AN OLD ENEMY RETURNS
I do not like it when I have to fight a battle with an old enemy especially when that battle fought in the past was really tough. That enemy for me is MUSIC. You would inevitably listen to the Most Useless Subject in Class (MUSIC) and no doubt you would be affected. The OBS (ORIENTATION BROADCAST SERVICE) is the source of most of the music you’ll get to listen to in camp. A lot of us refuse to join the OBS crew because of the fitnah of music (remaining in the comfort zone) without realizing we only make things worse. May Allah bless Abdul-Hafeez Oyeniran (SCHOLAR) wherever he is. He was the only Muslim in OBS in our camp in Asaya, Kogi state. Though I tried to join but the guy in charge of recruiting was a non-Muslim and I knew he realized the effect of having me and scholar on board so he just kept telling me to come back. I didn’t need anyone to tell me that I wasn’t going to be a member of OBS crew though ‘Scholar’ needed me badly and he wasn’t shy to admit it. When in a ‘sticky ‘but necessary job for Muslims like being in the OBS it is important that at least you are two. So you can strengthen each other. I remember the first Friday in camp when I met the guy in charge of OBS and sent him some Nasheed from my phone. The guy said this will be the first an Islamic song was played in Asaya camp, can you IMAGINE! Whereas you would constantly hear their songs being played on air every day of the week even during solah. There was one Friday that the whole camp hardly knew that that day was a Friday (Everyday looks practically the same since it is the same routine except Sundays). I myself was almost late for Jumah. I was in PET (Peer Educators Training) class and our facilitator had not rounded up the class. There was practically nothing on air played by the OBS to signify that it was a Friday, whether a Nasheed or even an announcement that Jumuah starts by 1.30pm. I was wondering what ‘Scholar’ was doing I knew things were not that easy for him at the OBS being the only Muslim but then I realized the PRO hindered him. He was playing a Nasheed and suddenly the guy in charge of recruiting OBS crew members came in to the studio in a rush and suddenly stopped what was playing. He said the PRO was close to the studio and she had often called him to stop playing Muslim songs in the past. That guy was practically scared of her. I know there were a lot of things scholar did for us, the sacrifice he made for us. He was among the few brave ones to leave the comfort zone even when he knew the risk involved and it was no surprise when many Muslim officials in camp wanted to meet the only Muslim in OBS crew. The events made me recall ATA (Alli Taofeek Adewale) and MAKO (Abdul-Malik Olanrewaju Mudathir). Those of us who are avid attendees at Wednesday, Al-Ushra program know these guys are regular newscasters. I wondered if they had any idea how important and useful was their duty to the deen.
MUSLIMS ARE NOT IN SCHOOL
The population of Muslims in my camp was not up to 200 out of a total of over 2000 corps members deployed to Asaya camp. Do you know what that means? That means from all the higher institutions in Nigeria; LAUTECH, ABU, MAPOLY, KADPOLY, UI, OAU, UNAD, UNAB, FUTY, UNIBEN, FUTM, ETC. LESS THAN 10% ARE MUSLIMS! in Asaya. I cannot find a word to qualify how sad this fact is and how VERY IMPORTANT every Muslim who is in a higher institution, no matter how upright in the deen the individual is, that person is VERY IMPORTANT TO ISLAM’S DEVELOPMENT.
PARADISE OR HELL, WHICH ONE DO YOU CHOOSE?
From the second week in camp, you’ll be having social nights every night, Miss hot legs, Mr. Macho, Miss NYSC and the popular CAMP FIRE NIGHT. Well may Allah bless the individual who thought of the name PARADISE NIGHT; there could not have been a better name. Well it is best to avoid all the social nights particularly the fire night. Not to worry MCAN would organize a better substitute, with Qur’an / Quiz competition. Games anything Halaal and fun and about item 7, don’t bother yourself with what they would serve in camp fire night. Any Muslimah is a better cook than a non- Muslimah (Ask anyone who had is orientation in Asaya, Kogi state).It is important that you avoid watching live porn on your way to your hostel after the fire night and you will be fortunate if you have a camp commandant that has sense and wouldn’t allow evil reign like my camp commandant, Capt. Tumaka, who said to potential porn stars, ‘SEPARATE YOURSELVES’, yet they were reluctant to obey the command.
IT’S JUST A DEGREE. WHY THE ARROGANCE?
Even though, I am grateful that I am a graduate, after all many of my colleagues are still in school doing extra. I do not think I have once thought of it has a great feat. (It is not like I’m a Hafiz or a Muhadith) It is ridiculous how arrogant some of us can be, we are pompous to the soldiers, to our fellow corps members (I attended a University, you attended a Polytechnic, Do you know how many years I spent in Med. School?), to NYSC officials. I don’t know why all of a sudden we just grow wings. Sometimes we can be proud in a good way or say we’re graduates jokingly but it is so annoying when we are serious about it. It is bad to look down on others.
Narrated AbuHurayrah: ‘The Prophet said… No, pride is disdaining what is true and despising people. (Sunan Abu Dawood);
LEAVE THE COMFORT ZONE
The fact that there are few Muslim corps members is enough worry. It is suicidal when a lot of us decide to stay in the comfort zone. We are afraid to step into the rain not knowing we are just paving the way for a storm, a storm that even the shelter can NOT protect you from. By the second week in camp there would be many activities to be involved in. Don’t be passive, from the skill acquisition to other groups like the MDGs, PET, ICPC, CBN, etc. It is paramount we join one of these groups and use it to contribute our quota. I would particularly want to emphasize on the PET and MDGs program. That is where I think Muslims are most needed, at least for now. The MDG helped Abdulatif Olaide Osinubi become one of the best corps members in Oyo state during the just concluded P.O.P.
PET (Peer Educator Trainers)
The PET program is the National RH & HIV/AIDS Prevention & Care Project through the NYSC. A lot of corps members are always happy when PET facilitators come. The mentality that they’ve come to share condoms is there and somehow you cannot blame people for thinking like that. That’s mostly what HIV/AIDS program teach. The concept of being chaste for Allah’s sake is lost and it is the fear of STIs that people are worried about. I was reluctant to join the PET program. I didn’t want to leave the comfort zone but then I thought of the Idea of Islamizing the knowledge I would gain there. I thought of Dr. Muhammad Al-Rafi, his book ENJOY YOUR LIFE was a practical example of Islamizing mundane knowledge. He Islamized the book HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE by Dale Carnegie. The PET program is a five day intensive training program and I mean INTENSIVE. You will need to sacrifice and be patient. You will learn some things as opposed to the principles of Islam. You will have to deal with issues like female circumcision as opposed to FGM, Teenage pregnancy, but also you would learn Life skills like negotiation skills, Decision-making skills, and Goal-setting skills. Etc. Do not let the rumor that those who join PETS are sent to the village scare you.
The Millennium Development Goals has two components. The FACOR and the MAC components. I would advise you join the FACOR component because that is where one deals with family matters and that is where we really needed Muslims.
DEFEND YOUR DEEN
It is no news that Muslims are the endangered species and as a Nigerian Muslims with the advent of BH. It would be very unwise not to practically no anything about your deen and also update yourself with current events. In Asaya a lot of things happened that made me realize the journey ahead is long. Engr. Abass Alade was right. You see the Nassara in terms of planning they are light years ahead of us. From the parade ground to the trainings they are the dominant factor and you feel like you were in primary school again where you were forced to recite and memorize those hymns instead of the Qur’an or Ahadith. The soldiers might come and disturb you about you shaving your beard, or mock you seriously, whatever you do DON’T LOSE UR COOL and do NOT compromise provided you are not disrespectful NO ONE CAN DO YOU NOTHING. Your platoon members come and ask you that is true it is in your Qur’an that if you kill a non-Muslim you would be given seven virgins Here your brain needs to be working right. Remember don’t lose your cool, no matter what. It would be a great help if you have a good phone with applications like the Qur’an pro. The verse ‘There is no compulsion IN RELIGION…’ Q2:256 is a verse you should never forget and do not start finding faults in Christianity (it doesn’t really get you anywhere). Tell them about the Islam the media never told them. Tell them about Islam based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah and with the understanding of the righteous predecessors and you never can tell someone might accept Islam through you.
The issues of pictures is another challenge you would face and sometimes you would be seen as an extremist (even among Muslims) if you do not take pictures. Funny enough all photographers were banned from all camps in the second week. One thing one has to remember is that Allah is AL-HAKIM, so it is wrong to apply your logic here on the benefits of Photography though sometimes you might find yourself in very sticky situations just do the best you can. But then, there’s a Halaal substitute, MAKE A VIDEO (except you are Abu Naasir) instead if you are really concerned about keeping those memories.
BE A MUSLIM FIRST
It is important one understands this verse:
‘O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).’ Q49:13
No doubt we are from different backgrounds and even sometimes making a decision would prove more difficult than usual but then avoid the concept of Yoruba Muslims, Hausa Muslims, reverts, and all that crap. We’ve already got more problems that we can handle don’t create more problems.
GHOST KOPA MODE: DEACTIVATED
May Allah bless Muhammad Bashir a corps member from an earlier batch. He has that effect of talking to you and you feeling touched. A lot of us who are posted to villages where there is no electric power, no network, no basic amenities. We all activate Ghost kopa mode. WE RUNAWAY! Muhammad Bashir made me really wish to be posted to a village because I envied him so much. I thought of the rewards he was gaining. The Jihad one could do during eleven months could surpass all the struggles you ever did while in school. I imagine it has been your peak period like a graph if your scales of good deeds where plotted. A sister in Kogi state single-handedly built a masjid, can you imagine the reward she would be earning. The village Muhammad Bashir is having his PPA is a place where the inhabitants are fetish but Alhamdulillah, Allah is changing that place through him. The mosque they had was a place for cattle to go and defecate since no one prayed but now people observe their solah and whenever he is not around the resident of the village cannot wait for him to return. Some of his students have become Muslims through him. He even saved a woman from losing her marriage when she refused to heed to her Husband’s call because she was not in the mood even though she admitted loving her husband. He followed her home and explained to her husband. Some moments later the couple came to his house to show their appreciation and I tried to imagine the smile when the husband said, ‘Now I know my wife loves me. ’. When you are posted to the village you are practically treated like a god. No doubt there are challenges like my friend Muhammad Bashir was brandished with a sword by a man who said Muhammad must marry his daughter since she had decided to become a Muslim. My friend is not interested in marrying the man’s daughter but in her becoming a Muslimah. I beef those who are posted to the villages because they have great dawah opportunities. A whole community could practice the religion just because of you. Imagine the REWARD! But then, there is usually the problem of continuity, many a time someone like Muhammad Bashir comes to make that change but then after their service year, that is the end no one to continue the good job and before you know it the people are back to their old evil ways and that is one major problem the MCAN is facing. We have three batches in a year. If we sit down to plan well we can proffer a solution to this problem. No doubt it is a great challenge to serve where there is no power, no network, no standard bathrooms but that is the sacrifice we have to make and if one is posted to that place and you are alone, one’s mind begins to think of crazy things and it would not be a surprise if you hear that someone who you had seen as a pious brother impregnated a girl in the village, or a sister got pregnant. I would be very real here No doubt the MCAN has the power to influence PPA, what we ought to do is pair brothers who are compatible it’s better if they are from the same institution and send them to the same place. That way they can both make the necessary positive change and also be a watchdog for each other’s Imaan most times if you send someone to a single place. You are putting his faith in jeopardy and you are most likely going to make things worse than they appear. How will it sound if the community start saying, ‘don’t mind those Muslim brothers all they know is how to impregnate our girls’. The same can be applied for sisters.
WIPE YOUR TEARS, THE SUN IS RISING
It was after Fajr Solah and also the last day of camp. Most of us where in our khaki already. Some of us where worried about where we would be posted to after all today was another ‘day of judgment’. Amir Jamal stood in front of us and told us that there was a revert amongst us and he was going to take the shaadah. My eyes lit up, I was excited so I was going to witness someone take the shaadah, first hand, right here in my presence. ‘KINGSLEY OTAMINI’, that is a name I do not want to ever forget. I heard him repeat after the amen the beautiful words ‘Ashhadu an la ilah illallahu wa ash-shadu anna Muhammadan rasululllah’. Kingsley Otamini is from Rivers state and he read Estate Management from Rivers State University of Technology, (RSUST). I felt elated when that I taught him to say walaykum salaam, I wish he was posted to Ladoja but his PPA is in Kabba. I know he would meet wonderful Muslims there to teach him the deen. Amidst all the joy felt at witnessing someone taking a shaadah. I knew a lot us do not know how to deal with reverts. When Kingsley said his name, immediately a lot of people where asking for his Muslim name. ‘Gosh! The guy just became a Muslim, give him some space’ and I don’t know where we got the impression that everybody must choose a new name, did Umar bn Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) pick a new name when he became a Muslim? I flashed back to when I was in the shelter, I cannot recall an Al-Ushra program where the topic was on how to deal with the reverts. A lot of us that morning were eager to collect Kinglsey’s number I wondered how many of us would truly follow up that call. How many of us would truly be there for him when he would need us the most.
I pray Allah forgives me and makes this write-up useful and help us to serve Him by serving the nation.