Desmond Mgboh, Kano
A leading Islamic cleric in Kano State, Muazzam Suleiman Khalid, has expressed displeasure over the treatment of Almajiris by Northern governors, saying it is discriminatory and dehumanising.
The cleric complained that their treatment is contrary to both national and global standards and the provision of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution regarding the freedom of movement.
Speaking in an interview in Kano, the cleric, who resides at Dorayi Quarters in the state capital, insisted that many Islamic scholars were not surprised at the recent development.
According to the cleric, ‘all the machinery for this process had been provided, firstly, by setting up the peoples mind, stigmatising and criminalising the Almajiris and anything related to them. Then comes the dehumanisation of the Almajiris and their institutions, which is now followed by isolating them. Now, it is time to eliminate the whole system.
‘This action has a long history. It dates back to the Ottoman Empire, whereby the Western world took advantage of the deteriorated stage of the superpower to push out the teaching of the Qur’an because they realized that it was the source of Muslim children’s language advantage (among other aspects) over their children. So it seems that history is repeating itself. May Allah forbid,’ he stated.
Asked if the Almajiri system as is practised today in Nigeria is aligned to the position of Islam, he responded that: ‘We are all human beings, thus we are bound to make mistakes, and one of Allah’s favour to us is that He gives us room to correct our shortcomings.
‘Secondly, abuse in a system is never an excuse to strike it out. Take, for example, there are some few bad individuals in the police, in the armed forces, and among politicians in Nigeria, but this did not warrant the total condemnation of these institutions.
‘Even if we admit that the Almajiri system is not as refined as the orthodox system, it is still Islamic, and the abnormalities can be rectified,’ he declared.
He expressed disgust over reported cases of COVID-19 among Almajiris repatriated to their states of origin, expressing doubt about the published figures and claims.
According to him, ‘in any case, who tested them? Where are the facilities for testing the people, talk less of testing all the repatriated Almajiris?’
‘So, even if those Almajiris had tested positive, which is not likely, what is their fault in that? They should be treated equally like the rest of Nigerians were being treated.’
He also expressed concern by attempts in some states, including Kano, to integrate the Almajiri system of education into the Western system, saying the move might be the beginning of the end for the whole Almajiris system of education, otherwise referred to as “Makarantun Allo”.
He argued that this was an opportunity for those in authority to ‘at insert certain subjects of Western education to their lessons, an action that will weaken the orthodoxy and the spiritual authenticity of the system, and eventually arrive at the set goals.’