Askia Nasiru Kabara is the younger brother of Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara of Kano State, who was recently sentenced to death by the Sharia court for blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad. asks Askia TED ODOGWU that the trial and sentence of the clergyman was a political reason
what Is your name and relationship with Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara who was recently sentenced to death by a Sharia court in Kano for blasphemy?
My name is Askia Nasiru Kabara. Sheikh Abduljabbar is my elder brother, same father and same mother. My late father had four wives and 35 children.
Were you surprised by the Sharia court ruling, sentencing your brother to death, or did you see it coming?
I was not surprised when I heard about the judgment because that is what we expected from the Kano State Government. The case is injustice from the beginning and I also know that the state government had a hidden agenda, which it wanted to achieve. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when I heard about the verdict, because the governor was interested in the case from the beginning.
Were you in court when the verdict was handed down? What was your immediate reaction?
I was not in court when the verdict was handed down. The information I got from people, they started calling me shortly after the verdict. I left everything in the hands of Almighty God and I continue to pray. I am sure that Father Almighty is listening to my prayers and by the end of the day Isha Allah (by the grace of God), Abduljabaar will be freed because I know and have confirmed that he is innocent. against him
Can you tell us what actually brought the case to court?
This issue is surely politically motivated. Several hands were involved. He came from different quarters where Sheikh Abduljabbar had enemies. It started with my immediate family, specifically my eldest brother, Karibullah Nasir Kabara. It was he who gathered other scholars to blackmail Sheikh Abduljabbar and formed a group called Maja. They then went to the State government led by Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who also has an interest in this matter, and started manipulating and planning how they would deal with Sheikh Abduljabbar.
I knew from the beginning their plan and what they wanted to achieve, which they have now achieved through the Sharia court. However, by the grace of God, as the verdict is appealed, Sheikh Abduljabbar will be released!
Before the verdict, was Sheikh Abduljabbar on bail or in custody?
Since his capture, the authorities have denied him basic human rights. For us, there is no such thing as blasphemy in this matter. It is a matter of interpretation, who has the right to teach, to preach, to think, as provided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The whole matter borders on the interpretation of the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. The matter is not related to blasphemy. On the contrary, Sheikh Abduljabbar is protecting the good image and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, but his teaching was turned upside down because they wanted to achieve their hidden agenda. The subject of blasphemy is completely false; that’s the truth
You alleged that the case was politically motivated and had a hidden agenda that the state government wanted to achieve. Did Sheikh Abduljabbar ever have a quarrel with the governor?
They have a personal grudge against Sheikh Abduljabbar. Our blood brother, Karibullah, was especially angry with Sheikh Abduljabbar.
At one time the court assigned a lawyer to defend Sheikh Abduljabbar as he did not have a lawyer to defend him. The lawyer provided by the state government admitted to the media that Karibullah was behind the case. Everyone knows what the lawyer said. So that’s the point.
How is your family handling this situation?
As I said before, we, the family members, have left everything in God’s hands; we have been praying and we believe that at the end of the day our Almighty God will intervene for Sheikh Abduljabbar to regain his freedom. In the meantime, we are making efforts to appeal the verdict.
And with your parents?
Our father and mother are no more.
Can you tell us about Sheikh Abduljabbar’s immediate family and how they are currently dealing with the situation?
He has only one wife with 10 children, aged two, four, six and eight. So far, only his first daughter is married. One of his daughters is currently a student at Skyline University, Kano.
Were you or any of his students able to see him after the trial?
Only we, close family members, have seen it. My elder brother, Sheikh Musal Kasiyuni Nasir Kabara, and we were able to visit him twice. His son also visits him often. These are the only people allowed to visit.
Did he tell you how they treat him in detention?
The jailers are behaving well and he is healthy. He has no problems in detention. He feels calm in prison.
Sheikh Abduljabbar said he would die a hero. Why does he not regret the issue of the death penalty?
Can he apologize or be forgiven for a sin he did not commit? He did not, in any way, blaspheme. He can only apologize if he has done something wrong, but he has not done what he is accused of. He did not blaspheme in any way.
Why didn’t he settle with the people he offended before the case went to court?
If they say that he blasphemed the Prophet Muhammad, they should be left to apologize to God Almighty and not to the government. The topic is completely false, it is not true! It seems to have been created to satisfy the interest of some. We know our brother Karibullah and some clerics who have different ideologies from him, along with Ganduje himself. Do you know the issue of the dollar clip? Ganduje at the time invited Sheikh Abduljabbar to condemn the act, promising to reward him, but Sheikh Abduljabbar refused the offer. This marked the beginning of the fallout with Ganduje. Secondly, the issue of elections in 2019, the year of crucial elections, Sheikh Abduljabbar spoke and said that elections should not be cut short for our state to enjoy peace and harmony. Sheikh Abduljabbar’s appeal did not sit well with Ganduje. Actually, the issue is politically motivated, which started as a family crisis between him and Karibullah. We know our brother and we know his intentions. I don’t feel safe either. We are aware of everything but we have left everything in God’s hands.
Would you describe Sheikh Abduljabbar as a stubborn person?
To those who do not know Sheikh Abduljabbar, he may appear as someone who is arrogant. However, if you are close to him, you will find that he is pursuing a cause that is related to the Qur’an that originated from the Holy Prophet. He doesn’t have his own personal vision. That is why in his preaching/teaching one can find the youth following him. I can confidently say without fear of contradiction that no other Islamic cleric in the entire country has the large following that Sheikh Abduljabbar has. This is the basic truth because of his unique style of preaching and teaching. It can support a single sermon with 50 references from different books. Even though what they claim is blasphemy, he presented over 150 references to support his teaching. It was said that the saying was blasphemous to the Holy Prophet, about forcefully marrying Safiyyah, something he quoted from different books. But because they had to nail it, they left out all the references. In addition, there was an audio clip where the government and its agents edited his teachings and released a few minutes long clip as a basis for his blasphemy against the Holy Prophet. The clip has been edited. That was what they did, but Sheikh Abduljabbar presented the certified copy of the audio clips of his teaching to the court, but the court did not accept it.
Perhaps, if Sheikh Abduljabbar dies, what will happen to his mosque and followers?
I do not know; God only knows what tomorrow has in store. What I do know is that death cannot stop his ideology. That is what history has recorded. If killing would stop a person’s ideology, the Salafi Wahabi (Shadow) ideology would not survive until then. Ibn Tamiyyah was killed in prison more than 700 years ago but see how his ideology is still spreading, with Saudi support. Sheikh Abdulhabbar has a different ideology; it is very versatile; they can’t treat it like that. Killing Abduljabbar cannot stop his ideology, his teaching, cannot stop anything. So absolutely, this is very wrong. This government is doing things that cannot be proven. If the government is credible and realistic, they cannot treat people like this because we want to live in peace in this country. Why does the government often bring up some issues that make people angry? So I don’t think killing Abduljabbar can be a solution and this cannot stop his teaching; that’s the truth If they finally collect the mosque, can they cage its ideology? Can they change the mindset of his followers? They can’t! The mosque is just a structure; his teaching will remain in the minds of his followers forever.
My message to the government is to ensure that justice prevails because the government knows what the real issue is in the case. What are the reasons behind the case? It is injustice and injustice cannot lead to peace and stability. So, I call the attention of the Federal Government, great personalities and international human rights organizations to intervene in the matter, to prevail in justice for the peace and stability of our great nation and humanity in general.