The Passing Of A Scholar: Sheikh Mustapha Zugluul

Nigeria’s Muslim community was thrown into mourning of Wednesday, July 5 with the death of Sheikh Mustapha Zugluul Sunusi. Thousands of Muslim faithful defied the torrential rain of Thursday (July 6) to honour the late historian and linguist, who was buried according to Islamic rites at his foremost Islamic and Arabic Institute, Daru Daw’ah Wal-Irshad, Isolo, Lagos.

The late Sheikh Mustapha Zugluul

The late Sheikh Mustapha Zugluul

The Mudir of Markaz (Center for Arabic and Islamic Education) Agege, Habeebullah Adam Al-Ilory, and Sheikh Gbajabiamila, the Head of the Ratibi Imams in Lagos State led the mammoth crowd in two separate Janazah (prayer for the death).

Prominent Muslim scholars such as Sheikh Abdul Afeez Abou, Sheikh Abdul Fatah Thanni, Abdur Rahman Ahmad, Sheikh Dhikrullah Shafii, Sheikh Farooq Onikijipa among others joined the congregations to seek Allah’s forgiveness for one of the greatest Muslim scholars in Africa.

Sheikh Abdur Rahman Ahmad, the National Missioner of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria described his death as a great loss to the Ummah, noting that, “by all standard, Sheikh Zugluul was an intellectual giant and when learned people like him dies, the light of the community starts to diminish, then darkness gradually takes over. This is because learned people are the light of the society, they illuminate, spiritually, physically and mentally.”

The Mufti of the Conference of Islamic Organisations (CIO), Sheikh Dhikrullah Shafii saw his death as a great tribulation that has befalling the Muslim community maintaining that it would be difficult to see anyone to fill the vacuum his death as created.

“His analysis of Islamic issues with deep knowledge, sound erudition in Arabic language as well as profound appreciation of history were equal to none. It’s sad we lost him because it would be difficult to see among the scholars of today who could fill the vacuum his death has created. He wasn’t only an outstanding teacher (of Arabic education), Sheikh Zugluul was an accomplished scholar, a caller and an authority in the Middle East affairs with special focus on Palestine.

mammoth crowd at the janazah of sheikh Zugluul....


His Intellectual Works

Baba Ni’Solo as he was fondly called by his admirers wrote a total of six books, namely: Al-Mar’at Bainal Hijaab Wa Sufuur (Woman Between Hijab And Nudity), Miftaahul Hadeeth fi I’lmi Mustalihil Hadeeth (Key To Hadith Terminology), Azhaarur Rubaa Fi Akhbaari Bilaadi Yaruba (Blossom Flowers Of The History Of Yoruba Land), Rawaai’ul Ma’aluumaat Fi Aqtaari Afrikiyyah (Admirable Information On African Countries), Al-Haqaaiqul Ilmiyyah fi Mu’jizaati Nabiyyil Mustafa (Scientific Facts In The Miracles Of Prophet Muhammad) and Saya’uudul A’rab Ilaa Filasteen (The Arabs Shall Return To Palestine).

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Each of these great books bears a great effect on the reading public. In Woman Between Hijab And Nudity, he discussed the prevailing evil of temptations engendered by the common act of nudity often displayed by women.

The book also touches on the common abuse of face veiling by some traditional scholars who erroneously take it for a permanent imprisonment of a Muslim woman, by not allowing her any access to the public domain, including her parents, after picking up the veil. The book was written at a time when this erroneous culture was common in Yoruba land.

His historic work, The Arabs Shall Return To Palestine is perhaps the most impacful of his books. Written in the 60s, at a time when the Palestinian question was at its peak. The book graphically explains the pathetic plight of the Palestinian Arabs, how the holy land was usurped by the Jews and how the real inhabitants of the land were maimed and slaughtered. It is indeed laced with emotional  evocation, as one reads through.

The book graphically explains the pathetic plight of the Palestinian Arabs, how the holy land was usurped by the Jews and how the real inhabitants of the land were maimed and slaughtered. It is indeed laced with emotional  evocation, as one reads through.

Sheikh Zugluul, however, created an atmosphere of hope and consolation that the Arabs would eventually regain their territory. He seemed to be much interested in the Palestinian quest for liberation, because aside from this book, it’s on record that he has some other unpublished papers on the plight of the Palestinian Muslims.


The Sheikh And The Media

Sheikh Zugluul was ‘media shy’. His humility and Ikhlas (sincerity) was legendary. He hated propaganda in whatever form. He never wanted to be known or celebrated for his devotion and sincere strivings just as he never wanted to be hero-worshipped, praised for any of his efforts or be rewarded financially for his works.

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This is perhaps the major reason the young generations are unaware of his exploits. Sheikh Zugluul was very prominent in the early 90s and very vocal during the Shari’iah Law debates introduced by the former Governor of Zamfara State during the Olusegun Obasanjo-led government.

One of his students, Khalifah Muhammad Dawood Ahmad recalled: He was very active during the Shari’iah saga, attending different conferences and seminars organized by different Islamic groups most especially the National Council of Muslim Youths Organisations (NACOMYO).

The Seminars were aimed at educating the general public about the meaning, history, philosophy and goal of Shari’iah. He became known to the press both the print and broadcast media for his brilliance and well informed understanding of different national issues and International Affairs .

The late historian was among the few scholars that came to the fore and kicked against same-sex marriages when it was being discussed by the Nigerian lawmakers. He did not only commend the former President Goodluck Jonathan for signing into law the 14-year jail term for lesbians and homosexuals, he also lambasted the western nations, who threatened Nigeria and other Africa countries with sanctions, for criminalising the act.

Zugluul Birth And Academic Sojourn

Born into the devout Muslim family of Alhaji Muhammad-Sunnusi in August 18, 1937 in the city of Ikirun in Osun state, Nigeria, the little Mustapha received his Arabic Primary Education in his father’s founded Qur’an school, which was later turned into a kindergarten school under the management of his late brother, Sheikh Yunus al-Sunusi.

At 18, he joined the late Sheikh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory’s Markaz in Agege as one of the pioneered students, where he received his Junior Secondary School Education between 1955-1959.

His teacher, Sheikh Adam al Ilory ordained the brilliant Mustapha with the title, ‘Zugluul’, following a display of brilliance and uncommon knowledge at an event where he was referred to as “Sirta Zuglool” – a reference to an outstanding scholar in history.

In fact, Sheikh Adam was reported to have uttered wittingly that: “Should Allah asked me on the Day of Judgement, ‘What good have you done?’ I will be happy to say I produced two great scholars like me, Mustapha Zugluul and Murtadah Yahya” (of Oke Agodi, in Ilorin – another Sheikh who is equally late).

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Sheikh Zugluul taught briefly at Markaz before he jetted out to Lebanon in 1965 on a training course. While in the Diaspora, he visited many Muslim countries which included Egypt, Syria, Jerusalem, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

He was granted a study leave and returned to Markaz as the coordinator where he bagged the Diploma certificate in 1967. Three years later, he founded the Daru Al Dawah Wal-Irshaad School.

 In 1981, the school moved to its current Headquarters in Isolo and he became the proprietor, teacher and the Khateeb of the school till his death on Wednesday (July 5) after a brief illness.

The school has produced hundreds of students among them are Sheikh Mustapha AbdulYakeen (late), Sheikh Ismail Raji, Sheikh Abdul Ganiy Adenle, Sheikh Mustapha Omoniyi, Sheikh Jaami’ Inisan, Dr Ahmad Saeed Rufai and Ustadh Al-Imam Salman Roji.

Lessons OHis Death

The death of the indefatigable proprietor of Daru Daw’ah wal-Irshad should serve as great lessons to the Muslim youths that seeking for knowledge is not only compulsory, it requires sacrifice, endurance and personal development. Sheikh Zuguul never rested on his oars. He didn’t rely on the Diploma certificate he bagged from Markaz alone, he travelled across Nigeria and even beyond in search of knowledge.

Indeed his life is a profound reminder of the fact that, knowledge without humility is nothing. That’s why he was able to accommodate the youths and old. Unlike some of his contemporaries and many other proprietors of Islamic institute who carry themselves as demi-gods, Sheikh Zugluul was free and accessible to everyone, irrespective of his or her ideological linings.

He was also a father to all Islamic organisations: Tijjaniyyah, Qadiriyyah as well as Ahlu-Sunnah -wal Jamma’ and many others. He made no discrimination or distinction within them.

May Allah have mercy on him and the family left behind. Allahumo amin

By Rasheed Abubakar, a journalist and the author of “Hijab And The Nigerian Press”. Email:

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