President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed deep sadness over the demise of Sheikh Ahmed Tidiane Niass, Grand Khalifa (leader) of Tijjaniyya Islamic movement in Africa.
The President’s spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja on Monday, said Buhari’s condolence message to Sheikh Ahmed was addressed to President Macky Sall, government and people of Senegal as well as millions of members of the sect in Nigeria.
President Buhari said: “It is really sad news for all of us to learn that our beloved Khalifa, Sheikh Niass, has passed away in Senegal.
“Sheikh Ahmed Niass, who took over from his father, Sheikh Ibrahim Niass, did not at all disappoint the large followers of his greatly adored father.
”He will be remembered for his impeccable service to Islam and passion towards the sect’s followers, which has a large body in Nigeria.”
The Nigerian leader recalled that June, 2018, Sheikh Ahmed Niass visited the State House, Abuja, accompanied by some eminent Nigerians including President of BUA Group of Companies, Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabi’u.
President Buhari, on behalf of government and people of Nigeria, prayed “for the eternal repose of his departed soul.”
Niasse was the first West African to have led al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt, after which he was styled “Sheikh al-Islam”. He became close to many freedom fighters in West Africa due to his contribution for Independence in African States. He was friends with and an adviser to Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah, and friends with Gamal Abdel Nasser and King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. Sheikh served as the Vice President of the Muslim World League with Faisal as President.