By Sadeeq Sheshe
“Al imamu kum Amirukum”
The quotation above is the transliteration of a famous saying of Sheikhul Islam Mujaddad Usman Bn Fodio (1754-1817) the leader and founder of the Usmaniyya caliphate in Northern Nigeria. It was to be in reference of the choice of the leader of Kano upon the completion of jihad in 1804. When the contemporary leaders of the jihadi fulani clans in Kano met and set up a shurah council that will guide in take up of a new Kano, they approached the Sheikh Ibn Fodio for a choice of a leader and obviously, the Sheikh used his wisdom in choosing a leader and subsequently an Emir for Kano. Hence, the Imam of Kano Sulaimanu (1804-1819) was chosen. The first and most important factor Sheikh Danfodio considered was leadership of salah (muslim act of worship). It means any person leading the ummah in prayers is fit to lead the people in any other form of activity in their lives. As such, this is an important concept in the take up of Emirship under the usmaniyya caliphate. Infact that aside, The prophet of Islam Muhammad (SAW) was the leader of the umma through out his life. He was the Imam responsible for leading the greatest act of ibadah in islam. Thus, when he was sick, (SAW), he choose Abubakar (RA) and this was a significant factor when the prophet (SAW) died leaving the ummah in need of a leader, a caliph! By virtue of the prophet (SAW) choice of Abubakr (RA) to lead prayers, it meant he was to lead the ummah after him. That continued with the subsequent caliphs with everyone one of them being the Imam of the Muslims.
In essence, leading prayers is a fundamental aspect of leadership to muslims and particularly in Kano Emirship. Sarki Ibrahim Dabo (1819-1846), founder of the sullubawa dynasty here in Kano was as well an imam of Kano and it was the same Emir Sulaimanu whom was referred and considered as Emir by Sheikh Danfodio in the above quote, that appointed him thus ratifying his choice of Dabo as his preferred successor.
Consequently, every important Emir of sullubawa has been an imam of the people.
The most classical example was Emir khalifa Sir Sanusi I (1953-1963). He was, just like his forefathers, the imam of the people of Kano. He led Friday congregational prayers as well as the 5 daily prayers except in certain instances. Thus he was one of the greatest descriptions of “Your Imam your leader (king)”. Emir Ado Bayero too was seen at instances being an imam just like his predecessors. Consequently, his successor, Sarki Muhammadu Sanusi II continued with this great responsibility. He was the Imam, the leader, the king and the Emir of Kano. When he became the Emir of Kano in 2014, he was arguably the only Islamic monarch in the whole world delivering Friday sermons and leading prayers. It has even become a honorary feet to a lot of people from different communities to let him lead prayers. Where ever he goes, it is the major thing the people want Sarki MSII to do for them. His recent 7 days visit Kaduna state has corroborated those claims. He wouldn’t have been allowed to go back without being honoured to lead, once again showing to the whole world, he is truly the real Emir.
Undisputedly, many important islamic leaders are always honored to lead prayers everywhere they go. Sheikh Inyass in Cairo, Sheikh Albany, Sheikh Gummi and importantly Sarki Muhammad Sanusi I when he was in Azare town, are some examples
As an Islamic leader, taking charge as Imam of the people is very fundamental. It portrays leadership capabilities and and installs fellowship of the masses. It also entails good virtues of the leader and present him as a credible and knowledgeable Captain of the people whom is always expected to be there for his people to guide them through the best paths. All these qualities are what leadership, particularly Islamic leadership should be about and offcourse they are absolutely seen in Amir Muhammad Sanusi II of Kano.