The Incredible Story of SHEIKH MUHAMMED JAMIU BULALA, The Nigerian Islamic Cleric Known For Beating Women With Horsewhips On The Streets
To thousands of his followers, the late Sheikh Muhammed Jamiu Bulala is the very shadow of God on earth. To them, he is the greatest saint, the towering saints above all other saints, the holy one who can resurrect the dead, travel to Saudi Arabia in an instant without using any aircraft, cross oceans in the blink of an eye without any form of visible technology.
To his followers and ardent faithfuls, Sheikh Jamiu Bulala was so powerful that he singlehandedly stopped a container ship from sinking. To them, he is the saint who lives forever. This is just a little on the beliefs that surround the incredible life of the Nigerian Islamic scholar known for flogging women with horsewhips on the streets. In this piece, I bring to you his life, his exploits, his death and practically everything about him.
HIS FULL TITLE
Many of the most prominent clerics in Nigeria have long titles and appellations and Bulala is not an exception. This is his full title: Sheikh Muhammed Jamiu Bulala Amir-L-Aowliyah (Leader of the Saints), Ghaouth (Gaozu) means Succour) Nigeria. He declared himself Gaozul-Nigeria meaning the Succour of Nigeria. In one of his speeches, he said of himself:
Sheikh Jamiu is a unique person,
The Chief Succour pleading with the exalted Lord
I am Abdul al-Jami, a gnostic
I saw the apostle of Allah (Muhammad) without any doubt
I am the (spiritual) sun of Nigeria, others are mere stars
Whenever the sun surfaces, the stars disappears.
BIRTH AND BACKGROUND
The exact date of birth of this mysterious Nigerian scholar is shrouded in obscurity. It is clear that he was born in Offa, a town in Kwara State but the exact date remains a subject of debate and controversy. Some records indicate he was born in March 1919 while some others say the late cleric himself stated 1916 as his year of birth. From what I researched, it appears most historians agree he was born in 1919.
Bulala was born in Offa but his roots are in Ogbomosho, Oyo State in southwestern Nigeria. His father, a man named Akanmu Iji, reportedly hailed from the prestigious Baale Lagbedu’s Compound in Ogbomosho and this allowed him to get married to a princess, who eventually gave birth to Shaykh Bulala. His mother was Princess Humuani Oyebimpe Abebi of the Anilelerin Ruling House in Offa, she was the daughter of the Offa king Olofa (Oba) Atoloyetele of Offa (1888-1906).
The duo reportedly met at a party in Offa where Akanmu had gone to work and fell in love. Akanmu was working as a railway worker with the Nigerian Railways Corporation in Ibadan before he was transferred to Offa and it is quite important to point out that Akanmu and Oyebimpe were not Muslims but pagans, Bulala’s mother was a devout worshipper of Osun, the Yoruba water goddess, and this explains why he was named Osundare.
As it was the practice then and today in many parts of Yorubaland, the oracle was consulted concerning the future of the child and it was reported that Ifa oracle told them the pregnancy carried by Oyebimpe was going to produce a male child who would be engrossed with the new foreign religion (as Islam was called them). They stated that Ifa oracle also clarified that the child in question was going to know a lot even without anyone teaching him and that many people were going to be blessed via his immense spiritual powers.
After his birth and as he grew up, Bulala refused to follow the path of his parents as far as traditional worship was concerned. This case is parallel to that of Ibrahim (Prophet Abraham) in the Quran who refused to follow the religion of his parents, Ibrahim was vehemently against the idol worship of his parents that he told them as reported in Quran 6:74:
‘And (remember) when Ibrahim said to his father Azar: Do you take idols as alihah (gods)? Verily, I see you and your people in manifest error.’
Bulala insisted he was a Muslim whose life was going to be guided by the dictates of the Quran and Allah. He could have been inspired by the story of Ibrahim in the Quran to also ditch the ways of his ancestors and decamp to the new religion. Sheikh Bulala was born ten years after the marriage of his parents, he was the first and eldest of all his siblings. Sadly, he lost his father when he was still a little boy.
While growing up after the death of his father, Bulala was known to be hardworking and ambitious and steadily became more involved in Islamic acts of piety like fasting for days and going into seclusion for spiritual journeys (called khalwah) even as a child.
Recollect that Bulala’s parents were pagans and they were not interested in his acquiring Western education, they simply wanted him to follow them to the farm. But when his father died all of a sudden when he was still a kid, he was taken to his maternal uncle named Mallam Lawal Adedeji Adegoke at Ojude Compound in Offa for upbringing. It was here that he was exposed to the teachings of Islam and eventually became converted to Islam.
He commenced his Quranic education here from an Islamic scholar named Alfa Jeje from Ilorin who had settled at the Arogun Compound in Offa. It was from Alfa Jeje that he learnt how to recite the Quran by constant oral chanting and memorization of unvocalized verses of the same book. He studied only half of the Quran (30 ahzabs) before he left him. It is claimed that while learning under Alfa Jeje, Bulala was so intelligent that he was never taught anything twice as his brain mopped up everything like a sponge. He was said to have an eidetic (photographic) brain and while asleep he would read out loudly the Quran and that whenever he was woken up by anybody, the first words he would mutter were the very verses he had learnt the previous day.
Bulala was so serious with his Islamic education that he decided to leave Offa after he finished learning the Quran for the headquarters of Islamic education in Kwara State, the capital city of Ilorin. It was in Ilorin, a city teeming with numerous Islamic clerics (alfas) that Bulala came under the influence of alfas, the most prominent of whom was Sheikh Bashar Adangba and it was from him he acquired his ‘ilmi’. He lived with Adangba and from there he would also go to other alfas to learn. He was at the place of Alfa Baba at Agbalayiya Compound, Oke Leru, Ilorin to learn tafsirul Quran (exegesis of the Quran) and hisab (basic calculations/arithmetics) all within just one year.
Bulala also learnt how to write in Arabic (khatt, Arabic calligraphy) in just six days from Alfa Abdulkarim Mosalasi Gogoro in the same Ilorin, this was going to be a major means of sustenance for Bulala with time. It is also on record that Bulala learnt from Alfa Ade Agbede and Alfa Musa Atere but he did not reveal the specific area of knowledge he got from them.
As with other Sufi mystics, the late Jamiu Bulala also learnt from a number of other scholars. One of these was Shaykh Umar ibn Abu Bakr Falke who was nicknamed Falke meaning ‘the trader’ in Hausa. Falke was an itinerant trader who combined his trade with Islamic missionary activities and initiate more people into the Tijjaniyyah sect. He would visit cities like Ilorin, Abeokuta and Lagos where he had massive followership.
It is said that Falke was the first person to introduce the Fayda Tijaniyyah sect to Ilorin and its environs around 1949. It is also on record that on the 12th of November, 1962, the greatest Sufi mystic in West Africa, Sheikh Ibrahim Niass (Niyass, Nyass) visited the Fayda in Ilorin so as to imbue it with more spiritual powers and confer on it the recognition it needs. The visit was like the general overseer of any religious organization visiting one of his branches. While Sheikh Falke was in Ilorin, he taught people like Sheikh Bala of Oja Gboro and Sheikh Jamiu Bulala.
He spent about fourteen years learning about Islam and the Quran in Ilorin and by 1945, his mother felt he had enough in Ilorin and she pleaded with him to return to Offa. He did return to Offa and it was in Offa that he got his massive fame, formed his movement and stayed there until he died.
BECOMING AN ISLAMIC SAINT OF THE TIJANNIYYAH BROTHERHOOD
The Tijanniyyah Brotherhood (or Sect, Tariqatul-Tijanniyyah) is a subset (there are so many of them and are usually centred around a particular saint like the Jaafariyat or the Bulalaliyah of Jamiu Bulala himself) of the Sufi Muslim sect and it is overwhelmingly popular all over West Africa with millions of adherents in Nigeria alone.
They are generally seen as ‘liberal’ Muslims and some other Sunni Muslims (Sufi Muslims fall under the broad Sunni Muslim umbrella unlike the Shia Muslims who are in another camp of their own) do not view them with ‘kind’ eyes because of some of their practices which are considered to be extremely sinful or controversial (like worshipping of saints and their graves) but that in anyway does not diminish the influence of the Tijanniyyah sect in the world’s most populous black nation.
Many prominent Nigerians like former military heads of state Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Abubakar Abdulsalami subscribe to this sect of Islam so they automatically have millions of supporters in northern Nigeria. The photo below shows these two leaders with one of the most prominent Sufi scholars in Africa:
The Tijanniyya order was established by Sheikh Ahmad Tijani (d. 1815 CE) at Abu Samghun in North Africa in 1781 CE. This was after he had joined the other sects such as the Nasiraniyyah, Qadiriyyah, Khalwatiyyah and the Fazuliyyah but he was not satisfied with these sects and decided to set up his own and till today, it is called the Tijanniyyah, named after him. He said he decided to set up his own sect after Prophet Muhammad of Saudi Arabia and the founder of Islam appeared to him in a vision in broad daylight while he was fully conscious. He said the Prophet Muhammad then gave him a new set of wird (special forms of prayer recitations) to replace the old ones.
This new set of wird that Sheikh Tijani reportedly got from Prophet Muhammad included istighfar (prayers for asking for Allah’s forgiveness), alsalatálanabeey (prayers for seeking blessings for Prophet Muhammad) and the tahlil (chants of there is no god but Allah).
This new set of prayers is collectively called award and it is a must for all members of the Tijanniyyah order. The interested ones who are initiated into this order are called the murid (meaning he who has made up his mind, also loosely called student) and those who initiate them into the sect are known as the muqaddams (meaning teacher or one who guides others).
For the Tijanniyyahs, divine visions, music, dances, apparitions, grave worship (with focus on tombs of the dead saints which makes it somewhat similar to the Catholic faith) and other phenomena are absolutely important and you will see later on how this played out in the story of Sheikh Jamiu Bulala even though as I have said, other Muslims outside the sect considered all these practices to be shirk (associating partners with Allah, a sin that is considered so grievous that it is unforgivable by Allah in Islam, the same way blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is considered unforgivable in Christianity. Interesting how God is said to be merciful with endless love will also remain unforgiving, sounds like conditional love, isn’t it?).
The journey of Bulala from a lad into a Sufi saint is an interesting one. Remember he started early and some sources claim by the age of 15 he was already complete spiritually and he would engage in chanting dhikr (remembrance of Allah), fasting and seclusion (khalwah) for days. He is believed to have done his first khalwah when he was 15 and he was secluded for about one year. This is a very common practice and in a place like Ilorin, some saints are said to have gone into utter seclusion without seeing the Sun for 30 years straight. I don’t think that is too good for vitamin D production in the skin though but whatever the case, these saints who go into seclusion for years are highly venerated and the practice is still on. We can compare it with Buddhist monks and Orthodox nuns who enter the wilderness or live in mountains in seclusion for years. Among the Tijanniyyah members, this is a very compulsory act for saints. Bulala was initiated into the Tijanniyyah order in Ilorin by Adangba so he was his muqaddam.
In Ilorin (where Sheikh Bashar Adangba remains very popular), Adangba was one of the very first Tijanniyyah muqaddams in the town and he was respected and known for his spiritual powers and mastery of the tasawwuf. Adangba reportedly noted quickly that Bulala was not only intelligent but was a loaded pack of spiritual bullets and he was speedily granted freedom. Bashar Adangba said of Bulala:
‘Alfa Offa (the cleric from Offa), you have learnt enough and what we did not even teach you, I know you have instinctively known them. I bless you and nobody shall be your teacher again from today. But never you forget your wirid in the way of Tariqat Tijanniyyah.’
However, for reasons best known to him, Bulala went for the renewal of his initiation (tajdid) from another scholar named Sheikh Abdulrahman Alabidun, who was also one of the most prominent Tijanniyyah scholars (muqaddams) in Ilorin, his contemporaries being Alfa Abdulqadir Ayunre and Alfa Sulyman Alabi. These are the parts we know.
When it comes to the spiritual training (tarbiyah) of Sheikh Jamiu Bulala, there is a lot of controversy on that. Some indicated that he did not have any spiritual training from anyone while some others say he did but cannot pinpoint who gave him such tutelage. Sufis hold the belief that the senses of a human being are limited and cannot perceive God who dwells in grandiose immateriality. So they believe that it is only through divine inspiration, illumination and revelation that one can know God.
But before a murid (student) can become a gnostic and know God and experience the supernatural, he has to go through the spiritual training known as tarbiyah. Almost all the sources claim that Bulala’s case remains an oddity as he never received such tarbiyah from anyone and he had to go on the path alone so much so that he was regarded as a mad man after he landed at the ‘other’ realm of extradimensional reality.
HIS RETURN TO OFFA
After getting enough training in Ilorin, Bulala returned to Offa in 1945 under the influence of his mother. When he got to Offa, his ways became more intense as he stayed indoors and would stay indoor (for periods of seclusion, khalwah) for eight years, five years and eight years respectively.
In no time, his fame spread like wildfire although some skeptics doubt the periods of his seclusion as he was still a bachelor. However, one of his followers and adherents, the late Alhaji Muhammad Lawal Adeoye Oloruko of the Arole Compound verified the claim and said he was responsible for taking care of Bulala during those periods of his spiritual journeys.
Bulala returned to Offa like a storm and shook the entire Islamic community there to its very foundations. Before his arrival, there was a dying Tijanniyyah brotherhood in Offa set up by another cleric named Alhaji Popo around 1926. Bulala added fire to the sect but he sent his students to his Ilorin sheikhs for residence and turned his residence into zawiyah (a religious centre). Bulala’s influence grew and these are some of his most prominent loyalists who went on to become muqaddamun (learned clerics) and continued the proselytization of the Tijanniyyah teachings in their own right:
- Late Alhaji Muhammad Awwal IbukunOlorun (died in 2008)
- Late Alhaji Raji Opeloyeru (died in 2012)
- Late Alhaji AbdulGaneey Azarailu (died in 2010)
- Alhaji Mustapha Jeje Arogun
- Alhaji Abdulrasheed Nkrumah
Now is the time to talk about the family of this remarkable man. Although some Sufi clerics take their own worship of Allah to another level of asceticism by refusing to have wives or children, Bulala did not tow this path. For those clerics like those of the Turkey-based Nursiyyah sect or many Sufi Muslim clerics who believe in living a life of celibacy, they do so by saying they adhere to one of the rulings of Allah in which a warning was stated the material possessions and children are nothing but a trial and that those who stick to Allah till the very end are the ones who will have the greatest reward. The verses are as follows in Quran 64:15:
‘Your wealth and your children are only a trial, whereas Allah! With Him is a great reward (paradise).’
Sufi scholars like Rabiat Al Adawiyyah stuck to this verse and remained a celibate monk all the years of his life while Shaykh AbdulQadir Jilani, another venerated Sufi saint, remained celibate until he turned fifty years of age.
Interestingly, Bulala also remained unmarried until he turned 50 years old and it was in 1968 that he got married to his first wife Alhaja Sayiddat Mu’minat, a native of Offa at the Keke Compound. Three years later in 1971, he decided to expand his home by taking a second wife named Alhaja Sayiddat Khadijat.
In 1979, he decided to advance his matrimonial degree when he married his third wife, Alhaja Sayiddat Radiyat. In Islam, a man is allowed to marry up to four wives but not the other way round.
Bulala’s marriage to these three women produced nine children and they are listed below in the order of seniority:
- Sayiddat Alhaja Aishat Gharayi Muhammad Jamiu Bulala (she died in 2010).
- Sheikh Khalifah (Successor) Luqman-ul-Hakeem Muhammad Jamiu Bulala: He attended the Sheikh Abul Fatih Arabic School in Maiduguri, Borno State and is the founder of the Sheikh Muhammad Jamiu Bulala Islamic Foundation Worldwide.
- Sayiddat Alhaja Hawawu (Awa’u) Kulu Manjid Muhammad Jamiu Bulala: A trader and businesswoman.
- Sayiddat Alhaja Halimat Muhammad Jamiu Bulala: A trader and business woman.
- Sayiddat Alhaja Ganiyat Shakirah Muhammad Jamiu Bulala: A trader and businesswoman.
- Sayiddat Alhaja Fatimat Zahrau Muhammad Jamiu Bulala: A trader and businesswoman.
- Sheikh Alhaji Zakariyau Muhammad Jamiu Bulala Al-Ansory (Naibul-Khalifat): A graduate of Thanaweey He is also the deputy Khalifat and deputizes in the absence of his elder brother, Khalifat Sheikh Lukman.
- Sheikh Alhaji AbdulLateef Shammy Muhammad Jamiu Bulala: A graduate of Thanaweey He is the founder of the Al-Jamiu Centre for Arabic and Islamic Studies located in Offa, Nigeria.
- Sheikh Alhaji Khidr Haqiqi Muhammad Jamiu Bulala: A graduate of Thanaweey school, he is also a graduate of comparative religion from the University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria.
THE STRANGEST THINGS ABOUT SHEIKH JAMIU BULALA
Well, believe it or not, these are some of the strangest things about Sheikh Jamiu Bulala and they are all solidly believed by his followers across the globe even without any shred of proof or evidence, here we go:
- LAUGHING AT BIRTH: It is claimed that Bulala laughed like an adult the same day he was born. I wonder what type of vocalization that is but please note that in Islamic beliefs, unusual happenings with babies can be termed miracles just like some Nigerian Muslims declared that Allah’s name appeared on boiled meat (see HERE). Also, for example, Jesus Christ (who is considered a prophet in Islam) is believed to have miraculously spoken fluently (they did not say the language) the same day he was born in order to defend his mother, Mary. Medically it is impossible for a child to speak the same day he is born because it is simply impossible as it takes years for the language and speech areas of the brain to fully develop. But the followers of Bulala believe Allah set him apart from other mere mortals by giving him the ability to laugh like an adult the very day he was born.
Watch Bulala speaking below:
- THE TWO NAVELS: It is also claimed that when Bulala was born, he was born with two navels. It did not stop there, they say the extra navel disappeared immediately so as to avoid public notice.
- LIFESTYLE AND NEGLECT OF THE FIVE DAILY PRAYERS: As expected of a Sufi mystic, Sheikh Jamiu Bulala lived an ascetic life and shunned much of the materialism around and focused on the remembrance of Allah (dhikr). But there were some other aspects of his lifestyle that got others questioning his sanity and mental integrity. For one, he did not pray five times in a day as expected of a Muslim, whenever he was asked why he neglected this major pillar of Islam (Islam rests on five pillars and As-Salat (the five daily prayers) form one of them), he would respond that he already observed his prayers during his period of spiritual seclusion (khalwah) and that he offered his own prayers in Kaaba, Saudi Arabia, the holiest site in Islam. He would also claim that he did not just only offer the prayers in the spiritual realm. This is what Bulala said concerning the matter:
‘They say: Oh you, you have abandoned your ritual prayers, not knowing that I observe mine in Makkah.’
Although this claim may seem bizarre to Muslims and non-Muslims alike as Nigeria and Saudi Arabia are separated by thousands of kilometres of deserts and oceans in two vastly different time zones, it is to be noted that it was not only Bulala who came up with this incredible statement. Sheikh Abdulqadir Jilani also claimed he observed his prayers at Makkah while physically present elsewhere. Followers of Bulala have no atom of doubt as far as believing this claim is concerned.
- WEEKLY ASTRAL TRAVEL TO MECCA, SAUDI ARABIA: Remember Bulala refused to say his five daily prayers and he would claim he already did his own in the spiritual world. He did not stop there, he would claim that he travelled to Mecca at the speed of light without any aircraft to offer his own daily prayers (or the weekly Friday jumuah (congregational) prayers). Till today, his followers believe this claim and consider it a miracle while his detractors insist he was a lunatic destined for Hell Fire (Jahannam) for neglecting his daily prayers but his followers believe their late sheikh is right inside Paradise (Al Jannah) chilling on the right side of Allah interceding on their behalf and helping them in their daily hustle right here on earth.
- ECSTATIC SHOUTS: Bulala was also known for bursting into sudden and sometimes incoherent and blasphemous statements collectively known as the These statements were considered so alarming that some considered Bulala to be an infidel for simply uttering these statements in which he claimed to possess powers far greater than that of Allah. For instance, in one instance, Bulala said:
‘Had it been that it rained, I would have revealed the secret of Allah.’
That was not the strangest of his outbursts. At another event, Bulala ordered his loyalists not to pray for him because he already had the powers of the unseen and knew the exact time he was going to die. At another time, Bulala would scream he was Uthman Dan Fodio and at another time he will say he was Tajul Adab or any other prominent personality that caught his fancy.
- MODE OF DRESSING AND PUBLIC APPEARANCE: Bulala was known for having some of the most bizarre forms of dressing of anyone in Nigeria. He was known for wearing a T-shirt and a pair of shorts with dozens of rosaries dangling on his neck then walking about without shoes carrying swords and horsewhips. In addition to this outlandish attire, Bulala would top it up by wearing five different wristwatches and ten different rings in a single hand and top it with drums. As a result of this extraterrestrial nature of his outfit, many people who did not know him simply took to their heels whenever they saw him. His strange ways did not end there; he would encounter someone he knew very well then totally behave as if he was relating to a stranger. There are some occasions that he would disgrace such people in public by screaming Thief! Thief! Thief! leaving his acquaintance both bewildered and humiliated. Below are the bizarre dressings of Sheikh Jamiu Bulala:
- CHILDISH MANNERS: It was also reported that Sheikh Jamiu Bulala behaved like a kid on some occasions. He would go on his knees and start playing with soil just as a toddler would. This picture below of a younger Bulala seems to support such claims:
- BEATING WOMEN: This remains probably the most controversial thing Bulala did while he was alive. He always moved with horsewhips (called bulala in Yoruba and that was where he got his name from) and would flog ladies on the streets. He would accuse the ladies of wearing unIslamic dresses or for exposing their bodies. Not all the ladies found it funny though and ridiculed him in public before his students but I cannot just stop imagining what will happen if Bulala did the same on the streets of Berlin in Germany or Paris in France.
I mean, just walk up to a group of ladies and start flogging them. Well, in Offa, Ilorin and other parts of Kwara State and in some northern states, this bizarre act of being a moral police (like the religious police in Saudi Arabia and Iran) was justified by some as they also accused the ladies for bringing evil into the society with their ‘indecent’ forms of dressing. It is not uncommon to see a lady mobbed and beaten even today after Friday jumuah prayers for ‘dressing indecently’. Of course, the beating is always done by the men. His harassment of women did also not stop with the beating, there are some occasions he rushed towards and grabbed women for no apparent reason leaving the women startled. When queried as to why he was grabbing the sensitive parts of women, some of whom were married, Bulala would say he was protecting them from unseen spirits (jinns) who wanted to kill the women.
- MIRACLES, DIVINE SIGNS AND WONDERS: A number of miracles have been ascribed to the late Bulala. A miracle that is performed by a saint like Bulala is called karamah meaning ‘favour that Allah bestows’ and the highest of the miracles are the ones performed by the prophets and these are called the mu’jizaat, like the splitting of the Moon by Prophet Muhammed. Mu’jizaat cannot be replicated by anyone else and are said to be the distinguishing features God give so the people can identify a true prophet. Bulala is said to have resurrected people from the dead.
It was also claimed that while Bulala was in Ilorin, he would work on a farm at Oloje with his mates but upon getting to the farm, Bulala would tell them to leave their hoes in the farm and he would then read certain verses and he alone would proceed to do all the farm work that 10 people had to for hours took Bulala just a few minutes.
In another instance, Bulala was reportedly among his followers when all of a sudden he collapsed and went into a coma-like state. He was in this state when some of his followers started panicking thinking he was dead. They said by the time Bulala opened his eyes after a period of being in that ‘çomatose’ state in the middle of his congregation, he was entirely covered with water, seaweed and several tiny fish. He then told his flabbergasted that he was coming from the middle of the ocean where he had gone to save a massive ship that was about to capsize in the waters.
Bulala claimed that he spiritually got the message that the ship was about to capsize and that the ship was heading towards Nigeria with a huge consignment that would be of benefit to the country. Bulala said if he had not gone in the spirit to rescue the ship from capsizing that it would have taken another 100 years before Nigeria was going to get such a benefit so he had to act fast and that explained why he went unconscious all of a sudden. Nigerian Muslim singer and one of the followers of Bulala Adhakirat Azeezat Lawal (aka Ootibiya aka Imole Adinni I)sang of this particular miracle and other wonders of Bulala in her song, Yah Baba, listen below from 19:50:
- HEALING PEOPLE VIA DREAMS: In another narration, a man said was battling with a psychological disorder and was looking a cure from one hospital to the other, he finally visited the General Hospital in Offa and it was there he was given some new medication. While the man was in Offa, he had a dream in which he saw Sheikh Jamiu Bulala offering prayers for his recovery and in that prayer, Bulala instructed him to return to the same hospital that he was going to meet a particular nurse who would give him a specific medicine and that he should make sure he sticks to that prescription. To the man’s greatest surprise, when he returned to the hospital, he met another nurse who gave him a different prescription just as Bulala had told him in his dream. The man regained his lost memory and visited Bulala to thank him but to his surprise again, Bulala told him he already knew everything about it. Many other followers of Bulala claim the saint appeared to them in their dreams and rendered all forms of assistance to solve their life problems and that has not changed till this very moment. Dreams form a central component and is seen a principal medium of revelation among not just Sufi Muslims like the followers of Bulala but among followers of other faiths as well. The interesting thing is that in the realm of science, dreams are seen as nothing but a drama orchestrated by our brain cells arranging and rearranging memories from pre-existing memories, just like a computer sorting its files.
- (ASTRAL) TRAVEL AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT: Bulala claimed to have powers to traverse vast distances with the speed of light. Thus, he made claims that he travelled to various countries of the world right from inside his room.
- THE KETTLE THAT IS NEVER EMPTY: It is claimed that Bulala had a kettle that he carried and that even when 100 people drank from the kettle, it never got empty.
- THE PRAYER THAT STOPPED A TRAIN: Some of those who followed Bulala did so because they believe he had the powers of very effective prayers known as These people believe that this was one of the special gifts that Allah blessed Bulala with and that anytime he prays for anyone seeking one help or the other that the prayer was answered with no delay by Allah. There is an event of how Bulala reportedly used his immense powers of spirituality to stop a train and is cited as one of the miracles of Bulala by his followers. A follower of Bulala was travelling from Ibadan to Kano by train.
Along the way, he got to Offa and he decided to pay his highly-revered Sheikh a short visit. This man took a taxi to take him to Bulala’s residence since the train was going to stop for 15 minutes. Upon getting to his house, the Sheikh thanked him for his gesture and started chatting the man up. But the man soon became impatient because he knew his train was going to leave soon. Bulala sensed this tension in the man and told him that the train was not going to move except by the permission of Allah which he (Bulala) had with him. The man was eventually delayed for about four and half hours. By the time the man got to the station, he was shocked to find the train being worked on by rail engineers and he said immediately he entered the train, the engines roared to life and they commenced the journey. In Nigeria where the rail corporation is notoriously late with all its rail services, how will anyone consider this to be a miracle? Anyway, that is not the way the followers of Bulala see it, for them, it was another confirmation of Allah’s incredible blessing on Bulala.
- STARING AT THE SUN: At noon, Bulala would stare directly at the Sun for extended periods of time without him blinking his eyes. This is also considered as one of his miracles. Do not try this.
- RAISING THE DEAD: At another time, one of the students of Bulala became a cleric and he told Bulala with great sadness that his wife had died at Offa General Hospital and that he had come to charter a vehicle to transport the corpse. Upon hearing this, Bulala told the man to allow him escort him to the hospital to see the corpse. When they arrived at the hospital, Bulala asked for the doctor’s permission to view the corpse, which was reportedly certified dead. His wish was granted and Bulala entered and proceeded to cover the corpse. He then prayed to Allah to revive her and the dead woman coughed, stood up and became conscious once again. The news went viral and Bulala’s fame went beyond the borders of Nigeria. Once again, Bulala cemented his image before his followers as that of a cleric blessed with the powers to execute one of the most dramatic miracles, that of resurrection.
- REINCARNATED BEING: Bulala told his followers that he was a reincarnation of one of the past waliyis (saints) explaining to his disciples that pious people like the waliyis (saints) of Allah do not actually die but transmigrate into the body of another pious saint to be reborn to continue the fantastic job that Allah has divinely allocated to them.
- THE SUPPOSED APPEARANCE (APPARITION) ON THE WALL: In September 2013, a report went viral in Nigeria and it left many Nigerians really amused. The event was said to have occurred at Owode Onirin, Ikorodu in Lagos State at the Dawiz Central Mosque. Witnesses say that images of three dead Sufi scholars made sudden appearances on the walls of the mosque and one of the dead saints was Bulala with the other two being Sheikh Ahmad Tijani from Algeria and Sheikh Ibraheem Niass from Senegal. Thousands of people and passersby stormed the mosque in order to see the apparitions (there was no evidence anyway) and also offer prayers to the saints whom they believe are closer to Allah. Inside the mosque, people were seen clutching on to bottles and sachets of water screaming prayers and shouting Allahu Akbar meaning Allah is great while some others were bowing to the supposed images. Below are some of the most dramatic moments of that event:
And this was how one of the adherents described the phenomenon:
According to one of the eyewitnesses:
“The images were first noticed on Tuesday September 3, on the walls of the mosque which was constructed a few months ago and owned by Sheikh Musa Alegbeleye.”
The people at the mosque further added more spice to the stew when they said four months earlier, the late Bulala also made another dramatic and miraculous appearance but they decided not to reveal the miracle to the public so as not to create doubt. On the event, Alhaji Samodu Onikoyi, President of the Islamic Society of Nigeria made the confirmation of the appearance of the images when he said:
‘We started noticing a very faint image which came with intermittent brightness on the inside wall of the mosque which were replica of the portrait of Sheikh Ibrahim Niass, Sheikh Jamiu Bulala and Sheikh Ahmad Tijani engraved on the walls of the building. A member of the mosque Alhaja Idayatu Idera Afolabi first noticed it and she rushed out to inform everybody and when we saw it, we decided to cover it, because we thought if we announce it, people will think it is a ruse that one is trying to play on their intelligence. But when I also saw it, I was greatly terrified, wondering how such thing could have happened. My thought was that the image would eventually disappear but on the second day, it brightened more and started showing on all sides of the building which made us to still cover it until it became public.’
However, not everyone was convinced and this was what the non-Muslims said:
‘For me that image is not real and it is an evil imagination. Because the Bible says Jesus will come down with the Holy Saints and Prophet at the last day. And I will advice those clerics to stop deceiving people because I don’t understand what that means and I have not seen such before. ’- MRS. OLURANTI JOHNSON
‘This is unbelievable, although as a Christian, I am not trying to say this is evil but to them they believe it is a sign of end time and some of them said it is stated in the Koran. So I cannot judge, only God knows the truth about it. All I can say is that we are all serving the living God, there should not be anything like the Muslims are idol worshippers but to me this is a sign of end time. So, people should mend their ways.’ –MR. MIKE NWOHA
For Mrs Idayatu Afolabi, she said: ‘When we saw that image, it was a strange thing, I told my husband to inform those that know better than us, it was then we called on the imam who told us not to announce it until now that the images decided to brighten up on the wall of the mosque building.’
When reporters got to the scene of the ‘miracle’, shouts of Allahu Akbar (God is Great) from hundreds of people dominated the air as many thronged to catch a glimpse or find their way into the mosque. Here are photos from the event:
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT HIM
What you will hear about Bulala depends on who you are asking so I will present all sides of the divide. As a result of the actions of Bulala listed above, all of which were considered to be very weird and bizarre, many critics of Sheikh Jamiu Bulala considered (and still consider) him to be nothing but a stark illiterate and a raving mad lunatic who was unfortunate enough to live in Nigeria with little or nothing as far as excellent psychiatric health care was concerned. For the detractors of Bulala, he was nothing but a being suffering from delusions of grandeur, hallucinations and all other conceivable forms of psychosis but did not get any treatment for his numerous psychiatric illnesses.
On another side of the spectrum are the loyalists and followers of Bulala like Sheikh Bello Yayi (leader of the Tijanniyyah order in Offa) who believe to the very core of their souls that Bulala was the very embodiment of sainthood directly sent by Allah to save the world (the world is still in a mess though so I am not sure of the success of such divine mission).
Even his hometown of Offa needs a lot of proper infrastructural upgrade (like almost all the towns in Nigeria). They believed (and still hold on tightly to the belief) that all the strange actions of Bulala were great revelations and secrets from other dimensions that seemed crazy to the ‘ordinary’ people with ‘ordinary eyes’.
Sufis actually believe that their great saints have powers to know the unseen because they have reached the peak of spiritual illumination. They also said the esoteric actions of Bulala were to hide his powers and was in line with what great Sufi saints did.
This is the same line of thought held by loyalists like Sheikh Abubakar Abayawo who said that Bulala’s behaviour cannot be measured with reason or human intellect as Bulala was a majdhub (someone in a state of spiritual ecstasy) and he did all he did so as to hide his mighty powers and that it is only the spiritually blind who will label Bulala a psychiatric patient. But if it was to disguise his immense spiritual powers as they claim, then why would Bulala do the most attention-grabbing stunts that would bring him the maximum level of fame?
For another group of Muslims like the followers of the Chief Imam in Offa (like Ustaz) Husayn Dundun), they said they could not really be certain if Bulala was a saint or not but that he lives a mysterious life and was quite famous. They also insisted that a saint is expected to offer his ritual prayers something that Bulala neglected. They also said Bulala’s miracles could not be termed karamah but hawariqul ahadat (superlative spiritual powers).
HIS DEATH AND BURIAL
Before Bulala died, he was said to have indirectly predicted his own demise. According to the Muqaddam of the Tijanniyyah in Offa, Sheikh Bello Yayi, Bulala had told him not to travel again for some time and it was after Bulala died that it became apparent to Yayi that Bulala had wanted him to take part in his Islamic burial prayers (janazah). This was the submission by Sheikh Yayi and based on that, his followers believe Bulala had predicted his own death.
At any rate, at the age of seventy, on a Sunday, the fifth of March, 1989, Sheikh Jamiu Bulala, Amir-al-Aowliyah and the Gaozul-Nigeria breathed his last. His burial ceremony was held in his backyard in the presence of thousands of his followers, loyalists and sympathizers who believed without any shred of doubt (and evidence) that Bulala was going straight to the Islamic paradise (known as Al Jannah). They also believe he is now on the right side of Allah still doing his fantastic feats of miracles, signs and wonders even from the grave. Today, a mausoleum has been built around his grave and many of his followers have turned the place into a shrine where they go and pray. They say the prayers offered at the grave of Bulala reaches Allah faster (is the line always busy or something?) and I have brought you photos of the mausoleum and the followers of Bulala thronging the place, see below:
By the way, it must be noted that grave worship is considered to be a grave sin (no pun intended) by other Muslims of other sects even within Sunni Islam. But as far as the Sufis and Shias are concerned, worshipping at the graves of their saints is nothing wrong. This is in sharp disagreement with other the ideologies of other Sunni Islamic sects like the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia and of course, other fundamentalist Sunni sects like Boko Haram. While the Sufis and Shias venerate and elaborately decorate the graves of their dead saints, the Wahhabis and their allies make a big deal of destroying such elaborate graves and bury their own clerics in unmarked graves.
Bulala’s demise has not in any diminished the great faith and beliefs that his followers have in him. From his grave, Bulala still has massive influence on his followers and the members of his sects. Others who learnt under him, like Sheikh Abdul Rasheed Nkrumah, have also set up their own religious movements and they have carved out their own respective niche but the allegiance to the Bulala brand remains very intact till this very moment.
Although Bulala died long before many of those reading this were born, his aura and mystique remain very firm among his followers. In fact, it seems, from my research, that Bulala became even more popular after his death. Today, there are countless songs, movements, buildings, schools and even a major Nollywood movie made in his name. See section below for some of such songs and movie dedicated to Bulala.
The Bulala remains strong in its headquarters in Offa and has offshoots in other places like Ilorin, Lagos and various parts of southwestern and even some parts of northern Nigeria. Some of the clerics who subscribe to the Bulala ideology also dress erratically like him and try to outdo each other when it comes to mimicking their late saint. Below are some of the photos of Muslim clerics who have decided to also follow the path of the incredibly-weird Bulala and it looks like they will take the ‘craze’ of the Bulala brand to the next level:
LEGACY AND REMEMBRANCE
- Although Bulala is long dead, his followers still venerate him. The level of veneration is so high that anytime his name is mentioned, they hail him and scream ‘Bulala!’. You can see this done in the video below:
- A Nollywood movie titled Shehu Bulala was about the life and times of Jamiu Bulala, see below:
- Dairat Aniwar Jamiu Bulala in Ibadan, Oyo State was named after him.
- Events are regularly organized by his followers at home and abroad to honour and remember this remarkable man named Jamiu Bulala.
THANKS FOR YOUR TIME.
- Sheikh Muhammed Jamiu Bulala
- Sheikh Jamiu Bulala
- Icon of Mystics, Shaykh Umar Falke
- Marital Life of Sheikh Muhammed Jamiu Bulala
- The Biography of Sheikh Jamiu Bulala by Shittu Olanipekun
- Fadilat Maolana Sheikh Jamiu Bulala sponsored by the Hikmata Bulala
- Pandemonium in Ikorodu As Strange Images Appear In Mosque
- Sheikh Abubakre Sidiq Bello
- Dairat Aniwar Jamiu Bulala