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Sharafuddeen: The Last Good Documentary I Watched


By Mahdi Garba

Title: Sharafuddeen

Director: Abdulhakam A. Ridwan

Funded by: Institute of Compilation and Publication of Sheikh Zakzaky’s Works

Year of Release: 2020


The documentation of spectacular events that shaped the four-decade history of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria has been a difficult task. There are myriad of events that have taken place but they were not documented. But, in its debut documentary on the life of the founder and leader of the Movement, the Institute for the Compilation and Publication of Sheikh Zakzaky’s Works has taken the bull by the horn to bring to the limelight what is known only to a few people.


In the first episode, the filmmakers did a wonderful job of tracing the genealogy of Sheikh Zakzaky, which started from Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba, grandson of the Holy Prophet through Imam Ali and Sayyida Fatima. In Sharafuddeen, the migration of the progeny of the Holy Prophet to the Maghrib, following incessant persecution by the Abbasids, was also shown. One of the techniques that made this easier was the use of maps and illustrations that give a vivid picture of these historical events.


The unique style of storytelling adopted by the documentarian has helped tremendously in sending the message to the expected audience. It was achieved through going back to memory lane; from pre-colonial, colonial and postcolonial Nigeria. The contribution of Shehu Uthman Bn Fodio in reviving Islam in Bilad al-Sudan and how the colonialists destroyed the relics of the reformer and the persecution of his disciples were seen in the film.


Besides, in the documentary, the life of Sheikh Zakzaky as a pupil was explored. From home to traditional (tsangaya) and the conventional schools he attended where revisited. In an interview in Sharafuddeen, Sheikh Badamasi Yaquob, a brother of Sheikh Zakzaky narrated how the Islamic Movement leader started learning the basics of Islamic knowledge from their late Dad, and later on proceeded to the traditional schools of some renowned scholars in Zaria like Sarkin Ladanan Zazzau, Mallam Mani, Mallam Sani Abdulqadir, Mallam Sani Na’ibin Zazzau, Mallam Isa Namadaka and Mallam Ibrahim Nakakaki.


Due to the grounded foundation, he got in Arabic and Maliki jurisprudence, when he enrolled at the School of Provincial Arabic Studies, he didn’t find the studies difficult.


On the part of sound effects, the signature tunes that come at the opening, mid and end of every episode is spectacular. The sounds alone would make one tempted to watch the film.


Similarly, the images are not too different from the sounds. The shots were superb as it was shot with a Canon 5D Mark III and the cameraman, Muhammad A. Zeemo did an astounding job by handling it well. There we got stunning shorts that will never get one bored with watching it.


Through the interviews, we were taken back to the days where Sheikh Zakzaky was a pupil, learning from various traditional schools in Zaria, through his days in Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and how most of the interviewees first heard about the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and its indefatigable leader.


The featuring of Sheikh Badamasi Yaqoub, Sheikh Adamu Tsoho, Sheikh Abdulhamid Bello, Prof. Isa Mshelgaru, Prof. Danladi Abdullahi, Mallam Ibrahim Akil, Sheikh Muhammad Suleiman Kaduna and Pastor Yohanna Buru made the interviews more compelling.


I like every part of the documentary. But, the parts I like most are how supporters of Sheikh throng to the streets to protest his detention whenever he is arrested, from his first arrest by General Olusegun Obasanjo’s military junta till date. Then, General Obasanjo had wanted that not only ABU Zaria but Samaru (the community that hosts the varsity) should be exterminated from the face of the earth.


Sharafuddeen will make many people unlearn what they believe regarding the Movement, which was mainly peddled by its antagonists. For instance, in the documentary, it was shown that the Islamic Movement in Nigeria started years before the 1979 Iranian Revolution. The revolution only strengthened Sheikh Zakzaky and his supporters and it became a cause for celebration because they felt that they were not alone in the fight for the establishment of Islamic system and quest for social justice.


I think that a is a documentary that everyone, regardless of religion, the political or sectarian difference needs to watch. And, if you are a person student or scholar interested in Nigerian military history don’t miss the opportunity of watching this film, as it is the first of its kind. If I am to rate it on a 10 point scorecard, I will give it 9/10.


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