In Lagos, he is a very popular Islamic Cleric. Just mention the Shaikh of Lagos and you will be told you are referring to Amir Nadwat. He is from Lagos Island. He started his education from ADRAO Primary School in Victoria Island and he went on to Wesley College, Ibadan, then to All Azhar University for Arabic. He later went to read Mass Communications at UNILAG. He has a BSc, MSc and PhD. He majored in PR and Advertising, but he chose to be a Clergy and Author. He was our guest on City People Instagram Live Chat a few weeks ago.
What’s your perception of this pandemic we have been faced with since March and what should be our reaction to it?
From my perspective as a clergy or religious person, The pandemic is more like a trial from God Almighty because looking at the way things turned over and the cluster of the capitalist world, the richer gets wisened up without looking at the poor. Taking all these into consideration, with the lockdown, everyone is now equal.
Judging by that without taking to the ecclesiastical references talking about the Quran and the Bible, some of us are just living our lives as though we are the owner. So without the plague, though this is not the first experience, the issue of the Spain flu, Ebola etc all these are just an indicator that there is a supreme being watching over us. So it’s a trial.
So what are we supposed to do during this period?
Well, when there is a trial like this, it’s like someone has to prepare for an examination. The examination is not to bring someone down but just to progress in life. We have all seen the situation we are in, looking at the economic, social, religious and even from the political perspective. Majority of us haven’t experienced it before because it happened in distant years where the hajj pilgrimage was not performed like it used to be. So that’s just an indicator that we need to reflect in ourselves that if the world comes to an end, for those who hold religious ethics, what would be our explanation on the day of resurrection? It gives us an insight. The poverty level is rising exponentially as the Covid death rate is going high, airports are shut and private jets have been prohibited from flying. This just tells us that no matter who we are, we are nothing before God Almighty.
How do we get out of It?
Well, we are getting out of it from the Islamic point of view and the advice given to us by WHO is what has been given to us 1441 years ago by our Prophet Mohammed (SAW) talking about being hygienic which is one of the foremost principles that Islam is based upon. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. When you are having a purification level, then it like already having half of your faith. So that is what we are all doing now washing our hand, face masking and social distancing though that has an implication, it’s separating us from being in the gatherings the God Almighty created for us to be in the fraternity of the universe. Now as it is, the most important thing for us is good health and hygiene.
So do you think that the fasting and prayers will also help?
Well, I think that is on the secondary level. The primary level being that I have to maintain health consciousness. Knowing that it’s not hygienic to sneeze in my bare hands that I can shake someone and the person can contract it. Prayer is good, as a cleric, I do prayers for people. We are on a 10 days vigil now because of the month of hajj that we are in. Prayer will go a long way but the most important thing is to imbibe in ourselves. Look at Lagos for example where little rain causes heavy flood. What lead to that flood is the negligence of our health consciousness. So with this now, the resonance of what had been said a long time ago. I can remember in primary schools then we sang “we ki o mo, ge ekana re, jeun to dara lasiko, ma jeun ju” etc. These are just a primary consciousness of how to live a healthy life.
A lot of people are calling for the reopening of churches and Mosques, what’s your stand on this?
My stand is No, No and No. The reason is that it is being said that markets and stores are opened. It takes someone that need the market to go to the market. But everyone of us needs to be at the mosque anytime the call to prayer is made. We do that 5 times in a day. By the time we are doing this, we rub minds and shoulders together like for example when performing ablution people wash their hands and mouth close to each other. This may lead to contagious or further spreading of the pandemic even before the churches and mosque were closed down, the spread was not as much as this.
The most important time to gather was during our Ramadan but we had our Ramadan at home without any hitches. Everyone held their sulat at home. So I don’t see the need in trying to pressurize the government into opening the religious centres. This will only further the spread of the pandemic.
Another festival is coming up, what’s your advice to the Muslim faithful?
Just like the Ramadan, we had it individually but its all about the warning of our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that whenever there is a plague and you are there, you should not leave there to spread it. There was an instance where we were advised not to mingle with people and animals with ill-health with people with sound health. This is just to tell you that. We held the Ramadan which involved the congregational Arabic prayers. Even in Mecca that people go to where we have about 2 million people in a particular night during the Ramadan was cancelled.
Even the Hajj pilgrimage which is one of the pillars of Islam was cancelled and limited to those in Saudi Arabia just to tell you the importance and significance of curbing and trying to reduce the exponential figures of the pandemic. So nothing stops us from having the Eid El Kabir within ourselves. It is also said that there won’t be prayers in large congregation. So it should be done like the Ramadan so we won’t have any issue around it.Just for us to reduce to the minimal level of Covid 19.
I went through your profile and I can see that it is very impressive. With that impressive profile, how come you decided that what you going to do is to be an Imam?
A lot of people do ask me about that. I grew up seeing my dad as a clergyman in Lagos. I’m from Lagos Island. I’m from two ends and when I tell people they ask if I’m sure about what I’m saying. I was born in Isale Eko and I grew up in Ofun, Olowogbowo, agbogbo area. And I never drank or smoked in my life. It is not by my own doing. I remember vividly that my dad told me when I was about going to study in Cairo, this is the purpose of what he really wanted me to do that he really wanted me to take after him. And I was like I don’t think this man is serious because I believed I had a lot of potentials in me.
As Allah will have it, this is where I found myself. It all started in 1999-2000; I was staying at Jaja hall in University of Lagos. Some of my colleagues were trying to tell me that we need to get some kind of socio religion organization where it won’t be discriminating for a lady that’s not wearing the full Muslim attire. We have some Muslims that just prefer not to wear the full attire and that’s how it started. Although I went to study Mass Communication to be able to float a Public relation firm but this is where I found myself and to God be the Glory I’m enjoying it.
Can you tell us a bit about your dad, his name and the role he played?
His name is Sheik Mukadam Rauf Lawal, he is very popular in Lagos island. Our compound is Abayomi compound, 52 Ofin road. He is into consulting where people with problems and spiritual needs try to see him for guidance and support which he did quite remarkably. He had a very humble and fantastic life which I try to surpass him. May the Almighty Allah grant me the opportunity to do so.
Like a local Muslim clergy, he has only standard six and he furthered on with Islamic and Arabic from Ilorin to Kano where he met Sheik Umur Falike, one of the strong Tijanian proponent in the whole of North then. That’s where he had his tutelage and he passed it on to me.
How was your experience in Cairo and the significance of going to Cairo?
Cairo is the citadel of Islamic knowledge and Arabic. The Arabic language originated from Cairo, Egypt. The Arabic from the Gulf entity is substandard to the Arabic in Cairo in terms of speaking and the types of Arabic languages. When I travelled to Humura or Haj, the Arabs asks where I studied because I speak very classy Arabic.
How do you pass on the knowledge to those you mentor?
I thought you would have gone through my biodata. On Lagos Island today, Nudat is an Islamic organization that is telling people that Islam could be practiced this way. From CMS to Obalende, the only mosques there are owned by Nuduat, Nuduatuliani Islamic society of Nigeria but because of the insurgency, we try to remove the Islamic from it. The name is not an acronym, it’s a name on its own and it means the assembly of Muslim household. We have the mosque as our headquarters, and it’s a four-storey building that can house about one thousand two hundred worshippers at a time. And we have our branches that spread across Lagos, Ogun, Kwara, Sokoto, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, US, Canada and UK.
Do you also run online programmes?
Yes. I’ve been in London since March 18 and most of our programs are being run virtually because of the lockdown. We usually have a national program at TBS yearly. We held it on the 15th of March and I left for London and that’s when they started discussing the lockdown. I’ve been in England and I’ve been running programs twice a week and the proponent of that program is about the pandemic. Telling us the ways and manners to stay safe, process Islamically to curtail some of the little diseases. I talk about Islamic medicine on Thursdays, 10-11 pm and on Sundays 12-3:30 pm is about how to feed our souls. It features on Facebook, Instagram, Zoom and YouTube.
The aspect of what Prophet talked about on honey and black seeds has being a solution, how come people are not talking about it?
I have conceived the idea of this Islamic medicine about 15years ago where I spoke about spiritual immunity where we can just have something without going synthetic or anything. Allopathic method of healing is what the prophet spoke about and there is a book complication about that. It talks about using a chewing stick.