The Grand Chief Imam showed up unannounced with a fleet of cars conveying his entourage – in their teeming number. Not surprised to see the number one muslim though, but startled to be visited uninformed. It was at the approach of Solaatul ‘Asr on a Jumu’ah day.

Brethren had dispersed after sermon and solah. But I was still physically present attending to certain clerical obligations. On sight, I swiftly stepped out to reverently welcome the august visitor. I helped open the car door. “As-Salaamu alaykum. Ahlan bikum, yaa sheikh.” I saluted. “Wa alaykum salaam. How are you?” He replied while his feet landed on the ground. So I shut the door and turned towards members of the convoy – greeting them one after the other.

I led them in, still in surprise. And we all sat on the floor. “You are highly welcome, sir. It’s really a great privilege hosting you extempore, sir. To what do we owe this rare visit, sir?” I inquired. “Are you the Imam.” Quizzed the Grand Chief Imam. “Yes, I am, sir.” I answered. “Who made you Imam?” Shocked by the probe, I answered: “Members of the mosque.”

“Have you been turbaned?” Puzzles set in. “Noooo!” I answered confusedly. “And you said you were Imam. You are not yet an Imam until you had been turbaned by us, because there can never be a king without a crown. And a king cannot pride himself except he had passed through the requisite traditional rites. So you are just acting. You are not yet substantive.” That sounded like a detonated bomb. In smiles, I replied: “I will relay your message to the executive and other members of the mosque. We will pay you a visit to tell you the outcome of our meeting, sir.”

In our own teeming number, too, the sheikh was visited. Our message was laconically clear: “With due respect, sir. We are not interested in the proposed turbaning, sir. It’s been a while we installed our Imam, and we are okay with the simple process.” We declared frankly, albeit respectfully.

I have witnessed different turbaning ceremonies of imams and oloyes – Baba Adini, Iya Sunnah (with no traits of sunnah in their personalities), Giwa Adini, Seriki Adini, Taosiri etc. They were nothing but spirituality for show – wining, dining, in fact, singing and dancing. All sorts of forbidden acts, including intake of alcohol, did play out.

What correlation has amaanah (trust) with partying? What is the ecstasy about? That you are doubly sure your road will be smooth on the day of recompense – when the Imam, the Baba Adini, the Iya Sunnah et al will be questioned over the spiritual trusts they were saddled to handle.
People fight to be Imam, to be oloye because of the turbaning and the paraphernalia that accompany it – the more reason some go the extra mile to get installed at all costs.

People who are worth responsibilities are not appointed. Money is the key, even if the person’s Islam is indisputably questionable. Even if he is morally bankrupt, it doesn’t matter. If you are wealthy, you are worthy.

Today, people who combine Islam and paganism are made oloyes in the mosque, and every Friday, spaces are created for them behind the imam. No one dares occupy any of such spaces except that he receives word bruises of his life.

On Jumu’ah, Eid and any mosque occasion day, baba oloye is donned in babariga and his head turbaned, too. Conversely, on Isese or any other fetish fiesta, the same person is clad in pakaja and freely roams and dances round the community with the gbedu band. What a contradiction – taoheed and shirk (monotheism and polytheism)! What is wrong with us?

Spirituality for show!


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