In the state of Osun today, Tawun is arguably the most popular and organized Islamic society, on the occasion of its 20th year anniversary, the founder Tawunu Muslim organisation, sheik Daood Imran Molaasan speaks to the duo of Fafemi Azeez and Dawood Ajetunmobi on the success story of his organisation.
Excerpts: (2014)
Al- Jazeera: can you please introduce yourself to our readers sir?
Amir Tawun: my name is Alhaji Dahood Imran. I am from Iwo town in Osun state and I am the founder and national president of Jammatu Tawun. I am a teacher by training and I am also a businessman. I also write, so I can also be regarded as a writer but most of my writings are done in Arabic. I write articles for many Arabic journals and Arabic website.
Al- Jazeera: what was the reason behind the establishment of your organisation?
Amir Tawun: Thank you for your question. The organisation was primarily established for the propagation of Islam among our people. we decided to propagate Islam, not on what some people, sects or association says in the hadith. We discover that many Muslim are practicing the religion in a wrong way, due to misconceptions and wrong instructions by other supposed teachers. This was the primary reason, why in 1994, we decided to establish Jammatul Tawun for the proper propagation of the true form of Islam must and should be practiced, solely on the instructions given by the Holy Quran and hadith, and never on personal interpretations of any scholar or leader. We have other purposes too apart from this primary one, for example, we are trying to set an example with our organisation, to show people, especially other Islamic organisation should be run. We are also into social services, like partnering with Muslims and other international organisation like Friedrich Ebert Stiftung foundation so that we can make our society a better place to live. We do not believe in violence and we are using our own conducts to prove this, we want people to know through us, that Islam is truly a religion of peace. We are simply here, to take care of ourselves, our people our children and our dependants in the best accepted way of Islam. We have more than 30 schools already, we have charity outlets where we seek out the indigents and try to help them. We even have a scholarship scheme that takes care of more than a hundred student at the moment. Our Dawah (agenda) is simple to call people to true Islam, and everything we are doing, the schools, the information centers, the charity outlets etc. are all being done towards this singular purpose.
Al- Jazeera: how do you finance these projects?
Amir Tawun: we have a very big farm, and Alhamdulilahi, under proper and efficient management, it is growing by the day. This may sound far fetched, but under true and honest cooperation, anything is possible. The name Tawun means cooperation, and part of our ideology is to foster cooperation between different things which can be more beneficial to the people. we have the schools and farms, we have Arabic education and western education, all these combined to produce a seamless symmetry
Al- Jazeera: with all these wheels you have been able to set up, how far have you gone in taking you towards your intended purpose?
Amir Tawun: I think to answer your question better, I must say this, the difference between Jammmatul Tawun and many other organisation is that our followers are commited, passionate and hardworking people, most of them devoted their time and resources to the organisation . if we need money for project, many of the will look for jobs to raise the money and bring it.
Al- Jazeera: what are the other things do you think your organisation is doing to help Muslim?
Amir Tawun: A lot I dare say. We are also into mind education, where we intend to re-orientate our people, show them that some of the many things that are stoked against us, are as a result of our own negligence and lack of fore sight. Muslims refused to take advantage of western education, we refused to join politics we refused to join civil service and other empowerment opportunities and all these added up to militate against us and made us under dogs, even in the states and cities, where we are clearly the majority. Compared to our christian counterpart, we have lesser representation in government, we have lesser representation in the academics and other places. Tawun, as an organisation has decided to make it part of our agenda to re-orientate our people. let them know the value of education. Let them know that they must strive to get their own people into the government too, so that we can have proper and informed representation.
Al- Jazeera: if you appraise your organisation, your efforts and the resultants effects on the people, since the establishment of Tawun, can you tell us if your efforts have any consideration impacts at all? Have you achieved your aims and objectives.
Amir Tawun: we believe our story is already a success story even if we are unable to continue what we have been doing, because when we started we have nothing. Our foundation members were not even more than ten (10) but now thousands of us. We have more than 30,000 members in the south west of Nigeria only. Throughout Nigeria we have about 50,000 members, and in these numbers we have many who were trained in our various schools and who have gone to achieve great important status. Some are doctors, some are teachers and other fields too. All these people are given back and helping the society . our farm the one I mentioned earlier has become large and we even have branches. We have very big farms in Iwo, Ibadan, Osogbo and many other major cities and towns. We have ICT centres (where we teach our members how to use computer the internet and other ICT apparatus ) in more than 12 branches, we have internet radio services for Muslims. It is strictly Islamic contents.
Al- Jazeera: talking about your members is the governor of the State of Osun a member of your organisation?
Amir Tawun: No he is not. Though he is our friend but he is not a registered member. He can only be seen as a Muslim brother, he is our sympathizer, just like he does for other Muslim communities. I am not holding briefs for the governor, Ogbeni Rauf but I still must say this, governor Aregbesola is a friend of the people. he is a peoples governor, that is why he is very popular
Al- Jazeera: recently you came out with an idea of having a college of education, we want to know why you decided on a college of education?
Amir Tawun: we believe the total Muslim population among the Nigerian teachers is considerably low and we also believe this is one of the reasons for the imbalance in the ratio of educated Muslim when compared with Christian counterpart. This is why we thought a teacher training college will definitely help us produce more Muslim teachers and close up the embarrassingly wide gap. We are not even planning to stop at that level, we still have the dream that in sha Allah, we will have our own university by the year 2015. It is only imperative that we start small. We already have kindergarten primary and the secondary school, so the next things should be tertiary institution, hence our decision to go for a college of education now.
Al- Jazeera: when will the academic year of the college begin?
Amir Tawun : in sha Allah we will start this year. By October this year our forms would be out.
Al- Jazeera: there is this report that your organisation was working for a terrorist group, this report generated a big furor. We heard some of your people came out to debunk it, we want to know what really happened and if the whole controversy has been resolved?
Amir Tawun: it was an unfortunate episode, I believe the whole thing started from the internet and it is festered and became ugly. We cannot be a terrorist organisation. Here in Tawun we believe Allah never asked the holy Prophet (SAW) to convert people into Islam by force. It was even recorded that some Christian came to prophet Muhammad (SAW) and told him that they cannot believe the Quran and they would not be judged by its laws. The prophet (SAW) then accepted that the bible would be used for Christians while Quran would be used by Muslim. The paper that reported such about us, was only trying to be maliciously mischievous. We would have sued but the lawyers we approached demanded for whooping N10 Million naira, where would we get such from? Tawun as an organisation believe that with N10Million, we would be able to do a lot for sufferings brothers. We would be able to help more indigent people. but even because we could not sue does not mean we did not take other means of redress. We made some moves and I believe it has helped.
Al- Jazeera: We heard that sometimes last year, some SSS people stormed your headquarters, what were they looking for?
Amir Tawun: Yes it is true they came here and accused us of having a transmitter for radio services. We told them that we do not have a transmitter for any radio services but what we have is internet radio . something we believe is free for everybody who has the knowledge to access and operate it. The internet offers a lot of thing. You can chat with people with either typing or even voice chat. There are some applications that can even allow you to do video chatting, it simply a more advanced form of communication.it is also known as streaming. Broadcasting from your website is free and can be done by anybody with the knowledge to everywhere but did not see anything. We have our website and our web host in Canada. The same place where Redeemed church have their own web host too. So if they did not stop redeemed church from hosting, why should our own situation be different?
Al- Jazeera: Do you think there is any political coloration behind it, dont you think it might be because of your support for the Governor?
Amir Tawun: that is one angle that cannot be ignored. Certain political party think we have pitched our tent with the governors political party and that if we do not support them they might find it difficult w inning the elections. They sent some of their people to us. They even promised us some things now and some other things once their party is back in power but we told them that Tawun is like a young bride from a very responsible background, who would never marry a man who is both unruly and irresponsible. Tawun like a girl is the analogy would rather follow an OMOLUABI like Aregbesola than follow people who believe in thuggery, violence, destructions and other negative things .
Al- Jazeera: Is it true that the present administration in the state offered you the chairmanship of the pilgrimage board and you rejected it? Why?
Amir Tawun: yes it is true. On my rejection personally I am a little wary of government jobs, I see a lot of corruption in the system and I am very afraid to plunge into such waters. And also I believed there are so many qualified people out there who have better qualifications than I do remember I am only an Arabic graduate and my training is teaching and preaching. I am only offer myself being compromised by taking a job that will affect my stand as the National President of Jammatul Tawun International.
Al- Jazeera: We recall that one of the struggles you were passionate about is Palestinians issue. It is on record that you and Dr Olukade were so passionate about the cause of the people of Palestine that lecture is not complete if you did not mention it. What is your present disposition towards the cause and what is happening to the struggle and the people now
Amir Tawun: Tawun is an international organization and like every other international organization we have our own stand on international issues. Sometimes ago, an Egungun worshipper came to us to request for our help. He said he was cheated out of his land and he needed our help to get back his land. We requested that he should come with his papers and when he came with his paper we discovered he is the owner of the land even though he is not a Muslim. Our calls are simply that the lands of the Palestine should be returned to them in peace. We are not calling for wars or terrorism but we are using the proper and established channels to make our calls.
Al- Jazeera: You are known to be one of the strongest supporters of governor Aregbesola yet people see him as someone who promotes traditional religion, what is your position on this?
Amir Tawun: We are in a secular state that has a constitution that gives people freedom of religion and association. The Muslims , the Christian and the traditional worshipper all have their own rights and once you are the governor you are the one who will make sure all these rights are protected. The governor cannot protect the Muslim and neglect others simply because he is a Muslim. We do not expect a Christian governor to protect only Christian and ignore Muslim . I believe if we truly want to help the governor we must support him and make his administration a success. For example both the Muslims and Christians have pilgrimage boards and the traditional people do not and yet they are complaining. We must learn to accept reality and that we are not in an Islamic state. the only avenue open to us on the issue of traditional worshipper is an evangelism. We can preach to them and convince them to join us . but we definitely cannot force or coerce them to join us. Aregbesola is a true Muslim you can take that to the bank. Rauf Aregbesola level of faith and who are calling names. I know the man and I know he believes totally in the Quran and hadiths. Yes, like every human being, Aregbesola is not perfect but I tell you he is doing his best and his best is far better than that of many people I know.
Al- Jazeera: For your fans and readers who want to take you as a role model, what is your philosophy of life?
Amir Tawun: I am a stickler for fairness and justice. I cannot stand or tolerate cheating and any form of unfair treatments towards people. I believe human beings have equal rights. Be you Muslim, Christian, Hindu, or whatever. My philosophy is that if you are fortunate to be in apposition of power or authority over others, you must endeavor to be fair to everybody.
Al- Jazeera: How do you start your average day?
Amir Tawun: I am from a very strong religious background and because most of my education was done the Islamic way. This has really formulated how I live. On an average day I wake up early and try to read until fajr and I say my prayers. Most of my morning is taken by devotion. And around 6am to 9am I go out to check on people. I like early visitation after then I try to take care of that particular days activities. My hours between Zuhr and Asr are not usually fixed on anything ,so it varies with each day but between Asr to Magrib is the time I use for preaching and going to lectures. If Im not doing any of these, then you will find me at the centre.
Al- Jazeera: Is it true that your organization does not allow your single females to marry from outside of the organization?
Amir Tawun: Actually, they are not forbidden to marry from outside, but we encourage them to choose from among the males in the organization to avoid conflict of doctrines with their intended partners. I believe other religious societies do this too . so somehow those who are strong members do not marry outside of Tawun.
Al- Jazeera: Sir, if I see a beautiful sister now and I show interest, would I be allowed to?
Amir Tawun : General laughter.Em..
Al- Jazeera: Amir it seems you are trying to dodge my question. Ok! What is your general advice to the Muslim Ummah in the country?
Amir Tawun: I think the most important thing that the Muslim Ummah should strive towards is getting our people educated. We need more engineers, more doctors and more teachers. we cannot compete favorably in the world at this present age, without education. It is the key that will open many doors for us. The second thing is unity. No matter how plenty we are without unity, we will only be scattered and taken advantage of. Without unity we cannot get anything done. Thirdly, we must know that we must elect a good and capable president in the next election for the safety of the nation.

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