PROF WOLE ABBAS is the current head of the Department of the Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Ibadan. The department is a pride of her alumni for it continues to progress and yearly having more students for her courses that cut across undergraduate and post graduate courses.
The research works in the department remains excellent and reference points in the teaching of Arabic and Islamic studies in the country. In this chat , Prof. Abass explains the departments roles in the recent Hijab controversy at the ISI Excerpts.
What is your reaction to the Hijab controversy at the International School Ibadan, a secondary school for the University of Ibadan especially that some Muslims felt your department should have been at the forefront of resolving the matter?
The Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies is an academic department in the University and her roles are essentially academic therefore my submission is not necessarily the official position of the department. However, I am aware of initial efforts of the Muslim Community of the University on the issue. When the issue got to the attention of the Community, the officials took it up, wrote a letter, contacted the University Authorities and to a large extent, met with the Vice Chancellor to set in motion the process of amicable settlement,; but aggrieved members of the Muslim Community who have their children in the school thought
otherwise and headed for court.
At that point, UI management hands were tied from any further action and also the Muslim Community because the court process must be abided with. My take on the matter is that if the aggrieved parents had allowed internal resolution the issue might long have been settled in favour of the Muslims. The representative of the parents of those students, Abdulrahman Balogun, met the Imam and myself at the height of the controversy and we discussed with him the ongoing efforts to resolve the matter, we even showed him the contents of a letter from the University authority, which to us show her readiness to proffer a solution . At that meeting, I personally told him that the best option is to take the case away from courts to allow for out of court settlement but my opinion was ignored. He said they would not withdraw the case and they would rather go ahead with the case.
How did you know Alhaji Tella?
Alhaji Liad Tella I knew him in 1973 at Iwo, and then I happened to be a student at Markaz Shabaab-il-Islam, at Iwo founded by late Sheikh Adedimeji. He comes from a formidable family and because of that naturally, the family attracts good friends and in subsequent years the relationship blossomed with the return of my own elder brother Femi Abass from his foreign studies in Jeddah, Saudi-Arabia, and he did his service at Concord Newspaper where he and Alhaji Liad Tella met and they became close. Also his activities in MSSN, he was one of our leaders at that time that made him popular amongst many people.
Alhaji Liad Tella is to be made the Asiwaju Muslumi of Iwo land; what is your understanding of his roles and advise for him?
Titled positions in Islam are held by important people to promote, propagate and entrench Islam in such communities. What I know is that Liad Tella is living his life promoting Islam and raising the banner of Islam very well. His passion for that has been from his early days of MSSN. That title fits him. And in actual fact those of us that know his pedigree in promotion of Islam and Muslim causes would be very appreciative of the community giving him the title. I know he would want to do his best for Islam and for the Muslims but my advice for him is that he should not take things for granted because he would be dealing with human beings and they are the most difficult people to deal with. Similarly, he should be focused, dynamic and
change the orientation of his people away from their old methods of practicing Islam to pristine Islamic standards. He is committed to Islam and he can further the course of Islam for the people of Iwo and beyond. I wish him a progressive tenure.