Mrs Abebi Hawwau formerly known as Efunsetan Iya Osun, is a popular traditionalist who trended after she alleged to have prepared sacrifice for the wife of Alfa Okutagidi, a popular cleric in Ilọrin, during and after childbirth. The allegation led to her remand after the cleric dragged her to court. However, the case assumed a new dimension following her sudden renunciation of the Isese traditional religion to embrace Islam. In this interview with Daily Trust Saturday, she speaks on the circumstances that led her to Islam, her back and forth spiritual journey and her next goal as a muslimah among other issues of interest in the whole saga. Excerpts:
It has been a back and forth for you between Isese and Islam, what really happened that made you renounce your Muslim faith initially?
Thanks very much for that question, but the only answer I can give is that we all passed and are still passing through several challenges which can either make or mar one's entire existence. But on the spiritual front, the wrong choice can be very catastrophic and costly which dictates that we must be ready to accept the truth and open our hearts to it irrespective of our prejudices. Some will say my entry and exit in both faiths have been sudden. However, I know that what we are celebrating today is a significant import in the remarkable efforts of my children who didn't give up on me despite the talk that their efforts and prayers especially might be a hopeless case. I think I am extremely lucky to have them vis-a-vis the role Allah used them to play in my life.
Mrs Abebi Hawwau formerly known as Efunsetan Iya Osun
Going by the circumstances that birthed your trial, there have been comments from some traditional worshippers that you were threatened and coerced to accept Islam using the case in court as a weapon, what is your response to this?
I think that is nothing but just their insinuations because there was nobody that discussed anything with me before my bail was granted from the side of the Muslims to force me to accept Islam. When my bail application was moved, they (Muslims) didn't oppose it and that, I would say, was the beginning of this new journey which followed my apology to Alfa Okutagidi.
After your bail was granted, was there any term or a kind of agreement between you and the Muslims?
I was the one that decided on my own volition to embrace Islam and it followed a deep thought and reflection about the whole situation starting from where I was coming from, my sojourn as a traditionalist and my family and children who have been the vanguards of this new narrative about my trajectory. It was Allah, not anybody that called me to Islam. Initially, I hold the view that many of the Muslims scholars don't exemplify our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW). However, that notion I had was proven wrong by this development which increased my faith and acceptance in the belief in Allah and submission to Islam. At that point, I know that the best thing for me was to just swallow my pride and arrogance and accept Islam irrespective of what anybody would say or believe.
Has there been any regret thus far over your decision to dump the Isese for Islam?
Regret? Not at all and on the contrary, it has been an anti climax for me. I never expected what I am witnessing now to even happen several years from now after I have become a Muslim. I did not embrace Islam for pecuniary gains or benefits but Allah in His infinite favour and mercy decided to bless me. I have received monetary rewards in millions, promised next year's hajj, car and house among other things and gifts which are still coming. Why do I have to regret and moreover the love and acceptance that I have received has been tremendous. I know and have equally been told that there will be challenges along the way because Islam does not glorify wealth or make it a cornerstone of one's healthy relationship with God. It only encouraged us to strive and then be patient with Allah's decision in all our efforts and affairs. I pray for steadfastness and the conviction to come out of Allah's test a better muslimah. It is bye bye to Isese and Iya Osun. I am now Iya oni Qur'an.
You were seen crying in one of the viral videos after you reverted to Islam which some traditionalists interpreted as an indication that you were forced and regretted the decision, how true is that?
My tears were between me and my God and in any case, it was one of joy and reflection. But let me give you some insight into it. You see, in situations like this, what is playing out now should have been the opposite. I was accused of defaming someone and after accepting my apology and forgiven, the community rallied round me with unbelievable gestures. It moved me to tears.
Is it true that you intend to use your conversion to rip the Muslims and lslam as it is been alleged as a kind of business for financial profit?
I have no basis for that and like I said, people can say whatever they like about this situation, mine is to ensure that I am not distracted by all the noise coming from the marketplace but rather to stay focused and prayerful for me not to miss the opportunity that Allah is now placing on my shoulders.
Some traditionalists say Islam is a religion of violence, what is your perception about it?
If everyone is saying that Islam is a religion of vengeance, that does not apply to me with the kind of love and acceptance the Muslim community in Ilọrin has shown me. I should be a symbol of that religious tolerance in Islam. I should have been disciplined or as some others will say, taught a lesson. But this community not only forgave me, they rallied around me and demonstrated uncommon spiritual understanding and faith about the whole scenario, alhamdulillahi. I thought it was finished from where I was coming from and even if I had a thousand tongues, it would still not be enough to express my gratitude to Allah and the Ilọrin community. I am at the peripheral stage of my spiritual journey, but already I can feel the peace, tranquillity, happiness and contentment that Islam offers, not violence and all the negative stereotypes out there. I just imagined what it would look like by the time I developed myself in knowledge and understanding of the deen which I am praying fervently for now. If I happen to die today, I know my children are in good and safe hands with the Muslim community and scholars. That to me is priceless and highly fulfilling.
Some traditional worshippers believe your new found fame and wealth was a fulfilment of the covenant you had with the Osun goddess…
There was no covenant whatsoever between me and Osun or any deity for that matter. It is clear that this is Almighty Allah at work and a fulfilment of His will, not any goddess.
What will be your priority now?
To propagate and promote Islam. I want to dedicate the remaining part of my life in the worship of Allah and become a caller to Islam especially those that are traditional worshippers from my former constituency. I consider this guidance a privilege and will continue to cherish it. I have spent over ten years outside the fold of Islam, I could have died in that state during that period. Now that Allah has guided me, I pray for His protection against demons, evils and devils. I will be praying for the Isese adherant's guidance to Islam starting with those that we were together then. And I pray Almighty Allah not to allow me to leave Islam again because I want to die a Muslim after reversion. I want all my children to be knowledgeable in the deen and Al-Quran. Thank God my four children never left Islam while I was in Isese. My prayer is for them to be great intellectuals and upright characters in Islam and for me to live long and expand the frontiers of the religion in whatever capacity I found myself.