The Lekki Muslim Ummah (LEMU), an umbrella organisation for all Muslims in the Lekki Peninsula area of Lagos State, Nigeria, has organised a seminar on funeral rites in Islam for Imams in Lagos State.
The seminar took place on Monday, June 13, 2022 at the premises of the Lekki Central Mosque, Lekki, Lagos.
Funeral rites is one of the controversial issues among the Muslim ummah, especially in southwest Nigeria where many alien practices have been introduced to it.
The training session was facilitated by two respected Islamic scholars: Prof. AbdulGaniy Akorede Agbarigidoma of Al-Hikmah University and Sheikh Tajudeen Abdulkareem Al-Adaby, Mudeer, Modrasatul Khairul Adaby, Ibadan.
They spoke on the topics, ‘Rights of the Deceased’ and ‘Responsibilities of the Bereaved’ respectively.
Other discussants at the event as monitored by Muslim News included Sheikh Ishaq Adebayo Tejidini, National Missioner, Rahmat Islamiyyah Society of Nigeria and Sheikh Qamardeen Ajala, Chief Imam, Ajadi Lawal Central Mosque.
Muslim News learnt that the capacity building programme is held yearly under the banner of Annual Imams Conference.
Speaking with Muslim News, Chief Imam of LEMU Mosque, Sheikh Ridwan Jamiu, one of the organisers said, the Annual Imams Conference is a sort of ‘train the trainers program’ meant to enhance the knowledge of Imams and also to foster unity amongst the Muslim religious leaders.
Noting that the language of communication is Yoruba, the respected Islamic scholar added that the programme also seeks to promote cooperation and fellowship among the Muslim ummah.
According to him, “The program has held about five or six series since its inception. It has always been well attended and applauded by people.
“It is an avenue through which we can promote knowledge amongst the Muslims. It creates a platform through which Muslim scholars can have cross-fertilisation of ideas and get to know more about each other, create friendship and other benefits that accrue to it.
“The Imams are drawn from all parts of Lagos State: Ibeju-Lekki, Eti-Osa, Mushin, among others. We usually cooperate with the Lagos State Central Mosque whose Imam would instruct them to send delegates. We then provide buses in areas where we have conglomeration of Imams attending.”
He says their expectation from the programme is for the Muslim leaders to be on the same page regarding funeral rites in Islam, and then go to their congregation to extend the knowledge.
“We have so many practices that are inimical to Islamic tenets and are contradictory to the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). We have been sensitising people about it from our own end. But if other Imams do not have that level of awareness about the Sunnah, whenever one Imam says something somewhere and another Imam contradicts it, it creates confusion in the minds of our audience.
“But when the Imams come together and see the true guidance on the matter, everybody is convinced about it and imbibes it. It therefore means that our congregation will hear the same thing when it comes to funeral rites and practices.
“Our expectation from the participants is to be convinced of the message and have open minds so that the message can be beneficial to them. And whenever they go back to their masaajid, they should impart and disseminate this knowledge to them. Their congregation will also understand Islam better and these practices that are alien and dangerous to our faith can be abandoned.”
Death not a call to wine and dine – Prof. Agbarigidoma
Prof. Agbarigidoma who facilitated a session of the seminar said death in Islam is not a call to wine and dine.
He encouraged that prayers should rather be offered for the deceased than throwing up wasteful parties and celebrations.
According to him, “The Prophet (SAW) said we should be mindful of death. It is part of remembrance of death to return the entitlements of people, seek forgiveness of Allah and observe voluntary prayers. We should have a record for people’s belongings at our disposal. Almighty Allah made reference to death at 140 various places in the Qur’an. This points to the fact that He wants us to be mindful of death.
The varsity lecturer explained how to take care of sick persons in Islam and established that the sick can use different medications inasmuch as they are halal (lawful/permitted) in Islam. He also sensitised the participants most of whom are imams from their respective mosques on how to perform the Islamic rites, comprising ritual bath, shrouding, prayers, among others, in the point of death.
While speaking with Muslim News on the sidelines of the event, Prof. Agbarigidoma said for proper understanding of the practical session, “I brought a 17-minute video to provide practical guide. I called attention of the Imams to the fact that when somebody dies in Islam, it’s not a call to wine and dine. Rather, we should offer endless prayers for the deceased.
“There are consequences for not properly treating the deceased in Islam. Allah says in the Qur’an that believers should wholeheartedly practice the religion of Islam. So, Islam has ethics guiding the birth of a child just like for the demise of a soul. These ethics must be followed. When we observe them, it is rewarding. But when we fail to, it bears consequences for us and the deceased (if he is negligent about these rites).
Prof. Agbarigidoma thanked the Community for organising the seminar, saying creating awareness is very key.
“Awareness is what most people lack. The program is a huge one. It is a form of seminar for the Imams, who are expected to extend the awareness and knowledge to their congregation. With this program, the Imams would be well informed so that they can spread the message. All these will reform our society,” he noted. .
Causes of proliferation of alien practices in Islamic funeral rites – Prof Gbadamosi
In his opening speech, the Chairman of the occasion, Professor Tajudeen Gbadamosi, welcomed participants and speakers to the 2022 edition of the Imams Conference, saying that it was organised to ensure better understanding and practice of Islam.
Prof. Gbadamosi, President of Muslim Community of Lagos explained that the desire to satisfy cultural pressures and extort material gains are some of the reasons alien practices have been introduced to funeral rites among some Muslims.
According to him, “The conference is borne out of the deep and genuine desire of the officers of the mosque to ensure that there is a better practice of Islam among Muslims. They want to clear away what in Islam is called bida’h (innovation) which has crept into the practice of the religion. Innovations that lack basis in the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW), but have been introduced for various reasons. It may be to satisfy cultural pressures. It may be to extort little gains, material or otherwise (for instance, to gain popularity).
“I think the officers of the mosque are dismayed by the proliferation of this bida’h. So, they found it necessary to organise this conference for Imams, to be better informed and better enlightened and therefore be in a better position to guide their followers. In other words, it is a case of training the trainers so that they can be more effective in the society.”
Prof. Gbadamosi also lamented the not-so-encouraging turnout of Imams, saying it shows there is cause for pessimism.
“There is cause for some pessimism. For example, in this type of conference now, we have about 200 Imams, when in fact, we have thousands of Imams in Lagos State. You may, therefore, wonder what effect can 200 people have on this kind of society in this type of situation.
“However, if it is only one person that gets better informed; one person who decides that he is going to abandon bida’h and practise Islam as it ought to be practised, that’s good enough for us,” he added.
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