The Oasis Reporters
February 25, 2020
Begging for alms is a tradition prevalent in northern Nigeria, the acclaimed poverty capital, a place where 87 percent of the population is in abject poverty. The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, on Saturday dropped a bombshell by saying the Holy Quran clearly forbids begging and also spells out the punishment on Judgment Day.
The monarch, who is a banker and an Islamic scholar, called on people who beg for alms or other forms of assistance from individuals and relatives to instead direct their begging to the government.
The amazing thing is that the region holds two thirds of Nigeria’s landmass and the land is very fertile where it not for it’s dryness for much of the year. Though not half as dry as California, the seventh largest economy in the world that is a global leader in food products exporter. Like Israel that is another leader in food export as well as technology. Israel is small, as small as just one local government area in a northern state.
Sanusi made the call at the National Conference on Alarammomi (Qur’anic Teachers) organised by Centre for Qur’anic Reciters in Nigeria with the theme: “Sanitising Almajirchi In Tune With Today’s Realities”. The event was held in Dutse, Jigawa State.
He urged parents to stop sending their children to Almajiri schools, stressing that children could study the Qur’an, at state-funded schools and with the teachers in their respective communities.
The emir said that if sending children to Almajiri schools becomes necessary, then parents must give them all the necessary provisions to ensure their wellbeing and welfare.
According to him, it is wrong for parents to send their children away without proper arrangements and necessary provision, as the children will end up begging for food and alms.
Sanusi, who quoted verses from the Holy Qur’an and Hadith, said whoever begs, would resurrect on the day of judgement without flesh on his face.
He therefore, urged husbands to see it as God-given duty to feed their wives and children adequately in order for them not to resort to begging for alms and assistance from individuals or relatives.
“Begging is disallowed in Islam and if you must beg for alms beg the government not individuals or relatives. It is better for you to cut firewood and sell to earn a living than to beg. Those who beg or seek assistance from individuals will be resurrected on the day of judgement without meat/flesh on their faces”.
“And if you must beg, then beg the government not individuals or relatives. This is because they should be responsible for the welfare and wellbeing of citizens.
“Individuals, relatives or neighbours can assist you as gestures of kindness and generosity, but that’s not necessary.
“So, those who are saying that begging is not prohibited in Islam are just misleading you,” Sanusi said.
The emir urged the government at all levels on social protection programmes in order to check such menaces in society.
“Programmes like cash transfer and many more can assist in tackling these problems. So, we urge the government to sustain the cash transfer programme and come up with many more,” the emir said.
Also speaking, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, corroborated the emir, while noting that no father should send children to Almajiri school without proper and adequate provision for their wellbeing.
“For instance, in Sokoto we built over 100 schools close to Almajiri schools for such to learn at least ABCD and 1234.
“So, we must change the system in order to ensure a brighter future for our children,” he said.
Abubakar also urged the participants to take what was said with all seriousness.
Abubakar also urged them to digest the issues discussed in order to come up with better ways aimed at sensitising the Almajirchi system.
The Sultan said that he would join Sanusi and others in a collaboration with the centre in finding lasting solutions to the problem.
“As leaders, I urge you to critically look into what’s been discussed and later come up with a lasting solution.
“However, your solutions should be channeled to us through your leadership because the number is large, and for that it will not be possible for each and every one of you to speak,” he said.
In his remarks, Sen. Sani Yeriman-Bakura and former governor of Zamfara state, pointed out that during his eight years as governor in the state, begging by such children was stopped.
“As governments have systems to assist farmers and traders, so we did in the area of Almajiri schools.
“Nobody begged during our eight years in office in Zamfara. This is because we ensured that these children were fed adequately and that’s what stopped them begging.
“In fact, at the end of my tenure, we left 150 tonnes of food for such programmes,” he said.
Yariman-Bakura pointed out that if authorities would take their responsibilities seriously, no parent would be willing to send their children to other places.
On his part, the Jigawa Deputy Gov. Umar Namadi, said the government was doing its best to enroll all out of school children.
Namadi said the government’s decision to feed pupils from primary four to six under the federal government’s school feeding programme was yielding positive results.
“Jigawa government is doing its best to ensure that all out of school children in the state are enrolled.
“We’re doing this through the school feeding programme, as we feed pupils from primary four to six, while the federal government feeds pupils from primary one to three.
“So, this gesture is seriously taking out those out of school children as it immensely increases enrollment in our schools.
“Also through SUBEB, the government is doing its best to ensure the wellbeing of students of Tsangaya schools in the state.”
He added that the state government had built 400 Islamiyya schools across the state.
According to him, the government will collaborate with relevant stakeholders to sensitise them on proper Almajiri system.
NAN also reports over 1,000 Qur’anic teachers attended the conference held in Manpower Development Institute (MDI), in Dutse, the state capital, according to a report sourced from the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN.
That it would take such eminent personalities from distant emirates, braving the odds to travel to the semi urban town of Dutse to talk about this malignant problem in the north, shows the deep worry in the traditional institution. The leaders are not just sad, but they are troubled, knowing that a hungry man is an angry man and when the poor no longer have anything else to eat, the rich and protected would be under threat.
Why is it that the north with enough land mass to feed the whole of Africa and still have surplus to export, find it difficult to feed it’s own children?
The problems lie between selfish leadership, insufficient knowledge, reliance on archaic sentiments,refusal to modernize or adapt and gross undisciplined family life.
Northern Nigeria is where you find highly gated mansions and exotic cars, but there are no sustainable factories.
The cheapest thing to do there is to marry. Even 85 year old men still find teenagers to marry, adding to the large number of wives in the home.
Southern Nigeria used to have multiple wives to one man in polygamous settings, but the society reinvented itself and very few still indulge in that anachronistic practice.
But not the north.
In Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan etc, you hardly find such practices anymore. Rather, you find the women moving into the workplace armed with intimidating academic qualifications. You even find women in the UAE, India etc in space stations, working and contributing to research. Not in Northern Nigeria. Women there are for the mass production of babies. Therefore when you see Boko Haram terrorists outnumbering a country’s army, don’t search too far for the source. Excess population that is untrained, uncared for, now expressing vengeance upon it’s society.
Not only are the leaders in the north heavily worried, the south is deeply troubled because the jobless youths now migrate down south, most times causing upheavals and getting everyone worried.
The north must think smart and reinvent itself. Grabbing almost all the leadership positions will not solve it’s problems. They must look within for the collective safety and security of the entire country. There are too many things there that are too bogus and stand currently unworkable, that can change.
Like cow herding. Imagine having over 30 million cows, yet the country imports dry and liquid milk.
Netherlands rears about 5 million cows and yet supplies the whole world with dairy products. And there are no killings between farmers and herders. No AK47 rifles in the mix. Check it out.
The north must think of how to get water to the land and farm all year round in smart ways. The south has excess and unneeded flood water.
And many more solutions that are at the fingertips. Large populations are no longer a security towards acquiring political power. It is now a potent timebomb that is consuming the north and threatening the South.
Greg Abolo with additional reporting from NAN.