The National Mosque, Abuja is unarguably one of the Islamic monuments and national treasures lying in the heart of Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.
The Mosque was officially opened to the public in 1991, same week the seat of power was moved from Lagos to Abuja.
While the transition was on Wednesday, the curtain raising was done of Friday under the leadership of General Ibrahim Babangida as the military president.
Muslim News findings revealed that it was the late Shehu Shagari that approved a sum of N10 million each for the construction of the National Mosque and National Christian Center (previously known as National Ecumenical Center) in 1984 before it was later completed with the collective efforts of the Muslims, who donated generously.
The Mosque which has a 25,000-capacity prayer arena with extensions that can take more worshippers at a time, hosts the high, the mighty, the low and the downtrodden.
It accommodates people from all works of life, leaders, scholars, among others.
After conducting a check on the Mosque during the Muslim News Week in Abuja held before the two-week lockdown over coronavirus, a chronicle of some of the edifying experiences and thrilling moments enjoyed at the National Mosque was made.
The Mosque plays host to people of substance who are achievers in varying fields – politics, business, academics and other walks of life, just as it remains one of the beautiful tourist attractions in the Federal Capital Territory.
The Nigeria National Mosque has a golden dome and beautiful minarets hosted on a very huge and marvelous architectural piece, with unmistaken visibility from virtually any part in Abuja. It is sometimes referred to as the best sight to behold in the capital city by any visitor or tourist, anytime, any day.
The National Mosque is also home to the office of the Islamic Centre and a religious school. With a 500-seater Conference Hall and a huge Library – a perfect abode for anyone seeking the knowledge of Islam.
According to a survey by Hongkiat, the National Mosque isn’t only one of the most popular tourist attraction centres of Abuja, but also one of the Top 50 Most Beautiful Religious Centres in the world.
Within the precinct of the Mosque are different departments for administrative purposes and
residential lodges for Imams and Muadhins. It also harbours a wide parking space, with shops where Islamic and other essential materials are sold. Interestingly, it is a veritable selling point for anyone interested in original kilishi delicacies.
Muslim News investigation also revealed that the Mosque has an underground and an upstairs sections where female congregants observe their prayers.
However, being a magnificent building, maintaining its beauty and sustaining its elegance obviously requires a lot. In view of this, the management put up a committee to ensure its upkeep.
Another interesting feature to note about the National Mosque is that it exemplifies the nationality and multi-culturalism of Nigeria. Though a country with over 250 ethnic groups, sermons and communications are made in the three prominent languages – Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
During our stay, the Friday Khutbah (sermon) were delivered in five different languages: Arabic, English, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
Arabic, being the language of Islam and the Holy Quran, was first used to deliver the sermon before it was translated into the other stated languages.
The languages, Muslim News reliably gathered, were adopted as official mode of communication in order to reflect the Nigerian nationality.
Muslim News observed that though the National Mosque has experienced a facelift with the passage of time, it still commands an appreciable level of influence among the Muslim elites in Nigeria.
The smooth running of the National Mosque and its laudable activities would not have been successful without the proper coordination by the mosque as an institution headed by a respected Islamic scholar, Prof. Shehu Ahmad Galadanci.
In 2017, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) appointed the revered Islamic scholar as the Murshid (General Administrator or Grand Instructor) to oversee the affairs of the National Mosque.
This was two years after the death of the Chief Imam, Sheikh Musa Muhammad who returned to his Creator on May 2, 2015.
Between 2015 and 2017, the apex body of the Muslims in Nigeria undertook a number of restructuring in line with the best practices with National Mosques across the globe and for the first time, the office of Murshid was introduced instead of the traditional and age-long title of Chief Imam.
The council also elevated three Deputy Chief Imams to the position of Imams of the Mosque. They are: Imam Prof. Ibrahim Ahmad Makari, Imam Shiekh Ahmad Onilewura and Imam Dr Muhammad Kabir Adam.
Muslim News was live on Friday, 28th February, at the National Mosque, Abuja, where Dr Kabir held the large congregation spellbound during his emotion laden rendition of the Khutbah, which centred on parental responsibility towards the children.
He called on parents to assume responsibility of taking good care of their children, saying such children could become victims of negative influences if they are not taken good care of.
According to him, Some parents leave their children at the mercy of househelps. “Your child may have problems that he or she needs to share with you as a father or mother, but if you are not on ground, what will he or she do? Then, you are in trouble.
“We are living in the era of social media. Your child may share his or her problems through the social media, and you don’t know who responds to him or her. A devil may respond to him/her, and at the end of the day, he/she will become a victim. That’s why this sermon calls on parents to stay with their children, listen to them, talk to them,” he said.
Quoting from the Noble Qur’an 37: 101-107, where Allah informed Prophet Ibrahim about his son, Sheikh Adam narrated:
“Ibrahim saw in his dream that he’s going to slaughter his son which he understood to be a command from Allah.
So, he did not execute what he was told directly, but he consulted with his son. ‘O my son, this is the situation, what do you see about this?’ The son told him to do as he has been commanded:
“You (Ibrahim) will find me (Ismail) a patient child, by the will of Allah.”
“In another verse of the Qur’an (31:13) Allah told us the story of Luqman,” Dr Kabir said, adding that, “Luqman called on his son by saying, O my son. This is the sign of affection, of love and of mercy.
He said, O my son, establish regular prayers; engage in a work, pray and ensure you ask your needs from Allah alone; obey him, He will provide for you. Look at the way he talked to his son.”
The Khutbah also mentioned how our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) related with his family, wife, children, especially Fatimah
.”After Fatimah got married to Ali, the Prophet being the father did pay them visits. If there was dispute, he quickly reconciled between them. Relationship between parents and children should be cordial as far as Islam is concerned.”
On the consequence of not performing one’s parental role adequately, the Dr Kabir said;
“The children will become victims of bad friends. The issue of drug abuse happens in a situation where children are left at home, without the care of their parents. They don’t know who to meet for advice. They can meet their wrong friends who will influence them wrongly. These are the consequences.”
First Salatul Jumu’ah experience
After the Jumu’at service, Muslim News correspondents met with the Imam at his chambers where he relished the sumptuous experience at the inception of the Mosque.
“I remember in 1991, precisely in December, the Federal Government under the leadership of General Ibrahim Babangida, shifted the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja on Wednesday. In the same week, he opened the National Mosque on Friday. We had our first prayer, and all the leaders of Islam including the Sultan of Sokoto were around.
“It was marvelous. It was the first time in my life to pray in a mosque together with the president of the country, ministers, leaders like the Sultan of Sokoto, renowned scholars of Islam across Nigeria. So, it was really a wonderful experience”, the Imam said as he took our correspondents down memory lane.
The National Mosque which plays host to Muslim Presidents for obligatory prayers has hosted, General Ibrahim Babangida, General Sani Abacha as well as the two democratically elected presidents -Late Alhaji Umaru Musa Yaradua and President Muhammadu Buhari alongside several notable personalities.
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By Rasheed Abubakar
Photo by Abdul Waheed Adeniyi
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