Nupeland is under siege. It has always been under siege, spiritual, intellectual and cultural. Spiritually, while it is an undeniable fact that over 80% of the total population of Nupe practices Islām, it is equally true that PRISTINE Islām is yet to penetrate Nupeland to an appreciable extent. As much as that population of our people still cling stubbornly to Shirk and Kufr practices, to the extent that one injurious joke that some of my Yoruba friends do crack (and rightly so) is,
“The Islām of a Nupe man is unreal. He never abandons his charms and masquerade.”
To be candid, dad رحمه الله used to say that no other description fits the Nupes like the verse below:
وَمَا يُؤْمِنُ أَكْثَرُهُم بِاللَّهِ إِلَّا وَهُم مُّشْرِكُونَ
“And most of them do not even believe in Allāh without [also] ascribing divine powers to other beings beside Him.” (Q.12:106)
A couple of weeks ago, my father and teacher, Shaykh Ibn Sulaiman Najmuddien حفظه الله told me via phone call that the legendary scholar, late Shaykh Ādam Al-Ilori once said to him:
“Islām merely passed through Yoruba land like a wayfarer. It is not firmly rooted there.”
My late dad رحمه الله used to quote a line of poem attributed to Ahmad Bābā, a Shaykh from Timbuktu, which says:
ولا عيب في يوربا سوى أن دينهم
كدين النصارى لا كدين محمد
“There’s nothing wrong with the Yoruba people except that their religion (version of Islām) is closer to Christianity than that brought by Muhammad ﷺ.”
Dad رحمه الله would then replace the words يوربا and النصارى with نوفي (Nupe) and المجوس (fire worshippers) respectively to reflect how he felt about Islām in Nupeland.
It is not the wish of the average Nupe to associate partners in worship with Allāh. He, like every other Muslim wishes to attain Jannah. However, the old traditional practice of Shirk and magic seem to be so deeply-rooted in Nupeland that many do not know any other version of Islām other than one that permits them to continue practising their traditional religion in the cloak of Islām.
Recently, a lawyer friend sought my intervention in a matter of grave consequences with my father and benefactor, the Emir of Tsaragi, Alhaji Dr Aliyu Abdullahi أيّده الله بنصره and in the course of our discussion, the Emir said,
“Baba mi, I have to be diplomatic in approaching this matter and pacify the parent of the late girl. Most of our people here still live in the pre Islamic era and would go to any length to exert revenge, including engaging in Shirk practices, which they do not see as such anyways.”
For quite some years now, efforts to establish Da’wah to pristine Islām in Nupeland has been in top gear. Sadly, the continuous expansion of Sūfī practices (Tījāniyyah), opposition by Traditional rulers and clerics, as well as internal squabbles among the Du’āt (such as witnesses between Shaykhs Jimeta and Isa Gauthu), among others have seriously hampered its progress and expansion.
Leaders and elders in most cities in Nupeland prefer to support anti Sunnah elements for fear of loss of relevance as well as erosion of certain trado-cultural values. The clerics see the rise of Sunnah as a threat to their era of domination and extortion. All the lies and distortion of texts of yesteryears are now being exposed and made clear to the people with clear proofs. Sunnah is gradually opening the people’s eyes and liberating them from the shackles of ignorance and suppression. They hate to see this happen.
It is for these and similar reasons that chartalans, mentally deranged and riffraffs like the infamous witchdoctor, Shemi of Raba, and now Hasan of Patigi have gained serious ground in Nupeland and are destroying people’s faith and lives under the guise of fighting witchcraft and bringing succor to the distressed.
These criminals have continued to make inroads and cross-boarder raiding of Nupeland also largely because of the massive support and patronage that they have continued to enjoy from the Traditional rulers and politicians. The fear of witchcraft is real in Nupeland. It is this false belief that is being used to keep the people in perpetual fear and at the mercy of and exploitation of the chartalans.
There’s a need for sons of Nupeland to intensify efforts to bring Da’wah of pristine Islām closer to the people. It’s a sad tale to tell.
Mallam Sanusi Lafiagi