▪︎All you need to know about the ‘Muslim Princess’, Alhaja Aasiyat, why her Christian sons don’t want her interred the Islamic way
There is controversy over claims that our dad left Islam — Son
When the news of Alhaja Aasiyat Oyedepo’s demise hit the airwaves on Sunday, December 13, it quickly spread like wildfire and became the trending story among the Nigerian Muslim community, especially in the southwest region of the country. Her death also triggered reactions with condolences from Muslim faithful who showered encomiums on various social media platforms.
As they continued to share Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde’s article, titled; ‘Farewell to a Yoruba, Muslim Princess’, which gave an exposé into the personality of the deceased, an indigene of Omu-Aran, Kwara State, the mind-boggling questions on the lips of many were; was Alhaja Aasiyat a sister or stepmother to clergyman, Bishop David Oyedepo of Living Faith Church, also known as Winners Chapel?
The author of the article, a Fulani Muslim, had first presented the Yoruba Muslim princess, Alhaja Aasiyat as one of Bishop David Oyedepo’s stepmothers, and later, his “sister” in the same article.
In a bid to probably back-up claims that Dr. Tilde might have mixed-up sister for stepmother, some Muslims began sharing an old story published on July 28, 2012, where the billionaire Pastor Oyedepo allegedly told his Muslim sister “Convert to christianity or die poor.” Those promoting this narrative with a screenshot headline didn’t take cognisance of the fact that the Oyedepo’s sister mentioned in the story was Alhaja Saratu Bello, not Alhaja Aasiyat, who is at the centre of the storm.
If the two names (Saratu and Aasiyat) are different people, the belief that the latter is the only Muslim standing in the family might then seem far from the truth as Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Olabode Salahudeeen, who is a strong member of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria and NURTW leader; Alhaji Ganiu Ayinde Oyedepo, famously known as Koko Zaria, are also Muslims from the Oyedepo’s family.
Who was Alhaja Aasiyat?
There were so many unconfirmed, unverified, unsigned information being circulated by many Muslims on social media concerning the deceased and it becomes germane for Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic newspaper to unravel the truth in accordance with the Glorious Qur’an Chapter 49:6, which mandated the Believers to verify the authenticity of news items before sharing them.
Investigations carried out by this medium showed that the late Alhaja Aasiyat was neither a sister nor stepmother to the controversial Pastor Oyedepo, who has never hidden his enemity for Islam and the Muslims. The devout Muslimah who gave her life to the work of Allah has been confirmed to be Pastor Oyedepo’s aunt.
Speaking with journalists in Omu-Aran, the hometown of the Pa Salaudeen Oyedepo’s family, where the remains of Alhaja Aasiyat is expected to be buried; an immediate sibling to the deceased, Mr. Abdur Rahman Ajiboye clarified, “She was a wife to Bishop Oyedepo’s Uncle. Bishop’s father was the elder brother to late Hajia Aasiyat’s husband from the same parents.”
Corroborating the story with Muslim News, Alhaji Salaudeen, the last child of the Oyedepo dynasty, said; “Our father’s name is Alhaji Salman Oyedepo Salahudeen. Alhaja Aasiyat Bello is not one of our father’s wives. Our father had two siblings and the deceased (Aasiyat) is the wife of our father’s immediate younger brother whose name is Yusuf Olajide.”
Is Saratu the same as Aasiyat?
Muslim News also established that there was a member of the Oyedepo family who goes by the name Saratu Bello but she wasn’t a halfsister to Pastor Oyedepo as widely reported by a section of the media. Findings revealed that she was Pastor Oyedepo’s stepmother, who died as a Muslim sometimes in 2010, almost two years before Pastor Oyedepo’s now infamous “convert to christianity or die poor” vituperation in 2012.
Confirming the development to our correspondent, Alhaji Salaudeen, who is one of the five children of the late Saratu, said; “The story was true but he wasn’t addressing my mother, who died sometime in 2010. For the sake of clarification, my mother was never sick and neither did she suffer.
“I was at home along with my siblings on the day she died. At about 2 am, she complained that she wasn’t feeling too fine and we rushed her to the hospital with my car where she gave up the ghost. She lived a good life, went on Hajj and we were even the first family that they allowed to do welcome back ceremony for our mother in our hometown. It was held at Ansar-Ud-Deen Central Mosque. After our mother died in 2010, there was a massive turnout at her funeral.
Speaking further, Alhaji Salaudeen said there was a mix-up in names as reported in the media, adding that, “Hassan (addressing Pastor David Oyedepo with his Muslim name) was referring to her aunt, the late Alhaja Aasiyat, who died on Saturday, not my mother, Saratu. Back then, he was telling Alhaja Aasiyat’s two sons, who are now pastors in his church to ensure their mother converts to Christianity else, she’ll suffer till she dies.
“The misinformation and mix-up has been on for years but this is the right opportunity to correct it. And as you can see, Alhaja Aasiyat too didn’t die poor. She died a Muslim and even pronounced the Kalimatul Shahadah, ‘No diety but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God’, Alhaji Abdur Rahman; who dropped the surname ‘Oyedepo’ for ‘Salaudeen’ due to notoriety of Bishop David’s brand, added.
About Koko Zaria being family with Oyedepo
Alhaji Salaudeen clarified while speaking with Muslim News on Wednesday, saying, “His (Alhaji Ganiyu Oyedepo) own family name is Afolayan not Oyedepo. Their house is like four to five houses before our own in Omu-Aran. His father and our father are related even though I don’t have the details. His father was a regular visitor at our house and we were very close.
Bishop Oyedepo’s father married two or three wives?
Another inaccuracy which Alhaji Salaudeen didn’t forget to mention is the number of wives his late father married. He said his father married two wives, adding that, “I also read Dr. Tilde’s article where he quoted that our dad had three wives. No! It was a mistake on his part because our father had just two wives.
“My own mother and the Bishop’s mother. Those he (Dr. Tilde) received information from are our association members. So, they might not know the exact information and details, and because our family is intertwined and they all stay together in the family house except for Bishop’s mother whose son built a house for, an outsider might not be able to tell the difference in the way we’re related.
Is Alhaja Aasiyat the last Muslim standing?
Multiple family sources revealed that Alhaja Aasiyat isn’t the only Muslim in the Oyedepo family. Explaining, Alhaji Salaudeen said, “Infact, all the children of the first wife of Alhaji Yusuf Olajide, who is the husband to Alhaja Aasiyat are Muslims except for one of them whose name is Kareem, who followed the faith of Bishop.
“The deceased, who happened to be a second wife, gave birth to just two children whose names are Jimoh and Salman. Both of them were Muslims but there was a time the family underwent financial crisis which made the younger one embrace disbelief in order to be assisted and after a while he convinced his elder brother too. Both of them started off with selling evangelism books and now they are pastors.
Children of Bishop Oyedepo’s father
Alhaji Salaudeen continued, “From my own end, our mother Alhaja Saratu Salahudeen was the first wife of our father and she gave birth to five children, of whom I’m the last.
“The first child, Mr. Ibrahim and the third, Mr. Abdulganiyu are late now and they died as Muslims. Bishop Oyedepo tried all he could to convert them to Christianity, but didn’t succeed. He frustrated them, used force, coerced them, but it was all for naught because they died as Muslims.
“The second daughter, Rachel got married to a Christian due to Bishop’s influence. He was not yet a Bishop at that time. She was in the North and wanted to marry an Hausa man but our dad refused due to language and cultural differences. The next person she had interest in was from our state but he was a Christian and our father had to concede. She is still very supportive of Islam and her family celebrates every festival together with us.
“The fourth child Alhaja Risikat, is a Muslim till date and is married to a Muslim. Lastly, myself, I am a Muslim and by the grace of Allah, I will die a Muslim.”
Alhaji Salaudeen noted that Bishop Oyedepo’s mother is the second wife of their late father, adding that, “She gave birth to three children. The first one is named Raheem. The Bishop himself is a twin but his twin brother died. His own name is Hassan while his twin was Hussein.
“Till now I don’t call him Bishop, I call him Hassan because that’s the name we recognize. The third child is named Fatai. They were all Muslims before, but now, they have converted. Bishop did not live with our parents for long. He lived with his grandmother in Osogbo.
Where is Alhaja Aasiyat’s corpse?
Muslim News can authoritatively confirm that the remains of the Muslim princess is still in the custody of one her sons, Salman, who resides in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Explaining why the children didn’t want to release their mother’s corpse to be buried in the Islamic way, Alhaji Salaudeen said, “I guess they want to use it as a form of advert to say that they managed to convert her to Christianity.
“They wanted to do the same with our mum by begging us to bury her in the same place they buried our father but we refused. So, I’m guessing they want to do that with Alhaja Aasiyat. Do not listen to any news of Alhaja Aasiyat converting to Christianity because it’s a lie and the people around her even confirmed that her last words were that, “There is no diety but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of God”. Whatever they say is a form of advert because they never want to concede defeat.”
What is Ansar-ud-Deen doing about it?
The late Alhaja Aasiyat was an active member of a Muslim women group, Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN) and at the same time, regularly attended programmes of Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria in Omu-Aran.
Alhaji Salaudeen told Muslim News that he had already informed the leadership of the society about the development, adding that, “The National Missioner (Imam AbdurRahman Ahmad) is also aware. I’ve also informed our Imam at Omu-Aran who is also my good friend. My own belief is that Allah doesn’t need our bodies and immediately she died, her soul which is of utmost importance has been taken by Allah.”
According to him, “Like I told the Imam, my own advice is that if the children agree for her to be buried in the Islamic way, that is perfect and if they don’t, it shouldn’t be a reason for fighting rather we should organise prayers for her.
“The situation can be treated as someone who sank or crashed or one who is dead and the body cannot be found. The most important thing is prayers for her and we have organised that yesterday (Tuesday). From what I’ve heard, they are likely going to bring the body to Omu-Aran today (Wednesday) and I’ve advised the Muslim community that once they bring the body and the children refuse to bury her the Islamic way, they should be at the mosque and be observing Janazah for her and keep praying for her afterwards, that’s all.
“I’m saying this because you know the Christians have less tolerance than us and any little thing, they’ll say the Muslims want to take over and you know that no matter the situation, they’ll support each other and before we know it, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) would have been involved and the noise would have spread which can cause a bigger problem. That’s why I’m pleading with the Muslims to indulge them in this case because we know that it’s the soul Allah is concerned with.
“I’m giving all these information because I do not want people to keep believing the lies that are circulating, all of which I’ve seen and read. This information is 100% authentic and feel free to mention my name. The tussle between the Muslim part of the family and the Bishop is not recent. We have been at it for over 30 years. We’ve been supporting each other to study more about Islam and even to go on Hajj in order to be strong in our faith,” he added.
Did Oyedepo truly convert his dad to Christianity?
Alhaji Salaudeen believed that there was still controversies over the claim that his late father left Islam for Christianity during the last days of his life. He died aged 109 and said to have converted at 95 years.
“Let me first clarify something very important,” he said, adding that, “Before the conversion story, they first wrote in the newspapers that our father was a traditional worshipper. This is a very big lie. Our father was a Muslim and a successful trader. He sold clothes in Osogbo and then moved to the North where he sold building materials.”
Clearing the air on the conversion to Christianity story, Alhaji Salaudeen said, “If we want to break it down, it is a lie because there was no public declaration, but if we are looking at surface facts, it could be true. I’ll explain the true situation of things to you.
“When our dad was over 90 years, one of our brothers Sulayman who is also deceased now was the one taking care of him 24/7. The Bishop then had a revival in our hometown and he invited our father. He bought clothes and gave it to our father saying that his friends would be coming from outside the country and will be seeing his father for the first time. Allah also blessed our father with wealth so he did not sew the cloth Bishop bought for him and this led to a quarrel between them after which he took the cloth back.
“After some time, he organised another programme in our hometown again because his own house is not far from the family house where we stay. He brought the same cloth he gave to our father the first time and he brought other elders to plead with him and they convinced our father to wear the cloth but there seem to be more than meets the eye with the cloth.
“Our house is on the highway and our father had prayer mats and kettles for travelers, migrant herders and so on, to stop and observe their prayers. It is not a Mosque, rather, it is just a very big space. After our father came back from this programme, he removed the prayer mats and kettles and people were worried. I stay in the North so we did not hear about some of the things until later. It was only Sulayman who was taking care of him during this time that was aware of all these.
“My own stand on the matter is that his conversion was not ordinary and I believe Allah will not hold my father responsible for those mistakes as he was not in the right frame of mind. While we were growing in the North, our father would wake us by five o’clock so we can call to prayer at the mosque and all his prayers were observed in the mosque. Our hometown is divided into three. It was our dad that brought Qur’an from the north into our own side of our hometown, so you can know how religious he was, but Allah knows best,” he added.
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