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The brotherhood of Ansar

By Ishola Balogun

Recently, a group claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Nigerian troops heading to Mali last Sunday, killing two officers and wounding eight others, in Kogi state. The group whose full names are Jama’atu Ansarul Musilimina Fi Biladis Sudan meaning “Group of Muslim Helpers from  Sudan (Black Africa) opened fire on a convoy of troops leaving northern Nigeria en route  Mali to join the West African forces in that country.  This development jolted many Muslims who are worried about this crisis that has given Islam another name in the country.  But who are these Ansar?  Are they Nigerians or Sudanese?

Before giving an insight into what is known as the Ansar, we need to know how the the Muhajirun came about.  This is because the coming of the Muhajirun ultimately established the Ansar.

Muhajir refers to “a person who leaves his/her place of residence or country to live elsewhere.”

During the 5th year of prophethood, as the pagans increased their oppression, persecution and torture on the Muslims, some Muslims moved to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) on the orders of the Prophet. (s.a.w)  Uthman and his wife, Ruqiyyah, the daughter of the Prophet (s.a.w) migrated to Abyssinia while some later moved to Madinah where they were  received by the Ansar. Those who migrated with the Prophet from Makkah to Madina were refered to as the Muhajirun.

The Ansar are the Muslim helpers in Madinah.  They gave the emigrating Muslims who were persecuted in Makkah the necessary support.  In fact, they were instrumental to the success of the Hijrah because the Muslims who ran for their dear lives were readily received by the Ansar.

Not only that they gave them homes, food, land, clothing and all other support that established the first organised Muslims community. The most remarkable ties of full brotherhood were established.  The helpers Ansar regularly gave and the Muhajirun regularly received.

The small Muslim community grew from strength to strength and that goodness produced the  needed strength.

But today, the Islamic brotherhood has grown from its positive sense to negative fraternity. We have seen the likes of that in several part of the world.  The Iraqi based Ansar al-Islam which is popularly known as an affiliate of the Al-Qaeda network was a Sunni Islamist group.  It later began to promote radical concept.

Ansar al-Islam (AAI)  was a Sunni Islamist group of Iraqis, promoting a radical interpretation of Islam, close to the official Saudi ideology of Wahhabism with strict application of Sharia. The group was formed in the northern provinces of Iraq near the Iranian border, and previously had established bases occupying Biyara to the northeast of Halabja

Ansar al-Islam is known as an affiliate of the Al-Qaeda network

Islam definition of brotherhood is profound.  It is a relationship not based on personal interest or mutual activity but entirely based on the beliefs, philosophies and tenates of the deen.

These new Ansar should understand that the cause the Boko Haram is fighting is not on the deen.  It is not on how  the over 80million Nigerian Muslims can practice their religion.  It is not a case of the Muslims being prevented from going to mosques or observing any part of their religious duties.

The insurgence we are witnessing today is as a result of glaring political disagreements between the government and its people, poverty and other socio-political mess in the region. Even as the insurgent go on unabated, many Muslims and Mosques have been destroyed.

Recently, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero narroly escaped death from an attacked by gunmen believed to have been carried out by God know who.  Two of the Emir’s sons, the Turakin Kano and the Ciroman Kano, Alh. Sunusi Ado Bayero were said to have sustained injuries and are currently receiving treatment in United Kingdom.

A mosque was bombed in Kano last year with many sustaining injuries. How many Muslims can we imagine would have died in some of these massacres carried out  by these people. So, where is the brotherhood, where does the concept or  philosophy of the first Ansar come to match in all of these. It is nothing but a chronic irony and perversion of brotherhood exemplified by the first Ansar.

The Quran says: “The believers are nothing else than brothers. So make reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah, that you may receive mercy.” (Al-Hujjurat, 49:10) Why not endeavour to make reconciliation, why not strive to bring peace and why not sustain the good and enduring examples of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) who never chose war when peace was honourable and who never got angry at the slightest provocation.

Showing that Islam is all about peace is an obligation and a challenge at the same time for all of us. It is paramount for Muslims anywhere and at anytime to remain conscious of the fact that so many lives have been lost, and in a multi-religious society like ours, it is an obligation to follow the footpath of our leader, the seal of all Prophets, Muhammad (s.a.w)

There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. (Quran 33: 21)

The Prophet of Allah was humble, kind, patient and tolerant.  He was not harsh or aggressive. He did not use bad language or curse. He did not get angry or loose his temper even at the slightest provocation.  If we are his true followers, then we have to be gentle, humble, kind, tolerant and peace-loving.  People learned from him and became better human beings by associating with him. This is the mark and influence of a true and genuine person. Salla-llahu alahi wa salaam.

Why poverty among Muslims?

“I seek refuge from unbelief and poverty” – Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)

The above statement of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and many others attest to the fact that Islam did not only detest poverty but also provide instruments to eradicate poverty.

However, it is disheartening that apart from the controversial rating of some Muslim states in Nigeria as poor any one who is aware of what constitutes poverty in Islam will definitely agree that many Muslims in the country are wallowing in abject poverty, to the extent that some non-Muslim and misinformed Muslims thought that Islam encouraged it.

But is it a blessing or a course?  And what are the reasons for poverty among Muslims in Nigeria today?

In Islam poverty is a multidimensional concept. Term used in Islamic literature for a poor person is “faqeer” or poor when he or she did not have sufficient materials wealth to satisfy his/her basic needs which are necessary for a good social, individual and economic life. People who are not able to meet these necessities of life are poor. Islam is not against property and wealth, it considers richness a blessing from their creator as long as it is acquired through legal means (halal) and the person fulfills all his responsibilities towards Allah and society.

Islam does not see poverty as a virtue rather ,as a social anomaly that should be eradicated.  In the above hadith and many others, Prophet (s.a.w) sought refuge from poverty as a prayer. Therefore, the major reason that is responsible for poverty among the Muslim in Nigeria is that they did not practice Islam the right way and with all sincerity.   That makes it difficult to implement the instruments for eradicating poverty provide by Islam.


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