On set, he is known to be fearless, ruthless and popularly known for playing the roles of area boy, armed robber and assassin in many of his movies, but off screen, he is the complete opposite of the roles he plays. He is from a humble Muslim background. His father is a Sheikh, his mother is a Niqobi (veiled) and he himself is versed in Arabic and Islamic knowledge – little wonder he has also acted as an Islamic scholar on several occasions. In this interview with RASHEED ABUBAKAR, the Publisher of Muslim News and ABDUL WAHEED SHOTONWA, Senior Reporter, ABDULLAHI OLAMILEKAN AYINLA, popular known as ‘220, Omo Eleha’, spoke about his sojourn in the movie industry and the impact of his Islamic background on his acting career.
Tell us more about yourself?
My name is Abdullah Olamilekan Ayinla, aka 220. I’m a Muslim and an actor. My father is a Muslim scholar, but I’m not one. I practice Islam because I’m a devout Muslim. I finished from Markaz Daru Salam Li Taalim Arabiy wal Islamiy of Sheikh Hassan Zahrukh from Sheikh Adam Abdullah Al-Ilory years back. I had my Waleematul Qur’an in 1988. My initial thought was that I was going to be an Alfa.
My father is an Alfa and I thought of what I could do that would make me different in my way of propagation. The Qur’an says, “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good words”, and how can I propagate Islam without being an Alfa? That is why I chose acting. The truth is, not everyone who goes to Madrasah will become an Alfa. There are so many professions you can apply your Arabic knowledge to. Acting is one of such.
Can you shed more light on this?
If we act like a tout, we are telling the people thuggery has no gain and its aftermath is bad. Same as playing a decent role like a man of God or a responsible man. It indicates that it is best to obey Allah and shun vices. Those are what we do. I’m an actor and even with that, I don’t let anything affect my Islam. I practise Islam as my religion, pray 5 times daily, do Tilaawatul Qur’an, and supplicate to my Lord at the right time, as prescribed in the Qur’an that; “After you have worshipped your Lord, direct all your needs towards him.” I try as much as possible not to do what Allah has forbidden. In fact, Allah is the best of all scriptwriters. All what we do is in accordance with the script Allah has written. So, I do what I do to teach and lecture people on what is right and wrong.
Tell us briefly about your dad.
My father is a teacher of Islam. He has been doing that before I was born and even before he married my mother. Apart from being a teacher, he is also the Imam of a mosque. He is a lecturer but not as a popular as the ones we all know. I learn so much from him. My father is my Sheikh, my Alfa, and my Muraabi, whose footsteps I can follow. This is not just because he is my father, but because he always strives towards doing Allah’s wish and that of the Prophet (SAW).
Which of the Tariqahs (paths) does he belong to?
He is not of any Tariqah. He is neither Tijaniyyah nor Qadiriyyah, but he doesn’t discriminate. He is always with his Musbaha (rosary) at all times. After his Tilaawah (recitation of the Qur’an), he does his Adhkar. He has done nothing more than that since I have known him. He will be 94 by December 31. He is my very close friend. His name is Muhammad Haashim Abdul Maalik.
Recently you posted the picture of a lady in Niqob (veil) and according to your post, she is your mother. As an actor, how does it feel seeing your mother using Niqob?
She is obeying the commandment of Allah. In the Qur’an, Allah commanded the Prophet (peace be upon him) to tell his wives and the believing women to use their Jilbaabs. The use of “yudnina alayhinna min jalabibi hinna – draw their Jalabib close around them” makes it a Sunnah (the prophetic way of life) for the wives of the Prophet and the believing women to adorn it. Hence, my mum is among the believing women. That is what my father did. He made his wife use the veil, even before she became my mother. From my mother’s house, all her sisters use the veil and my mother has never for once said she is tired of using it.
Yeah, AlhamduliLlah. That is why I have no reason to hide my mother. Because of what? The only thing you can’t see is her face. I can describe her to you and take pictures with her showing the world she uses the veil. She goes out but with her veil. That is my mother for everyone.
So, about the picture you posted on IG?
Yes, I just thought that for a long while, I didn’t do it. I only put up write-ups celebrating my mother. I just thought; why can’t people know my mother uses the veil? Even while on movie sets, I do speak about her. However, one day, I decided to take a picture with her and post it online on Mothers’ Day, showing her as one who uses the veil and there’s nothing wrong in it. I am Abdullah Omo Eleha, and my stage name is 220.
Let’s talk about your sojourn into the movie industry. When did you conceive the idea?
It has been long. I developed interest in movies as far back my Madrasah days. In my father’s Madrasah, either during Maulud Nabbiy or Waleematul Qur’an, we often acted some little dramas to entertain guests. Even before then, I was always involved in those child plays where we requested for money for viewing, but I never thought I would go into full time acting. One day, my father’s colleague, Sheikh Kewulere (May Allah forgive him) said there was a drama going on somewhere, not too far from where we stayed.
What year are you talking about?
That was over ten years ago or thereabouts. I can’t remember precisely but I remember the date was 6th of April. We went on to join a man called Ologun Eru. It was that day I started acting. But my father was not in support. I continued because it was what I wished for. According to the Qur’an, not everyone would thread the same path. There are verses of the Qur’an to back that. Even the Prophet went to what looked like the modern theatre to watch the likes of Abu Shaari Al-Falaqi. There were occasions where the Prophet permitted singing too, but not like Fuji music. It is all these that convinced me that I can also go into acting, but my father was not in support of that. So, I tried to convince my dad with all the evidence, but he didn’t endorse it.
Really? Up till now?
No! At first, the thought that my dad didn’t endorse acting for me always brought tears to my eyes. How would I succeed without his approval? A child must follow his father’s wishes. But in the long run, I continued till Allah helped me to achieve success in acting. When my father clocked 90 and we organised a birthday party for him, it was then he approved it. I was very happy beyond imagination. I have kept on receiving his blessings since then.
…To be continued on Sunday, April 21, 2019.
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