The Muslim Congress (TMC) is undoubtedly one of the leading Muslim organisations in Nigeria. For nearly three decades, the organisation has championed and is still championing the re-awakening of the pristine Islam; using the templates of the Qur’an and the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as bases.
TMC, hugely popular in Southern Nigeria, came as a catalyst to help Muslims practise Islam wholesomely while escaping the social stratifications and spiritual limitations that pervade the community.
It emerged as an attempt to breathe new life into the Ummah, resuscitating it with vigour and giving Muslims a sense of direction in an environment where modernisation has become a menace to the Muslims.
The Muslim Congress, founded in 1994 as a registered organisation, has been catering for the needs of Muslim youths and the elderly through its laudable programmes and projects that speak to personal reformation and soul purification.
From the perspective of Islam, the soul is the bedrock of all activities. Buttressing this point, Ustadh AbduRasaq AbdusSalam, the first Amir of TMC said;
“The soul must therefore be reformed to such a standard that it serves only its Creator, Allah. Thereafter, the human body that will shelter the soul must also be purified from its putrid endeavours such that it can house a clean soul.
“Finally, the overtly corrupt environment must be equally purified so that the purified soul and body can find an equally pure society to thrive.”
From the archives of the TMC itself (as published on its website www.tmcng.net, I gathered that every week, thousands of members and non-members gather at different Mosques across the Southern states and Abuja (the nation’s capital), in about 500 centres in Nigeria, to listen to soul-inspiring lectures on topics in Tafsirul-Qur’an, Islamic civilization, Islamic History, Hadith, current affairs, etc. The programme is tagged: “Tazkiyyatun-Nafs” (Soul Purification Programme).
There is also a monthly “Adhkar” at various centres, where participants are taught and engage in the act of supplication, in accordance with the Qur‘an and Sunnah.
For Muslims to learn more about Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh), an aspect that has in this age become very controversial due to differences of opinions among scholars, the organisation schedules a monthly gathering tagged “Fiqh Forum” at different locations in Nigeria.
For instance, just like many other centres, at the Lagos Centre along Oshodi-Mile 2 Road, Ijeshatedo, topics such as Tawheed (Islamic monotheism), Aqeedah (Sound Islamic creed), Salat (prayers), Zakat (alms giving), Hajj (pilgrimage), and Ramadan (Fasting in the month of Ramadan), among others are often explored and put in proper perspective without resorting to extremism, fanaticism, name tagging, abuse, insults or hate speech.
Decorum remains the rule of the game, even when issues considered controversial are involved.
For weeks, the importance of adhering to the Sunnah and Ah’kaam (rulings) on beards, the Hijab, the Niqob, Isbal and others have been addressed with readings from the books of Shuyyukh (Scholars) such as Sheikh Sayyid Sabiq, Dr. Wahbah Az-Zuhaili, Sheikh Nasirudeen Al-Albani amongst others by revered Islamic scholars led by Sheikh Dhikrullah Shafi’i, the Grand Mufti, Conference of Islamic Organisations (CIO).
Establishment of Institutions
Practically, there is no way one would be able to perform a hitch-free Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, especially in a multi-religious country like Nigeria, without a formidable Hajj operating system.
This undoubtedly led The Muslim Congress to establish Hajj Mabrur Ventures Limited (HMVL), which has won numerous awards including the Best Umrah Operator from Nigeria in the 2013 World Hajj & Umrah Convention in London.
As the name implies, Hajj Mabrur, (Successful/Righteous Pilgrimage) one of the organs of the TMC has changed the face of Hajj and Umrah operations in Nigeria and even beyond.
Consequently, rather than mere excursions and jamborees which many have turned the Hajj into, HMVL is making pilgrims and pilgrimage more spiritually inclined, while offering impeccable hospitality services.
Based on its understanding of the consequences of Riba (interest) as established in the Noble Qur’an 2: 275, as far back as year 2000 when micro-finance banks were collapsing and commercial banks were shying away from establishing them to assist the poor and the Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, TMC floated Al-Barakah Microfinance Bank, an Islamic, non-interest bank.
Al-Barakah is committed to providing a broad range of microfinance solutions/services to low-income earners, petty traders, artisans, small-scale industries and the self-employed to meet their day-to-day business and wealth creation aspirations.
It is interesting to realise that many Muslims, including TMC critics, have enjoyed benefits from the Zakat and Sadaqat Foundation, an organ of the group dedicated to the cause of the poor and needy using the instrumentality of Islamic charity (Awqaf, Zakat and Sadaqat).
Since inception in the year 2000, the Foundation has empowered thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims alike through its Mosque Support, Iftar Saim (feeding of fasting Muslims), education support, medical support, empowerment support and widows and orphan support programmes.
The Foundation also engages in other humanitarian and community-based projects across major cities in Nigeria. Last year, for instance, the Foundation disbursed over 148 million naira to no fewer than 600 Muslim beneficiaries across the federation.
Interestingly, The Muslim Congress together with other Islamic
organisations under the aegies of Al-Qaswa Foundation has standard Islamic private primary and secondary schools with boarding facilities.
Even the harshest critics of TMC acknowledge the fact that Vanguards Academy at Odonsongolu, Ijebu-Ode, remains one of the best of its ilk, not only in Ogun State, but in the whole of Nigeria – churning out intellectual giants who are balanced morally and academically.
The school has also produced several talents who are not only the best of brains but also veritable Ambassadors of Islam. The 2013 Unilag youngest medical graduate, Dr Maryam Raji, is a product of Vanguards Academy, so is Samiat Owo-Alade, who emerged the Best Graduating Pharmacy student at the Rajiv Ghandi University of Health Sciences in faraway India.
In addition to a perfect combination of the conventional and Islamic curricula, Vanguards Academy also operates a one-year Tahfiz certificate course for willing pupils before entry into secondary school.
Besides, many TMC members have also established standard primary and secondary schools across the country, where children are moulded to become future ambassadors of Islam.
On the spiritual plane, the TMC has singly or jointly established world class Maqbara (burial grounds) across the areas where it exists, while also venturing into many other commercial sectors.
For instance, it invested in agriculture. Al Khair Farms in Ogun State is a pointer to this fact. Let me not bore you with TMC’s investment profile. You can contact the organisation virtually or physically for more on this.
Religious and social harmony
In the same vein, TMC has a robust working relationship with notable organisations in Nigeria, among which are the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN).
The group is among the brains behind the formation of Conference of Islamic (CIO), a conglomerate of Muslim organisations and scholars which has been a catalyst in the promotion of unity, understanding and purpose among Nigerian Muslims since its creation.
Sometimes in 2013 when the molestation of Muslim Sisters in the Hijab was at its peak, it was the CIO that mobilised over 100 eminent Muslim leaders as well as representatives of various Islamic organisations and central mosques for an urgent meeting in Surulere, Lagos.
At the event, the CIO facilitated and prodded members to petition the Lagos State House of Assembly on the victimisation of Muslim students wearing the Hijab in Lagos public schools.
Realising that the concerted efforts so far made to create awareness about the Hijab to the general public and stop the assault on Hijab-wearing Muslim sisters have continued unabated, the Lagos State chapter of the TMC last weekend staged an open lecture, titled: “Hijab: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”, where the guest lecturer, Sheikh Isma’eel Busayri predicted that the Hijab will soon rule the world.
Media prominence and relations
Unlike many Muslim organisations, the TMC has truly redefined the concepts of media mention, media prominence and media relations. It remains one of the leading media-friendly Muslim organisations in the country, through its regular quarterly State-of-the-Nation Address, where its critiques of different government policies, especially as they affect Islam and the Muslims, are addressed. In a nutshell, the TMC has succeeded in giving a voice to the Nigerian Muslims.
In its April 2018 press conference, the society addressed myriads of social vices bedeviling Nigeria and suggested workable solutions.
On the unholy activities of the Boko Haraam insurgents, The Muslim Congress charged the President Buhari-led government to step up its strategy to contain the dreaded group, which has since divided into two factions – the Abubakar Shekau and Abu Musab al-Barnawi.
“The Boko Haraam group must not be allowed to regain its strength even though there are factions within it. The activities to contain the dreaded group should be stepped up because the two factions would mean that the war is being fought on two different
fronts. They should be pushed back to the remote fringes near the
Niger, Chad and Cameroon borders.”
“Let the security groups synergise their efforts in order to weaken them such that they are not able to constitute serious threats to lives and properties. The Easter Day multiple attacks that killed 29 people and injured 84 and the killing of another set of 10 people in separate attacks in Borno State in March this year are condemnable.“
Challenges and criticisms
Despite the positive efforts highlighted above, The Muslim Congress is not without its challenges and criticisms, especially from fellow Muslims who never let go of the events that surrounded the formation of the group.
Many of the founders of the TMC were among those who felt perturbed and got tired of the crisis in the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria at that time, and decided to pursue their Daw’ah activities outside the student organisation.
It was their belief that Daw’ah in an environment of peace and harmony, devoid of crisis could only accelerate growth and development.
Consequently, in Lagos State where TMC was formed, MSSN and TMC grew separately and have continued to grow in leaps and bounds, since they were both devoid of internal crisis. Although some of the earlier critics of the TMC have put the event behind them, as they have also collaborated with it over many issues of common interest, some still do not see any reason for collaboration in any guise.
It must therefore go without saying that leaders of some Muslim groups who felt “challenged” by the approach and achievements of the TMC will see no good in any of its giant strides. The overzealous youths will also see nothing good in all the aforementioned positive moves, other than tag the TMC as deviants, cults and innovators.
Disposition to criticisms
To the TMC, criticisms are normal. They accompany every mission and they start within our primary constituency – the Muslims, especially those benefitting from the inertia of the Muslims.
“The critics remain the ample rumour house about the mission of the TMC and the sincerity of its personnel. Often, their concocted stories propel the TMC to great places.” With these words, the TMC Amir, Dr Abdur-Raheem called on his members to remain focused and continue to spread the message of hope – Islam.
He said: “Disregard, Don’t be distracted, Be focused on your Daw’ah. Purify yourself, then invite others. Manifestations of this nature are a blessing in disguise. It is to confirm that the TMC is making impact in the society despite their machinations, overtly or covertly to strangulate it, but Allah abhors their plots, thus the desperation! May Allah accept our Dawah efforts as Ibadah.
“Remember, TMC’s slogan is: In tansuru Llah yansurukum wayuthabbit aqdamakum; meaning, ‘O you who have believed, if you support Allah, He will support you and plant firmly your feet.’ Qur’an 47:7,” he said.