved the lives of hundreds of Christians.
He said: “For CAN, in the recent past, objectivity, truth and fairness have taken the backseat as far as the religious organisation is concerned. CAN did not issue a statement in praise of Imam Abubakar because the news does not fit its agenda, which is an orchestrated campaign of hate and calumny against Islam and Muslims.
“According to CAN, Muslims are the terrorists, aggressors and Christian haters, and they seem to have been blinded against anything positive about Islam and all demonstrations of selflessness and uprightness, as long as they are coming from Muslims”.
‘CAN has pathological hatred for Islam’ – Dr Lukman AbdurRaheem
In a similar vein, Dr Lukman AbdurRaheem, Amir of The Muslim Congress emphatically stated that CAN as a body has a pathological hatred for Islam and Muslims, adding that he is not surprised that the religious body did not celebrate the Imam.
“I am not surprised at all. CAN undoubtedly has a pathological hatred for Islam and Muslims. This hatred has played out in several publications, video clips on the Internet and campaigns of calumny against us, right there in their churches and beyond. There are several sponsored propaganda orchestrated to demonize Muslims in Nigeria.
“Therefore, congratulating and celebrating the lifesaver Imam would contradict the pictures CAN and its cohorts have painted about Muslims locally and internationally.”
The varsity lecturer said Imam Abubakar has pragmatically exemplified the instructions of Allah on preservation of life (Hifzul Nafs) and preservation of religious beliefs (Hifzul Din).
According to him, Imam Abubakar is qualified for international awards on peace, because he has shown practically the teachings of Islam, in spite of the fact that Christians in that part of the North would never have done same for Muslims, because of hatred and Islamophobia.
“To Muslims who have suffered hardship and persecution in the hands of Christians, the empathetic act of love and kindness shown by the Imam may be misconstrued. To this group of Muslims, I say: ‘Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, suffered more severely, yet he forgave, forgot and accommodated his enemies’.
“Also, I advise those lacking the spirit of forgiveness to practice Islam as ordained by Allah and exemplified by His Apostle. Don’t practice Islam as defined by your local people and cultures”, he said.
The former Chairman of NIREC, Lagos State Chapter called out some sections of the Nigerian mainstream media, which are heavily controlled by Christians, for what he termed “selective news reportage.”
He said: “They refused to amplify the news about the lifesaver Imam because they have consistently portrayed Muslims as killers, bombers, blood suckers and terrorists. The portrayal of Muslims as terrorists is a propaganda created by international and local media to demonize the Muslims.
“Therefore, giving publicity to the uncommon empathy and love demonstrated by the courageous Imam would not serve their interest; rather, it would counter their evil agenda”.
‘He has done exactly what Islam preaches’ – Imam Nojeem Jimoh
Imam Nojeem Jimoh, Lagos District Amir of The Companion said, “Like most people, I have read the story and seen the photograph of the Imam. He did exactly what a Muslim would be expected to do in the circumstance, and we should all be proud of him.
“We are humans before we are Muslims, Christians or whatever else we choose to call ourselves. Islam holds all human lives sacred”.
When asked if such gestures of lifesaving towards non-Muslims were recorded during the times of the Prophet (SAW) or his Companions, Imam Nojeem answered in the affirmative.
He said, “We have examples of this dating back to the time of RasuluLlah (SAW). During the occasion of the Conquest of Makkah, when the Muslims made a triumphant return to the city from which the Prophet had been evicted in the first place, and to which they were earlier denied the opportunity of a return to perform the ‘Umrah, the Prophet and the Muslims gave amnesty to all who were willing to remain quietly in their homes, with the assurance that they will not be attacked.
“Such non-Muslims, even though not accepting the message of the Prophet while equally remaining on their worship of idols, were not attacked.
“Let us remember also that when the Prophet arrived in Madeenah (having ran for his life away from Makkah), he signed a pact with the leaders of Christians and Jews in Madeenah to co-protect each other in the face of attack by enemies from outside. He honoured this agreement”, he explained.
‘There are such examples in the history of Islam’ – Alhaji Disu Kamor
In his reaction to the Imam Abubakar matter, Alhaji Disu Kamor, Executive Director of MPAC said that only those who are not familiar with the rich Islamic traditions will be surprised at the incident.
He said, “Only people who are not familiar or conversant with the rich tradition of the Muslim exemplars in this regard will express surprise or shock at such a magnificent and charitable deed by this Imam”.
He said that one of the examples of such incident was recorded in the 19th century.
“One of such historical exemplars is Amir AbdKadir Al-Jazahiri, a 19th century Muslim scholar who died in 1883 after successfully leading the struggle against the French colonial invasion of Algeria.
“The Amir, in all of stiff resistance to colonialism, consistently showed regard for what would now be called human rights, especially as regards his Christian opponents.
“Most prominent of his many magnanimous acts was the compassion he showed when, crucially, he intervened to save the Christian community of Damascus from a massacre in 1860, which brought honours and accolades from around the world.
“He was a shining example of such great deeds, but he was also just a link in an unbroken chain of such generous acts, which started with Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself.
“The Prophet forgave the entire pagan community of Makkah – which had persecuted him and his followers for two decades – and declared their rights inviolable. This singular act was not only exemplary, it was also unprecedented”.
Kamor expressed regret that the Imam was not celebrated as expected in the media.
He said, “Absolutely. It is sad that this sort of exemplary and selfless sacrifice did not find its way to the front pages of most of our newspapers. Aside the fact that this news does not fall within the narrative the media generally like to push out about Islam and Muslims, it also must have been their calculation that such report will be an inconvenient break from the daily diet of anti-Muslim sentiment that permeates the media.
“How does the name and face of a person that does a random act of kindness, potentially putting his own life at risk in the process, become a threat to his personal security?
“This is total nonsense and a weird attempt to take away from the Muslim community a merit of kindness and sacrifice that is due to them and their religion.
“The Imam is an appropriate model of kindness and fellow-feeling whose sacrifice and kind-heartedness do not carry price tags. He put their lives and safety beyond other considerations. He is a national hero”.
Plateau killings: I acted on Allah’s instruction, says 83-year-old Imam who rescued 300 Christians
Abdullahi Abubakar is the 83-year- old Imam who saved 300 Christians, especially women and children during the recent killings of over 200 persons in Barkin Ladi and Riyom Local Government of Plateau State on June 23. In this interview with MUSA PAM in Jos, Abubakar who spoke in (Hausa) which was later translated in (English) told Saturday Telegraph that he was not afraid of the risk involved, because it was God who instructed him to do what he did, and God will not allow any body to harm him. Excerpts…
Could you give a brief insight into who you are?
I am Abdullahi Abubakar, 83 years old. Iam the Imam of Nghar Village in Gashish District of Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State. I was born in Kura Falls but later moved to Yelwa at an early age. I had two wives, and 20 children, one of my wives is from Berom ethnic nationality and six of my children are Christians while one of my wives is late now.
You recently saved 300 Christians in the Mosque including women and children and you are a Muslim what made you do it?
The reason why I protected and saved 300 Christians including men, women and children was as a result of an instruction from God given to me to protect every human being irrespective of religion or race. Prophet Mohammed worked with many people with different backgrounds. He also preached to Christians, pagans and idol worshippers. He had a cordial and peaceful relationship with everybody regardless of their religion, and the Qur’an has also instructed us to do same.
Have you in any way received a threat for saving the lives of Christians in the community?
I am happy about what I did and if any opportunity presents itself again, I will be glad to do it again. I have not yet received any threat to my life, but Iam not afraid of the risk involved, because God who directed me to save the lives of his creatures, will not allow anybody to harm me or harm me.
Could you explain what happened that resulted in the killings?
What happened that day was that we were preparing for prayers when we saw people from the neighbouring community running to us, saying that some attackers were pursuing them. So we had to stop all that we were doing to re s cue them. Actually, we don’t know the people nor where they came from. But myself and together with some youths in the community carried children and women who could not run into the mosque and some into my house. On that very day Around 3:30 pm, the attackers came in large numbers and started shooting indiscriminately in every direction. I was afraid for the people I hid, because there was every tendency they would be attacked. I was threatened, and my life was also in danger, But because they saw that I am an old man, they left me and went elsewhere.
Where are you from?
I am from Misau Local Government Area of Bauchi State. I enrolled myself in Quranic school, and thereafter, my father took me to Yelwa in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area of Plateau State where he was an Imam. My father engaged in mining activities and farming. After his death, I was appointed in place of my father and that was how I became the Imam to lead people in prayers and do things in line with Islamic doctrines and injunctions. Let me add this, I left home when I was 25 years old. That was during the administration of Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir, Ahmadu Bello, in the First Republic.
What do you think should be the solution to the killing and your advice to the Federal and State Government?
The Government should increase security presence in the area, make the road accessible as well as network for communication easily. I also advocate absolute peace globally; we should also be our brothers’ keeper. What you don’t like, don’t do it to other people. Religion is between individuals and God. Nobody has any certificate to go to heaven. Nobody is licensed to take the life of another person. God has instructed us to value human lives, don’t tamper with my life, I won’t tamper with your life. Whether Christian, Muslim, pagan, Berom, Fulani, Yoruba or Igbo, let us value human lives first. If you value human life, you won’t have the mind to kill anybody.
Governor Lalong recently announced that he would take you for a handshake with President Muhammadu Buhari for what you did?
Have you met with him? Iam yet to be taken to see the President, but if I meet him I will tell him to do his best to increase security in the area and to help construct good road for accessibility to Gashish.
- Story and all interviews by Rasheed Abubakar