In the last few days, tongues have wagged over this man (Prof. Akintola) than he had ever had, because he has obviously become more popular and controversial for his penchant vibe to trend with everything Islamic today, especially those with ethno religious colouration, with brazen radicalism and more recently political linings, which appears more like of a civil right face looking for attention than one going by the core Ideals for safe religious interest of Islam.
For me, this calls for our national attention as Muslims, and on this, I seek to write on what I think of him, based on what I know of him.
So, who is this man and what does it represent?
Well, here are 3 things I can say about him.
1. He is a Scholar: Yes, I have seen people saying all sort of things which is unavoidable as Yoruba will say, that “eni pe soso a rija soso” He who calls for trouble must find one.. Lol!
But to the letter, he is an Islamic scholar with rich Islamic family heritage in Ife.
I had read many comments from those who graduated from LASU years ago, and many agreed he had always been like that. A Kii gbo kii’igba type. It started from childhood.
Someone said jokingly that the trait must have been curated from some of older generations of Muslims in Ife who waged war on Idol worshippers in what many will call Islamic fanactism today. Lol
This according to Ife Islamic history resulted into a win-loose approach by those who tread the path.
Preaching Islam in Ife many decades ago doesn’t but come with some form of resistance, and it divides the first early faithfuls, where some will forcefully tell adherents what to do and what may not please others while some were like, let’s play along with these people. When you hear of how a mosque was built beside a national tourist site for Esu called Idi Esu Ilare, you can’t but start thinking of how possible. Lol. Some said it was forcefully like Prof Ishaq is doing and some said it was borne out wisdom.
But factually, from what we heard, what really converted many today’s Ife muslims to Islam in the history is best found in Yoruba songs like “Imole o ni a mo feyawo meji, esin o ni a mo soro ile wa” (Islam doesn’t forbid us from polygamy and doesn’t stop us from continued joining of our annual idol festivals) – A view that allows people to practice Islam with paganism from start and accept many cultural belief.
This, according to history was a huge success in bringing many to the folds of Islam in a win-win approach, and as insight comes, it later becomes clearer to later generations that Islam is strict monotheism. Non aside, non before and non after one God – Allah. But the bitter truth that people like Prof. Akintola must know is that, Nigeria is a secular state and has very good history of mutual relationship between the two prominent religious, as well as scars of heated divides, hence sensitive issues should be carefully be dabbled into, to avoid social onslaught.
2. Prof. Ishaq is a core Socio-Political radicalist with Islamic affiliation. He should even better be addressed as a Comrade. I had known about him for close to 7yrs now when he started becoming popular and someone mentioned his name as an Ife Professor at Lasu and I see him at Protests and rallies, especially on June 12 remembrance of MKO. Then it became clear to me, that this man is another Aluta man than people think of him as just a face of Islam.
He is even more Aluta at home, or how do you explain a man who chooses to excuse himself from the Nikkah (wedding) of his Doctor Daughter? And his response on why he chooses to abstain, became viral on almost all pages of paper and social networking sites with many commending him.
Another experience was when his promising Unilag Engineering undergraduate son died and he is on newspaper three days after, doing owambe Social vanguard like nothing disturbing happened just two days ago. Lol
Really, Prof. Ishiaq is a Muslim right activist so to say and his activism is of Islamic niche which culminated into later founding what he calls the Muslim Right Concern (MURIC) which to me is like a personal NGO and not a roundtable gathering of some people or association, hence why it appears he is the only name behind the name. Lol.
3. He is Media Aided: Today MURIC has become so popular today that very few people will know the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs NSCIA is the main government recognized body like CAN to attend to issues of Islam in Nigeria but suddenly MURIC, a one man mopol body seems to be seen everywhere as Egbe Akoya for Muslims which he had done greatly with, in the past, until now when you have to distance yourself from the man.
Whatever becomes his voice today is what the media is projecting. Journalists are looking for him everywhere to say something about almost everything. If any Muslim -Christian disagreement happens in Akoko, Journalists would have been to his place to be the first to write the catchy headline from his interview that must surely roll heads. Today on NYSC hijab, it’s him. Government cabinet religious ratio, it is him. Today on Public Holiday, It is him, so it is not surprising why he has enjoyed the public attention that much, that he puts his head in a serious issue like Amotekun that has funnily turned him to a laughing stock in days and have attracted all sorts of insults.
Personally, as an Ife man who respects Elders, and equally place high, Prof. Ishaq – who is probably one of the only two Professors of Islamic Studies from the ancient town, I expect him to be more civil, diplomatic and apply wisdom with thorough research on issues before he allows the media to litter him in mud of what remains of his little scholastic astuteness. I know verily, that to have a PhD in Islamic Studies in Nigeria 30yrs ago, doesn’t come cheap, so I will humbly wish he has a rethink on how best to comment on Issues of National Importance.
I have never met him, but I will respect him as a father, which he can be to me, to be wary of the convoluted heating Nigerian polity and to portray Islam rightly.
For Knowledge Sake, here is a detailed Biography of MURIC founder, Prof. Ishiaq Akintola as culled from his website here