Re: Ikoyi Tragedy and Casual Bigotry Against Yoruba Muslims: My Views, My Experiences – By Alhaja Adeola Agoro

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I read Kperogi’s article with a smile playing around my lips. It brought back the contents of the second chapter of the first part of my (yet to be published) book, ‘Journey to Islam: The Journey So Far’.


While I wouldn’t say Kperogi was totally right in his submissions, I’ll say that I agree with a lot of what he said.
I was born a Christian. I converted to Islam in 2009. I have spent enough time in the Islamic religion to form an opinion about it. I can say what is right or wrong about the religion and those who practise it.

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I started writing the book, ‘Journey to Islam in 2017. Then I paused. Life is a journey and you can never really capture it all until the last day, so I said, ‘Let’s see if something will change and I may have to change some things in the book’.

As Jon.Bellion said in one of his songs that I love so much, “Nothing has changed, he’s the same…” From the point of writing that book till now, let me say nothing has changed. So, let me share the second chapter of the first part of that book below:

2’Yerima and Other Influences
Long before my innocent mind began to get conscious of the fire religious strife and crisis caused by displacing people and rendering many homeless, fatherless and sending several to their early graves in Nigeria, I knew about religious marginalisation. I grew up to know about religious sentiments, influences and stigmas.

I grew up amongst a certain class of Christians who considered themselves holy. Going to church on Sunday, coming back to eat jollof rice and chicken and watching good family films like the ‘Sounds of Music’ was a way of life. In those days, we were made to believe that the Christian kids were the ones who wore crisply ironed clothes on Sunday. They were the ones who wore ‘ready-made’ clothes with socks and nice shoes to match. Looking back now, I must admit that it was the highpoint of Christianity to wear the kinds of beautiful dresses with hats to match that I wore on Sundays. 

Looking that good meant I was a Christian. Or so I was made to believe. We were the sheltered ones who were not allowed to mix with just any other children in the neighbourhood. We were only heard from the confines of our homes and hardly seen. On the other hand, those who wore clothes sewed with ankara materials, who played outside, who went to Arabic schools or who chanted Arabic language as dictated by their teachers were regarded as considered to be a little lower than us.

The explanation was not really made; we just knew.  I knew how the opinions of certain people about you became coloured the moment they found out your name was Mojeed or Shakirat or whatever Muslim name it was. Oh no! It just meant that you must be ill-bred. It meant that your upbringing was not all together complete.  In cases where they couldn’t fault you for being half-baked because you were a Muslim, they assumed that you were aggressive and stubborn. In Ibadan where I spent my first sixteen years, Muslims were referred to as ‘Imale’ (followers of the hard religion).

To this day, there is an area in Ibadan known as ‘Imalefalafia’ literarily meaning the ‘followers of the hard religion want peace’.In the Christian family where I grew up, a Christian was more likely to be trusted for anything than an imale. By a stroke of fate, I discovered that most of the people hired for house chores and such other things in my family were Muslims. It went to show that the Muslims around us then were not educated and so had to take the lowest of jobs. I could remember that the woman who did our laundry till I grew up was called Iya Seki (Sekinat). It was just assumed that Muslim families didn’t care about educating their children beyond a certain level.

I can’t remember if anything was ever done to assist them in that regards. In a funny way, it didn’t matter if you were a Baptist or Anglican, if you came for a domestic work and it was discovered that you were a Christian, it used to elicit a level of surprise that you were not educated or that you chose to do some menial jobs. It was certain that your employer would ensure that you either went to school or learnt a vocation. All you to had to do worm your way into the minds of your employers or to get favours was to say you were a Christian. (It might matter though if you were a Celestian or aladura.

You were not quite different from a Muslim in the estimation of the holier-than-thou Christians). But things did not have that kind of colouration the moment I stepped out into the real world. From the moment I left home for my higher education till the moment I embraced Islam, it never mattered to the Muslims I met whether I was a Christian or Muslim or traditionalist before help came my way. All that mattered was the fact that I was a human being. And very much unlike what I grew up to know with somebody preaching to you that you must accept Christ to enter heaven and bearing heavily on your whether you wanted to talk religion or not, the Muslims I met NEVER tried to talk to me about their faith in a you-must-accept-it-by-force manner.

To this day, no Muslim that I met in those days condemned my religion.I would sit and dine with Muslims and we would be talking but the moment it was time for prayer, they would excuse themselves, do their ablution and quietly withdraw to pray without as much as invite you.  If you visited them on Fridays, they would leave you in their house, go to mosque to pray and come back to meet you. Not only were they respectful of your religion, they trusted you with their possessions.

I wonder if there are Christians who would leave you in their house on a Sunday when going to church without pressurizing you to go to church with them – whatever your religion or sect.This was my unprejudiced observation until I met Yerima. Sen. Ahmed Sani popularly known as Yerima was the Governor of Zamfara State then.Yerima came into national prominence for the introduction of Sharia Law to Zamfara State. Under him, the Penal Code became more effective and whoever erred or contravened the law faced summary actions. 

The name Yerima meant fear to non-Muslims outside his state. It was the general opinion that if you were not a Muslim, you couldn’t be safe near a fanatic like Yerima and in fact, you had no business being in Zamfara. I had started making a mark in journalism when one day, a friend I went to school with called to say she met Yerima’s ADC and discussed the prospects of me coming down to Zamfara to interview the governor. Without thinking about it for a moment, I turned down the opportunity.

Me, Yerima? No way!! As hungry as I was for good stories, I didn’t think Yerima was an area I could approach and I thought I was not the kind of journalist he would want near him for an interview. After all, I was a jean-wearing journalist with braids and totally un-Islamic in all ways.Little did I know that fate was bringing me in contact with Yerima and that was going to be an opportunity to see all Muslims in the same light – accommodating and not condemning of your religion. I met Yerima in the Summer of 2006. I was one of the panellists on a live broadcast of the breakfast show of Ben TV where Yerima was a guest. I had gone there dressed in jeans with my braids pulled up and complete with trainers and clanging bangles.

I looked a complete I-don’t-care type – a yuppy woman.   After the television program, along with some other journalists, I went for more exclusive interview for my newspaper and despite Yerima’s stance on Sharia, he didn’t as much as look at me as a sinner for once.

The biggest part of it is that when I returned to Nigeria and applied to be one of his media consultants, he gave me the chance without delay. There I was, a Christian and a woman for that matter!I was treated with much respect and dignity and everybody around him respected me for what I had to offer – my brain. 

  Whenever I had a job to discuss with him or show him, he would attend to me but he never allowed us to be alone together. And when it was time for prayer, they would all go for prayers and come back to resume whatever I had to show him.

It was around that time that I began to feel naked by not covering my head and body. Something in me told me it wasn’t right. Yerima and those around him preached to me through their behaviours without saying a word. They accepted me the way I was. They worked with me without discrimination and they made me see what beauty there was in Islam.

In those days of surrendering to the silent and beautiful pull of Islam, I couldn’t stop asking myself if any of those I grew up with in my Christian background would be so accommodating. Would they give a Muslim woman a chance to work with them, dine with them, make money and not go to church with them?

Would they have a very attractive Muslim woman around them and not as much as make a pass at her?I doubt. Seriously, I doubt.

From Justice Babatunde Adejumo, President of the National Industrial Court to my mentor and father, Sen. Umaru Dahiru through whom I finally embraced Islam, through whom I went for Hadj, through whom I grew in faith and through whom I have learnt a lot, to Arch. Halima Tayo Alao, to Dr. Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi and so many others, I have been given opportunities by a lot of Muslims without any asking for anything in return. 

 These are all people of deep faith who never asked me to compromise my former religion till I was personally convinced. I am indeed lucky to have seen the light of Islam myself through the conducts of these Muslim people.

These people showed the way to Islam more through deep love and acceptance of everybody whatever your religion than through talks. May Allah continue to guide them in their faith and make them lead more to Him through their conducts, ameen.’

That’s that about the second chapter of the book. 

I’ve not come here to say I agree or disagree with Kperogi, but I know that a Muslim will most likely accept you for a job or marriage or anything sooner than a Christian will.

Well…. I stand to be corrected after so many years of holding that belief.


Alhaja Adeola Agoro JP writes from Abuja

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47 thoughts on “Re: Ikoyi Tragedy and Casual Bigotry Against Yoruba Muslims: My Views, My Experiences – By Alhaja Adeola Agoro

  1. This short epistle has been wonderful and quite revealing.
    Alhamdulillah that Allah has guided you to Islam. My prayers are that you would continue to grow in faith and in doing good.
    In Islam, we believe that whatever Allah has destined for you nobody can stop it and whatever he has destined not be yours nobody can give you.
    Barakallahu fiikum and Jazakumullahu khaeran.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. The message is a source of inspiration. Thank you. Jazakunmullahu hairan.

    2. JazaAllahu Khairan for this write up, I use to wonder why the Christians are worried about Muslims and Islam but the Muslims are not concerned about anyone but minding their businesses and praying to make paradise. Honestly speaking, making paradise is more than enough work than facing other people, simplest things like gossiping can lead one to hell talk less of committing suicide, adultery, murder etc.

    3. I would love to read the book when it’s available. It’s a pity that many Christians know nothing about Islam before condemning it. They would not attempt to ask questions or engage in an objective conversation to juxtapose. The worse are those who once claimed to be Muslim. Ask them what they know about the religion before leaving; nothing relevant to the ethics or principles will be mentioned rather, a mere experience with someone would be the basis for dumping it. I would also add the unfortunate ones who met the wrong Muslims and used that to generalise. My opinion to anybody seeking to know God is to objectively seek knowledge about any religion he comes across, ask questions where it seems unclear, and make your decision.

  2. Alhamdulilahi Robili Alamin

    That’s the beauty in islam

    No compulsion!
    Allah guides whosoever he wishes to guide .
    May Almighty Allah not make us depart from islam noe that we have know about it 🙏🙏🙏🥰🥰

  3. Alhamdulillah robbil alaamin. May Allah continue to guide us upon khair (goodness) and bless us in both worlds. Love you for Allah’s sake.

  4. Congratulations for accepting peace of mind.You could see that Allah guides whom HE will.Muslims believe that life is a journey in this world to the life in the hereafter. Definitely there will be distractions and trials but with Allah, through prayers and observing the tenets of Islam, nothing is impossible.HE created us and will test us with our children and properties so why not believe in him.In HIM, let us put our trust, and HE will dispose our affairs in the right way. I appreciate you my sister in Islam and God bless you.Ameen.Regards to the family

  5. When is your book going to be launched. I’d love to read it.
    Thank you for writing so positively about Islam. And I am happy you saw the light.

    Thank you

  6. Am extremely excited about the story and bluntness. Not all people will be able to say the truth about their own experiences as she narrated. That is why we always told ourselves to practice pristine Islam from Quran and hadith . Read about how prophet tolerated the enemies, at the end many of them embraced Islam through prophet Muhammad’s SAW character. May Allah grant our sister istiqaam. Love you fisebililahi

  7. Maa Shaa Allaah wa BaarakaLLaahu feekum Hajia.

    I am happy you wrote about the beauty of Islam. Islam teaches not compulsion and that is what Prophet Muhammad (SalaLLaahu allaehi wassalam) brought to us. We believe in peace coexistence,

    “You shall have your religion and I shall have my religion”. Q 109:6.

    May Allaah preserve you upon goodness Hajia.

    JazakiLLaahu Khayran.

  8. The writer has shed light on encounter with practising Muslims who exhibited the beauty of Islam. I want to salute her courage & wisdom for those with negative perspective to cast out false information about Islam in their minds.

  9. May Allah the uncreated creator of everything and everyone continue to guide guard protect and provide for you.May He grant you more knowledge wisdom Iman Taqwa Risq lots of Ibadah and understanding.

  10. It gladens my heart to read this epistle. It’s an encouragement to every Muslim to improve on his/her relationship with others, and to put humanity first before religion. Thanks to Alhaja Agoro

  11. Thanks for sharing your experiences. The message is a source of inspiration. Thank you. Jazakunmullahu hairan.

  12. This type of story is an appraisal the level of understanding of individual about his/her religion. I doubt if christianity teach the disciples not to respect other faith.
    The lesson has been learnt for those who are ready to follow the tenets of the religion. For others who believe they are better species, it’s time to change so that life can be better for all us. Humanity should come first and through that we can make the required change

  13. This is amazing ! You know , Prophet Muhammad ( SAW ) lived in Medina with the Jews and Christians with peace and harmony ; they were protected under Islamic jurisprudence , and mutually with the Muslims, Medina was protected from external invaders . This is ISLAM ! People converted to Islam during our Prophet’s character and exemplary human relations . My advice to every Muslim is that we should check our characters at all times to emulate that of our Prophet ( SAW ) and follow the sunnah as much as we can . Allah bless us all .

  14. Many more of similar narratives are to be revealed as soon as possible!
    Personally, I was beaten and and sent home by my school authorities in public primary school because of ‘Chorus/Choruses (iwe orin kristieni) that costed two naira then.
    I was forced to partake in Christian services in my public secondary school along other Muslim students.
    The most beautiful thing about Islam is that: NO COMPULSION IN RELIGION!

  15. Alhamdulillah Robil Al-amin. I am highly impressed by this outpouring of conviction. However, am not really surprised because, I’ve always known that the beauty of Islam goes beyond the negative propaganda against it. My experience growing up in Ilorin showed me that Muslims are more tolerant and accommodating. Hardly would you find a Muslim friend or employer discriminating against a Christian. And quite unfortunately, tools of propaganda is at the behest of the other religion practitioners.
    Thank you a great deal for your write-up.

  16. This is simply a nice submission, Alhaja Agoro. Well done! I thank Allah for you for His guidance. He stated in Suratul Baqarah “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Surely the true path is distinct from error”. It’s only God who guides people to the right direction.

    Adebowale Sikiru is not the only one who had experienced this ugly show. My friend’s husband was treated exactly same way a couple of years back in another company. He got the job when CEO was abroad. The day he assumed position was same day CEO returned to work. He invited the youngman to his office. On hearing his name, Oga said “Are you a Muslim?” “Yes Sir” He answered. “I can’t work with a Muslim” was the response. Wallahi, he left the company that day; same day he assumed position, after resigning from another company. May God help the vulnerables.

    I have observed with sadness how Muslims working in corporate offices rush out of the mosques immediately after Taslim on Jumat. Many sneaked to the Masjid. Some can’t step out of the offices for Jumat that is compulsory, especially for men. Yet, in our society, Muslims are the ones wrongly labelled as fanatics.

  17. Excellent piece. Thanks for sharing, this was how Islam was spread by the early Muslims through their character and behavior.

  18. Alhamudulilah . What you have said is typical of a good muslim, I love your submissions. Muslims won’t force you to accept their faith before you receive favour from them. Barakallahu fiikum and Jazakumullahu khaeran

  19. Allahu Akbar, there iis no compulsion in Islam that was Yerima and others did. Then the respect for human beings.If Allah wish He will have made everybody a Muslim or christian etc . Alhamdlillah you came to Islam by conviction. May Allah continue to bless you and your offspring in Islam.Amin.

  20. Alhamdulillah! Your piece has added to the beauty you discovered in the faith & has made it more beautiful as well as elicited truth for its lovers. May you live long to enjoy the beauty of it & experience the very best in the hereafter.

  21. Interesting, enlightening and entertaining. All the same, I prefer to hear where you think Kperogi went wrong.

  22. Al hajja Adeola, you have been a Muslim for just over a decade. Though you are entitled to your opinion, you can only comment about the Muslims around you but not about Islam. Because I don’t think you know enough about Islam to say what is wrong with it.

  23. AlhamduliLah for being opportuned to read this heart revealing piece by sister Adeola and congratulate you for being chosen by Allah Subhana wa Taala through His Mercy. You have to strive to aquire Islamic knowledge to succeed in the true worship of Allah.
    This is the difference between other religions. Islam is a religion of knowledge.

    Allah wants you to know Him before you can worship Him, and it’s only through seeking for knowledge you can know Allah.

    May Allah make it easy for you and us all.

  24. Alhamdulillah on ur behalf. May Allah continue to strengthen you and open your heart to learn more about your choice in Islam and make you a better Muslimah that others can understand and accept Islam through also bihithinillah. Aamiin.

  25. Yusuf Momoh.
    Masha Allah Rabbi Alhaja Agoro . May Allah SWT strengthen your iman in Islam. I concur with your write-up. Most Christians and other none Muslims view Islam as a fanatical religion as such, not wanting to relate with Muslims in any manner. Without being in a haste to convince anybody about the religion of Islam, our actions and manners towards none Moslem would surely vindicator us.

  26. The author is absolutely right 100% and I am happy for that. She was very objective and no Christian can fault her submission. You hardly see any Muslim preaching Islam to a Christian unless that Christian asks about Islam or trying to malign Islam and Muslims. Interstingly, she accepted Islam through the attitudes of good ambassadors of Islam not through the study of Islam, Allahu Akbar.

  27. Alhamdulillah Robil ‘Aalamin…. may Almighty Allah continue to strengthen you in faith. Islām is a religion of peace in totality, a religion that is very friendly to all creatures of Allah. What people say about Islām some time may be right or wrong but as for anyone who Allah wishes guide to the religion of Islām He will show him the true picture of Islām and the moral standard in Islām and he or she will be guided. I say JazaakumulLahu khayran, for this write-up.

  28. May Allah (swt) continue to guide you aright. You have aptly captured the scenario in a typical Yoruba setting. Longing to read the whole book when completed. May you be granted the grace to complete it.

  29. When I first read Kperogi’s piece, I took it for granted and as a common knowledge i.e., nothing new. We already know about this attitude of our Southern Christian brethrens against Muslims irrespective of whether Yoruba or Non Yoruba. Alhaja’s write up has succeeded in exposing the hatred and bigotry of Southern Christians. It has also touched on the very fabric of unity of Nigeria. The type of teachings Christian children get from their parents and churches is for them to simply hate Muslims irrespective of where they come from and even from same family. This attitude is unholy and must be condemned by all God-fearing Nigerians.

  30. 👆👆👆 PLEASE READ THIS WRITE UP🙏🙏🙏 Just to appreciate independence of mind, deep reasoning and genuine sense of judgement.
    Happy reading and thank you.
    I sent the above to my Christian fiancee because of the balance of language in the write up, of which the rendition is more of true life experiences that is worth of sharing to convince more souls.
    May God Almighty Allah SWT increase you in knowledge and wisdom. Your reward from Allah is assured by Allah in several verses of Alquoran.
    Jazakum llahu haiy’ran.

  31. Alhamdulillahi I am a Muslim from birth till date and till I die in Sha Allah. I congratulate Alhaja JP for discovering and following the straight path. I pray she remains steadfast in practicing the first and final religion of the world.

  32. An excellent account from the horse’s mouth. May all mighty Allah keep you healthy and grant you more wisdom for sharing your experiences

  33. ALLAHU AKBAR what an interesting story.
    Alhmadulilahi, so much happy for you ma!
    In life, what will be will surely be and that’s what Muslims have held on to.
    Do what you know that’s right without expecting anything in return from anybody but doing it for ALLAH (SWT) sake is the best.
    Thank you ma for sharing!

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