ISAAC OLUSESI writes that the latest Ile-Ife Mosque is situating the worship of Allah to further the greatness and progress of Islam in the land, an act of love for the religion and mankind, with posterity entrenched in honour of the architect of the House of God.
I did not until now develop an enduring nostalgia towards a mosque, recently dedicated in Ile-Ife, State of Osun, Nigeria. It is not just because the mosque is a well befitting, humble place of worship where men and women of the Islamic faith could adore their Creator, Allah, Ar-Rahmoni Rohim, Most Gracious, Most Merciful in the fullness of reverence before Him. It is also because the House of God is singularly built and donated to the Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN) by Alhaja Rafatu Ademinure Folashade Awofisayo (Nee Ademiluyi), a quintessential grandmother who has an uncanny presence of mind, with superlative capacity that uplifts souls in despair, and penetrating helpful humour to the needy, giving handsomely to people, making friends effortlessly with complete strangers, and living her life in full tributes to her faith with uncommon passion. While her simple view of life is disarming.
Alhaja Awofisayo’s experience of ageing is strikingly benevolent. But the phenomenon of ageing generally holds out to so many people malevolent shadowy nonentities, oft-shrouded in warped, incomprehensible mysteries, a morbid fascination in bewilderment and infertile sensibility. Intuitively, everyone undergoes ageing, unheralded; but no one, not even the scientists, mystics, seers, horoscopes or any of the practitioners of the arcane sciences can lay any valid claim to a valid knowledge of ageing beyond numbers and physiology.
However, for Alhaja Awofisayo, daughter of the Late, His Imperial Majesty Ajagunlawarikan Ademiluyi I, (1910-1930) Ooni of Ife, ageing has been a blissful growth into an enchanted rose-tinted world, so the writer thought; but she swiftly cautioned. “please, not fully so always.” In other words, she had travelled the road, pockmarked with pumps, pitfalls and a myriad of unseen hazards. Her ability and her frenzied efforts that made her brave adversity and survive the harshest weather have been, “by the Grace of Allah, The Sustainer,” she blurted out when asked how she overran man’s trap devices for ensnaring man, the ravenous road of life that devours very many unwary victims, sucking them down its bottomless abyss. But as destiny would have it, Princess Awofisayo survives and progresses into opulence, the very reason for the mosque at Ajebamdele, Ile-Ife, in profound appreciation of Allah, The Sufficient.
The validity of life is that a reality exists sometimes, brutally so; and sometimes, blissfully. And deliberately, to embrace the bliss and confront head on the brutality, we all elbow, jostle, gauge and scheme in this existentialist jungle, call life, to get a better and higher foothold. Inexplicably, a greater force literally moves, sweeping the bliss into a swirling void, implying that a more than cursory look at the affairs of man quickly reveals teleology. Nothing is arbitrary; nothing occurs by happen-stance. Not even the Ile-Ife mosque, the latest architectural master-piece. The mosque is teleological, a development already pre-determined, purposed and designed by its architect, Alhaja Awofisayo who gave the land free of charge to FOMWAN and sold one of her houses to build the mosque on it- the climax of her titanic charity to co-believers in her religion.
It means that only a well-ordered person has a well-ordered obligation to the society, and in Princess Awofisayo’s own case, to her religion. Such rationalization makes her worship both a duty and pleasure to further the greatness and progress of the religion of Islam in the land. With the mosque, God’s own vineyard, what a dream come true for her, what a hope fulfilled, and what posterity entrenched? The dream is the totality of her ambition to serve Allah with all hers; the hope fulfilled is a defined worship boundary, the mosque, secured by her where men and women of all nations, tribes, social status and politics could worship Allah; and the posterity entrenched is the recompense that history will remember Princess Awofisayo and tomorrow will honour her in gratitude. The mosque will survive her longevity, and will be maintained, furthering Islam in peace and expanding its coast in affirmative terms.
The expansive surroundings of the fully completed mosque were spuced up for dedication, with other preparations, ship-shaped. All the guests including NASFAT, FOMWAN, Ansar-Udeen Society of Nigeria and several other Islamic societies showed up; no guest was unwanted, even the lame, dumb and deaf, all stormed the arena and everybody had a full stomach. No one fumed, no one cursed. The event, well attended was a celebration of Alhaja Awofisayo’s act of love for her religion and mankind generally. At the dedication, the Muslim clergy appraised her religious stamina and sure footedness in Islam, and applauded her integrity, dignity and reliability. And mama stood tall as the clerics upbraided, denounced debauchery, perfidy, opportunism and valiancy as heroism in the society; and they thought-provokingly chorused: “We can proudly hold up our own Alhaja Awofisayo as a specimen of how the affluent should be the society asset.”
And indeed, the mosque she donated to FOMWAN in Ife Central Local Government Council Area of Osun is a common good above parochial, narrow and selfish preferment. The cross-opinion of the guests including the royalties present is that mama is a model of saintliness, one whose actions are as good as her words, with every pore in her skin oozing clean, unimpeachable intentions. She is reportedly, a do-gooder who does everything she does for just one reason. Love. And really, showing love and doing good to those who are either starting life, or are cheated by the game of life and those being crushed by the difficulties of life and living is mama’s business.
And Princess Awofisayo, holder of several titles in Islam and Matron, FOMWAN could achieve all that feats while conveying the impression of ordinariness, showing that her personality captures an essential of the English national character: a tremendous ability to conceal ability. The trait underlies the elitist world view of her son, Prince Felix Awofisayo, a successful Pharmacist-son and Chairman, State Universal Basic Education Board (Osun SUBEB). The son, who hates feudal pretentions, detests privileges based on the circumstances of birth and position, and absolutely contemptuous of arrogance of office, spoke of his mother as someone who knows how to cultivate the right principles and stay by them. He added that, “ when I was very much young, my mother was very ersatile, prodigiously talented and workaholic but she never compromised her integrity and love for fellow human beings,” revealing Princess Awofisayo’s rich, exciting life.
It is wished that the nonagerian grandma lives longer in continued good health, while the Ile-Ife Mosque continues to serve Allah, The Hereafter, and mankind.