The Director, MacArthur Foundation Nigeria, Dr. Kole Shettima says, Al-Habibiyyah has become a model of what Muslim faithfuls are looked upon.
Dr. Shettima made the disclosure last Thursday during unveiling of the project EAT Halal and public presentation of the book’Sermon Guide’ for Imams on accountability and transparency in Abuja, noted that, models should be a daily spiritual lives to leaders, and also thinking about taking care of the daily material condition of their members.
He said “unless we all think of taking care of the material conditions of our people, our people will deviate from doing what they are suppose to do spiritually.
“So i think given them the material conditions to live, life of dignity, worthiness and life of feelings that they can take care of themselves both spiritual and materials, that is the kind of holistic life we should leave for our people so that they cannot be deceived and deviate from the faith of fact due to the material things they get from other people and Communities”.
In his welcome address, Executive Director, Just Foundation of Al-Habibiyyah, Faud Adeyemi, said that, project Eat-Fin was indeed first of its kind that deliberately and systematically enrolled in influential religious leaders in the fight against corruption.
He said, the project will empowered and educated the Imams and other Islamic clerics with the right information on the danger of corruption and how to speak against such human induced problem called ‘’corruption’’ using their divine mandate and influence on their congregants
He said unless and until religious leaders take the front stage in the fight against corruption in Nigeria, the nation might just be probing endlessly without positive results.
Adding that government alone cannot succeed without the input of religious leaders, who command respect and followership across the larger segments of the citizenry.
He disclosed that the project had covers 6 states in the past three years which includes; FCT, Kogi,Kaduna, Lagos, Osun and Kebbi sates.
“However, in our new project Eat-Halal, we have added 2 more states Sokoto and Enugu to be part of this intervention where we interact and interfaced with Imams and scholars with deeper discussion concerning corruption and it negative impacts in our society and need to reducing it”. He said.
According to him the interface provided the data, added information with which the Sermon Guides is produced today.
“We also began a 30-minute radio program Just on Human Rights Radio which airs every Friday at 12.30pm with the sole focus on enrolling more Nigerians into the fight against corruption.
“That programme is an interactive one which takes phone calls from listeners and interestingly the subtle non apparent acts of corruption like going late to work, reducing measure in the market, and inflating prices during scarcity are among many issues discussed and responses generated.
“These things that appear to be accepted as a norm and many people don’t consider them acts of corruption.
“One of the impacts of the programme in Kebbi was a scenario where one of the participants returned to a customer who had been buying grains form her over years, but whom she had been serving incomplete measures.
“After participating in our training, she was moved to look for that man, she found him, now a retiree and facing hard times, and she supplied different grains to him and asked him to forgive her for short changing him many years ago.
“We believe someone who went to pay back will no longer engage in such act of corruption because Allah has actually cursed those who cheat, please refer to Quran 83 verses 1-3,وَيْلٌ لِّلْمُطَفِّفِينَ الَّذِينَ إِذَا اكْتَالُوا عَلَى النَّاسِ يَسْتَوْفُونَوَإِذَا كَالُوهُمْ أَو وَّزَنُوهُمْ يُخْسِرُونَIn the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful. 1. Woe to the defrauders. 2. Those who, when they take a measure from people, they take in full. 3. But when they measure or weigh to others, they cheat.
“These and many more are the reason why the project is continuing and still with support from the MacArthur foundation. EAT-HALAL The call today is for religious leaders to eat only things that are permissible and permitted as ordained and prescribed by Allah and His Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)”. He explained.
He said that they have discovered that most of the Imams/Scholars cannot face some of their well to do or highly profiled members to say the truth about ill gotten wealth because they are afraid of losing their financial support or completely jeopardizing their source of income.
“Hence this new phase (Project Eat-Hala) shall be primarily focusing on empowering our beneficiaries (Imams, Women, Youth &scholars) on skills acquisition, trading and Farming for economic independent and self-reliance.
Adding that the next level of the project is to deepen that message on anti-Corruption and further the work on entrenching transparency and accountability in the society through the project tagged “Eat-Halal”,.
“We shall engage with scholars and religious leaders in a new interface that will help them be more economically independent of their congregants as earlier stated.
“It’s really difficult to talk when your mouth is full; it is actually lack of table manners to do so. Since who pays the piper dictates the tone, the piper could decide to be financially self sustaining so that it do.es not pander to the dictates of anyone and can even reject the pittance that is brought to him.
“That means he would be empowered to speak the truth to their congregants without worrying that it could cause a loss of income”. He added.
The Imam commended the Funder of the project (Eat-Halal) MacArthur foundation for finding them worthy of trusting with such task.