eminence, Judge Prince Bola Abdul-Jabbar Adesumbo Ajibola, CFR, SAN,KBE (KNIGHT OF THE MOST EXCELLENT ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE), Proprietor, Daee , Philanthropist and a peaceful eloquent international jurist. A man of sterling qualities and colours, his sense of humour is mystifying, taste unique and radiates Islam in his dealings with the people, his projects and lifestyle. He is the founder of the Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun state, and the Islamic Mission for Africa (IMA). A microcosm of the posts he has held include: Judge of the international Court of Justice at the Hague, 1991-1994, a member of the Panel of Commissioners of United Nations Compensation Commission, the President World Association of Judges of the World Jurist, President, Pan African Council of the London Court of International Arbitration, Member, United Nation’s International Law Commission 1986-1991, Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Federal Republic of Nigeria,1985-1991). The President, Nigerian Bar Association 1984-1985, Chairman, Body of Benchers, 1989-1990, Chairman, Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, 1985-1991, President, Association of Arbitrators of Nigeria; Nigeria Ambassador to the United Kingdom and former Chairman of Board Trustees MUSWEN. He has the singular honour to have met with the Queen Elizabeth of London, same as his father, the late king of Owu,Kingdom, thus the family is perhaps the only known family whose two generations met with the Queen.
In this interview with the PEACE magazine crew in Abeokuta, he bares his mind on various issues relating to the Ummah and the western world.
Peace is central to Islam but the World does not seem to know peace; what do you think is responsible for this?
What is responsible is the current misunderstanding and mistrust that we have all over the world. It is one in which the Islamic World is being looked upon as violent. It is astonishingly sad that Islam is being looked upon as a violent religion by those who have been hurt by one Muslim or another. It is erroneous to generalize such conducts. Mistrust breeds hatred and hatred nurtures wars. There are remote causes, which lead to these disaffections, violence and insecurity. You will understand that the problem of terrorism mushroomed in so many parts of the world. We have constantly had it between the Palestinians and the Israelis in the Middle-East. But the Palestinians and the Israelis aspect of it has generated some ill-feelings between the West and peaceful Islamic World. Since the time when the Palestinians were being tortured, killed and destroyed in the Middle-East, the situation changed for the worse. But by and large, Islam is a religion of peace and it is considered necessary at the moment that as Muslims, we should sit down to dialogue with the West in order to find a lasting peaceful solution to the present difficulties.
What is your reaction to the criticism that your generation has not done much for Islam and virtually left it in the hands of those who did not have western education?
It is true. Muslims of our generation who were given western education have not played any prominent role in the propagation, development and enhancement of the growth of Islam in this part of the world. They left it to those who are not educated in the western sense. Therefore, Islam has suffered tremendously in terms of dawah, propagation and the followership. It is one of the reasons why I felt something must be done; we should not accept total failure. Though I have not been too active in the past, but Al-hamdullilah my Dawah activities in recent years, made me happy, particularly with the wonderful performances of our schools from Nursery, Primary, Secondary and the University.
16 years ago when we first interviewed you, we asked whether Muslims are Terrorists which you responded we are not. Are you still standing on that answer?
Muslims are not terrorists. They do not wage wars against institutions or organizations. Whoever is a terrorist is not a Muslim. It is difficult for such a word to be reconciled with Islam. However, one is aware of the fact that certain organizations have been involved in violent activities. It is my view that violence can never cure or redress any situation. The Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zeland recently in which 51 Muslims were killed is a further testimony that we are peaceful people. A 28-year-old Australian man, described in media reports as a white supremacist was arrested and charged with the murder, he is not a Muslim. Let me tell you, Islam means Peace. It is a religion of peace and nothing but peace. It is so unfortunate that some people have taken such position against us (Muslims). From the time of our Prophet (SAW), tolerance, peace and good neighbourliness have always been the central theme of the religion to the extent that it is considered the duty of Muslims to treat Christians and Jews very well and in a cordial and friendly way.
What are the motivational factors for your dawah activities?
I believe that the ultimate duty of a Muslim is to be involved in dawah. In Islamic Mission for Africa, we have decided to package Islam in a very positive and attractive manner. We have the belief and the policy that our religion must reflect in our ways of life in order that people may see the practice of this good religion in us and may then follow our path. Q16 v 125. Islam is a way of life it must be a kind of holistic service to Almighty Allah. We felt that it is not only a mosque that we must build to fulfill His obligation thus, we have our Islamic research centre, a Mosque, our multi-purpose hall where we gather for other meetings including the Sunday as-salaat, Nursery, Primary and secondary schools as well as a University. All these help our style of Dawah and this approach is borne out of my experience gathered all over the world. I have travelled far and wide.
What is your opinion about Islam in Nigeria and Nigerian Muslims?
Well, my opinion is this: in terms of service and worship, we have a lot of good Muslims who are religious, but I am not sure that we can say the same when we have to consider whether they are Godly or not. We have a lot of Muslims who are prepared to serve the Almighty Allah with their time and prayers, Zakat, pilgrimage to Makkah, belief in one God (Iman) and fasting when they should. At the same time, I have observed that many are found wanting when it comes to character and good moral standing.
Crescent University is one of your biggest impacts on us, why the Crescent University?
I named the University Crescent because it’s Muslim identity and represents the way we are perceived by non Muslims. Unlike Christian owned institutions, we have been fair on our own part by admitting both Muslim and non-Muslims (Christians) into the Crescent University. I hope the University will continue to grow in all ramifications and do well in terms of its programmes and Internal Generated Revenue. The University has 100 percent accreditation rating for her programmes.
Sir how competitive are the graduates from Crescent University in the international labour market?
Oh!! They are really doing well. In actual fact, we are proud of them. They are outstanding and can compete favourably well in any labour market. Currently, two of our graduates are working after passing an international exam that makes them to have jobs at the British Broadcasting Corporation in Britain. Similarly, we have many of them in blue chips companies as well as various civil service jobs in the country.
Looking at your compound, it is apparent that you must be close to nature…
(Cuts in)Oh, I’m very close to nature. I have flora and fauna alike. If I were not a lawyer, perhaps I would have been a farmer. I believe that they have a lot of lessons to teach human beings. Many of them are very peaceful and friendly; they do have their peculiarities that you can study and make use of. My crocodiles, for instance, are always peaceful, very calm and gentle. They don’t rush around, they don’t push around. I do learn the therapy of stillness and calmness from my crocodiles. My ostrich would always love to play with me, sheltering me with wings all around and I have enjoyed peace and togetherness with them. That is why I have always kept them with me.
Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President, at a time was your Special Assistant; did you imagine him in his current position?
Well, he had always been a brilliant boy; he is always conscious of whatever he is doing at any given point in time. I have known him to be a person that is positive in position to make it in life.
At 85 years old have you any regret?
I have no regret whatsoever. At 85 I have the feeling that I have done my little part. I do not practice my profession any longer; my totality is devoted to Islam now. Initially, the organization that midwife our Dawah activities was known as Islamic Movement for Africa, but it has to be changed to the Islamic Mission for Africa because people felt the word movement sounds somehow radical, violent and trouble-making. But in order to change people’s perspectives, we changed the name from the Islamic Movement for Africa to the Islamic Mission for Africa. The organization has given me a fulfilling life, something that solidifies and confirmed my position as a Muslim, aided my devotion to Islamic matters and certified my position as a Muslim.
Sir, what is your greatest moment in life and philosophy of life?
For being able to do what am doing now. Alhamdulillah, I just have nothing but gratitude and respect for Allah for making it possible for me to make a difference in the service of His religion. Nothing gives me better satisfaction and greater joy, than the things I find myself doing, especially working for Muslims and Islam. My philosophy of life is that one can only be relevant and justify his living by positively serving his Creator and humanity. I premise my philosophy around that as ultimate in life.
Who are your role models?
My role models have been people of peace in the world. I have read a lot about Gandhi and Martin Luther King, those who have battled the life actively and with peace very close to their hearts. I have always admired them because at the end of it not much is achieved by war and conflict. It is not war but dialogue and perseverance that help.
What advice do you have for the coming generations and your best Quote in the Quran?
They should work hard, be projective and ensure they are living up to expectations. My best quote is Fabiayyi Alayyi Robiqumo Tukasibani (Which of Allah’s blessings will I deny).