Tribute To Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari (February 25, 1925 – December 28, 2018)

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By Imam Murtadha Gusau

 

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Grantor of Mercy

 

Praise be to Allah, the Ever-Living, Who does not die, and Peace and Blessings be upon our beloved Prophet Muhammad and upon all his family and Companions.

 

Dear brothers and sisters! Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari was born in February 25, 1925, in Shagari, Sokoto State, Nigeria.

 

He was a Nigerian politician, a leader of the National Party of Nigeria, who served as the first and only President of Nigeria’s Second Republic from 1979 to 1983, after the handover of power by General Olusegun Obasanjo’s military government.

 

Shagari’s great grandfather founded the village from which the family took its name. He was a member of the Muslim Fulani people of northern Nigeria, and a descendant of a tribe that had founded his home village. Shagari studied at Kaduna College, and taught in the school briefly before entering politics in 1954 and being elected to the federal House of Representatives. Thereafter he held several posts and was a member of every administration after Nigeria’s independence in 1960. Upon the end of military rule (1979), he was elected president of Nigeria, defeating his major rival, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, by a narrow margin.

 

Alhaji Shehu Shagari was Secretary, Sokoto branch of the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) from 1951-56 and represented Sokoto West between 1954 and 1958 in the House of Representatives in Lagos after which he held several public positions.

 

In 1958 he was parliamentary Secretary to the then Prime Minister, acting Federal Minister of Commerce and Industry in 1959, Minister of Economic Development, 1959-60, Minister of Pensions and Establishments, 1960-1962, Minister of Internal Affairs, 1962-65 and Minister of Works, 1965-66.

 

After the civil war, 1970-71, he held the important post of Federal Commissioner for Economic Development, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. Later, he was appointed member of the Constituent Assembly.

 

Nigeria was badly shaken by the international economic crisis of the early 1980s. President Shagari took several steps to try to strengthen the economy–cutting the budget, calling in the International Monetary Fund, and expelling 2,000,000 aliens (mostly Ghanaians) in 1983. He won the bitterly contested Presidential elections in 1983, but the state of the economy and alleged corruption in his administration worsened, on December 31 a military coup led by Major General Muhammadu Buhari, the present President of Nigeria, toppled the government and Shagari was arrested. Shagari was cleared of personal corruption charges and released from detention in 1986 but was banned from participation in Nigerian politics for life.

 

My respected people! The death of this great man, the second republic President, Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, who passed away on Friday evening (28/12/2018) at the National Hospital in Abuja, aged 93, after a brief illness, is a great and national loss, for his efforts towards the unity and progress of Nigeria through important policies that should spur younger politicians to always work for the good and progress of the country. Shagari was a patriot who placed service to humanity and fatherland above personal interest. He was an urbane, humble, polished and tolerant politician. Let’s emulate his life of service, patriotism and devotion to ennobling values.

 

May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace. And May Allah forgive all his sins, failings and Shortcomings and grant him Jannatul Firdaus, ameen.

 

Indeed! This is a huge loss to Islam, Muslim Ummah and the nation at large.

 

Dear brothers and sisters! In the Islamic worldview, death is part of the cycle of life and is a clear example of Allah’s absolute power and human being’s dependency on the Divine. There are many verses in the Qur’an that illustrates this point. Allah the Almighty says:

 

“And verily, it is We Who give life, and who give death: it is We Who remain Inheritors (after all else passes away).” [Qur’an 15:23]

 

And He the Most High says:

 

“There is no god but He (Allah): it is He Who gives life and gives death the Lord and Cherisher to you and your earliest ancestors.” [Qur’an 44:8]

 

And He the Almighty says:

 

“Every soul shall have a taste of death: in the end to Us shall you be brought back.” [Qur’an 29:57)

 

In all the three examples, it is clear that Allah is the one who controls both life and death. Furthermore, in the final example, the verse underscores the point that no being, except Allah who created it, can escape death. Thus, this common experience functions as the ultimate leveler among all of Allah’s creation. Moreover, the end of this verse also highlights a central principle of the faith: accountability. In Islam, all human beings will return to Allah and face his judgement for all their actions.

 

There are also Prophetic Hadiths that emphasise the importance of this life and the need for Muslims to offer positive contributions to this world up until death. The following example underscores this point.

 

The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

 

“If the Day of Judgment erupts while you are planting a new tree, carry on and plant it.”

 

The message of this Hadith is that Muslims must work hard and provide positive contributions even if they know that death is upon them.

 

* Allah’s Will and Human Choice

 

Dear brothers and sisters! Everything happens (including the passing away of former President) according to Allah’s Predestination and Will, and the Will of Allah will be definitely put into action, while man has no will except what has been predestinated for him. Thus, whatever Allah has predestinated will occur and whatever is against His Will never occurs. Actually, the entire Universe belongs to Allah, so nothing happens against His Will, and no-one, no matter how powerful, has the capability to do anything against His Will. As regards the above it has been said:

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“Everything happens according to the Will of Allah, and whatever Allah wants will definitely occur, and Allah’s Will is related to the ultimate wisdom, and the ultimate wisdom is related to the absolute goodness.”

 

My beloved people! To harmonise the concept of Allah’s Will encompassing that of a human being with man having the power of free choice, consider the example of a dissolute man who wants to commit a theft, and Allah allows him to do that. That man’s will is related to stealing and Allah’s Will is related to allowing him to do that because man has the power of free choice. However, Allah the Almighty arranges this matter through leading him to steal from a certain man who will be disciplined by this theft. Hence, Allah the Almighty enables the thief to fulfill his proposal and disciplines the other man by means of this act and it has been said:

 

“The oppressor is the whip of Allah as He disciplines people through him, and then He dispenses retribution to him.”

 

In other words, Allah’s Will gets embodied in human will, so when a disbeliever steals or kills, he is not doing it against Allah’s Will. Rather, out of a profound wisdom, Allah the Almighty enables him to fulfill his objective because he has the power of free choice. At the same time Allah Most High disciplines other people through him. To summarise, everything happens according to Allah’s Predestination and Will. The Will of Allah will be surely executed; man has no will except what has been predestined for him; whatever Allah wills will definitely occur and nothing will happen against His Will. Thus, whatever happens is according to the Will of Allah the Almighty, and when you choose to do something and execute it, it means that Allah’s Will encompasses yours, because you cannot choose to do anything and carry it out unless Allah the Almighty enables you to do that. Consequently, you have the power of free choice, but all your matters are arranged by Allah. Allah the Almighty says:

 

“Verily! This (Verses of the Qur’an) is an admonition, so whosoever wills, let him take a Path to his Lord (Allah). But you cannot will, unless Allah wills. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.” [Surah Al-Insan, 29-30]

 

Your power of free choice notwithstanding, you cannot carry out your plan unless Allah the Almighty enables you to. So, He is the real Doer, and you will not fulfill your proposition but according to His Will.

 

* His Will is related to His Perfection

 

Then Allah the Almighty says:

 

“Verily! This (Verses of the Qur’an) is an admonition, so whosoever wills, let him take a Path to his Lord (Allah). But you cannot will, unless Allah wills. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise. He will admit to His Mercy whom He will and as for the Zalimun, (sinners, polytheists, wrong-doers, etc.) He has prepared a painful torment.” [Surah Al-Insan, 29-31]

 

Definitely, Allah’s Will is not a matter of mood because He admits to His Mercy those who act justly as well as the righteous, and wards off the wrong doers, which means that His Will is related to His Perfection.

 

* Human will is in need of the Divine Will

 

In fact, your will lacks the capacity of being carried out, while Allah does whatever He wills. So, we only intend something but we cannot definitely perform it. For example, you may wish to have a large amount of money but you cannot fulfill your wish, while Allah the Almighty does whatever He wills. Also, man’s will cannot be executed except through the Will of Allah, so if it turns into action, that happens according to the Will of Allah. Hence, man’s will is in need of Allah’s Will.

 

So, Allah the Almighty allows you to have the power of free choice; He grants it to you as a means of honouring you. All other creatures, such as animals, angels as well as inanimate objects are all compelled. Not so mankind and jinn, who have a will out of Allah’s Will.

 

Allah the Almighty says:

 

“But you cannot will, unless Allah wills. Verily, Allah is Ever All-Knowing, All-Wise.” [Surah Al-Insan, 30]

 

* Allah describes the only way leading to faith

 

Allah the Almighty says:

 

“And even if We had sent down unto them angels, and the dead had spoken unto them, and We had gathered together all things before their very eyes, they would not have believed, unless Allah willed, but most of them behave ignorantly.” [Surah Al-An’am, 111]

 

What is the meaning of this Qur’anic verse? It means that there are some people who claim that they will not believe unless they see miracles with their own eyes, such as being able to ascend to the Heaven and see the Divine Being; or seeing a dead person come out of his grave and his talking about the Hereafter; or seeing a mountain being moved from one place to another, and so on. Allah the Almighty says:

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“And even if We had sent down unto them angels, and the dead had spoken unto them, and We had gathered together all things before their very eyes, they would not have believed, unless Allah willed, but most of them behave ignorantly.” [Surah Al-An’am, 111]

 

So, Allah the Almighty describes the only way leading to the belief in Him. To illustrate this point – reading medical books for five years or staying at a hospital for five years will not get you a medical degree, because the only way to get it is to excel in your baccalaureate first, then to study medicine at a university for seven years, and so on. Likewise, you cannot believe in Allah Most High only by means of miracles. The Jews saw miracles before their very eyes – they saw a stick turn into a snake, nevertheless some of them did not believe! So, this Qur’anic verse carries a very exact meaning and Allah the Almighty has identified for us the only way leading to the belief in Him.

 

* Allah never enjoins disbelief but allows it as a means of testing man

 

Allah the Almighty says:

 

“If your Lord had so willed, they would not have done it, so leave them alone with their fabrications.” [Surah Al-An’am, 112]

 

Because the real Doer is Allah the Almighty, consider the following example which I am in the habit of mentioning: You are a chemist and you need a professional employee. You will probably first test him by asking him to put different sets of vitamins, drugs, and poisonous substances in the places where they belong. If, seeing that he puts the vitamins together with the toxins, you prevent him from doing so; you will not be testing him. Thus, in order to carry out your test you should let him do whatever he wants. Likewise, Allah the Almighty does not enjoin disbelief, but when someone disbelieves in Him, it is according to His Will, even if it does not please Him, and His Will implies that He allows it.

 

* The reason behind man having been honoured above all creatures

 

Allah the Almighty says:

 

“And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad, Peace be upon him) then compel mankind, until they become believers?” [Surah Yunus, 99]

 

Had Allah the Almighty compelled us (in our choices), we would have been like angels or animals – with no mandate, trust, or desires. Allah the Almighty, however, has granted us the power of free choice, so that we can get elevated in His Sight (when we choose to perform righteous deeds) and to be truly honoured creatures.

 

* Allah’s support comes after man’s choice

 

Let’s ponder over the following Qur’anic verse in which Allah the Almighty says:

 

“And whomsoever Allah wills to guide, He opens his breast to Islam, and whomsoever He wills to send astray, He makes his breast closed and constricted, as if he is climbing up to the sky. Thus Allah puts the wrath on those who believe not.” [Surah Al-An’am 125]

 

Allah the Almighty helps the believer when he chooses the right way by making him feel at ease, and this is called Allah’s Help. So, when man prays and remains upright upon the Straight Path, he will be pleased and will be at ease. Thus will Allah create pleasure and comfort within you to encourage you to worship Him. On the other hand, going astray, abandoning Salah (Prayer) and deviating from the Path of Allah makes man feel uneasy. Hence, the hearts (of men) are in the Hand of Allah – at times He makes you feel comfortable to encourage you and on other occasions He makes you feel uneasy to prevent you from committing sins. Actually, this does not mean that man is compelled, and I want to clarify to you that the meaning of these Qur’anic verses is far away from the creed of fatalism (the belief that all actions are predetermined and the free will is impossible).

 

* Retributive deviation is based on the optional one

 

Allah the Almighty says:

 

“And my advice will not profit you, even if I wish to give you good counsel, if Allah’s Will is to keep you astray. He is your Lord! And to Him you shall return.” [Surah Hud, 34]

 

How can this Qur’anic verse be explained? The meaning of the phrase “keep you astray” is to reveal the hidden evil in your hearts. Thus, the first meaning of this verse is: If it is Allah’s Will to keep you astray, my (the Prophet’s) advice will not profit you; and the other meaning is: If you believe that Allah’s Will is to keep you astray, you will not benefit from my advice. Allah the Almighty says:

 

“Those who reject Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) are deaf and dumb in darkness. Allah sends astray whom He wills and He guides on the Straight Path whom He wills.” [Surah Al-An’am, 39]

 

Thus, there is retributive deviation based on the optional one. For example, if a man has a wonderful wife, and he treats her kindly and is good to her, he is not doing anything special for her; but if his wife gets paralysed and he gets annoyed with her and neglects her, then he is a liar and a hypocrite, because he only thinks of his own comfort. Likewise, the hidden evil will not be revealed except after a test. Knowing that there was hidden evil in the souls, Allah the Almighty puts them to the test which reveals their badness.

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* The disbeliever’s claim that incredulity has been predestinated for them

 

Allah the Almighty says:

 

“Those who took partners (in worship) with Allah will say: “If Allah had willed, we would not have taken partners (in worship) with Him, nor would our fathers, and we would not have forbidden anything (against His Will).” Likewise belied those who were before them, (they argued falsely with Allah’s Messengers), till they tasted of Our Wrath. Say: “Have you any knowledge (proof) that you can produce before us? Verily, you follow nothing but guess and you do nothing but lie.” [Surah Al An’am,148]

 

Also, Allah the Almighty says:

 

“And those who join others in worship with Allah say: “If Allah had so willed, neither we nor our fathers would have worshipped aught but Him, nor would we have forbidden anything without (Command from) Him.” So did those before them. Then! Are the Messengers charged with anything but to convey clearly the Message?” [Surah Al-Nahl, 35]

 

And He the Most High says:

 

“And they said: “If it had been the Will of the Most Beneficent (Allah), we should not have worshipped them (false deities).” They have no knowledge whatsoever of that. They do nothing but lie!.” [Surah Az-Zukhruf, 20]

 

So, Allah condemns them because they attributed their sins and their shirk (the wrong action of associating something with Allah) to Allah’s Will, ascribing, thus, their sins to Him.

 

* Iblis’s (shaitan) claim that Allah has misled him

 

Also, Allah the Almighty condemns Iblis because he ascribes his going astray to Allah. Allah the Almighty says:

 

“[Iblis (Shaytan)] said: “O my Lord! Because you misled me, I shall indeed adorn the path of error for them (mankind) on the earth, and I shall mislead them all.” [Surah Al-Hijr, 39]

 

These are Iblis’s words. However, Allah Most High does not confirm them.

 

* The relation between the Divine Will and the Order and the Pleasure

 

Allah’s Will is totally unrelated to His Order and His Pleasure. In this context, consider the example of an educated father who hopes that his son will also be an educated man. Unfortunately, his son is not like him, so he consents to him learning a craft. Thus, the father, who expected his son to become an educated man, is in fact displeased with the idea of his becoming a craftsman.

 

Hence, it is a big mistake to think that Allah’s Will indicates His Pleasure or that Allah’s Will indicates His Order! It is absolutely wrong. For example, is there a father who is pleased with the idea of his son undergoing a surgery? Of course not! Nevertheless, he lets the surgeon perform it. So, Allah’s Will is totally different from His Pleasure and His Order.

 

* The Divine Will is not against what It orders

 

Some people mention the Divine Will not out of belief in the Oneness of Allah, but as an excuse for going against the Order of Allah and to oppose the Law of Islam, as when the disbelievers or the ignorant, ordered to follow the Commands of Allah and to avoid His Prohibitions, use predestination as a pretext for their wrong conduct.

 

Once, the thief brought to Caliph Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, (to apply the punishment for theft), claimed that he had committed this wrongdoing because it had been predestinated for him, so Umar said:

 

“I will cut off your hand on account of Predestination! If you think that committing theft is due to Fate and Divine Decree, then I will cut off your hand according to Fate and Divine Decree.”

 

What that thief meant was that Allah the Almighty forced him to steal. This (wrong attitude) is also mentioned in the noble verse below in which Allah the Almighty says:

 

“Likewise belied those who were before them, (they argued falsely with Allah’s Messengers), till they tasted of Our Wrath. Say: “Have you any knowledge (proof) that you can produce before us? Verily, you follow nothing but guess and you do nothing but lie.” [Surah Al-An’am, 148]

 

So, their only aim was to tell lies, because how could they have known – before performing the deed-whether it had been predestinated by Allah or not? Did they have the knowledge of the Unseen?! Thus, given that you do not know what Allah knows, you cannot use it as a pretext for your negligence and for your committing sins.

 

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

 

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.

 

Written by your brother,

 

Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. The Imam can be reached through: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.




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