Call it a place of worship and learning, a foundation, a humanitarian organisation or whichever appropriate name you give it, you are correct. The International Centre for Islamic Culture and Education, ICICE for short, situated along Ibrahim Babangida Way in Wuse II, Abuja, Nigeria, is all of the above and more than that.
How it was conceived
Conceived in 2005 while on Umrah (lesser hajj) in Saudi Arabia, a business management expert, visionary leader and philanthropist, Kano city indigene Alhaji Aminu Baba-Kusa prayed for Allahs blessings and guidance in his quest to establish an endowment fund to assist the poor, a charity to help the needy and a public mosque for worship and learning.
Back to Nigeria, answers to his prayers begun to manifest with government approval of his application for land (and subsequently building permissions), to construct a mosque and an office building at an abandoned and disused space of lands at a highbrow area in Wuse district of the Federal Capital Territory.
After obtaining the title deeds of the landed property, Alhaji Aminu Baba-Kusa consulted his friends, including his age-old friend and classmate since 1966 at the then Kano Provisional Secondary School (now Rumfa College Kano) Malam Ibrahim Sulaiman, Malam Kolo Mele Kyari and others on the way forward.
They all welcomed the noble idea of Alhaji Aminu, while Malam Ibrahim Sulaiman suggested the organization to be named International Centre for Islamic Culture and Education, ICICE, and the Mosque to be called Al-Noor Masjid, which the founder accepted and consented to Malam Ibrahim to superintend the two projects with Malam Mele Kyari as the de-facto administrative and chief executive officer.
With perseverance and dedication to the cause and rigidity for high quality and standard structure that will stand the test of time, the building complex of the centre and the mosque were completed in seven years and the first congregational prayer at the Al-Noor Mosque was led by Malam Ibrahim Sulaiman on Friday the 1st of Ramadan 1433 AH which was 20th July 2012.
Incidentally, Alhaji Aminu Baba-Kusa clocked 60 years that year and the two institutions were formally put to use one month after he retired from public service. He regards them as a charity and a way of giving back to the society and further said we have to serve the community and if you serve the community you are serving Allah (SWT).
Upon incorporation of the ICICE that became the parent body (custodian) of the mosque, Malam Ibrahim Sulaiman was appointed the Chairman Board of Trustees, Malam Mele Kolo Kyari, Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Mr Abdulazeez Mohammed, Chief Executive, Malam Abdallah Ahmad, Administrative Officer in 2013 and Dr Moayyad Al-Rashid came in as Director General and Chief Executive in 2015.
ICICE has since been promoting inter-faith dialogue, steadfast in trainings to diffuse misconceptions about the Islamic Finance Industry, teaching the Science of Qur’an and Arabic language courses and carrying out charitable activities and programmes aimed at enhancing the lives of Muslims and humanity.
The Centre also showcases the cultural heritage of Islam through memorable historical exhibitions and also focuses on the art and craft skills’ development of the less privileged youth, poverty eradication programs, children’s summer schools, scholarship programs, and many other cultural promotional drivers and charitable activities including donations of relief materials and essential commodities to internally displaced persons, IDPs.
With a defined mission to promote and inculcate Islamic Culture and Education to the Muslim community in Nigeria and afield, the founder envisages the ICICE to become a research centre on Islamic affairs similar to those in Timbuktu in Mali.
It will soon venture into businesses like an Eye Hospital, Women Sport Centre, Shopping Mall, Hotel, Conference/Exhibition Centre, Offices, Amphitheater, Microfinance Banks and Printing Press and other commercial activities to generate revenue for financial self-reliance and take care of the mosque overhead.
Malam Ibrahim Sulaiman renewed the commitment of his board and the management of the ICICE to maintain excellence in its deliverables and ensure sustainability, and revealed plans to develop and manage a Waqf (an Endowment Fund), to facilitate the continuity of its charitable programmes such as the mosque maintenance, poverty eradication and scholarships.
Also on the drawing board is a women and children development programme, considering the contributions of women to Islamic civilization, the necessity for a proper moral upbringing of children and the need to provide a forum at Al-Noor mosque that will be the centre for an international community of scholars confidently enunciated by Malam Ibrahim Sulaiman.
With all the laudable activities going on from inception, the ICICE and Al-Noor Mosque are now witnessing elaborate continuity and improvement of programmes, innovations and transformation under the current Director General and Chief Executive, Dr Kabir Kabo Usman who assumed duty in 2018 after an eight-year tenure as Director General of Centre for Management Development, CMD, a federal government agency under the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
An average of 600 couples and individuals are counseled annually on premarital, parenting and substance/lifestyle, conflict resolution, career guidance and other marriage related psychological issues by the Directorate of Arts, Counseling and Culture, while an average of 1,200 from the previous 500 people are now given Iftar meals daily during the Fasting month of Ramadan, with regular collection and distribution of Sadaqat and Zakkat, distribution of relief materials and essential commodities to the poor, the needy and at orphanage and hospitals as well as medical outreaches to indigent communities and settlements under the programmes of Community Development and Social Welfare Directorate.
Other remarkable strides achieved are in the areas of Capacity-Building Training Programmes for the Al-Noor Masjid Staff, periodic Khutbah Publication/Documentation, the yearly Ramadan Tafsir, production of Code of Ethics and training for Imams and in a manner that can only be described as breathtaking, the Centre is also managing the ICICE Conventional/Islamic school, Iqrah Centre, Qur’an Tajweed class for men and women, Weekend Islamiyyah, and Tahfeez programmes.
ICICE is also an Examination centre for the Accounting and Auditing Organization for Islamic Financial Institutions, AAOIFI, and has broadened the horizon on Islamic Banking and Finance in Nigeria.
Kabo on ICCIE
Dr Kabir Kabo the former Manchester University Don said ICICE is not just concerned about sustaining Islamic Culture and Education, it also aggressively promotes western education, through its ICICE Al-Noor Academy that was incorporated on 5th April, 2017, to establish, operate, manage, and coordinate schools from Creche to Secondary level. At the moment, the Academy with about 400 students is witnessing rapid growth in curriculum especially character education.
Of all the massive infrastructural facilities established by the ICICE, none rivals the imposing Al-Noor Masjid and conscious of the unquantifiable beneficial services offered by the Mosque to the public, the ICICE under Dr Kabir Kabo Usman with the consent of the Advisory Committee and the approval of the Board of Trustees decided to expand it to “more than a mosque”, to accommodate the ever increasing number of worshippers of more than 12,000 at a time, for the five daily prayers, the weekly (Friday) and the two Eid (yearly) prayers.
Malam Mele Kolo Kyari explained that the expansion project will include centres of learning for the teaching of Islamic and western education to the young and old, facilities for socio-economic empowerment of the community, as well as religious activities to improve character and increase the strength of morality and “Taqwa” (Fear of Allah) of the attendees.
On Saturday, April 24, 2021, a Foundation Laying and Appeal Fund Launching ceremony for the mosque’s multi-billion naira expansion project was held. Donations in cash, cheques and pledges were made, construction work commenced in earnest with tremendous progress recorded but more donations in cash and kind are needed for the successful completion of the edifice on schedule.
Another project being pursued vigorously is a university, which Alhaji Aminu Baba-Kusa said will be established to teach and train the young and the old the diverse aspects of Islam and its rich cultural heritage, with a view to helping them socialize harmoniously with persons of varying religious ideologies.
Malam Ibrahim Sulaiman, called on well-meaning Muslims in the country to help sustain the Centre to continue serving the spiritual and academic needs of the Nigerian Muslim Ummah and enhance the lives of humanity.
Dr Kabir Kabo Usman further elaborates that ICICE with input from the Islamic Development Bank will establish a conventional university but with special preference to Islamic culture and education in the curriculum.
Ibrahim, Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Director General ICICE, wrote from Wuse II, Abuja.