Another Trying Time for the People of Sunnah in Nigeria

In the Name of Allâh the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful

The people of Sunnah in Nigeria, especially in the South Western part of the country, are now in the spotlight. A group of Muslims who subscribe to the ideology of a man called Yunusa Adefabi in Iseyin town, Oyo State, has been finally nailed by the state government. They are now officially banned. The government says it took the step to forestall the growth of a Boko Haram-like group in the region. It also says complaints had come from some Muslim residents of Iseyin Town against the members of the group. Some of them are allegedly being held for certain offences.

The Lagos-Ibadan media have now sprung up. Reports are rife, online and otherwise, that a Boko Haram-inclined group has been discovered and banned not very far from Ibadan. They ignorantly dub the group ‘Arsuna’, or ‘Arsunah’ which is apparently an erroneous misrepresentation of the noble appellation of ‘Ahlus-Sunnah’ which in English Language means ‘the People of the Prophetic Tradition.’

Nothing has informed the misrepresentation from the press except that the Yunusa people ostensibly call themselves ‘Ahlus-Sunnah’. That is where the problem lies; and this is what has brought the people of Sunnah in the region to a beam light. Anybody with any semblance to the Yunusa group will be definitely referred to as ‘Arsuna’ henceforth and some bashing and blackmailing will follow.

Formerly, the masses used to think any Muslim male, in South West Nigeria, with some traits of the Sunnah such as the beard and a pair of pants above the ankles is a ‘Teblik.’ ‘Teblik’ is a corruption of ‘Tableegh’ which is often cited to refer to a member of the ill-guided Tableegh Jamaa’ah.

Click here to read some of what the people of knowledge say about the Tableegh Jamaa’ah, and of course, the reason a genuine follower of the Prophetic Tradition can’t be called a ‘Teblik.’

This clarification is necessary because there are a lot of ignoramuses in our area as far as the correct teachings of Islam are concerned.

To cut a long story short, the followers of Yunusa Adefabi, who claim they are ‘Ahlus-Sunnah’ are into a matter with the government of Oyo State. We fear lest this matter spreads and lands all the genuine followers of the Sunnah into one trouble or the other. For instance, it is not safe for any lover of the Sunnah to walk or live freely in any of the trouble spots where the Nigerian government forces are battling the Boko Haram ‘jihadists’. How many are the genuine followers of the Sunnah that have been erroneously killed? How many lovers of Sunnah hate to be seen with its traits?

It has always been some stupid acts of some persons then all the population will be in trouble. That was how the real Boko Haram began; today it has become hydra-headed and a thorn in the flesh of the Nigerian government, and of course, a serious blackmail for all the Muslims. Al-Qaeda is another example! Where has it landed the Muslims world over today?

While we do not hold any brief for the followers of Yunusa, we think the people of Sunnah in the region are in for it. The simple reason being that these people parade themselves as a part of them. Many people make claim to Layla while Layla makes no claim to anybody.

To go a bit historical, the followers of Yunusa have been around for about fifteen years ago now. Iseyin has been their home. It is true they live an esoteric way of life. If you are not within you cannot understand their ‘government.’ They carved themselves out of the population, went and lived in a ‘DaarusSalaam,’ [hope you will remember the displaced residents of DaarusSalaam in Niger State]; no doubt some would say they live a cult-like life. They have their own Shuurah headed by Yunusa, ‘the Commander of the believers.’

Carving oneselves out of the population is the hallmark of Jama’ah Hijrah Wal-Jihaad [the group for migration and Jihaad] from which the Boko Haram has borrowed a methodology. Boko Haram began who began their own camping in Yusufari, Yobe State, sometime around 2004.

But it should be known that not every group of enthusiastic Muslims that carves itself out of a population is violent though the tendency is high that they will be violent one day. We want to believe the followers of Yunusa are not violent, going by some antecedents. In fact, it is on record that they once took the Oyo State government to court when some ejection efforts were made by the latter sometimes ago. Who knows if they have not filed another case in the ‘kufr law court’ now.

To put the record straight, the Yunusa people are exuberant Muslims who forsake the path of correct Islamic knowledge for emotions. Emotions inform many things they do such as insisting that certain practices are part of the Sunnah which all the Muslims must adhere to. Examples include their emphasis on the use of walking-stick which has earned them an appellation among some Muslims as ‘Jamaa Olopa’ [the Walking-Stick Group]. To them, one is not a pious Muslim man if you do not walk with a stick. They say it is a Sunnah practice emphasized by the Messenger of Allâh (salaLlaahu alayhi wa sallam).

The turban is another matter; in fact the followers of Yunusa wear the turban at all times even on the corn field. We said on the corn field because many of them are into farming – they believe farming is the most haram-free occupation Muslims can engage in. They have made a lot of fortune from farming. They sometimes go out of Iseyin to other fertile areas for massive communal farming. Members are not permitted to privately take anything from the farm produce; every sale from it must return to the ‘Baytul-Maal’ in Iseyin, the capital.

Some of them say it is haram to eat western-sourced food items such as rice, noodles, etc. They believe the Jews such food items. They don’t plant rice as framers rather they plant maize, yams and other indigenous cereals they think were not imported to the country by the British! Some of them don’t ride in cars. Anyway these matters are issues of differences with them. These differences have led to some splitting in the recent past. For instance, a large part of them have left the group to form another offshoot abandoning Yunusa and his core loyalists.

Among their other manners is the seeming loathsomeness then have for the western style of education, and its attendant aspects of ‘civilization’, perhaps this is what the Lagos-Ibadan press see as the most outstanding connection between them and the Boko Haram. It is an error from the ‘western’ press.

Many efforts had been made in the past by some Muslims to bring back those who share the ideologies of Yunusa Adefabi, the Amir of the group, whom many members of the group believe is holding power on behalf of the absent global Amir of the Muslims. Alhamdulillah, many of them, excluding those who split, have forsaken their path especially those who followed them in Ibadan. An example is a fellow who sold all his belongings and went into the bush saying the society was corrupt. He bought some camels which he used to ride any time he had any important thing to do in the city. He, just like many others, are back in the city now, we know one of them who has even become a bus driver albeit with his turban, he has also thrown away his walking-stick! Though it is sad that some of them seemed to have left Yunusawiyyah and landed in Jabtawiyyah; many of those who promote the thoughts and ideology of a man called Muhammad Awwal Jabata today in Ibadan has been under the influence of those who had formerly gone into the bush. Click here to read some of the refutations made against the man.

Conclusively, we think the people of Sunnah in the region should watch closely the events unfolding about the followers of Yunusa, they should try to enlighten the general members of the public as to the correct manner to follow the Messenger of Allâh (salaLlaahu alayhi wa sallam). May Allaah safeguard all the Muslims from the evils we have not bargained for.

Aboo Aamir al-Atharee,
17 Dhul-Qa'dah 1434 AH [22 September 2013 CE ]
Ede, Nigeria.

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