As LEMU holds 2024 Annual Imams Conference with launch of book

By Ajape Sefiu A.

Update Your knowledge, improve performance: Prof Bidmos Urges Imams

To put an end to the ongoing rivalry created by the competition for imams’ seats, Sheikh Dhikrullah Shafii, the Grand Mufti of the Conference of Islamic Organizations (CIO), has proposed the formation of a council in Lagos State.

Sheikh Shafii’ says the council should consist of the Chief Imam of Lagos State as well as other divisional Imams who will be in charge of choosing a mosque’s imam when a post opens up.

At the Lekki Muslim Ummah (LEMU) 2024 annual Imams Conference, which took place on Wednesday, May 1st at the Vice Admiral Jubrila Ayinla Multipurpose Hall, Lekki Central Mosque Complex, the eminent Islamic scholar delivered a speech.

The book, “Da’wah Etiquette from the Prophet’s Guidance,” written by the Chief Imam of Lekki Central Mosque, Sheikh Ridwan Jamiu was also unveiled at the well-attended seminar graced by imams from within and outside Lagos.

Sheikh Shafii’ was one of the facilitators and spoke on the topic, ‘Duties of the Imam’.

According to him, controversies over who becomes the imam stem largely from poor understanding of the deen.

He added that those appointed as leaders and stakeholders of the masjid such as the Baba Adini, Iya Adini, have their own personal interests to protect in the choice of the imam.

“In most cases, they are also ignorant of the teachings of Islam. They only want a puppet they can order around easily.

“The solution to the perennial controversies over who becomes the imam in my own view, especially in Lagos State, is for our respected Chief Imam and other divisional imams to have a council that will be charged with appointing imams in our mosques. We should select qualified people from the households that produce the imam. It’s about knowledge and scholarship. They can introduce interviews to the process,” Sheikh Shafii’ said.

The scholar explained that the position of imam is a responsibility for which Allah will hold the bearer accountable.

He charged all Imams to live up to their billing, saying the organisation of the masjid lies with them.

“Our imams should lead by example, demonstrating great qualities for their followers to emulate.”

Speaking on the welfare of the imam, Sheikh Shafii’ advised congregants to see it as their responsibility, while also encouraging the imams to engage in business or vocation to sustain themselves.

He said, “It is important for the congregation to understand that the imam is their leader. Therefore, their welfare should be properly catered for. There should be a provision for the imam in the financial contributions coming to the mosque. Also, the wealthy ones amongst the congregation should always come through for the imam. When the imam gets this kind of support, he will take his position seriously and live up to expectations.

“The imams too should look for means that will bring them income. Imams can learn vocation or engage in businesses. We cannot afford to rely on the congregation alone. We should carry ourselves with dignity and decency.”

Also speaking, the second facilitator, former Chief Imam of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Muritala Bidmos, stressed that the Nigerian society needs the imams to perform their duties for it to progress.

The professor spoke on the topic, ‘Imams and the Need for Self-Development’.

He noted that imams need conferences like the one being organised by LEMU to update their knowledge and improve their performance.

“The imams are already in their various mosques doing da’wah, but they need this type of orientation from time to time to update their knowledge and improve their performance.

“The society we are in today needs imams who will guide the people. We have the problem of spiritual bankruptcy in Nigeria. The imams are the ones to wake up our spirituality. If they can do this successfully, then all other problems like insecurity, economic crisis will go away. People create other problems because they are not thinking about God.

“We have to give the imams their respect in the society. The imams are the spiritual leaders; they should be allowed to dictate the tune so that our society can make progress. Society cannot make progress if we do not allow imams to call the shot.”

In his own remarks, the Imam of Lekki Central Mosque, Dr. Ridwan Jamiu, told imams to see Islamic da’wah as a voluntary act of worship, for which they cannot enrich themselves.

He said imams should be decent in seeking wealth, and not explore ways that will tarnish their image in the society.

“Propagating Islam has to be a voluntary act of worship. Some other times, it may be compulsory. The compulsory one, you don’t need to charge any money for it. The compulsory one is for members of your family, you have to admonish and guide them. It’s still da’wah. For every other person, it’s a voluntary act, and you are not also expected to charge anything for it. So, we should take da’wah as a voluntary act. We should not expect anything from people. But if anything comes from it, alhamdulilah.

“Scholars should see themselves like every other person, especially in Nigeria where Islamic scholarship is not recognised. We are doing a thankless job. In Islamic countries, they know the worth of scholars. They can place them on salaries through waqf (endowment). But in Nigeria, that’s not the case. So, scholars should look for ways of finding their means of livelihood which must be halal. If they have the opportunity to preach, that will be great. But if they can’t combine, they should go for whatever is convenient for them. However, we should not use this as a cover to do what is forbidden and commit sins. We have to look for means of livelihood.”

Other Muslim personalities who spoke at the conference included Prof Abdul Hameed Akorede from Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, who reviewed the book, and Prof Sirajudeen Al-Asrau Bilal, the managing Director of Inaayatullah Travels and Tours, who urged participants to read and put into practice the message of the newly unveiled book.

For his part, President of LEMU, Alhaji Abdulganiy Labinjo, the conference is a platform to enlighten imams and offer them an opportunity to exchange useful ideas.

He said the imams have a pivotal role to play in reshaping the Nigerian society which is currently ailing.

“At Lekki Muslim Ummah, we take it as our responsibility to do da’wah. We are doing this as part of da’wah. This is about the seventh or eighth edition of the Imams Conference, which we do every year. We choose topics that are relevant in order to enlighten the imams, and offer them a platform to exchange ideas. We also provide an umbrella of unity for the ummah.

“So many things are happening in the world today which are not right. If we follow the sunnah and what Islam teaches us, the society will be in a better place. Since the Holy Prophet (SAW) is no more, we look up to the imams and alfas for guidance.

“Society is not well today because the imams are either not giving us the right message or we are not getting the message. So, there is a need for the imams to know in order to connect with the society appropriately. If they get it right and we receiving the message also get it right, there should be a better ummah,” he said.