Mr Habeebullah says he never knew what stress felt like until the event of February, and that it taught him to further know the greatness of God and the privilege of being alive and healthy.
For the first time since he was reported to have collapsed and rushed to hospital, the Mudir (spiritual and administrative leader and rector) of the popular Markaz Arabic and Islamic Training Centre, Agege, Lagos, Habeebullah Adam Al-Ilory, has narrated his experience, even as he thanked God for his recovery.
The Islamic scholar, who spoke to a large audience in Lagos, on the first day of the ongoing 2022 Ramadan, also debunked speculations that he was flown abroad after he fell ill.
He, however, announced his withdrawal from the daily tafsir (lecture) of his mosque throughout the ongoing fasting period, saying he would need to recover fully.
The news of Mr Habeebullah’s sudden collapse had circulated in early February without verifiable details.
But while giving his own account on Sunday, April 3, the scholar confirmed that the incident happened in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, during a wedding ceremony of one of the children of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Salhiu Belgore.
The event reportedly held on Thursday, February 3, 2022.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the scholar, who arrived at the venue and exchanged pleasantries with other guests and fellow Islamic scholars, religious and political leaders, suddenly collapsed as soon as he began to deliver his sermon.
Narrating the experience in Yoruba language, Mr Habeebullah said the near-death experience was harrowing and that he could have been dead but for the mercy of Allah and the help of some individuals who rallied round him.
He said when the incident occurred, the only thing he could remember was that he was in Ilorin and at the venue of the wedding event.
“I had planned to attend the event and to move from there to another programme,” he said. “But the last thing I could remember was that I arrived at the event, and every other thing that followed could only be confirmed by witnesses.”
The preacher, who said he never knew what being stressed felt like until the event of February, noted that his sudden illness was a big lesson for him to further appreciate the greatness of God and the privilege of being alive and healthy.
He said; “I never knew stress. I had always believed that one only needed to work as long as there was energy. But those who understand what stress is and how to manage it, have been lucky to know when to relax and when to continue.
“But this is the reason we should always be grateful to God almighty for granting us His mercy. The experience was tough but God also pushed many people my way to support and nurture me to recovery.”
He said he was moved from the hospital where he was managed in Ilorin to Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital, and that he remained in the city until he substantially recovered and was discharged.
He, however, did not disclose the hospitals where he was managed in Ilorin and Abuja, but unconfirmed reports had suggested that the scholar was initially rushed to the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH).
“And to those saying I went to India or China for treatment, I was not flown abroad. I was only transferred from Ilorin to Abuja. And here I am today to give glory to God almighty and appreciate you all for your support and prayers,” he added.
While underlining his inability to mention everyone who stood by him during his ordeal by name, the renowned scholar, however, listed some individuals and groups, who he thanked profusely for showing him love, care and support.
He thanked the Belgore’s family and listed Messrs Alfa, Ahmad and Saad, while also commending the Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazak. He also thanked two senators, Ibrahim Oloriegbe and Abdulfatai Buhari, who currently represent Kwara Central and Oyo North senatorial districts.
He further said; “We cannot also forget the registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Is-haq Oloyede. He is our alumnus (Markaz Agege) here and he has never left us. He tried very well too.
“We must acknowledge the Niqabbat- Dr Yusuff Jumai, Professors Yisa Alabi, Lanre Bidmus and Bidmus Murtadoh; Abdullateef Ajeigbe, Alhaji Ebiti and Architect Nurudeen, among others.”
“I didn’t see Tinubu but…”
Mr Habeebullah said although the former governor of Lagos State and presidential aspirant under the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, did not physically visit him in hospital, he (Habeebullah) received significant message from him.
“I thank former governor Bola Ahmad Tinubu,” the scholar said. “Though I did not see him, his ‘breeze’ hit me. Yes, it touched me.”
He also thanked the former Lagos State deputy governor and now senior special assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, among others.
He thanked the teachers and students of Markaz for what he described as their staunch support, and for sustaining the centre even in his absence.
Response to ‘naysayers’
Meanwhile, Mr Habeebulah disagreed with his aides when they said he appreciated everybody. He responded by saying not everybody deserved his appreciation, and particularly those he described as naysayers, critics and those who he said wished him evil.
“It is not everybody that we would appreciate. Yes! There are people that we saw and there are those who wished themselves bad things,” he said.
He said whatever evil they wished him should also go to them.
He also taunted his critics saying they should be sure that he was the one addressing the gathering and that God had restored his health “against their wish.”
“See me now before you come out tomorrow that it was only my car that you saw and that I was being kept somewhere. I am here today and I thank God for the protection,” he added.
Advice against visits
The scholar pleaded with his admirers and followers to understand his current situation and stop visiting him so he could recover fully, and very soon too.
He also urged Muslims to attend the daily lecture that will be anchored by those he said would be selected by him.
“Sometimes, I will be here in the office but may not attend the tafsir. Just listen to the lecture and go home. Sometimes I may be home and not come at all. I want to relax this year and I need your understanding and cooperation,” Mr Habeebullah said.
Popularly known as Mudir, otherwise known as rector or leader of the Markaz Arabic and Islamic Training Centre, Agege, Lagos, Habeebullah Adam Al-Ilory, is one of the sons of the late founder of the centre and widely respected scholarly preacher, Sheikh Adam Abdullah Al-ilory.
Mr Habeebulllah, who was born in 1958, took over the running of the centre after the death of his father.
Like his father, Mr Habeebullah has authored many books and is especially popular for his lecture titled; “Science in the Holy Qur’an.”
He is said to belong to many local and international organisations including the National Moonsighting Committee and the Islamic Crescents’ Observation Project (ICOP).
Mr Habeebullah is, however, seen as a controversial scholar, as his preachings are sometimes found politically or historically offensive by other Islamic scholars.
Islamic scholars under various umbrellas, including The Muslim Congress, had in the past addressed the press to publicly condemn certain comments credited to Mr Habeebullah, especially over the sayings and teachings of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).