Bulala i.e Horse whip is an epithet of an eccentric man whose way of life is shrouded in mystery to many people. Shaykh Muhammad Jami’u Amao Bulala is being perceived as a mad man by some people while others especially the Sufiyyun hold him in awe, to an extent as referring to him as the leader of the gnostics. The question arose as to how come such man of oddity who was so blessed with efficacious prayers be renowned with anomalous character that will made his kinsmen branded him as a mad man? The reason is not far-fetched because he used to adorn his fingers with different sorts of rings, his head draped with different kinds of caps, he was peculiar with wearing of T-shirts and short knickers,carrying swords and horse whips, wherever he went. This among others attest to their view about him, but alas! This man was more than all these, he was a scholar, a gnostic, a father, a mentor,an icon and ambassador who was a spiritual leader plenipotentiary of his town. Thus, this series is an attempt to explore the personality of the gnostic under reference and justify his stance in line with Sufism.
Follow me as I will be taking you down memory lane on this adventure!
HIS BIRTH AND PARENTAGE
” And peace be on him the day he was born, and the day he dies, and the day he will be raised up to life again(Qur’an19:15)”
Often referred to as a home of sweet potatoes in one of her eulogies, the town which is located in the southern senatorial district of Kwara state. Offa is a town founded over 6 centuries ago, the town is remarkable as a home of intellectuals. The occupation of majority of its inhabitants are trading and farming. It is in this town that Shaykh Jami’u Bulala was born.
Shaykh’s date of birth was shrouded in obscurity. He himself claimed that Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse was Sixteen years older than him i.e 1916 but majority held that he was born in March,1919.
It was from his birth that certain mysteries started to occur. For instance he was reported to have laughed on his birthday contrary to what is obtainable with other babies. It was also gathered that he possessed two navels when he was born, but disappeared immediately to avoid public notice.
Though his place of birth is Offa, he hailed from Ogbomoso, Oyo State. His father Akanmu Iji(Shaykh renamed him AbdulHakim) belonged to the Baale Lagbedu’s compound in Ogbomoso. Baale(district head) suggest the affiliation of the family to monarchy and this explains why Akanmu was able to marry a princess. Shaykh’s mother Oyebimpe(Shaykh renamed her Fatimah) was the daughter of Oba Atoloyetele of Offa who reigned between 1888-1906. Both parties met when Akanmu was in Offa for his daily livelihood. He was a railway worker in the town then. Suffice it to say that both parents were pagans. His mother especially was an Osun worshipper. This is the reason why Shaykh was initially named Osundare.
Traditionally, before and after the birth of a child in Yorubaland in those days, it was the practice then to consult the Oracle to know what the future holds for the child. It was predicted to Shaykh’s parent that the pregnancy carried by the mother would be a male child who would acquire knowledge of the new religion(as Islam was being called then), also that the child in question will have the ability to know what he was not even taught and many people would be blessed through him.
It is noteworthy to admit that the pronouncement of Oracle is used here to bolster the supernatural credentials of Shaykh owing to his parents’ religious practice, nevertheless, the Qur’an is explicit in refraining its adherents from this act, verses like Q20:69, Q10:77, Q2:102 among others lend credence. More so, the holy Prophet Muhammad is reported to have frowned vehemently towards such act where he said “He who goes to one who claims to tell about matters of the unseen and asks him something, his prayers(salawat) will not be accepted for 40 days”(Sahih Muslim).
Conversely, Shaykh did not tread the path of his parents in their belief system. Shaykh in his own case was a staunch Muslim who led an ascetic life. One should not be surprise that a pagan might give birth to a saint, we have seen such example in the personality of Prophet Ibrahim. The Qur’an alludes to this: “And remember when Ibrahim said to his father Azar ‘Do you take idols as gods? Verily, I see you and your people in manifest error” (Q6:74)
Suffice it to say that Shaykh was born 10 years after his parents married. He was the first child of his parents, the eldest among his siblings. His father died while he was at a tender age.
So far we started our series on “Who is Shaykh Bulala” by elucidating on his biography. This series focus on his birth and parentage. Hope it meets readers quests. Questions, comments, recommendations are welcome please. Next in this series will be an exploration on his educational background. Watch out!!!