SHEIKH AHMAD IBN UMAR KANOMA
The publisher and editor in chief myzamfaraonline.com, Amb, Ibrahim Tudu was granted a rare opportunity of an exclusive interview with a prominent Islamic Scholar, a grand personality who propagates the religion with his teachings and practice, Sheik Ahmad Umar Kanoma. Below is the full interview in his own words:
MyZamfaraonline.com: What is your full name, popular name or alias if any?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: My full name is Ahmad Ibn Umar Kanoma. People generally call me Kanoma. And for alias, I go by Abu Muhammad or Abu Abdullahi.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Where is your birth place?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: I was born in Garbadu, in Talatar Mafara Local Government area, Zamfara State.
MyZamfaraonline.com: What is your family background? Is your family identified with any specific trade such as farming, teaching or kingship?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: My family background from my father’s side to my mother’s are both teachers. On my mother’s side, my grandfather was the chief Imam of Kanoma town. And on my father’s side, my grand father was Mallam Muhammad na Garbadu. Therefore on my mother’s side and my father’s, teaching is the measure occupation.
MyZamfaraonline.com: What is your age? How many wives have you, and children?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: I was born in 1962. To date I have four wives and twenty two children.
MyZamfaraonline.com: We would like to know your association with sects or movement if any?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: My family do not have any affiliation to any “Tarika” of any sort. But with the emergence of organizations, I used to go along with Muslim brotherhood (Ikwanul – Muslim). But within a little while, we parted ways. From that time, I develop my own Islamic centre. Ideally, we follow the tenets of Qur’an and the teaching of the Holy Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W.). Without undertaking any sect as a front, I use to associate with Islamic organizations to work for the religion of Allah SWT together.
MyZamfaraonline.com: And now to the knowledge you have, you were a student of Ulamas, we would like to know the schools you attended, the teachers and towns where you studied?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: For me, I followed the footsteps of our accentors. To simplify it I wrote a journal – ‘Ash- shukur Alal Na’ama’i fi Zikri man Ahaztu Anhumul Ilmi minal Ulama’” in the book, I wrote the history of my life in the quest for knowledge. Just as I have also written another journal titled “Rayuwata” in Hausa language. In both journals, I have talked about how I started right from our household. Even though I was born in Garbadu, I grew up in Kanoma, that was where I started learning the Qur’an in a school in Kanoma. The school of Iman Abubakar Kanoma. My first teacher I can recall is Mallam Sabi’u. He is now the Chief Imam of the biggest Juma’at Mosque in Kanoma. There was Mallam Sani, they though me at that time.
From that time, we ventured out to seek knowledge. We began by coming to Gusau, there I studied with my uncle Mallam Kawu. So, in the journal I listed the names of my teachers and what I studied from each of them.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Who are your contemporaries? Can you remember some of your mates who when they read this will say yes, we went to school together?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Yes, for instance if we go further into the journals, my mates in the school of Imam is, that we studied together in the school of Imam Isa, the Chief Imam of Tudun Wada Mosque. They are still around, and they will remember. The likes of Mallam Aliyu Maiyama, Mallam Lawali Mareri, Mallam Iliya Birnin Sin and a lot of them.
And at the school of Mallam Na – Karimu, there are teachers I have met, like Sheikh Suraju Rabi’a, when I studied there he was also a student. There is Mallam Aliyu and some others. And in other schools, like that of Mallam DanDa in Sokoto, we go to school with them like Mallam Yusuf Liman Kaura. Mallam Abdulkadir the Imam of Kurya, Mallam Rabi’u and Mallam Mohammad Haruna.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Have you ever worked with the government as a civil servant? What actually is your occupation?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: I have worked with government initially, many years ago. After obtaining a diploma in Arabic literature, I worked as a teacher in Nomadic Education Commission. And uptill now I worked as a teacher on secondment. Prominently among what I do is learning. Right now, farming has been one of the biggest things I do. Most of what I feed my family is being cultivated by me, and of course teaching. I also write, but I have not ventured into publishing what I write, as a way of making money. I do write and keep, but if someone wants to publish it, it’s alright by me.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Have you ever received re-training at home or abroad, either through seminars or workshop?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Yes of course, in this journal I talked about, I dedicated a chapter in which I listed all the courses I have attended. Its all there, right from the beginning up till this moment. I attended many courses on Imam-ship, on teaching, on health issues and many others. While abroad, I attended training in Egypt and other places. I discussed them extensively in my books.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Do you listen to radio, or television or do you have access to cable satellite? Are you computer literate, do you access the internet and have e-mail address and so on?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Actually yes, since childhood I am interested in any source of news and current affairs, for more thank thirty years. Since I was seventeen I have never stayed without a radio set. I make sure I have more than three sets of radio should in case it develops fault. And for television and satellite connections, I do have. I also make sure I have foreign magazines such as “Al Alimul Islam”, and so on. I also write in “Mujahada” Magazine and the likes of them. I use a computer and I also access the internet. I also have an e-mail address.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Do you have an endowment or foundation, or a school of your own or an organization you set up? Do you intend to leave a legacy from the teaching you do, or a project you hope to leave behind.
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Oh yes; about thirty years ago I decided to set up a school. And now here we are. I am happy the school I set up is developing fully. It has branches. Later on I setup a centre that includes school, propagation of Islam and so on.
The Abdullahi ibn Fodio Centre I setup is listed in the journal and is it functions normally. The centre consists of many sub-schools for both male and female. We now have a college for married women and for adult education. And different schools, such as Islamic Nursery Schools and primary Schools have being opened under the umbrella of the centre.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Which countries have you visited?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Apart from Saudi Arabia, which I visited for Hajj and Umrah; I have mentioned that in the journal I talked about in a section on called “Rihilati” you will find it there.
During Hajj and Umrah, I find time to study. I use to attend lectures and seminars in centres there. That is why I always try to go to Hajj in time to have about twenty days before the beginning of pilgrimage. There are Ulamas I visited too.
There is this particular teacher I met who has dedicated his time for me in the study of Hadith. I use to visit libraries also especially at Masjudul Nabwi (mosque of the holy prophet” I stay for many days studying throughout the day. That has really helped me to meet Ulamas.
Apart from that, I have visited the Republic of Niger, I have met with Ulamas in Maradi, and from the Sudan, which I visited under the auspices of the Zakkat and Endowment Board, I really learn a lot.
Of recent, I have visited Egypt for training under the banner of an NGO which have paved the way for me to visit Al’Azhar and a chance to meet outstanding people and various centres of learning these are the countries I was opportune to visit.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Are there any other languages you understand as well, apart from your mother tongue Hausa?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Well, apart from Hausa language which is my language, Arabic language is the one I can read and write. There are two other languages – English which I can not speak, but can read somehow, I am learning it. And there is Fulfulde language. I use to teach Fulani children in some of the schools I taught, which happened to be of mainly Fulani children. The interaction with them made me to understand the language a bit.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Do you have role models?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Well among the disciples of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) I love the ways of Amirul Muminina Umar bn khattab and Mus’ab bn Umairi. My love for the ways of Mus’ab bn Umairi made me to name one of my sons Umairi. And also I named another of my sons Umar, these two people are my role models among the disciples of the Holy Prophet.
And for those that came after them, my role model is Sheikh Abdullahi bn Fodio. His life has imparted on me and that was why I named my centre – Abdullahi bn fodio. Moreover, what motivates me is the ways of learnered scholars who use to write. For instance, I am particularly interested to listen to biography or auto-biography of people. When I hear of impending interviews with people over the Radio, I make sure I listen to it. For example, there is a programme on radio Zamfara, I had once asked for a copy of an interview from the radio station, they were surprised because the interview was not about religion, I told them, I’m interested to hear how someone struggled to attain where he is just to learn from their experiences.
MyZamfaraonline.com: And when you are not teaching or reading what is your measure preoccupation?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: I prefer to read history materials, or better still I exercise or watch the T.V . These are things I do as hobby.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Have you ever received any award as a result of your work or teaching?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Yes; I have received awards from schools, centres and even media organizations, and foundations. I have received such awards as honorary awards.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Was there any experience you dislike, and perhaps things you like in life?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Well, life is generally associated with two things. Whenever I remember my foster mother, I feel sad because she is no more. My mother died when I was a child, my grandmother was my foster mother, it always saddens me to remember her demise. I also remember some of my friends that we have gone to school together but have died. I used to think that should they have survived up to now, I would have enjoyed their help with what I do now.
But for the things that I like in life, is when I remember how some friends we grew together from my studies but I managed to remain steadfast with the help of Allah; I feel happy that I did not listen to them. Had I chose to join them, I would not have remained a student. But for the providence of Allah who protected me, I would have been someone else.
MyZamfaraonline.com: What is your last word, be it in any sphere of life such as politics, economics, security or the present stance of Muslim nowadays or anything you feel you want to talk about or even a call on people about something particular in life presently?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: To be honest, I have critically tried to look at the affairs of our nation, Nigeria. What actually got us into problems is one particular issue that has been with us. Patriotism is no longer with us. For instant if the government awards a contract, and it was not done, nothing happens or when money is embezzled nothing is done.
When you look at corruption and how public money is wasted, I have even written a book on such matter from the Islamic perspective. This is an issue I find most disturbing. I look at our country; I feel that no matter how we want to correct our mistakes, if the issue of corruption is not eradicated we can move anywhere. For instance, if we want the government to improve power generation, is there any likelihood that the money budgeted will be used judiciously? And for those who are given the contract will they do it well.
There are some of the issues I feel strongly about. I give lectures on them, and how do we find ways of doing away with the problem in our country. I am sure when we do away with it there will be peace. Our roads will be secured. When military officers don’t receive corruption, and that your honesty can work for you. Then, things will be in order, I have also written to the Anti-Corruption Commission, if truly it is intended to eradicate corruption, and idleness this is one issue I am preoccupied with. And for a Muslim to associate with it is disturbing also.
MyZamfaraonline.com: We thank you very much; but, what do you want to say finally?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Sincerely speaking, one issue that I want to talk about is people use to ask of my sect that I associate with or “Tariqa”. Some even feel there is no way for someone to remain a Muslim without being a member of a particular sect, for a Muslim, what I usually tell them is first and foremost, it is necessary for one to follow the path of good men of the past, along the teaching of the Prophet and those that come after him. And anything that is out of their practice should be avoided.
But, it is not mandatory that one has to be a follower of a particular organization, or sect. If the sect you follow happen to go wrong over an issue, then you also become a victim; or you try to give excuses where there are none. And for the truth it can come from any direction. Therefore, what is incumbent is to follow the shari’ah. Some people hardly understand this, it is one issue people get confused about.
Secondly, people do not understand that institutionalizing shari’ah is a most, some people still do not understand.
MyZamfaraonline.com: What are the committees you work with?
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: I have mentioned about twenty five here, those that I have worked with before and of present; they are listed in my journal. Right from Jama’atul Muslimina, and even before my association with Muslim brotherhood. And my membership in the Zakkat Committee, Council of Ulama and my leadership in the prayer timing committee. My membership in the Supreme Council for shari’ah in Nigeria and so on. The UCC, timing Committee, Musabaka Committee and any position as patron in some organizations, and adviser in some of them. They are all there. I use to observe keenly the activities of such organizations and what they do. If they do not go against the teachings and can give my support, but if there are grey areas, I point them out.
MyZamfaraonline.com: Thank you, very much.
Sheikh Ahmad Umar Kanoma: Shukran, Nagode. Ma’assalam.