September 22, 2008

Muslims condemn cleric with 86 wives

by David Masters

Muslims in the city of Bidda, Nigeria, have condemned an Islamic cleric as ‘denigrating’ to their religion, because he has 86 wives.

Muhammadu Bello Masaba was arrested last week for unlawful marriage and contempt of Islamic law.

On Friday a group of young people in Bidda staged a non-violent protest against 84 year old Masaba, shouting ‘God is Great’ and calling for his death.

Meanwhile, the Association of Muslim Lawyers in Nigeria has disowned the cleric and has backed calls by the Niger State Shariah Commission to cut the cleric to size.

Two weeks ago, Masaba was told by the chief of Bidda that he must divorce 82 of his wives, keeping just four, the maximum allowed in Islamic law.

Masaba agreed, but then changed his mind, and was arrested.

Masaba’s wives are furious at the ruling and that their husband has been detained.

Storming the Niger state ministry of justice building yesterday, all 84 wives accompanied by 20 of their 170 children held a peaceful protest, calling for their husband to be released immediately.

They held placards saying “what Allah has joined together let no man put asunder” and “we are legally married to Masaba and we are not complaining.”

Authorities in Bidda have pledged that Masaba can never return to the city even if he complies to the chief’s original ruling.

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