By Isaac Olusesi
Allahu Akbar, meaning God is Great, the Muslims proclaimed as they raised the hands to the ears or shoulders and the right hand over the left on the chest or navel while in the standing position, beginning the act of worship at the inaugural Jumah service, the most important prayer of the week, central to the Islamic faith, last Friday shortly after the new Mosque, the Public Service Jumah Masjid, in the heart of the State of Osun Government Secretariat was commissioned by Governor Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola.
I have always had an enduring nostalgia towards Mosques. It is not only due to my late mother’s pre-marital faith and I, an Ikirun Awaah-Urdeen Primary School Leaver; not only because the new Mosque, situated behind the Bola Ige House, the seat of the state government, is a befitting, humble place of worship where men and women of the Islamic faith could adore their Creator, Allah (SWT), Ar Rahmoni Rahim, “Most Gracious, Most Merciful,” in the fullness of reverence before Him. It is also because the newly commissioned House of God at the government secretariat is built to full completion by the Public Service Muslim Ummah.
With the new Mosque, God’s own vineyard, what a dream came true for the Public Service Muslim Community! What a hope fulfilled! And what prosperity entrenched!
The dream is the totality of an ambition to serve Allah (SWT) whole hearted; the hope is a defined worship boundary, the new Mosque successfully completed where men and women of all nations, tribes, social status and party affiliations could worship Allah (SWT); and the prosperity entrenched is the recompense that history will remember the Osun government secretariat Muslims for the Mosque completed is a common good above parochial, narrow and selfish preferment capable of stalling the Mosque project to total abandonment. Irredeemably?
That was the inner readings of Governor Oyetola when he lauded the leadership of the state Muslim Public Servants for the successful completion of the Mosque, charging them “to always promote peaceful co-existence and religious tolerance in the state.” Oyetola knows, the new Mosque will survive the longevity of all present at the commissioning just as he enjoined Muslims to further Islam in tolerance and peaceful co-existence, expanding the coast of the religion in affirmative terms by its adherents’ show of love and goodness to those who are either cheated by the game of life or are crushed by the vicisstitudes, difficulties of life.
The Oyetola standard on tolerance is, the faithful of the three religions in the state must endure and show case stamina, fortitude, indulgence, acquiescence, civility, and inclusiveness in the face of opinions, values, beliefs, norms, practices and attitudes capable of triggering provocation, hardship, bias, stress, rigidity, conflicts or contrasts without adverse reactions. “The absence of religious bigotry,” Oyetola said in a separate chat, would “permit growth and development in politics and economy,” adding that tolerance is sine qua non, germane to social equality in the nation’s pluralism. While his peaceful co-existence advocacy is embracing social equality and stamping out, abandoning social exclusion, with the advocacy robust enough to guarantee the continued survival and progress of Osun and well- being of Nigeria and its diverse religious, cultural backgrounds.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) – Oyetola government in Osun says, anyone in the state, not listening carefully, jumping to conclusions, not showing understanding of the other person’s points of view, and disagreeing not to agree is a security risk to the state, insisting that the dual elements of tolerance and peaceful co-existence are not a distant goal to seek and achieve in the post COVID-19 Nigeria just as Oyetola at the commissioning of the new Mosque implored the people of Osun to be vigilant and report any suspicious movements of persons in and around the state, apparently, stressing that ‘Vigilance is the price of liberty’ from danger, or threats to security of life and property.
The successfully completed Mosque project is lucky to have come under the leadership of the Mosque Board of Trustees and Management Committee, with HRM Oba Abdul-Rasheed Ayotunde Olabomi Aragbiji of Iragbiji as the Board Chairman and retired mandarins, powerful bureaucrats of high rank in the state civil service as members, eminently qualified individuals of uncanny presence of mind, superlative capacity that uplifts souls in despair, penetrating helpful humour to the needy, giving handsomely to people in and outside the Islamic faith, making friends effortlessly with complete strangers and conducting themselves in full tributes to the faith with uncommon passion. While their simple view of life and living is disarming.
Little wonder! The board members, all well known, are experiencing ageing, strikingly benevolent even in retirement and are profoundly grateful to Allah, “The Sustainer,” “The Sufficient.” But generally, the phenomenon of ageing holds out to so many people malevolent, shadowy nonentities, oft-shroulded in warped incomprehensive mysteries, a morbid fascination in bewilderment and infertile sensibility. Intuitively, everyone living, undergoes ageing unheralded; but no one, not even the scientists, mystics, seers, horoscopes or any of the practitioners of the arcane sciences can lay any valid clam to valid knowledge of ageing beyond chronology and physiology.
The validity of life is that a reality exists; sometimes, brutally so; and sometimes, blissfully. And deliberately, to embrace the bliss and confront head on the brutality, man elbows, jostles, gauges and schemes in this existentialist jungle called the planetary earth, to get a better and higher foothold. Inexplicably, a greater force literally moves, sweeping the bliss into a swirling void, implying that a more than cursory look at the affairs of man quickly reveals a teleology. Nothing is arbitrary: nothing occurs by happen-stance, not even the newly commissioned Mosque, the latest architecture master-piece around. The new Mosque is teleological, a development already pre-determined, purposed and designed by its architects, the Public Service Muslim Umamah.
It means that only a well-ordered group, community has a well-ordered obligation and one such community, the Osun Muslim Public Servants is orderly obligated to its own religion, society and mankind. Such realization makes the worship of Allah (SWT) a duty abiding, to fire the greatness and progress of Islam in the land.
The expansive surroundings of the fully completed Mosque was spruced up for dedication, with other preparations, ship shaped. All the guests showed up; no guest was unwanted. No one fumed, no one cursed. The event, well attended was a celebration of the love for Islam as a religion of peace and love for mankind generally. At the dedication, the new Mosque Imam in-council, the clergy in-charge of religious and spiritual matters appraised the religious stamina of the Muslim public servants, their sure footedness in Islam and applauded the integrity and dignity of the master minds behind the new Mosque, its total completion as the Aragbiji of Iragbijiland, his able lieutenants in the Board of Trustees, and the Management Committee stood tall. The clerics upbraided, denounced debauchery, perfidy, opportunism and valiancy as heroism in the contemporary society.
And the congregation thought-provokingly chorused: “We can proudly say at the house top that the new Mosque is our own.”
Olusesi, an Assistant Director, Directorate of Publicity, Research & Strategy, All Progressives Congress (APC), State of Osun, writes the piece.