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Steer Clear of Imam’s Office, Mosque: MURIC Warns Soun of Ogbomosho

An Islamic human rights organisa- tion, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has warned the newly crowned Soun of Ogbomosho, Oba Ghandi Afolabi Olaoye, to steer clear of the office of the Chief Imam of the city in the interest of peace and tranquility. MURIC alleged that Muslims in the city have accused the Soun of making subterranean moves to replace the Chief Imam with his own favourite candidate. The Executive Director of MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola in a statement made available to journalists on February 19.

He said muslims of Ogbomosho have reported that the new Soun, Oba Ghandi Afolabi Olaoye, is already making surreptitious moves to remove the Chief Imam of Ogbomosho.He plans to replace him with a palace puppet. Already, there is palpable tension in the city of Ogbomosho due to this ugly development. “We like to remind the Soun that first and foremost, as a Christian, he cannot pick an Imam for Muslims. Apart from being a Christian, kings have no business in the choice of Imams. It is the prerogative of Islamic scholars in that city. The king’s duty is to cooperate with any Imam chosen by the Muslims of any city in maintaining peace and tranquility.

Therefore, it is wrong for the Soun to poke his nose into the affairs of Muslims. “Besides, the king will be acting ultra vires if he attempts to replace the Chief Imam. Nothing in the laws of Oyo State, or any state in the South West for that matter, empowers the Oba to remove or replace an Imam. Any such attempt will be illegal, illegitimate, unlawful and unconstitutional. The days of l’etat cest moi a la Louis XIV are over. We are in a democracy, Yoruba Muslims will not pander to royal excesses.

We hereby repeat inter alia our press statement of January 8, 2024 captioned ‘Stop Influence of Kings on Yoruba Imams “We have seen this in many Yoruba cities particularly whenever an Imam dies and a new one is about to be appointed. The kings often influence the choice of the new Imam particularly where the post is competitive. It is also the king who gives the Imam the staff of office. “This is an erroneous, archaic and obnoxious practice because the king has no role whatsoever to play in the imamate under the Shari’ah, particularly where Islam is not used as the form of government (a non-Islamic State).

This is different from what applies in an Islamic state where Islamic political thought is the state policy and the khalifah is equally the Imam. “The greatest danger in this is that the Oba may impose a Muslim favourite who has no appropriate prerequisites for the post of Imam on the Muslims. This has dire consequences. Already, some crisis brewing in some towns in Yorubaland can be traced to this ugly phenomenon. It is even worse where the king is not a Muslim.

A Christian or traditionalist as king dictating to the Imam or influencing decisions and steps to be taken by Muslims is a complete anomaly in Islam. It is absurd, illogical, irrational and therefore unacceptable. Many mosques have been ordered closed by non-Muslim kings using the most trivial and ridiculous pretext.

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