Thursday’s decision by the Kano State government to ban controversial cleric, Sheikh Abduljabbar Sheikh Nasir Kabara, has generated apprehension in the state.
The state’s Commissioner for Information, Malam Mohammed Garba said the ban was because the state executive council found the cleric’s preaching incendiary.
However, the cleric told Daily Trust that the ban was politically motivated.
Beyond banning the cleric, the state government had also ordered that all seminaries run by the cleric be shut down pending investigations by security agencies.
It also directed all broadcast stations and social media platforms to abstain from airing inflammatory preaching, sermons, propagation and any other religious discussions in the interest of peace.
The cleric has been known for controversial messages and reported attacks on the companions of Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
But he insisted he was banned because he worked against Gov Abdullahi Ganduje’s 2019 reelection.
The keenly contested elections ended with a runoff which Ganduje’s All Progressives Congress (APC), defeated Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Abba Kabir Yusuf.
“The reasons are very obvious.
“The person who took the decision [Ganduje] has said it times without number that he never forgives.
“I fought him during the last elections and he promised to retaliate.
“Only that he is taking the wrong decision at the wrong time. So this ban is purely political, it has nothing to do with religion or incitement.
“I have told my followers to prepare their votes ahead of the next election and do the needful.
“Alhamdulillah for everything, I am fighting scholars, not government, but at the end, government took over on their behalf.
“They should at least check the books I made references to but without doing so, they have been unfair to me.
“This decision is sheer injustice. And, whosoever wants to understand the situation should look for what the Kano State Commissioner for Education said last night [Wednesday] wherein he explained that the government has deliberately succumbed to the pressure of these scholars who used their political ideologies to alter religious issues to their taste,” he said.
On whether he will abide by the government’s order on the ban, the Islamic cleric said he has always been law-abiding.
He also called on his followers to accept the decision calmly as injustice will not hold for long.
However, the Commissioner for Information, Malam Mohammed Garba said this “is an issue that purely has to do with security; that has to do with peaceful coexistence amongst our people in Kano state. I think he just wants to get sympathy from the opposition, which I think is impossible.
“We are not even aware he was against us, which means whether he supported us or worked against us it did not make any impact in this decision.
“Secondly, this is not a political issue and we don’t want to politicise it.
“Even if he said he worked with the opposition, the action taken by the state government is supported by the well-meaning people of Kano who believe and want to live in peace,” he added.
Clerics from other sects have protested against the acts and messages of Abduljabbar in their Friday sermons, which according to them, look like Shiite practices, urging the state government to take actions against him.
Among those who have publicly spoken against Abduljabbar is his brother and leader of the Qadariyya movement, Sheikh (Dr) Qaribullahi Nasiru Kabara.
Efforts to get the position of the Council of Ulamas proved abortive as its Chairman, Sheikh Ibrahim Khalil declined to comment, saying he would wait until scholars who challenged the banned cleric to speak on the matter.
He then directed our reporter to Sheikh Abdulwahab Abdallah, Sheikh Aminu Ibrahim Daurawa, and Professor Abdullahi Saleh Pakistan for their comments.
However, efforts to hear from any of them were unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report.
DSS, others besiege cleric’s residence
At the Sheikh’s residence in Gwale of Gwale Local Government, Daily Trust observed a heavy security presence.
Five vehicles of heavily armed security operatives from the police, the Department of State Security (DSS), and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) among others were stationed outside the house.
They, however, did not stop followers and sympathisers from entering the house.
Followers milled around the house and mosque premises of the cleric, expressing their sympathies.
“They are not even supposed to bring these security agents. They know I don’t flout government order,” the cleric told Daily Trust.
The man Sheikh Abduljabbar Kabara
Sheikh Abduljabbar Sheikh Nasir Kabara is loved and hated almost in equal measures.
His followers adore him, other clerics consider him a heretic for his “blasphemous statements against the Prophet and his way of life.”
Regardless, his teaching is flourishing and his followers, who call him “Amirul wa’izin” (leader of the preachers), have been increasing.
He is often seen in ancient war attire, brandishing swords–along with his followers.
Added to his preaching style, he is considered combative and a threat to society’s peace and harmony.
At one time, his supporters clashed with those of Sheikh Qaribullah, his brother, who has been leading the Qadiriyya Movement since the demise of their father, Sheikh Nasir Kabara in 1996.
Perhaps as an alternative to the “Darul Qadiriyyah” (the spiritual headquarters of the Qadiriyya Movement) headed by his brother, Sheikh Abduljabbar established his own centre, which he named “As’habul Kahf” (the Companions of the Cave).
His uncomplimentary views about some companions of the Prophet have seen him branded a Shiite, which is in direct opposition to what the Qadiriyyah Movement has always stood for.
He has denied being a Shiite, saying he is only “aligned to the truth.”
“I have nothing to do with them,” he said.
“What I have been fighting all this while is to fish out fake Hadiths attributed to the Prophet (PBUH), which the infidels are using to undermine Islam and tarnish the image of the Prophet,” he said.
His views have been challenged especially some four weeks ago when some scholars wrote him a letter calling him out on his views.
“Instead of these people to allow me to have talks with them, they sought cover from the excuse that I am insulting the companions of the Prophet
“I have been waiting for the day we will talk with those from Izala sect on one part and with Sheikh Qaribullah Kabara on the other since he too said I am not on the right track.
“So also Dr Bashir Aliyu Umar and Abdulwahab Abdallah.
“Ganduje should have allowed us to talk with them before taking this unjust decision.
“I am neither a politician nor do I have a candidate. I never fought Ganduje politically, I only fought him ideology-wise,” he said.
Now that he has been banned from preaching, he said he would confine himself to his library and publish something the whole world would “hear about.”
Despite denying being a Shiite, Abduljabbar said with time he has come to understand that the Shiites have stronger proofs to back their arguments than followers of the Sunni branch of Islam.
“I used to say I wasn’t a Shiite; but after in-depth research, I discovered that Shi’a has more scriptural evidence than Sunni and so I can’t be intimidated by that any longer.
“Whoever asks me whether I’m Shiite I will ask him what Shia means to them and their answer will determine my response to them”.
In a society dominated by Sunni Muslims, publicly dismissing the most authentic books of hadith (records of sayings and actions of the Prophet) in the world of Sunni Islam may be foolhardy.
Not only does he find fault with the six authentic books of hadith, but he also questions the honesty and even the existence of some of the narrators.
In one of his lectures, for example, he not only dismissed a hadith narrated by one of the companions considered to be close to the Prophet but also challenged anyone who could prove that the latter actually knew the Prophet.
Irked by his preaching, some scholars in Kano have since been calling on the government to call Abduljabbar to order before something happens.
But, in his interview with the BBC, he appeared unfazed.
“I follow the sayings of the Prophet directly not other scholars’ interpretations,” he said.
He said accusing him of denigrating the companions is unfair because he is being quoted out of context. He challenged his challengers to come up with superior intellectual arguments to him.
“I ask them to correct and make me understand, but no one will,” he said.
Some of the scholars who challenge Sheikh Abduljabbar say they do not care if he chooses to leave Islam, but he should stop damaging the religion while pretending to preach it.
By Zahraddeen Y. Shuaibu, Sani I. Paki & Habibu Umar Aminu (Kano)