Thursday, May 28, 2020


By : Ismail Ayinla

There are Imams and there are Imams, but the Late Chief Imam, Muhammed Al-Hadi Orunsolu is an institution, an Enigma, a rear Gem and a revisionist for his generation and the generation next! The above literary phrase may be apt to describe the life and time of the late chief Imam. Having being thrust with leadership positions virtually in all hierarchy of Islamic affairs from his home town of Igbein (An extraction of Abeokuta) before fate finally crowned it with the highest position for the entire Ummah in Egbaland; and by extension, President General, League of Imams and Alfas, Ogun State.

Baba Imam was blessed with some virtues that customarily should be cleric’s characters but ironically these virtues are very rare among contemporary clerics! Baba was generous to a fault; He was too humble for the egotistical; Too humane for mean and callous; too accommodating and helpful for the bully! Too hilarious and jovial for the hysteric;  And most importantly always ready to agree to term with Islamic rulings even when it seems heretical to the old practice and even emanating from lower hierarchy!

Baba would be remembered in many ways and perspectives that he represented. For instance, it is on record that he diplomatically abolished the age long practice of ceremonial sitting of Alfas immediately after the interment of dead muslims. Baba achieved this unassuming feat of (Ounje Oku) without rancor, though not without ill feelings from the conventional clerics, the sect which Baba himself represented by virtue of his position as the Chief Imam; but the practice was abolished through his leadership style of all-inclusiveness. 

Referring to Baba as being too accommodating and helpful is an understatement considering his lifestyle and his disposition to his disciples, including those that are close to him. Without being a politician or a populist, Baba’s house at Isale Igbein is always a Mecca of sort every Friday, Saturday and Sunday! It was confirmed that all Egba Muslim Community Executive (Oloye olomo kewu) would all be treated with superlative feast every Friday at Baba’s house before proceeding for Jumat Service. The practice is unprecedented and has never ceased since he became Imam. It was Baba’s habit to give every cleric that come visit on these weekends a token based on their position in the Muslim community; even if there were no outing on those days; non-executive person that present would not be exempted from the cash gift too!   

Through his administrative sagacity, humility and bravery, Baba was able to restore peace to Egba Muslm Community by mending fences and cracks occasioned by the resolve of other Egba sections to pull out of hitherto united Egba Muslim community and form their respective sectional Muslim community. He would be remembered for his role in making the peace accord worked.

On the Ummah trust he swears to hold and the responsibility he agrees to carry out in the interest of Muslim Ummah, he was never found wanting as he always throw his weight in support of any Islamic struggle regardless of Government position on such issue. His stand and support for Hijab usage in public school would come to mind despite his unalloyed love for the then governor of the State; that didn’t stop him from taken his stand against Government policy vis-à-vis the Girl child dress code in public School.

Whoever has come close to the late Imam would testify to his sense of humour, humility and open-mindedness. An encounter with him would always remind you of the phrase "never a dull moment". You would also leave as an accomplished historian cum philosopher as you would be given more than a dosage of history/story and analogies related to the issue that might have arose in the course of your discussion with him, no matter how infinitesimal the time spent.

Imam Muhammed Al-Had, Ayinde Orunsolu was also the Chief Imam of Igbeinland, an encyclopedia of Igbein, Egba and Ogun State Muslim Community history, facts and files. I referred to him as revisionist because of the singular daring step he took against the conventional practice and innovation in our burial process. I referred to him as revisionist because he trivialized monetary inducement in clerical obligations; so much that ill feelings, suspicion and personal aggrandizement between and among Imams and Alfas were addressed and curtailed. I referred to him as revisionist because he bridged the imaginary line between the old and new order among Islamic practitioners. He was a father to MSSN and other emerging groups as well as all orthodox groups that seek his attention. 

I may not be right to say he was the best Imam ever in Egba Kingdom; but I would be right to say he was the best I ever known or heard about. He stands out as an Imam in whose regime Egba Muslim Community experienced and enjoyed the most tranquility and progress within and outside. One Mr. Adetunji Onabawo, a member of St. John Church. Igbein said in his comment over Babas death that " Such a great religious leader. He tolerated with great understanding, worshippers of my church would be inconveniencing him by blocking the entrance to his house with vehicles on Sundays and other days of crowd pulling services. I appreciate his ecumenical spirit!" That is the testimony of Baba’s humanity to all and sundry; regardless of religion, status and tribe. 

Igbeinland, Egbaland, Ogun State, Rabbita, MUSWEN and indeed Nigeria would miss him. Sun re o, Igbein, Omo Ojoru 

I pray Allah (swt) grant our father eternal rest in Janatul Firdaus and bless Egba Muslims with his kind as replacement.

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