AISHA LEMU: A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR MUSLIM WOMEN
With more than thirty publications and a flourishing Muslim organizations, the late female Islamic scholar, laid a solid foundation for the involvement of Muslim women in education and socialization.
She was born a Christian and her name was Bridget Aisha Honey. Her birth place was Poole, Dorset, on the south east coast of England. The genesis of her conversion to Islam came after she questioned her faith and began to investigate the religions of the world. That was at the age of thirteen.
Her search for the truth led her to study Hinduism and Buddhism. But she finally settled for Islam after meeting some Muslims who gave her Islamic text materials that gave her the final conviction. Aisha was, then, studying at University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), pursuing her interest in Chinese history, language and culture. The year was 1961; her year of full conversion to Islam. She subsequently helped to found the Islamic Society at SOAS, becoming its first secretary, and also assisted in the formation of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies.
After graduating from SOAS, Lemu studied for a postgraduate qualification to teach English as a foreign language and while doing so, she met her future husband, Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, who had been studying at another college of the University of London and was involved in the Islamic activities around the institution. Having obtained her Postgraduate Certificate in Education, she moved to Kano in Nigeria in August 1966 to teach at the School for Arabic Studies there, where Sheikh Ahmed Lemu worked as headmaster. They married in April 1968, with Aisha becoming his second wife. She subsequently moved to Sokoto to take up the position of principal of the Government Girls College.
Sheikh Ahmed Lemu was Grand Qadi of the Sharia Court of Appeal of the State of Niger when it was founded in 1976, and Aisha was principal of the Women’s Teachers College in Minna from then until 1978. The couple founded the Islamic Education Trust, which now operates in several Nigerian states, has offices and a library, including a publisher, primary and secondary school and adult education centre for women. Lemu was a member of the Islamic Studies Panel, set up by the Nigerian Educational Research Council, which was to revise the national Islamic curriculum for different school levels.
In 1985, Lemu founded the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN) with other Muslim women and was elected as its first national Amirah for four years. Lemu served as a civil servant after this term of office.
She was a vocal supporter of Al Quada and openly celebrated the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Aisha Lemu died on 5 January 2019 in Minna, Nigeria. Announcing her demise, her son said in a statement, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. Hajiya Bridget Aisha Lemu, (wife of Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Lemu) has just returned to her Creator. May she rest in peace and Allah’s Rahma. Wassalam, Nuruddeen Lemu (for the family).”
As stated above, she has more than thirty publications, some of which include:
- A student’s introduction to Islam: Macmillan Education, London 1971.
- Gabatar Da Addinin Musulunci Ga Dalibi: Northern Nigerian Pub. Co., Zaria 1976.
- Woman in Islam, with Fatima Heeren: Papers delivered at the International Islamic Conference, held in London from 3 to 12 April 1976. Islamic Council of Europe, Leicester, 1976. ISBN 0-86037-004-6. New edition Islamic Foundation, Markfield 2007. ISBN 978-0-86037-004-8.
- Kvinden I Islams Verden with Fatima armies: Scientific Research House, Kuwait and Islamisk Ungdomsforbund, Valby 1978. ISBN 87-980656-4-5.
- Islamic citizenship and moral responsibility: Islamic Education Trust, Minna 1979.
- Students’ Islamic Society Branch Organization (Islamic Education Trust Guidelines series). Islamic Education Trust, Minna 1979.
- Methodology Of Primary Islamic Studies. A Handbook For Teachers: Islamic Publications Bureau, Lagos 1980.
- A Critical Look At The Theory Of Evolution, International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, Salimiah [Kuwait] 1982.
- A Degree Above Them. Observations On The Condition Of The Northern Nigerian Muslim Woman: Islamic Education Trust, Minna and Gaskia Corporation respectively, Zaria 1983.
- The theory of evolution from the Islamic perspective: (International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations, p . 46). Translated by Ayisha Niazi. IIFSO, Salimiah (Kuwait) 1983.
- Tawhid And Fiqh. Belief And Jurisprudence (Junior Islamic Studies. Book 1): Islamic Education Trust, Minna.