Ali Ramadaan Naajeeli
This is a wonderful story which is worth reading, that of a fanatical Christian whom Allah guided to the path of truth, and he has become one of the most prominent Daa’iyahs in the African continent. When we spoke with him, he started at the beginning and did not wait for our questions. He told us the whole story, that he is the sultaan in one of the regions of Chad. His name is Ali Ramadaan Naajeeli, the Sultan of Qindi in Chad.
He was a fanatical Christian, as he tells us. He hated Muslims and wanted to burn them if he could. He says: I was lost and confused until I became Muslim in 1977 at the hands of a Nigerian shaykh who was working in da’wah. By his methods and the strength of his evidence he managed to convince the people in our region of Islam. I had seen many Sufi daa’iyahs in the past. They came to our area and made it a condition on anyone who wanted to enter Islam that he should give them gifts such as fruit, cattle and clothing. This put a lot of people off Islam, because they saw it as a religion which exploited people, which was the impression that these Sufis gave. But later on, this Salafi Nigerian shaykh came along and showed us true Islam. He proved to us that Islam was not like what those people had done. He told us how the Mushrikeen had offered power and wealth to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), but he had refused it for the sake of his da’wah. And he told us how he had striven against the Mushrikeen for many years and had put up with their insults and torment until his Da’wah succeeded and spread throughout the world. After everything that he had told us, and after months of Da’wah, he managed to convince us of Islam, and we entered this religion on the basis of conviction. We became Muslim willingly, embracing a religion in which we could worship Allah in all sincerity, worshipping Him alone, and not people or idols to bring us close to Allah and keep us away from magic and devils.
I became Muslim with the others who became Muslim, among whom was my father, the Sultan of the region of Maaheem Tooki Qindi in Nigeria. After my father became Muslim, he said to me, from this day on, you belong to Islam. You will stay with and serve the shaykh who taught us Islam. My father had said to him: I will give this boy to you for the sake of Allah, to serve Islam. I went with him and remained in his service for 6 years, then I graduated from his service as a Daa’iyah, after studying Islam during this period in Nigeria. At the end of these six years, he said to me: Work with me in Nigeria. I said to him: I read in the Qur’aan that Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): And warn your tribe of near kindred. [al-Shu’araa’ 26:214].
Question: How did you become the Sultaan of this region?
I became the Sultaan after my father passed away, after calling people in the region to Islam for two years. This led to 4722 people from the Saraqoolai tribe becoming Muslim, including 14 Christian priests. From this time the confrontation with the Christian missionaries in the south of Chad began. They tried to destroy the Islamic da’wah and make those who had become Muslim Christian, using various methods. They regarded the Islamic da’wah there as a rival which threatened to stem the Christian tide. They tried to tempt me with money and women, and by offering me a house and a farm so that I would become Christian. They wanted me to use the same methods for them as I had used when that great number of people became Muslim. This is what was annoying them, because they were using a lot of resources but they had not achieved the results that I had achieved in the south of Chad. This is what made the Chadian government appoint me as a member of the Higher Committee on Islamic Affairs in the Republic of Chad. But despite all these offers, I rejected what the Christian missionaries offered me. So, they started to provoke the animists against the Muslims in the south, but their efforts ended in failure.
Question: How did you come to visit Makkah?
The Islamic Daw’ah organization gave me a grant to perform the duty of Hajj. When I visited Makkah and saw the Muslims there, white and black, with no differences between them, all of them wearing the same clothes and equal in status, I could not stop myself from weeping. I had no one from my family with me, yet I felt that all the people around me were my family and my brothers. This increased my determination to strive more seriously in the field of da’wah, to guide other people to this great religion and not to keep this spiritual joy to myself, and to save the rest of my brothers from doom and from the Fire of Hell. I decided to start my da’wah in my own country, Chad.
Question: what is your relationship with the Islamic centres, and how did they develop?
After I came back from Hajj, I decided to start Islamic centres which would provide the Muslims with mosques and schools. Praise be to Allah, I was able to establish 12 mosques and to build a school for Muslim children. We have also dug 12 wells for the Muslims in the Qindi region. I also worked to establish a foundation for training converts in da’wah. From the beginning my aim was to spread the religion of Islam with its teachings, morals and manners, and to focus on teaching Arabic and Islam, and to establish study circles to teach Qur’aan and Sunnah and this has been achieved, praise be to Allah.
Question: you said that the Christians are the greatest obstacle you face. What other obstacles are there?
There are many obstacles facing the da’wah in the south of Chad. The main obstacles are material, for the people there are poor and do not have their daily food. Many of those who have become Muslim do not even have anything with which to cover their awrah when they pray. The region also suffers from a lack of roads and there are no means of transportation to go into the primitive animist areas in order to make da’wah in the villages where most of the people are Christian. We are also suffering from a lack of trained daa’iyahs. Many of the Muslims there know little more than the Shahaadatayn, which is most unfortunate. In contrast, the efforts of the Christian missionaries are supported with the essential material and human resources for success. The missionary efforts remain the greatest obstacle we face in this region. When the Pope from the Vatican visited the region of Qinda at the end of his African tour, he met with the missionaries there and made great plans to Christianize the region. Hence, they supplied many missionaries from a number of European countries, and they supplied the money they needed. They also announced that they would build a number of churches in the region. One of the Italian missionaries told me that this region would be Christian by the year 2002 CE. Each month they organize local festivals where they offer food, drink and assistance to the animists and invite them to become Christian. They also visit orphanages and refuges, which they support financially, in order to Christianize the children who stay there. They are very devious: they were working in the name of the Red Cross there when it was discovered that they have been sterilizing women by giving them medication with the result that they will never again conceive. This is one of their means of limiting the number of Muslims and putting an end to Islam in Chad.
Question: what have you found in Islam?
I have discovered the sweetness of Islam, and no one can doubt that it is the religion of equality and fairness. There is no distinction between one person and another, between rich and poor, except in terms of taqwaa. Everyone turns to Allah and everyone is a slave of Allah.
My advice to all Muslims, if they want to see Islam prevail, is that they should follow Islam in word and deed. This in itself will be a cause of Islam spreading, because the others do not possess the good characteristics and conduct which are the reason why others are attracted to it and embrace it. Islam prevails and is not be prevailed over, because it comprises a great treasure, lofty teachings and lessons for mankind which are still hidden and which have to be revealed to all of mankind. This can be achieved if we adhere to it, follow its teachings and manners as given in the Qur’aan and the sayings of the Noble Messenger and his Companions.