Tuesday 20th March, 2018, Sofola Conference Room, Markaz Agege, Lagos, South west Nigeria played host to scores of eminent Nigerians across the country to set a tune for the celebration of one of Nigeria’s Iconic Islamic Preacher and Educator of all times – Late Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory. The insignias around the serene Arabic institution was a clear pointer to a titanic event coming up in the school and the Nigerian firmament, centenary celebration of Sheikh Adam, author of many Islamic, Arabic and Historic works.
The hall was filled to the brim as Professor Badmus Lanre Yusuf (MNLAL), Chairman Information and Publicity Sub-Committee, The Centenary Celebration of Al Ilory & Alumnus of Markaz, himself a student of the late erudite scholar, addressed a world press conference. To Professor Lanre Badmus, “it was a rare privilege for him stepping forward on a glorious day as an alumni reeling out the celebration chart for the centenary honour of the great Islamic reformer of our time, an intellectual icon, a multifaceted scholar and the founder of the prestigious and globally acknowledged Arabic and Islamic Training Centre (Markaz) Agege”. The timing of the celebration is scheduled for six days between April 15th and 21st, 2018. Activities will include colloquium, academic paper presentation, public presentation of two books on the thoughts of Al-Ilory as well as recognition and meritorious services awards to deserving Nigerians and non –Nigerians for their outstanding roles in advancing the course of Arabic and Islamic Scholarship for which Al-Ilory lived and died.
The symbolism of the death of Shaykh Al-Ilory, twenty-six years ago was likened to the uniqueness of Shaykh Uthman bin Fodio, a great religious reformer, who died over 100 years ago. The contributions of these two great scholars has continued to live in the hearts and mind of all true lovers of Da’wah promotion of Arabic and Islamic Scholarship and true knowledge.
According to the organisers, the climax of the celebration will be the formal opening ceremony on Monday April 16 2018 in the University auditorium of the University of Lagos, Akoka, Lagos. At the epoch making day, very eminent and distinguished guests including His Excellencies, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR; Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, CON; Hon Justice, S. M. A. Belgore, GCON; the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, CFR, mni; HRH, the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi Lawal Sanusi; the Emir of Ilorin, Dr Ibrahim Sulu Gambari, CFR; the Alaafin of Oyo, HRM Oba Lamidi Adeyemi; the Executive Governors of Kwara, Ogun and Lagos States as well as other guests from Benin Republic, Cote’dvoire, Egypt, Morocco and other parts of the Arab world are being expected.
The main theme of the celebration is “Moving Nigeria to Greatness” through the works of Al-Ilory with such sub-themes as: – War Against corruption and indiscipline in Nigeria; the situation so far; Security and peaceful co-existence for Nigeria development and the importance of Education and virile politics for development of Nigerian. Prominent speakers to dissect the topics are former Vice –Chancellor of University of Ilorin and JAMB Registrar Prof. Ishaq O. Oloyede, OFR, FNAL, Former Vice–Chancellor of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin and current Commissioner, Public Complaint Commission in Osun State, Prof. Razaq Deremi Abubakar both of whom are alumni of Markaz.
In the words of Professor Lanre Badmus, “the choice of guests, speakers and theme of the celebration were testimonies to honour Al Ilory’s glorious past, and immense contributions to scholarship and humanity as a whole. This event is also to celebrate our prosperous present and preparations for a robust future, the main feature of which is physical transformation of our alma-Mata for a more efficient service delivery for the benefit of Nigeria and Nigerians as well as the Muslim Ummah in Africa and the entire humanity”.
Shaykh Adam Al Ilory was the first scholar in Yorubaland to modernise the teaching of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the real sense of the world. He introduced far-reaching reforms in the Curriculum, Teaching Methods, Arabic School Managements and Administration. He extended the frontier of Arabic and Islamic Teaching to many parts of African. Al-Ilory was an active and functional member of various global Islamic bodies including the Muslim World League which he co-founded in the 60s together with other prominent world acclaimed scholars from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco and Sudan.
As a prolific writer, Al-Ilory had close to one hundred books to his credit. He was a formidable preacher, who raised the art of preaching from being a means of begging to the lofty height of being an instrument for socio-moral and political reform in the society.
His hallmark was calling a spade its exact name without minding whose horse was gored. It is an incontrovertible fact that he positively influenced the leaders and the led Muslim audience as well as non –Muslims through his preaching. His preaching’s on topical issues such as peaceful religious co-existence and War Against Corruption and Indiscipline remain a reference point in the history of Nigeria.
In 1964 Al-Ilory founded the League of Imams and Alfas in the then Western Region and became its pioneer Secretary-General. It was in view of these significant contributions to the advancement of Arabic and Islamic Studies that he was unanimously conferred with the title “the Grand Scholar of Yorubaland”. He was also honoured with the Egypt’s highest merit award for academic excellence in Arts and Sciences. Sheikh Adam’s intellectual products are found in educational institutions in Nigeria and beyond.
Since his death, Sheikh Habeebullah Adam Al-Ilory has carried the Banner of Al-Ilory in widening the scope of local Arabic literature for scientific, social and political use in order to meet challenges of the present time. Sheikh Habeebullah is bold, fearless and courageous. He says it, without sentiments, the way it is. With the cream of his children who have remain faithful to Islamic scholarship, one needs no other testimony to know that Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory’s received Allah’s blessing. Surely, April, 2018 will go down memory lane as a hundredth year of the birth of an international scholar, writer, preacher and historian, Sheikh Adam Al Ilory, founder, Markaz Islamic Institute Agege, Lagos, Nigeria. May his soul continue to rest in peace.