We had already had two Jum’uah in Zaria observed in two different places. We had desired to have the last one at Daarul-Hadeeth of ‘Albani Zaria’ at Gaskiya area of Zaria. The brothers that we came together for the annual course on Qur'aan at Zaria were enthusiastically looking forward to that day.
Alhamdulillah, we were not disappointed, we met the people at Daarul-Hadeeth as Sunnah-inclining, Inshaa Allaah. We were a bit late for the Jumu'ah therefore there was no space for us in the small hall converted masjid. Already, the late comers had been taking their places outside the small hall but within the premises of the main building of the institute. The centre was among the only places where the prayer of Jumu’ah was often said earlier in Zaria. We said one of the only places in Zaria even though we were not aware of somewhere else. We heard there was a time the centre, then at its mother centre, located at Tudun Wada area of the city, had wanted to observe a Jumu’ah at 9am or thereabout. The council of scholars in the city had advised Ash-Shaykh Muhammad Awwal [Albani Zaria], may Allaah bestow mercy on him, against it, and he had yielded to their advice in the name of unity of the Muslims, even though he had proofs.
We took our seats outside the hall under some shades and waited for the commencement of whatever would come. We had expected a pre-khutbah stuff as was common in many of the Zaria jawaami. There was nothing of such. Rather at 12 pm, a muadhin came out of the masjid and made a call to prayer. It was a beautiful call to prayer devoid of the usual takallufaat of many callers to prayer. He had come out to make the adhaan; he did not make it inside the masjid. That was marvelous.
Then the khateeb, we found out his name was Al-Imaam Asgar from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, began the khutbah. It was so short and straight to the point. It was all about the need for the Muslims to take what remained of Ramadan 1439 more seriously. It was in plain Arabic, not in Hausa [though we leanrt other khutabaa in the centre do translate theirs to Hausa after rendering it in Arabic]. The Khateeb concluded the first khutbah with Salat on the Prophet and supplications for the Muslims. It was not more than five minutes. Then came the second khutbah just like the first one, five minutes or thereabout.
The Salat was sabbi’sma rabbika and hal ataaka haddethul-ghaashiyah.
After the Salat, there was a brief announcement and that was all. Everyone began to disperse to where they had come from. There were a lot of people in and outside the premises. We were amazed. What a lovely people. What a lovely centre. We came together to express our bewilderment and joy when we met an acquaintance who was willing to tell us more about the centre. He was Mallam Abdulwaahid Abu Maryam who schooled at Ahamdu Bello University. He took us round the centre and told us many things about it and its late founder – ash-Shaykh Muhammad Awwal, may Allaah be merciful to him.
We were shown about five mighty buildings belonging to the centre close by. A section for the secondary school [Albaani School of Science where we gathered the students pay handsomely for thier studies], another one for the female hostel, another one for the higher Islamic studies, another one for junior secondary school and another one for the primary school. The least among the buildings was roughly valued by us to be one hundred million naira. There was one among the buildings that we concluded was worth about five hundred million naira.
Above all, a masjid is now being built opposite the main building of the centre to accommodate about one thousand persons at the ground floor.
That made us ask how Ash-Shaykh Muhammad Awwal started the Da’wah. He started as a common teacher of Islamic ethics and knowledge stemmed from the Qur’aan and Sunnah. We learnt Mallam Albani Zaria, as Ash-Shaykh Muhammad Awwal was popularly called, was once a fashion designer who saved some coins to study Information Technology at a university in Yola, Adamawa State. Before then he had become a scholar on his own via learning from the local scholars in Zaria [how blessed is that city which such marvelous but silent scholars] and reading of Islamic books. Albani Zaria was an avid reader of Islamic books written in Arabic. He was known to possess a massive library of his own. He was reported to have started gathering books from a usual habit of purchasing at least an Islamic text at every Jum’ah. One of our teachers in the South West did report that he met the Shaykh at one of the Hajjs or Umrahs and he was amazed with several cartons of Islamic texts Albani Zaria was bringing to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia.
He got the alias 'Albaani Zaria', in a recognition of his semblance with al-Imaam Muhammad b. Naasirideen al-Albaani, may Allaah bestow mercy on him.
Allaah indeed bless the Shaykh with knowledge, especially in the field of hadeeth, such that in no time he became a phenomenon not in Zaria alone but the whole of Nigeria. There is no scholar in Nigeria except that he attests to the acumen of Albani Zaria.
The Shaykh was gruesomely murdered, alongside a wife and a son, in February 2014 while returning from Mar’kaz Salafiyyah by yet to be identified assailants. He was 54 years old at the time of his death.
One of the splendid things about his life was that all what he left was willed as waqf [an endowment for the Muslims] by him. He was staying in a rented apartment at the time of his death even though the massive projects of Daarul-Hadeeth had begun by him. He was yet to complete his own house of a mini block of flat which he was advised to build [the uncompleted house was among the few properties converted to cash and shared among his heirs].
There are lessons in the life of Ash-Shaykh Muhammad Awwal Aadam for the present day duaat of Sunnah. One of the lessons is that they should always live their lives for Islam and must be sincere in their call.
Allaah knows best, what Albani Zaria left after his death and the continuous progress being witnessed in the centre is an indication of the sincerity of the founder of the centre. There is immense development in the centre now. May Allaah continue to bless the effort.
Another lesson is that duaat of Sunnah should always separate what belongs to the Da’wah from what belongs to their individual selves. They should not feast on the Da’wah. Masaajid, maraakiz, madaaris, etc, are not what duaat should lay individual claims to; they belong to all the Muslims. The duaat are only holding them in trust for all the Muslims. Even when a daee personally spends on things that cannot be personally owned by a Muslim such as a masjid or madrasah, he should see his spending as an investment with Allaah not with the people. He should not wait for a day in this life when those things will fetch him some pecuniary returns. Therefore, he should let his relatives know that those things are for the Muslims and are not his personal properties.
Had ash-Shaykh Muhammad Awwal made the edifices he left for the Da’wah for his family, we are afraid the place will be no more now. He thus declared in his life time that everything built for the da’wah was for the da’wah, even his collection of books that ran into thousands. He invested his energy in the willing students, thus today the da’wah continues.
Meanwhile, there is an advice for the centre. The custodians should know that their greatest source of power lies in their obedience to the Qur’aan and Sunnah in the Salafi way. The emphasis ought to be on the Islamic learning. The tendency to western learning should not surpass that of Islamic learning. We are afraid the tilting to the latter is greater. They should be proud to produce more of students of Qur’aan and Sunnah than other mundane subjects and feats because in the former lies the glory of the Ummah. Let the centre be a Daarul-Hadeeth in the real sense not in ascription.
May Allaah continue to safeguard the centre from all evil and may He continue to unite the hearts of its custodians.
Indeed the visit to Daarul-Hadeeth was a memorable one.
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