In this flashback, we reproduce an interview held with Sheikh Abdulkadir Yaqoub Ali, the eldest of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky’s brothers, conducted by Haruna Shelleng and Aliyu Saleh of ALMIZAN Newspaper, held on Tuesday, 26/04/2016 (four months after the Zaria massacre) at his residence in Zaria. Sheikh Abdulkadir expressed his deep concern over the massacre by the army, which resulted in the extrajudicial killing of many people, including his seven children and one sibling.
This interview, as transcribed by Aliyu Saleh and translated by our Editor, is being reproduced in view of the recent outbursts by one of the outcasts within the family ranks, who is being used by the government because of sibling rivalries and deep seated sectarian animosity to bring division and rancour within the family:
ALMIZAN: Firstly, may we know your name Sir?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: My name is Abdulkadir Yaqoubu Ali.
ALMIZAN: May we know what your relationship with Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky is?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: Relationship? I am his elder brother from the same parents. I am by far the older (than him); by many years.
ALMIZAN: How many of you are in your family all together?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: I can’t really recall. Our father left 16 or 17 of us after his death. I think 16 or 17. Seven or eight of us are from the same mother.
ALMIZAN: How would you describe your interaction with Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: I would say that we grew up together, although I’m older than him by far. You know by our traditional system, we engaged in the traditional Qur’anic education in the early years of our lives, which was considered most important before the dominance of Western style education. The way this western education is emphasized now, that was the same way the traditional Qur’anic education was emphasized in Zaria at the time. Thus, we engaged deeply in the traditional Qur’anic education. Our father used to teach us at home, and we additionally went to several schools. We studied at the seminary of the late Sarkin Ladanai, Mallam Mani (may Allah have mercy on him). Our tutor then was Malam Omar, the son of Sarkin Ladanai, Malam Ali. We had a solid foundation in Qur’anic studies there. And we read a lot of Islamic literature as well.
At the time, Malam Ibraheem (Zakzaky) received a lot more lessons than us, because he had extra night sessions from Malam Muhammad Sani, the father of the late Sardauna Zazzau, Mahmoud Jumare, whose brother was married to the Malam Ibrahim’s daughter. He received extensive further education there, and he was well grounded in these studies.
We also studied in the seminaries of Malam Abdulkadir and Malam Ibrahim Na Kakaki, the younger brother of Malam Sharehu. I undertook the study of Islamic literature under many Scholars, while Malam Ibraheem (Zakzaky) studied further under the renowned Sheikh Nasiru Kabara in Kano. He was one of the students of Sheikh Nasiru Kabara when he (Sheikh Zakzaky) was studying in the School of Arabic Studies (SAS) in Kano. Likewise, when I was also studying at the Arabic Teachers College in Katsina, I studied in many seminaries in Katsina. We extensively studied in such seminaries because if you want to be fully grounded in Islamic education, you will have to be a scholar in many of these seminaries, where several branches of Islamic education are being taught such as Qur’anic exegesis, History, Jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Lexis and Structure and many other Islamic disciplines. Unfortunately, nowadays, no such extensive scholarship is undertaken any longer as people now engage only in Western education to obtain jobs.
ALMIZAN: How would you describe your personal relationship with Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: I have a very cordial personal relationship with him.
ALMIZAN: Recently, the military attacked Sheikh Zakzaky. What would you say about that attack?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: I am most saddened and particularly worried about this.
ALMIZAN: The attack on Sheikh Zakzaky’s residence is said to have affected your son, Shamsudeen and your Sister, Fatima, both of whom are feared dead. Is that so?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: Seven of my children were killed in that brutal attack. The other time (July 2014), I lost 3 of my children; Ahmad, Hamid and Mahmoud. This time again, I have further lost Aliyu, Hammad, Humaid, Shamsudeen and my younger sister, Fatima. All were also killed.
ALMIZAN: So how would you describe that incident?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: What I can say about that incident is to simply say may Allah comfort us.
But you know, according to Islamic law, even if a person commits a crime that warrants him to be executed, you will not simply pounce on him and kill him without first getting him arrested and brought before a judge for trial. Islam has its principles and system.
No person is to be extrajudicially killed without being first taken to a court for trial. If at the end of such trial, he is sentenced to death, then he should be killed. But one doesn’t simply go and kill the person and say the person deserves to be killed anyway. Islamic law has principle and procedures.
ALMIZAN : So, were the measures taken by the military appropriate or inappropriate?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: How were they appropriate? How can anybody do that? Even if a person deserves to be executed, he should be tried and sentenced first. In Islam, even in war, it is not permissible to kill women, the elderly or children. Women can only be killed if they bear arms and combatively approach troops. How would you just meet a lady and open fire? How would you simply go into someone’s house and kill him? That is not permissible no matter his offence for that matter.
ALMIZAN: In the course of these massive attacks by this government, your mother’s grave and final resting place was desecrated and demolished. How grievous was that to your family?
SHEIKH ABDULKADIR YAQOUBU ALI: Let’s just take it that whoever did that did it against themselves. Their recompense is with the Lord. This is because only an authority can destroy cemeteries. Even at that, it must be because of public interest or for the sake of executing community work. Then, the corpses must be carefully exhumed with dignity and relocated to a better place. That’s how it is done. One doesn’t simply go to desecrated graves. That is not permissible.