Friday 17 June 2022

Intrigues and Twist in the Imamate Crisis of Lagos Central Mosque (Jama’atul Muslimeen Council), 1841 to 1947 by Raifu, Isiaka Okunola, Osun State University (2016)

Chief Imam Muhammed Nolla, 1881-1891.

Muhammed Nolla was the third Chief Imam of the Lagos Central Mosque. He succeeded Imam Nofiu Gana and he was in fact the deputy (Noibi) of the latter during his Imamate period. He was believed to be the ancestral father of the Nolla line of the Imamship of the Lagos Central Mosque. Imam Nolla, a Hausa-Fulani extraction was said to have migrated to Lagos at circa 1825 and settled at Oko-Awo area of Lagos. 

It was aptly observed by Osuntokun (1987, p. 130) that, for some time, the Muslim hierarchy of Imams were usually non-natives in genealogy. He served as the first Imam of Oko Awo Mosque, which he built, up till 1881 when he became the Chief Imam of the Lagos Central Mosque (Musa, 2007, p. 96). 

After about 100 years of introduction of Islam into Lagos, it was during the period of Imam Nolla that Lagos produced the first set of pilgrims to the holy land of Mecca and Medina. Although, these pilgrims left Lagos on pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina around 1877 prior Imam Nolla ascension, they returned in 1884 on August 31st which coincided with Obun Eko Market day. 

It was a great occasion for the Imam as the whole of Lagos rose in triumphant joy to welcome back their fellow Muslim brothers to their midst. Fasinro aptly captured the situation on arrival of the pilgrims thus: they were met at Ebute Ero by Muslims, many of whom rode on horseback. It was a great occasion for the Muslims in Lagos who went about dancing and visiting many important people in Lagos. 

They were very well received by King Dosumu in his palace. The pilgrims gave Oba Dosumu a bottle of Zam Zam Water. The Oba in turn ordered a big pot to be filled with water and Zam Zam water was poured in the big pot. The Muslims were all delighted to be able to drink the water (Fasinro, 1994:93). Islam recorded a steady growth during Imam Muhammed Nolla period. 

It is also apt to state that Islam faced serious challenge from Christianity and the survival during this period was based on the considerable pride and confidence in Islam displayed by the Muslims with the belief that they had a religion, a system and culture that were self-sufficient and should not be abandoned (Gbadamosi, 1978, p. 141). Imam Nolla died in 1891 having presided as the Chief Imam for 10 years."

By Kehinde Thompson

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