Professor Ishaq Akintola, the director of the Muslim Rights Concern, has opined that although Nigerian Muslims have the right to go on hajj as many times as they wish, in reality, hajj is only expected to be performed once in a lifetime.
He stated this on Sunday at a lecture he delivered at thr Annoor Mosque Abuja, saying a part of the money spent on repeat pilgrimage could bebused to lift the muslim ummah in Nigeria
Akintola said those who perform yearly pilgrimages earn more rewards from Allah, but they end up making Saudi Arabia richer while Nigeria becomes poorer.
Akintola added, “It is time for strategic thinking. There is no time to lose. Muslim leaders must establish the Ummah Development Fund (UDF) in order to improve the economic condition of Nigerian Muslims.
“While those Muslims who go on hajj and Umrah every year should be allowed to do so because they are merely exercising their Allah-given fundamental human right of freedom of worship as entrenched in Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, they should be made to contribute to the Ummah Development Fund.
“Those going on hajj or Umrah for the second, third or more times should be made to pay to the Ummah Development Fund. Anyone repeating hajj should pay 5% of the total cost as his contribution to the UDF while those repeating Umrah should pay 13%.
“Disbursement of UDF should go to the education, health, humanitarian and economic sectors of Nigerian Muslims in this manner : 60% to education (establishment of more Islamic universities); 20% to health (establishment of Muslim hospitals); 10% to humanitarian services (for taking care of Muslim widows, orphans and other vulnerable Muslims) and 10% to investments (building of halal hotels and other businesses).
“However, those who have never performed hajj or Umrah before should be exempted.
Laying more emphasis on his analysis, Akintola asked, “Where are Muslim hospitals? How many Islamic universities are in Nigeria? The total number of universities in Nigeria is 170. Out of this number, the Federal Government has 43, the state governments have 48 and 79 are private universities.
But the real tragedy is that out of the 79 private universities, only six (6) belong to Muslims. Muslim students are persecuted in those private universities which are owned by non-Muslims. They are forced to attend church services. Female Muslim students are not allowed to use hijab. Muslim students are denied the right to form Islamic associations like MSS. They are not allowed to observe salat as no space is allocated to mosques. Yet Nigerian Muslims continue to snore loud in their sleep. Who did this to Nigerian Muslims?
Akintola also added the Zakat angle to his proposed UDF.
“As at today, only those states practicing Shari’ah are collecting zakat officially. But what of millions of Muslims in the other states?
“I therefore suggest that Muslim communities in those remaining states should organise voluntary payment of zakat to be managed by tested and trusted Muslim leaders in their states. Zakat funds collected in the states should be used in the same manner as those collected on hajj and Umrah.
Akintola lamented the poor condition of Nigerian Muslims.
He said, “Too many Muslims are suffering. Employers of labour discriminate against Muslim job seekers. I am constrained to single out Muslim women whose employability is at the lowest level due to the Islamic dress code of hijab.
“The divinely ordained use of hijab often makes it impossible for Muslim women who use hijab to get jobs. For instance, the army, police, NDLEA, customs, immigrations advertised for recruitments this year (2019) but Muslim women in hijab could not apply.
“Let me quickly respond to the question raised by a member of the Abuja chapter of MURIC in his online contribution to the issue of UDF during this lecture. The brother suggested that I personally or MURIC as a group should coordinate UDF.
“I have responded by telling him and other members of MURIC in Abuja Chapter that it means UDF is dead on arrival.
“The question we should ask ourselves is : should MURIC or Akintola arrogate this UDF idea to himself or itself? I say a capital NO. Let all Muslims have access to it, analyse it, adopt it or reject it. Posterity will judge.
“I therefore propose the establishment of a UDF COMMITTEE in which all major Islamic organizations in the country will have one representative each. Members of this committee will propose a Board of Trustees (BOT) who will manage the fund.
“The BOT membership, hopefully, will include tested and trusted Muslims like Mallam Adamu Adamu (current Minister of Education), Mallam Ahmed Ali (current head of customs) and Professor Ishaq Oloyede (current head of JAMB).
“Finally, I call on the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to take the bull by the horn by requesting for nominations from major Islamic organizations throughout the country.
“I put the responsibility on the wide shoulders of the NSCIA because it is the only umbrella organization for Muslims in Nigeria. It therefore has indisputable locus standi. Nevertheless, NSCIA is advised to hands off the team once it has been set up. The BOT of the UDF can only perform effectively if it is independent.
“This suggestion for the establishment of Ummah Development Fund is capable of lifting millions of Nigerian Muslims out of poverty, ignorance and disease.
“I urge Muslim leaders and Muslim elites to embrace it in the interest of coming Muslim generations. This is our legacy to unborn Muslim children. To ignore it is to incur the wrath of young Muslims who are already getting frustrated anyway. They are already asking : how did the affair of Nigerian Muslims get so worse? Why are we the dregs of society? What were our fathers doing? Why did they allow this to happen to us?”