Central mosque in Osun state reopened after three years over leadership tussle
For the first time in after two years, Muslims in Inisa town in the Odo-Otin Local Government of Osun State observed their Jummat prayer at the Central mosque of the town.
They were joined by other Muslims from the state and neighboring states who came to observe the Jumat prayer.
It will be recalled that the Central mosque was locked in 2020 by the state government after a tussle ensued between two factions on who would succeed the late Chief Imam of the mosque, Mustapha Baruwa, that led to loss of lives.
The mosque was later reopened after normalcy was restored, but the crisis was far from over, as no worshipers could pray in the mosque due to uncertainty about who would lead the prayer.
The announcement of the reopening was made on Thursday at the palace of Olunisa of Inisa, Oba Joseph Oladunjoye Oyedele (JP) Fasikun II, on behalf of the Grand Chief Imam of Osun State in conjunction with the League of Imams and Alfas in the community.
In anticipation of the first-ever Jum’ah prayers after three years, it was learnt that the Muslim youths in Inisa stormed the central mosque on Thursday to make necessary preparations including cleaning to make the House of Allah conducive for the congregation of Muslims that will attend.
Inisa Central Mosque came to the limelight when Ilorin-born Muslim scholar Sheikh Ahmad Labeeb Lagbaji early this week posted a video of his visit with his disciples to the mosque on social media.
In the video, the Islamic scholar lamented how the central mosque had been locked for several years without prayers being observed there over leadership tussle.
According to Sheikh Lagbaji, community members said a spell had been placed on whoever leads prayer at the mosque to die following the tussle.
He, however, led the dhuhr prayer at the central mosque during one of his visitations, to break the ‘pray and die’ jinx, saying no evil would befall them.
“It is embarrassing that a central mosque would be shut down for years due to flimsy issues. My mission here is to ensure that the mosque is reopened for prayers. We will achieve that. I come from Ilorin every day to show I am serious about this,” he said.
The Islamic scholar who was accompanied to the mosque by one of the leaders of Inisa Muslim community said he has been enjoying support from various quarters to ensure the mosque is reopened.
“Now, we have the support of Leagues of Imams and Scholars from various parts of Nigeria including Oyo, Lagos and Bauchi, among others. They said there is a jinx that prayer must not be observed here again. We will break that jinx and spell.”
Following his video, the issue came to the front burner with netizens coming up with their versions of stories and experiences about the Inisa Central Mosque crisis.
One of the leading voices in narrating his experience was the Grand Mufti of Yorubaland and Amir of Ta’awunul Muslimeen, Sheikh Molaasan.
In a Facebook live video, the Grand Mufti said the Imamship tussle could be traced back to 2020. Sheikh Molaasan said.
“The League of Alfas in Inisa choose someone who had his Arabic education in Saudi Arabia and had been Imam in Canada and Osogbo for over 20 years. Although the person did not seek to be the Imam of the Central Mosque, the clerics visited him and beckoned him to be the overseer of the mosque. The king’s favourite is lower in rank to become Imam. And it is not done that way anywhere in the world.”
Molaasan advocated a competence test between the two contenders to see who is more capable of being the Imam.
He said, “This is the practice laid down by Prophet Mohammad (SAW), which entails appointing someone with a good knowledge of Islam. The two contenders should be invited and asked to sit for a competence exam.”
Also sharing information at his disposal, Dr. Sanusi Lafiagi of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, wrote that a couple of Imams have died in the course of the tussle.
“There is more to the Inisa central mosque saga than meets the eye. This morning, I received a voice note from one of our mothers on this street detailing what transpired and led to the closedown of the mosque,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“I couldn’t believe my ears. I sent it to a couple of friends, and a Shaykh who is familiar with the story corroborated the narration and even added more to it. Apparently, a couple of Imāms have been spiritually ‘kpained’ (by Allāh’s permission) over the Imamship tussle.
“I heard that the last Chief Imam who stubbornly refused to be stopped from leading the Salāt didn’t have the opportunity of leading another Jumu’ah prayer after that day. He became so sick that in one day, he received about 20 IV bags (drips) and none was found in his body.”
An Osun State-based medium, Osun Defender, in a story published in May 2021, revealed the identities of Chief Imams who died in the feud.
In the report, titled, “3 Imams Die In Quick Succession In Inisa, Govt. Shuts Central Mosque”, the medium wrote, One of the late Imams, Sheik Surakat Asiyanbi (81), was sick for over 10 years before he died in 2020. When Asiyanbi died, his deputy, Qaseem Adebisi (87) was installed as the new Chief Imam of Inisa.
“However, Adebisi was able to lead one Jumat Prayer before he fell sick and later died in 2020. Another Imam, Sheikh Mustafa Baruwa (85), who was installed after Adebisi did not spend three months before he gave up the ghost in 2020, according to some residents of the community.”
The medium also noted that since the death of the three Imams, there has been a crisis in the Inisa Muslim community on who to fill the vacant Chief Imam position, adding that the Eesa of Inisa, Chief Enoch Ajiboso, slumped and died while settling rift among the Muslim community members, late December 2020.
Realizing the danger in the trend of the crisis, the immediate former governor of the State, Mr. Adegboyega Oyetola shut down the Inisa Central Mosque indefinitely and also banned any central congregation at the Mosque for Eid prayers.
Speaking with journalists after observing the Jumat prayer at the mosque, the Secretary of the Association of Imam and Khatib in Osun State, Sheikh Abdullahi Olohunlomerue, noted that efforts were ongoing to end the tussle and have an Imam for the mosque.
He affirmed that the matter would be settled by the Grand Imam of the State, Sheikh Musa Animashaun, before the next Jumat.
Olorunlomerue urged Muslims in the town to stay calm and cooperate, adding that Islam symbolizes peace.
He said, “We are here today to end all the issues in Inisa Central Mosque. There have been a lot of misunderstandings which led to the dropping of the mosque. Nobody closed the Central Mosque.
“The Muslims in Inisa didn’t go to the mosque for a certain reason and we are at the point of getting to the root of that reason. By the Grace of God, before next Wednesday, the Grand Imam of Osun State has promised to settle everything amicably.
“A representative was sent here today by the Grand Imam to come and lead the prayer. The person is Imam Abdulrauf Amodarufai who is from Oyan town.
“My message to the people of the town is that they should cooperate. United we stand and divided we fall. Let us toe the same line to have a lasting peace. Islam is a symbol of peace and we Muslims are good symbols for others and we should not behave otherwise.”
In his sermon, Sheikh Sofiyullah Adewale Latilu Oyan, Representative of the League of Imams and Alfas, preached unity and harmony among members and charged them to come together as one family and resolve issues.
He argued that the prophet of Allah (SAW) frowns at Muslims fighting themselves and calls for a peaceful co-existence among the factions.