Ismail Babatunde Jose
As-Salaam Alaikum, Wa-Rahamatullah, Wa-Barakatuhoo
I seek refuge with Allah against the accursed devil
In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful
The story on Alhaji Jose's contribution to Islamic articles continues;
FIRST, he gave the movement a strong organisational structure. He increased the number of branches of the Movement, ensuring that the movement was present with its ideals land values all over the country.
Under him, then umber rose steeply into scores and the movement was found in the North, East and Midwestern parts of Lagos. He himself often visited every branch and co-ordinated their activities within the general policy guidelines
At the apex, was the national executive, each branch has its own core of local officers, who liased with the central body for necessary direction and guidance. The national conference was a vital forum for integration and solidarity. Thus, he achieved a national cohesiveness and orientation for the movement.
Most importantly, he popularised the educational thrust of the movement.
The movement became the educational agency of the period. At least three new secondary schools were established.
A unique feature of his tenure was his high gesture to Christian leaders. It is on record that during his two-term presidency, he was chiefly responsible for inviting Christian leaders such as Catholic Arch Bishop Anthony Cardinal Okogie and the Anglican Bishop Segun, both of Lagos, to attend the annual congress of the Ahmadiyya Movement, which under him began to be held outside Lagos.
But perhaps, his most critical contribution lay in the change of philosophical basis of the movement. The movement had held the belief that Ghulam Ahmad was a prophet. That phiolosophy came under a great challenge when he was the president.
While he endeavoured to increase his own knowledg and practice of Islam, he never missed the opportunity to consult and discuss with Islamic leaders and scholars whom he met inside and outside Nigeria.
The truth was abundantly clear. "Moslem theologians in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Pakistan," he wrote, "absolutely convinced me that by the authority of the Holy Koran it was heretical for any Moslem to claim or subscribe to the belief that there was another prophet After Mohammad (Peace be on him) the seal of the Prophets."
Faced with truth, he, as the president of the movement, initiated the move to change philosophical basis of the movement.
He was eminently place for the campaign as a journalist and was chairman, managing director of Daily Times, the leading national newspaper with the largest circulation. In 1969 he began the campaign of enlightenment both within and outside the movement. The thrust of the campaign was for the movement to change its identity and belief.
By 1972, the die was cast, the movement publicly affirmed its adherence to the Sunni Orthodox belief that there is no prophet after Mohammad. It affirmed that it had ceased being part of the Ahmadiyya Movement-in-Islam of Rabwa, Pakistan. A year later, the movement changed its name from Ahmadiyya Movement to Anwear-Ul- Islam Movement of Nigeria.
The exercise was clean, clear and total. A masterpiece. In the light of his memorable leadership, the movement decided to give him a Merit award in 1982.
If Alhaji I.B. Jose was a strong and effective religious leader, it needs be appreciated that he was with a number of dimensions to that leadership. He had a high public profile land he was simple, clear, strong and straight. This is well known, but it is useful for a full understanding of his leadership to focus attention on one or two more dimensions of his leadership style.
He was a missionary per excellence. Quiet and subtle he could be when necessary, but he was clearly a self-worker, sparing no resources of his, in the prosecution of his mission. He even did not care about, his health, knot to talk of his Divine mission.
He was a missionary to the core. That missionary in him be came more prominent as His Lord showered His favour upon him.
In this connection, mention must be made, even if briefly, of missionary zeal of this religious leader on two notable platforms.
In the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) where he was, after he was invited to serve as a special member, he be came a member of the Abuja National Mosque Appeal Fund, a member of the Executive Committee of the Mosque, and the chairman of the Publicity Committee.
All services were yeoman service. Secondly, no less notable has been is roles as a director of the Habib Bank and chairman of its Zakat Committee, which ensure that the bank gave suitably generous assistance to worthy causes.
Records are replete with examples of this selfless and missionary service. At the Ahmadiyya Movement, he made no claims for his ceaseless tours of branches. Generally, he made no show of gifts, donations, scholarships and benefits he gave to scores of people, who are at various points of the religious spectrum.
He took no fees or salaries for many official government appointments. These and many more can be mentioned; but it was, perhaps, at the Nigerian Pilgrims Board that his missionary fervour possible reached its peak.
He directed the affairs of the Nigerian Pilgrims Board for three years (1986-89) in his capacity as the chairman. Neither pilgrimage nor the board was new to Alhaji Jose. In 1955, he had performed his first pilgrimage towards Mount Arafat. On that occasion, he had had demonstrated an outstanding amount of interest in the welfare of Nigerian pilgrims.
Indeed, one of his dispatches dealing with the issue of stranded Nigerian pilgrims did become the subject of parliamentary debate and an open newspaper controversy with the government.
In later years, he became the chairman of a Presidential Committee on the Re-Organisation of Hajj Operation. (The author was privileged to have served on that Committee), prior to his appointment as chairman of the board in 1986 as mentioned earlier. His first book, was indeed, on his 1955 pilgrimage. Alhaji I.B. Jose had served as a member of that board for five years (1967-81).
As chairman of the Nigerian Pilgrims Board, he had the responsibility of promoting the welfare of pilgrims and ensuring a smooth and successful pilgrimage, as I was privileged to have served as the chairman of the Lagos State Pilgrims Welfare Board during that period, I was at a vantage point to gain some insight into his management style.
Two major impressions linger on with us as his co-workers. First, he was uniquely interested in enhancing the welfare of all pilgrims. In and outside meetings, the chairman of the NPB was always exploring ways and means of promoting the ease and comfort of pilgrims-cheaper and better accommodation, air-conditioned transportation, adequate services and so on.
Secondly he was an effective corporate manager. I believe he was perhaps the first chairman to start linking up the national board with the state boards in order to achieve a more effective delivery of services.
Similarly, effective national liaison was maintained not only with the Saudi Arabia government authorities, but also with the service agencies in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. For all his exertions, he would take no remuneration and was most heedless of his health.
With the end of his chairmanship of the NPB in 1989, can we say that was the end of his missionary work? Certainly not. His work as the chairman of the Zakat Committee of the Habib Bank has already been mentioned.
We may also add the excellent yeoman service that he rendered for 15 solid months to bring into being, in 1989, the Southern States Council for Islamic Affairs as a part of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.
He, naturally, was made the president and patron; history would no doubt record the incredible missionary work involved in this and other pursuits of Alhaji Jose.
As mentioned earlier, the religious leadership of Alhaji I.B. Jose has a number of dimensions. It should be added that it has its own distinctive characteristic, which is easier to perceive than describe. What is this subtle unique essence of Jose's religious leadership?
Some, quite rightly, would point to the firm religious faith of the man. It was a faith that sustained the young man through the changing times of the 40s and 50s; it was the faith that carried him through the turbulence of Nigerian politics and the power struggles at the Daily Times; it was the faith that kept the family firm strong and united together. But, perhaps, I.B. Jose had more than unusual faith to his credit.