First published 5th February 2020
I desperately had wished there was a negotiatory sitting and a debate between major religious scholars in Northern Nigeria and Shaykh Abduljabbar, before the ban on him by Kano state government. That was why in my previous piece, I suggested that part of the concern of such sitting, if it were to happen, should be the discussion about standard creteria, the norms (Adab) of how we read texts, concerning the prophet of Islam, interpret and transmit them.
Disputing Hadiths coming from the certified authentic Muslim canons has never been new to the Muslim community world over. There are countless literature on that. Shaykh Jonathan Brown told us how it was prevalent in the 11th century before Nizamul Mulk, the Grand Vizier of the Seljuk Empire, put a stop to it and set the processes of the canonisation of Bukhari and Muslim in subsequent centuries. Even recently Shaykh Dr. Ahmad Gumi disputed the relevance of some, otherwise known to be authentic Hadith in Bukhari. His late father, on record, did it a number of times.
But the only problem of Shaykh Abduljabbar to my mind – and it is really a problem – especially if his claims of learning and exposure to culture and tradition, as a Sufi related person, could not avail himself the insight to see that it is really extremely sacrilegious to describe the Prophet of Islam or any event involving him in a highly graphic language as he often unapologetically does. This even if one is just reporting, as the Shaykh is saying he is reporting from Sunni Hadith Canons. It is never acceptably done!
For example, we all know about Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Some of us looked for the book and read only later in our lives. But none of us ever quoted the offensive parts and posted. Infact you would never find them being used anywhere. Even late Ayatullahi Khomeini who issued a Fatwa calling the head of Rushdie never dared to quote him raw on his offensive and insensitive texts.
Also it is instructive to note that here home whenever one reports an insult pronounced on an elder or one’s own parents, his Emir or any other respected person verbatim to the person concerned or his relations; the reporter is considered to be also among the ones who insulted the person himself. You can’t tell your Emir that so so and so person said, ‘Kaci ubanka’! It will be concluded flatly that you have insulted your King and be punished appropriately.
But all these Shaykh Abduljabbar has done with the hope and effort of demonstrating to his audience that in the Hadith Canons there are things that can be interpreted to be raw insult to the person and honour of the Prophet of Islam. He has painted the worst picture, with his impeccable and near perfect Hausa, of the Prophet’s wife with other men, claiming that it is the interpretation he saw in some Hadiths in the Canons.
I had wanted Shaykh Abduljabbar and the many scholars in Izala and other Sunni Sufi groups, to sit and we hear the Shaykh Abduljabbar defense on these traditions that even the core Shi’a here and in other parts of the world shy away from breaking when reading Sunni canons – but which he breaks with utmost recklessness. I had wanted to hear from him perchance there is something he will tell us about his methods, that is so novel, as he always claim he discovered new and legitimate things!