Alhaji Taofeeq Adeseun is the Chairman of Lagos Zone 1 of Nasru-llahi-l-Fatih society of Nigeria, NASFAT, he bares his mind on training, empowering of Muslim faithfuls through the institution of Zakaat in order to make others live a better life as well as living a practical Islamic life. Aderonke Adeyeri reports.
Zakat and Sadakat has been part of Islam but why the emphasis now?
I think it is just the right time to call ourselves towards the right path. So, even if something has been there before, we must constantly make sure that people are reminded about it and it is emphasized to them the importance of it.
So, that is what we are doing because we observed that if everyone who is supposed to pay Zakat is paying it, 90% of the ills of the society will not exist.
But because many Muslims are not consenciously paying it and it is not because they do not want to pay it but because it is not in their priority, that is why we hold this meeting to bring it to the front burner.
What sort of empowerment programme you have embarked on since the beginning of your administration to alleviate poverty and bridge the gap between the poor and rich?
The first thing we did was to ensure that as part of our Executive council at the zone, we have an empowerment coordinator who was present at this meeting.
Interestingly, she is someone who works with Dangote Foundation and has a professional knowledge about empowerment and how it should be done. We have done a number of programmes which include vocational skills training for people across various areas; making people to earn income from vocations like Photography, Soap making, Beads-making, Cosmetics to mention a few.
When I say Cosmetics I mean Islamic cosmetics because if you do not give people what they need, they will find it somewhere else. So, if we say we want Muslim women to go for Islamic beauty and we do not train them, they will follow the western one which is definitely not the correct one. That is one of the empowerment programmes we have done.
Was the training programme organized in your zone?
We are part of the National structure. So, it is not as if we operate independently but we key into the National programmes without duplicating efforts. But what we do is to use the “train the trainer concept”. Those who go from our zone and go back to their branches and disseminate the skills they have learnt.
How many women have benefited from this empowerment programme?
I may not be able to give the exact number now but I am sure the Women Affairs Secretary and the empowerment coordinator will have the exact figure but I am sure many of our women are beneficiaries of the programmes.
Muslims world over will be celebrating Ileya even as some Muslim faithful are in the Holy land, what is your message to all Muslims in this regard?
We should remember that Almighty Allah has said, He has created everything in the world especially mankind for no other reason but to worship Him and that should be the first obligation in our lives as Muslims. Islam is not just a religion, but a way of life.
So, in everything we do, we glorify Allah through it. The world we be a much better place to live. I want those who have gone to Hajj and those in Nigeria to live a practical Islamic life. Not just being a Muslim by name, but by our actions in justice, fairness, kindness and our sense of social responsibility.
How best can a Muslim achieve this?
This can only be achieved through sincerity. There is something in Islam called Taqwa. Taqwa means the fear of Allah. Fear in Islam is different from the fear in the Western society.
The fear of Allah means not wanting to offend Allah because you respect, reverence and love Him so much etc; that is the kind of fear we are talking about. And if the fear of Allah really exist in our society, corruption will be a thing of the past.
You know when what you are doing is wrong or right unless one his deceiving himself. If we live with the fear of Allah,we do not need to tell people our religion.
Some people are shooting and killing innocent people and are still saying I am a Muslim, it is not about saying it, but by our action which speaks better than we profess it.