My heart weeps as I write these lines but my solace lies in the fact that, at the end of the day, the effort shall not be in vain.
I sincerely hope that this piece would eventually strike the right cord, guide some unconscious minds and caution the sinful ones who keep deceiving innocent ladies and tarnishing the image of Muslims as well as Islam in this ‘anything-goes’ society.
When the long article titled, ‘Record-Breaking Divorce and Bastardised Nikah’ was released about three years ago, many applauded it as a wakeup call. It was assumed that the worst had been witnessed in the act rubbishing the sacred institution of marriage.
But the recent happenings among wicked Mallams who take delight in adopting ‘use and dump’ syndrome in relating with innocent and hapless ladies keep joggling restless minds and causing sleepless nights for souls that harbour profound eeman and minds that nourishes living conscience.
Or what song does one compose to a rhythm of a callous Mallam who virtually changes (divorces) wives within a span of two years? Once he discovers another innocent, young, beautiful lady, he finds flimsy excuses to excuse (divorce) the veiled lady married just about two years earlier, to pave way for another ‘experimental rat.”
This Mallam, despite many widows and divorcees in his Halqah, will always gun for virgins, preferably a school leaver or an undergraduate – plays on her emotions, manipulate her sensibilities and exploit her innocence!
Due to the fact that he is relatively comfortable and popular with an online presence, young and naive Sisters could hardly turn down his mouth-watering but insidious offers.
You may be agitated to ask – ‘And who is this so-called Mallam’. He is no other person than a popular Mallam in Ayekale, Ibadan, Oyo State, southwest Nigeria.
You wonder why the name is being withheld. This is not unconnected with the interventions of many respected individuals, most especially, our highly revered father and leader in Islam, Professor Dawud S. Noibi, the Executive Secretary/CEO of the Muslim Ummah of South-West Nigeria (MUSWEN) who waded in and prevailed on me to veil the personalities involved in this saga.
However, we both agreed that while veiling the personalities has its benefits, killing the story altogether will amount to concealing the truth which Islam abhors. After all, the goal is to expose the unwholesome acts with a view to stemming the tide, not necessarily to damage or crucify any personality.
In the same vein, virtually all the concerned personalities involved in the story also canvassed this method for various reasons. Consequently, the personalities involved in this true-life story shall bear unreal/pseudo names because of the reasons highlighted above. This Mallam shall, therefore, be referred to as Abu Ramadan. Abu Ramadan is a renowned scholar and author.
The notoriety of Abu Ramadan who is in his late 40s is not unknown to the Muslim Ummah and the Shari’ah panel in Ibadan. Ibadan people will still remember a case of one of his students (a member of his ‘Laa Jama’ah’ group) who took him to the Shari’ah court, alleging that Abu Ramadan made him divorce his wife against his wish.
So, how did it all happen?
Sister Fatimah (not the original name), the fifth wife and the fourth to be divorced (according to her) gained admission into the prestigious University of Ilorin in 2016 to study Chemistry. After the first session, she had some challenges with her grades but her Course Adviser told her to endure, since the time for the Change, of course, had elapsed
Fatimah’s Dad lives in Iwo town and her Mum lives in Ibadan, but she was living with her Christian Aunt in Osogbo who nurtured her till she gained admission into the university, after passing her SSCE and UTME in flying colours.
Expectedly, Fatimah’s Christian guardians were already getting hostile to her flowing hijab. She, therefore, decided to look for a suitor, a good Muslim who would not only offer her home via marriage but would also be ready to take up the burden of her educational pursuit.
According to Fatimah, in her frantic move to get relief, a friend of hers on campus, Sakeenah (not real name) who had rejected Abu Ramadan’s offer (due to her Brother’s stand against the move) introduced her to Abu Ramadan. Abu Ramadan had requested Sakeenah to introduce any willing friend of hers to him since she (Sakeenah) had turned down his offer.
“My friend, Sakeenah, introduced Abu Ramadan to me, saying: since you are more desperate and my elder Brother insisted I cannot marry him, you can as well take the offer,” Fatimah narrated.
Within weeks, Abu Ramadan convinced Fatimah that: in the first instance, apart from the fact that she was already having problems with her CGPA, “Chemistry is not even ideal for a Muslim lady”.
Fatimah had thought of continuing her schooling in Unilorin from Abu Ramadan’s home, but the ‘unplanned’ pregnancy was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.
With that development, Abu Ramadan asked Fatimah to come with him to Ibadan, promising to enrol her in the Mufutahu Lanihun College of Education where she could study an education course, which according to him, is Islamic, unlike Chemistry!
“He lied to me. He never told me he had divorced about four wives before me. He told me he only wanted to marry me because the wife at home (first wife) is unromantic and “not good wife material”. He also said she is illiterate and he wanted a literate wife who could be his Personal Assistant.”
And that was all the innocent Fatimah needed. She took the bait, got ‘imprisoned’ for about two years, only to be sent out unceremoniously; but not until she had given birth to AbdulWahab (not real name), a bouncing baby boy, who was about a year old at the time of the divorce.
What led to the divorce?
In the words of Fatimah, now Ummu (Mummy) AbdulWahab, “Abu Ramadan returned home on the eve of Eid-el-Fitr, having finished the Itikaaf, following the sighting of the new moon of the month of Shawwal.
It was a hectic day for me. I had to prepare his dinner; I served him and went to breastfeed my child. In the process, I slept off. Meanwhile, he had earlier signalled me while I was in the kitchen that he wanted sex. So he later came to wake me up and I heeded his call, despite being stressed out.
“While I was with him, caressing him, he remained inactive, yet he got annoyed saying, I was not romantic enough and my love-making skill was primitive and unimpressive.
“He asked me to leave and threatened to abandon me like the first wife or even divorce me if I refused to improve.”
He lamented, “don’t you watch films and see how they act in movies?” As he became annoyed, I returned to my room. He later came to my room saying, ‘are you supposed to be sleeping’? Out of the day’s stress and because I was equally annoyed, I didn’t return to his room and that was the end of it.”
“On Eid day, I offered him food in the morning but he rejected it. Instead, he went to the ‘abandoned’ first wife to take his breakfast.
“Ordinarily, he neither eats nor has any interaction with the Ummu (first wife) except when he has issues with me. So, in the afternoon, he told me, “Are you aware of your Iddah (waiting period) had begun!”. And I ask myself, “Just like that?”
“He told me I had been divorced and that my three months Iddah has commenced immediately. He said he would be ‘kind’ and ‘generous’ enough to allow me to stay a month in his house and get accommodation for me outside where I would spend the remaining two months. And true to his words, he asked the wife of one of his students (followers) to vacate an apartment for me where I am staying presently to complete my iddah (waiting period).
When asked why she accepted the divorce without resistance and even agreed to spend the Iddah outside her husband house, Fatimah responded: “Abu Ramadan is a very wicked fellow.
He is a bully who will disgrace you in the public. He had frustrated my soul with non-contentment and lies. I already knew he was preparing to marry another wife.
I used to hear their conversations, but I didn’t bother about that. You know I am about to finish my second year in the College, so I asked him to pay my school fees for the final year if he wanted me to leave the house which he did instantly. And since he had done that, I had no choice than to pack out”.
“You see, as I later discovered, I was the fifth wife of Abu Ramadan. Apart from the first wife, who was practically abandoned but still living under his roof, my investigation showed that he had divorced other wives in the same manner.
I later got to know that the fourth wife, Muslimah (not real name) that left before me got a similar treatment too.
“The third wife, Shareefah (not real name), who is probably younger than me is also in my school. She is in her third (final) year. Abu Ramadan told me I was even lucky because of the deal I got.
He told me he stopped paying Shareefah’s school fee and asked her to pack out immediately because she insulted him. When I threatened him with a lawsuit, he bragged that he is a master of the game and nothing will happen at the end of the day.
His wickedness knows no bounds, do you know he also called to warn me to stop coming to his Halqah (learning circle) immediately after he pronounced the divorce?,” Fatimah said.
Sister Shereefah contacted
Sister Shareefah’s case was rather more pathetic. She reluctantly agreed to speak with me after securing her husband’s permission.
“My relationship with Abu Ramadan was a terrible one and the parting was more painful. I don’t ever want to remember it because it is like opening an old wound. In the first instance, Ummu AbdulWahab (Fatimah) was not properly briefed. No less than two ladies were married after my exit by Abu Ramadan before her.
“My own divorce experience was very horrible. I was ill and got admitted into a hospital but my husband (Abu Ramadan) abandoned me there. On my sickbed, while writhing in pain, I called on the person who was instrumental to my marrying him, Abu Asia, to help prevail on Abu Ramadan to at least, be compassionate towards me or simply release me in peace before I die prematurely. So when I was discharged from the hospital, I returned home.
“The following day, I decided to visit my relations in Lagos, but surprisingly, Abu Ramadan called to inform me in Lagos that Abu Asia had delivered my message and my request had been granted! – divorce.
“He consequently warned that I must realise I had been divorced, and since I had been divorced, I should not bother to return to his house. He thereafter said he would help pack my belongings to a place where I could pick them. And that was the end of the relationship.
“I didn’t have a child for Abu Ramadan before the divorce, but my consolation today is that I am happily married with children now. Hence, I don’t always want to be disturbed by such a horrible past. I have left him to God Almighty, the God of Recompense” she said.
On reconciliatory and mediation role played by her parents, Fatimah narrated that though her parents, particularly her Dad, Mr AbdulHakeem never supported their marriage proposal he and the family members were arms twisted and had to succumb to the Nikah after much pressure, particularly when they realised her mind was already made up.
Reluctantly, Fatimah’s dad hosted the Nikah in the ancient town of Iwo. So, when the marriage began to hit the rocks, Iwo was a no-go area!
According to Fatimah, her husband had one time told her mum, who also stays in Ibadan, that her romantic and sexual skills couldn’t match his expectation but he was persuaded to be patient with her ‘naivety’.
“My Mum asked him to teach me what he wanted. Since then, I have tried my best to satisfy him but, I know his antics, as I was reliably informed – that is his usual excuse whenever he has decided to ease out an ‘old wife’ to accommodate a new one.”
A reliable report has it that, Abu Ramadan brought in another young, innocent lady into the house, less than two months into the waiting period of Fatimah (Ummu AbdulWahab).
In telephone and WhatsApp interactions with Abu Ramadan, he confirmed the incident but wondered why Ummu AbdulWahab never bothered to beg, which indicated she had been expecting the divorce.
He also accused her of arrogance. He wondered why I was showing so much concern when it appeared she and her parents seemed to favour the separation as they refused to either beg or wade in to attempt a reconciliation.
A friend of Abu Ramadan, Sheikh Yahya (not real name) made a spirited attempt to wade in after I had contacted Abu Ramadan on the need to save the two-year marriage before the end of the waiting period.
Surprisingly, when Sheikh Yahya successfully prevailed on Fatimah to swallow her pride and beg her husband, Abu Ramadan made a u-turn, saying, it was too late because another wife had been brought in and he was not prepared to marry/manage three wives at the same time. Alas, that was the end of the Nikah.
Without any bargain, Fatimah who got married at age 21 has simply turned a divorcee at age 23. Like her predecessors in Abu Ramadan’s house and many other victims of societal injustice, she has been pressured to unwillingly accept her fate, with her Niqab (veil).
Of course, Ummu AbdulWahab never wished to return to the house of Abu Ramadan, who she described as wicked, insulting and trickery, but the big question is: how do we protect young, vulnerable and innocent young ladies from falling victims of these pseudo-scholars and wicked Mallams? How do we ensure unsuspecting young ladies do not, again, fall into similar traps of these sexual maniacs and pornography addicts who expect innocent young ladies to become porn actresses overnight?
What legal mechanisms and social safety nets are available to mitigate the unfortunate occurrences? And what sanctions do we deploy against the callous predators to serve as a deterrent to others whose only game is ‘sampling’ sumptuous, succulent and beautiful young ladies, only to be used like public napkins and dumped within months?
These, amidst many more questions beg for urgent answers from well-weaning individuals, Non-Governmental Organisations and legal minds within the Ummah of Islam in Nigeria.
Mitigating the scourge
Little wonder why many of these cruel Mallams preach against organised bodies that could naturally provide a buffer and requisite counselling for these naive ladies and weaker vessels. No wonder they prefer to belong to no organised group in particular, where their iniquities could be sanctioned.
Come to think of it. Do these evil souls who are masquerading under the guise of Muslim scholars and pious preachers ever think of the Hereafter and the ultimate Creator who shall surely reward everyone according to his deeds?
Do they have daughters at all? And have they ever pondered for a while, about the future that awaits their own daughters, sisters, nephews and cousins if they keep perpetuating this unIslamic and evil practice?
As I leave this barrage of questions to the Ummah to ponder over, they remain to wake up call to bodies like NSCIA, MUSWEN, MURIC, HAIC, TMC, The Companions, The Criterion, MSSN, FOMWAN, Al Mu’minaat Social Advocacy Programme, NASFAT, QAREEB among others.
Legal minds, corporate bodies and other social spirited individuals must also wake up before a scourge of a large army of young divorcees is created for the Ummah.
These divorcees surely will demand their rights to be protected, else we prepare to live by the dire consequences of our outright neglect and criminal silence.
The government cannot also afford to look away as domestic violence and social injustice are being perpetrated under the guise of religious practice.
And as I drop my pen, I make bold to leave these verses of the glorious Qur’an for these serial divorcers and cold-hearted predators for them to retool their strategies, reconsider their callousness and repent from their evil ways before it is too late:
وَٱتَّقُواْ يَوۡمًا تُرۡجَعُونَ فِيهِ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ ۖ ثُمَّ
تُوَفَّىٰ كُلُّ نَفۡسٍ مَّا ڪَسَبَتۡ وَهُمۡ لَا يُظۡلَمُونَ
“And fear a day when ye will be brought back to Allah. Then every soul will be paid in full measure that which it hath done, and they will not be wronged.” Suratul Al Baqarah 2:281
أَفَحَسِبۡتُمۡ أَنَّمَا خَلَقۡنَـٰكُمۡ عَبَثًا وَأَنَّكُمۡ إِلَيۡنَا
“Do you think We had created you for nought, and that you would not be returned unto Us?” Suratul Al Mu’minun 23:115
By Elder Yinka Salaam, Voice of Nigeria, Lagos