The Chairman of Muslims Cooperation Group in Nigeria:
We suffer a great shortage in humanitarian aids and need the help of the Muslim and International World
Africa is a marginalized and unknown continent for many people of the West, who know nothing about this continent but civil war, starvation, or death prevailing in this continent and claiming thousands souls.
Nigeria is an African country, and like the others it suffers of starvation and widespread causes of death.
In an interview with Dawoud Omran Mlasa Abu- Saif, the chief of Muslims cooperation group (MC) in Nigeria, we tried to explore some of facts about Nigeria and the conditions of Muslims there.
1- Would you give us an overview of MC group and its origin?
The MC group consists of some Muslim young men and women, in addition to students of Arabic and English schools, whether public or local, and students of secondary schools and universities. It also includes several members of different specialties and professions.
When dealing with the origin of this group, one should refer to the Nigerian city of Iwo which is the stronghold and headquarters of this group. This city is called the city of scholars, because Allah has honored it with a lot of faithful scholars, who have burdened themselves with the establishment of Islamic Arabic Schools. They stick to pure Islamic doctrine and resist any temptations and ideas that call for clinging to worldly life and its ornaments by intermingling with the enemies of Islamic religion, who spare no effort to attract Muslim youth whether by means of education, health services or any other means. The students of Iwo city have a great interest in knowledge so that they join international Islamic universities all over the world. You can hardly find any university accepting expatriate students, especially Al-Azhar University and the five universities of Saudi Arabia, without students from the Nigerian city of Iwo joining it.
They also seek knowledge in universities of Kuwait, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Iraq Jordan, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.
Undoubtedly, such a city witnesses distinguished Islamic activities from the ancient time up to now, including educational, social and Da’wa activities. Moreover, this city has a great number of prominent scholars in the field of Da’wa and Islamic education in addition to many Islamic organizations and associations including MC group.
It is worthy mentioning that Iwo is the eleventh largest Nigerian city in population and the third city in Osun state. It is situated between Ibadan - the capital of Oyo state (in 2005) and Osogbo - the capital of Osun State. Actually, Osogbo is predominantly a Muslim community where Muslims are 95%.
These distinguishing features of the city made it a target for enemies who sometimes resort to the means of promises and sometimes to threats. They often fail, but leave bad effects behind them; what made things worst recently is the prevention of Muslim Countries’ aids due to the so-claimed terrorism case known as "The Modern Age Calamity".
As for the establishment of this group, it has come as a result of some brothers’ efforts and cooperation. Those brothers, especially Dawoud Omran Mlasa, were prominent members in cultural activities when they were students, they used to arrange seminars and participate in workshops and camps. After their graduation, they saw the necessity of going on with such educational, social and religious activities but under the umbrella of a group they called "Muslims Cooperation Group (MC)", consequently, they established this group in Ramadan 17, 1414 A. H. corresponding to 1994 A. D. to combat ignorance and destructive thoughts.
2- What are the Objectives of MC group and its political and Intellectual Principles?
We, MC group, believe that Nigeria has to return to its previous status before the British occupation. The Islamic law was the governing law until Britain occupied Nigeria; consequently Islamic law and Arabic language were substituted with different law and English language.
The Nigerian Muslims in a bad need for wakefulness, awareness, culture and Islamic movement; therefore this group has been established in order to undertake the following tasks:
-Calling Muslims for a comprehensive understanding of Islam, living by the teachings of Qur’an and Sunna, and avoiding Bid’a (heresy or any innovated thing in religion) and doctrinal deviations.
- Establishing typical schools (Arabic & English), hospitals, media centers and charitable institutions to save Muslim children from the evangelists.
- Bringing those who deviated from Islam to the shield of straight path and taking care of those embracing Islam.
-Working on establishing a supreme Muslim community in terms of ethics, cooperation and ideality.
-Preparing youths and strong Muslim generations to lead our people.
-Cooperating with other organizations that work for Islam.
3- Is there any connection between the group and Muslim Brotherhood (MB)?
Yes. MC group is a product of MB and adopts the methodology of Imam Hassan al-Banna. We adopt the MB approach of peaceful change and reform. We refuse all forms of violence.
4- What about the human condition in Nigeria?
Nigeria is rich in petroleum and minerals, but the fruits and products of this country have been plundered by the west in addition to Nigerian elites.
The human condition in Nigeria is too bad. There are daily road accidents, which claim the souls of hundreds as a result of the governmental negligence in rebuilding roads. Furthermore, in northern and southern states of Nigeria, there are rebel groups posing a threat to peace and security. In addition, Nigeria experiences political and economic instability at the present.
5- What is the role of MC concerning this human issue?
The MC group calls Nigerian government for political, economic, security and health reform during many press conferences. Moreover, the group refuses the current president attempts to assume office of presidency for the third time. MC group works as a religious movement to spread the right understanding of Islam among Nigerian people, especially youths and works as a social and charitable organization to aid the needy and establish hospitals. Moreover, MC works as an educational institution urging people to seek knowledge and establish primary and preparatory schools. We have a lot of media activities.
6- Does the group assume any political role besides its social and public services?
Sure, we have a political role in addition to educational and social work. We invite all Muslim leaders, scholars, institutions and organizations in the south and north of Nigeria to unite and oppose the current president attempts to assume Nigeria’s presidency for the third time after they suffered long from his dictatorial regime especially Muslims who represent the majority of population.
Actually, MC group was alone in the face of south Nigeria governor during the national and public congress for constitutional reform which aimed at changing constitution in favor of secular and Christian groups. The other Islamic group in the south of Nigeria did not participate in this congress in fear of the dictator of this country who keeps threatening of detaining and kill opposition figures and has already detained hundreds during his office and killed some prominent figures. This is the second attempt to change constitution in less than two years after it failed last year. Through its representative in Osun State parliament, the MC found that the articles of constitution emphasizing that Islamic Shariah as the most important governing law were a target for change and there will be an attempt to nullify them. Consequently, the MC group expressed its strong opposition to this attempt and firmly declared before the federal government representatives that Islamic law is a red line. The group threatened the government that it will refuse any attempt to nullify Islamic law stressing that Islam is represented in Shari’a and Shari’a is represented in Islam. This took place during the two-day session in 22, 23 February 2006 in the presence of governors of six states of Yoruba in southern Nigeria and thousands of civilians.
The MC group calls other Islamic groups in the south to denounce, condemn and protest against this attempt which targets Islam and freedom of Nigerian people. It also invites all Muslim leaders, scholars, institutions and organizations to hold an Islamic national conference in order to form an Islamic front that opposes and confronts such attempts targeting Muslims and freedom of Nigerian people.
7- As a chief of the "Nigerian Committee for Defending Palestine and al-Aqsa Mosque", what are the activities you performed to support Palestinian people?
I am the chief of "Sheikh Ahmed Yaseen Institution" which works inside Nigerian schools and universities to raise the students’ awareness of Palestinian issue. Moreover, the group has set up a media center in order to explain this issue for both Nigerian Muslims and non-Muslims. We hold an open session for dialogue with US embassy in Nigeria. This session was held on Sunday March 19, 2006 and attended by the officials of US political and economic departments. We called the US embassy to stop Israeli aggression against Palestinians and put an end to US war on Iraq. Moreover, the MC group plans for holding the second Islamic national conference to support Palestinian authority, Hamas and Palestinian people. We hope that all Islamic organizations and institutions in Nigeria besides human rights groups will participate in this conference. It is worthy mentioning that MC group is the sole representative of "charity coalition for Palestine"
8- How do you see the Islamic and Arabic stance on Nigerian conditions? What about the volume of aids that Nigeria needs in comparison with those provided?
The Muslims of South Nigeria suffer from the lack of Islamic and Arabic aids. The Islamic and Arab countries have no role in the south of Nigeria and we are totally isolated from the world. Those countries have a very simple role in certain states of the north. Actually, Muslims in the south and north are poor and isolated from Muslim world. One cannot find any Islamic charitable institution in the south; we have no source of financial support. Actually, we sent a lot of messages to many Islamic charitable organizations, in addition to Islamic and Arab governments, but we had nothing but excuses or no response at all. Thus we suggest the following solutions in order to save Muslims in the south from the danger of Christianization and westernization:
- To make Muslims aware of the conditions and problems of Nigerian people, in addition to their need of Arab and Islamic support, along with strong relations with Islamic associations as soon as possible.
- To call Islamic associations in your country and other countries to support us and establish Islamic educational, cultural, social and media relationships in order to be able to face this danger which is supported by America, Israel and some western countries.
9- What about the Muslims’ status in Nigeria?
Muslims represent more than 40 % of population in the South of Nigeria and the rest are Christians and pagans.
In the seven states of Yoruba, Muslims represent more than 65 % and the rest are Christians and Pagans.
The evangelists focus their efforts on the south especially during the term of extremist Christian president, Obasa Ngho, who used his authority to strength Christians and prepare them politically, economically, as well as in education, military, and media.
Economy: Christians dominate all governmental companies and financial institutions in south of Nigeria, as for the western companies, they represent all the employees, so that no Muslim can hunt any job there, except for being Christianized. They dominate all the governmental and non- governmental banks as well.
Education: in the south, there are thousands of governmental and non- governmental preliminary and preparatory schools, established by some Christians. Some of these schools became governmental, the other are still dominated by Christian societies or individuals.
Christians completely control all the governmental universities; the Muslim students in southern governmental universities don’t exceed 20 %, the rest are Christians.
In the south, there are only twenty non- governmental universities, ten for Christians, Muslims have weak efforts trying to establish Islamic universities.
Media: Christians have power over the governmental radio and television stations, more over they have more than ten radio and TV stations, all magazines and papers in the south are issued by Christians.
MC is about to establish the first Islamic media center, called Jerusalem Islamic center, for distributing Islamic books and tapes, internet services, training Muslims to use computers... etc. this center will pave the way for an Islamic radio station, but this project needs financial support from the benefactors.
Media is the most dangerous aspect used by the evangelists to distort the image of Islam.
Health: all the hospitals in the south are owned by Christians, in addition to thousands of non- governmental hospitals affiliated to the churches. More than 99% of hospitals in the south are being used in Christianization.
Military and Security: the extremist president Obasa Ngho helps Christians assume the highest positions in governmental military institutions as well as the Nigerian Defense ministry.
Helped by the Nigerian intelligence and Federal government, Christians collected weapons and keeping them in southern churches.
Politics: Obasa Ngho utilized his second presidential term to appoint Christians in top and critical positions in the federal government, which agitated Muslims in north and south; the country would have a civil war, if it were not for the intervention of Muslim kings and figures in the north, but till now nothing changed.
There are three risks threatening Muslims in the south:
1- The Separatist Movement in Ibo tribe, aiming at establishing the Zionist Biavra state: the movement regards Muslims as collaborating with the government to hinder the establishment of the state; it also receives financial support from Israel and top American political figures.
2- OPC Yoruba Fanatic Militant Movement, created by a fanatic Christian called Fasion. This movement is one of the most dangerous militant movements in the south on Islam and Muslims. It calls for paganism, combats against the establishment of an Islamic state in Nigeria, calls for a separate state for Yoruba tribe, considers Muslims of the north the mortal enemy, and believes that Islam is reason of Yoruba’s division. The movement committed many aggressive operations on the Muslims.
3- "Jesus’ Army" Military Movement, it is the strongest one in the south for it has got developed weapons, such as tanks and missiles. It is financed by the Nigerian churches, outsiders, and some political Christian figures in Nigeria.
MC in the south called for the disarmament of these movements, but the government did not heed.
In addition to other risks:
* Arab and Muslim states never care for the Nigerian Muslims in the south; they focus their beneficiary efforts on the north only.
* There are no beneficiary institutions in the south, except for al- Haramin institution- its offices has been closed for a year, but in the north, there are tens of offices. Muslims in the south are in a need for these institutions as well as financial support to set up Islamic projects.
*Poverty of the southern Muslims.
*Lack of religious awareness of Muslims there.
* Lack of culture and education resulted of the long- term intellectual invasion, hindering Arabic and Islamic schools, and pressure of the evangelists on the Islamic curricula in the governmental schools.
* Lack of Da’wa, educational, social, and beneficiary activities as a result of poverty.
* Absence of Islamic media.
The isolation of the south from the rest of Arab and Muslim world because Christians dominate all audio and visual mass media.