Isese, which can loosely mean “that which is done from the beginning,” does not conform to the traditional practices we know today.
Muslims will argue that all Prophets were Muslims because they worshiped God alone, implying that Islam is technically the most ancient religion.
If Isese involves the veneration, even if not the worshipping, of Orishas like Obatala, Orunmila, and their likes, then it can’t be the most ancient because these Orishas supposedly came to Earth. If their veneration is an integral part of Isese, then Isese is not Isese in and of itself. We would ask, the Orishas that are venerated, who did they venerate, and at the time of veneration, whoever they venerated, what do we call that practice?
This thought led me to understand the late Professor Sophie Oluwole’s attempt to project traditional spiritual practices as monotheistic by drawing a distinction between Eledumare and Orishas.
It is not only in Africa; the veneration of saints cuts across borders, and this is where Islam enlightens us.
Saints are saints, but all acts of worship, seeking divine help, and faith should be directed solely to God. Not Ifa, Orunmila, Jesus, Joseph Smith, Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) is a mediator between God and man.
This is Islam: worship God alone, and only Him should you worship and seek help from. That is the real Isese. The earliest people worshiped God before anyone started worshiping saints.
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman