Thirty students of the Department of Religious Studies of the University of Lagos, last weekend, received diploma certificates in Mosque Leadership and Management with the vice chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, urging them to be good ambassadors of the institution and Islam.
Ogundipe, during the graduation ceremony, called on the graduands to positively change the society through their sermons and mosque leadership.
The vice chancellor, who was represented by the Dean, Faculty of Education, Professor Monday Ubangha, congratulated the new imams and implored them to impact positively on the larger society.
“I urge you to be good ambassadors of the University of Lagos and Islam. You are carrying the certificate of the school and you are enjoined to be good representatives of the school at all times,” he said.
The coordinator of the programme, the acting head of the Department of Religious Studies, Dr Ismail Musa said: “Today, 30 students have been successfully exposed to various learning experiences, including practical demonstrations in tafsir (exegesis of the Holy Qur’an) and khutbah (sermon) delivery.
The programme was conceived as a platform for the professional training of imams and different categories of serving or intending officials of mosques.
“The feedback we obtain from the beneficiaries in terms of significant changes in their orientation and understanding of their enormous responsibilities is both impressive and encouraging. Our colleagues in the academia have also been appraising the programme since its inception,” Dr Musa said.
The don, who is also the Chief Imam of the institution, said two universities had already indicated interest in adopting similar programmes based on the success story at the University of Lagos.
“We are prepared to offer mentoring services to whoever decides to build capacity of imams to be able to meet the needs of the 2lst century. We are keen on improving the quality of the programme through the identification of further needs of participants and responding to them adequately.
“One critical area of challenge is securing sponsorship for numerous qualified participants who are cannot afford the cost of the programme. I take this opportunity to call on stakeholders to recognise the need to support the programme by funding our scholarship schemes on a sustainable basis.
“Some of them have demonstrated brilliance in specific areas of their training. We have decided to recognise them today,” Dr Musa stated.
Imam Gbenle AbdulWasiy emerged as the best graduating student with a cumulative GPA of 4.64. He also clinched the best prize in Arabic Grammar and Khutbah presentation, best in Principle of Mosque Management and Best in Professional Research. He was closely followed by Imam Mojeed Yahya Kolawole with CGPA of 4.21.
Delivering a lecture at the event, Mudeer of Daru-Dawah Wal-Irshad Arabic and Islamic Centre, Isolo, Sheikh Ridwani Zuglool, urged the graduands to continue to seek knowledge and keep abreast of developments in the country so as to be able to treat issues of interest in their sermons.
The chairman on the occasion, Dr Fatai Lawal, described the programme as laudable and one way of promoting peace and unity in the country.
He congratulated the graduands and urged them to make the mosque a friendly environment where people will be encouraged to seek knowledge.
In the same vein, the chairman of the Human Resources Development Centre of UNILAG, Professor Wakeel Isola, stated that the success of the programme would provide a solution path to the plethora of socio-economic problems confronting the nation as the new religious leaders would positively impact on the society.
Also, Professor M. A. Bidmus urged the new imams to further their knowledge as, according to Prophet Muhammad, knowledge is to be sought from the cradle to the grave.
He added that the mosque was designed for sustainability and the institution had provided the expertise with which they could sustain mosques in their respective areas.
Other personalities who presented goodwill messages were the Baba Adinni of Lagos and chairman of the Lagos Central Mosque Council, Sheikh AbdulHafeez Abou and head of imams, Imam Tijani Gbajabiamila, who also represented the Grand Chief Imam of Lagos State at the occasion.