Shitta-Bey mosque, a deserving national monument

Shitta-Bey mosque, Martins street, Lagos, is the oldest mosque on Broad Street, Lagos.

The 121 years old mosque has been named one of the nine national monuments in Lagos State it also stands in the rich history of Nigeria and Broad Street in particular.

Construction of the mosque started in 1892 and was completed and opened on July 4, 1894.

According to the Chief Imam of the mosque, Alhaji Habeebullah Tawfeeq Muazu, who assumed the duty of Chief Imam of Shitta-Bey mosque on May 3, 2012, the mosque was solely financed by Mohammed Shitta- Bey, the first Seriki Musulumi of Lagos, Nigeria, after whom it was named.

“I learnt that he built the mosque with (£ 5, 000).”

Being the first of its kind on Broad Street, Alhaji Muazu narrated with enthusiasm the opening of the mosque. Although he was not born then, but said he learnt from history how the whole thing went and had since allowed the image of the opening ceremony to remain in his mind till date.

He said, “I learnt it was a great day. The opening ceremony was an important social and religious event in Lagos. It was witnessed by sheiks, kings, chiefs and Imams from all the Muslim communities in the west coast, some parts of Western Sudan as well as Muslims, Christians and other well-wishers within and outside Yoruba land.”

He continued; “Thousands of Muslims on horsebacks, in carriages and on foot lined the Marina Front from one end to the other. The torrential rain which greeted the day was not a hindrance, as many jubilant men, women and children were parading the streets singing various songs.”

On whether there was any account of foreigners who witnessed the opening ceremony of the mosque, Muazu said representative of Abdul Hamid, the Sultan of Turkey (Mr Quilliam) was to arrive for the opening ceremony, but he was unable to make it and his failure to arrive that day kept the crowd waiting till the next day

. He added that since then, Imams of Shitta-Bey mosque have since been chosen from his lineage. “Long before my turn was my father, who reigned as imam for twenty years. After his demise was my uncle’s turn who also reigned for eighteen years, then my turn to reign. ‘’Like I said, it is close to three years now that i became the imam of this mosque.

A foreigner cannot be made imam. It is also the tradition that a new imam can only be chosen after the demise of a reigning imam,” he said.

Shedding more light on why the Friday Prayer is not said in Shitta-Bey mosque, Muazu said: “Shitta-Bey mosque being the oldest mosque here used to conduct the Friday congregational prayer long before the new Central Mosque was built. But since the new Central Mosque was built, we have moved there for the Friday prayers. It is bigger and can accommodate more people. The normal daily Salat still hold here, we only go to LCM for Jumu’ah prayers.

Also, Muazu revealed that Shitta-Bey had been named a National Museum. “On December 10th, 2013, the Director General of the National Commission for Museums and monuments notified the…

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