The Secretary General of Al-Thaqalayn Cultural Foundation, a Kaduna-based Shi’ite non-governmental organization, Sheikh Hamza Lawal, has described Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) as a fake organisation and misrepresentation of Shiism, an arm of Islam headquartered in Iran.
The acclaimed factional leader of Shia in Nigeria also called on the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, to withdraw the case against the leader of IMN, Sheikh El-Zakzaky, from Kaduna State high court, and see a possibility of dialogue to out the issue at rest.
Sheikh Hamza, who addresses a press conference in Kaduna on Tuesday told journalists that, it was important for his organisation to state the obvious in order to set the record straight and clarify misunderstanding Nigerians have on IMN and Shiism to guide against fallacy of generalisation.
His words, “I was a member of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) between 1981 and 2,000 one year I returned home from Islamic Public of Iran where I had studied theology.
“IMN started in the late 1970s as a Socio-cultural and political religious revivalist movement drawing its inspiration and taking its clue from essentially Sunni activism from countries like Egypt and Pakistan. It was an offshoot of Muslim students society.
“When the leader of IMN, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky became a Shi’ite afterwards, he fell into the dilemma of either abandoning his Sunnite revalist movement and risking the possibility of loosing his followers or continuing with the movement with all the Sunni’s contents but with a Shi’ite face. He chose the latter and that has been his on-doing.
“Sheikh Zakzaky has not been able to complete his process of migration from Sunni activism to Shi’ite evangelism. His movement is a curious hybrid and hard mixture concoction, a dangerously unstable cocktail of incoherent and disorganised hallucinations and fantasies that only exist in their widest dreams.
“In fact, when critical study of IMN is done, it later turned out that it is much more closer to Sunni Islam.
“The press should therefore seriously note this and start calling IMN by the name it has given itself, IMN. The press is hereby call upon to appreciate the difference between IMN and Shiism.
“IMN is not another name for Shiism. The two are neither synonymous nor interchangeable. IMN is not a Shi’ite organisation. Yes, many of its recruits are Shi’ites, but, there are many others also who are Sunnis and Christians. It is a movement.
“Yes, some of its leaders appear to the public in regalia of Shi’ite clerics. But that is where it stops. IMN is not genuine. It is fake. It is a bad product and un-marketable one for that matter. IMN is the wrong advertisement copy. IMN has crash the gate of Shiism.
“Intellectually and philosophically, he is not grounded in Shiism. He would have abandoned the struggle completely and become a completely new person. He should now change from activism to evangelism. But he has not been able to change up till now.
“So, this posture, this thing you see in the street of Abuja, Kaduna and all over the place, they are not Shiism. They are just a cover up and a smokescreen for El-Zakzaky to continue to maintain his followership.
“We at Al-Thaqalayn Cultural Foundation, feel undermine by the development. We also believed that, it is an embarrassment to our Shi’ite identity and credentials. A threat to our religion survival and a misrepresentation of what we are as Nigerian citizens who accept the rule of law,” he stated.
He continued, “Al-Thaqalayn Cultural Foundation wishes to appeal to Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, to use his good office and withdraw the case against Sheikh El-Zakzaky in the Kaduna High Court. We hope the recommendations of judicial commission of enquiry on dialogue and reconciliation will be exploited in the interest of peace.
“Al-Thaqalayn Cultural Foundation wishes to also call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the President of all Nigerians regardless, to continue to extend the holy branch to members of IMN.”
On possible foreign influence he said, “we urge Islamic Public of Iran and Saudi Arabia to desist from making Nigeria another testing ground of their struggle for regional supremacy. We cherish our peace.
“We don’t want Nigeria to become a theatre of war by these two arms of Islam. Saudi Arabia representing the Sunni arm and Iran representing the Shii arm. We don’t want internationalisation of the war on terror. We want the suffreignty of Nigeria to be protected.
“We in Nigeria will be able to solve our problems internally. We don’t want any influence from either Iran or Saudi Arabia. Enough of the hypocrisy, selfishness and partisanship.
“We are all in this together and if Nigeria sinks, we will sink together and if it floats, we will all float together. So the Sunnis and the Shiite, have to as matter of necessity, not of a choice, agree on this common understanding that we don’t need Saudi Arabia politically. We don’t need Iran politically,” he warned.