By Isa Bature
Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi was an outspoken Islamic scholar and Grand Khadi of the Northern Region of Nigeria from 1962–1967, a position which made him a central authority in the interpretation of the Sharia legal system in the region.
He was a close associate of Ahmadu Bello (Sardaunan Sokoto), the Premier of the Northern region in the 1950s and 1960s and became the Grand Khadi in 1967, the position was abolished.
Shiekh Gumi emerged as a vocal leader during the colonial era, where he felt the practice of indirect rule had weakened the religious power of Emirs and encouraged westernization.
Beginning in the 1960s, public conflicts emerged between him and leaders of the Sufi brotherhood, some of whom he later debated on television programs in the 1970s and 1980s. By that time, he had managed to keep his ideas in the spotlight by holding Friday talking sessions inside the Kaduna Central Mosque (Sultan Bello Mosque). He used the sessions to revive his criticism of established authorities based on his views of a back to the source approach or the need to embrace a puritanical practice of Islam. He also criticized harshly the involvement of mysticism and the resulting syncreticized practice of the Sufis.
Shiekh Gumi has proven not to have anything to do with the present Nigerian sunni movement of Boko Haram because of his strong support for democracy, civil law and western education since his early years as a teacher, he’s often quoted to have said, “during election, voting is more necessary than to pray”.
Sheikh Gumi is a follower of the Maliki school of thought, this was derived through his writings including his Qur’anic tafsir (Raddul azhaan ila ma’anil kur’an), and other books like (Hullu nizam ala nuzuul isa).
He received the Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic in 1987. He also received the King Faisal International Prize from Saudi Arabia for his translation of the Quran into Hausa language.
Shiekh Abubakar Gumi who was referred to as the father of Izala as he usually mentioned during his Islamic teaching process, succeeded in overwhelming the establishment of the 1970s organisation by name Izalatul bidi’ah wa iqamatussunah (JIBWIS) co-founded by one of his prominent student, Sheikh Isma’ila Idris Ibn Zakariyya.
Though he also maintain his membership in Jama’atu Nasrul Islam (JNI) which favour him to proceed in his Islamic teachings at Kaduna central mosque handed by the above-mentioned organisation JNI.
Sheikh Gumi has a large number of children, however his most popular child happens to be Dr Ahmad Abubakar Gumi who succeeded his father as the scholar of the central mosque Kaduna (Sultan Bello). Dr Ahmad Gumi is a certified medical doctor from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and was a former military officer, he left the military and travel to study fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) at the Ummul-Qura University in Mecca, Saudi Arabia where he obtained his PhD.
Sheikh Abubakar Gumi passed away on Friday 14 Rabi’ul Auwal, 1413 AH (11 September, 1992) in a London hospital after a brief illness.
May Allah forgive his shortcomings, accept his good deeds and grant him Jannatul Firdaus.
✍🏻 Isa Bature
11th September, 2021.