Muhammad Sanusi II, emir of Kano, who is one of the most vocal Islamic voices on the continent, says Saudi Arabia and Iran have “radicalised and divided” the Muslim world.
Sanusi said the world needs a strong state, “not a fragile state”, to address the root causes of extremism.
He added that Islamic leadership could come from less conservative countries like Malaysia and Morocco.
“Internationally, Morocco — I’m in Morocco, I’m not a diplomat, what I say is the truth — Morocco has made tremendous progress in terms of redefining and reinterpreting Islamic law in a matter that is consistent with the demands of our time,” Sanusi said in Morocco over the weekend.
“Where is the lone star for Muslims today? Everybody is talking about Saudi Arabia and Iran, and both countries, frankly, because of their geopolitical reasons, because of their conflicts and competition for ascendancy, have radicalised and divided the Muslim world.
“And they’ve held on to very conservative, very intolerant versions of the religion.”
He said governments needed to take the training of Islamic scholars into deliberate considerations in order to quell violence across the world.
“Maybe the Muslim world needs to shift its focus, in terms of where leadership has to come from; look at Malaysia, look at Morocco, look at Tunisia, look at Indonesia, why look at Saudi Arabia and Iran!” he said.
“That can only happen from the body of scholars within the different Muslim countries, who will change the discuss and say, ‘you know what, this is not your role model. Your role model is not ISIS, your role model is not an Islam that says there is only one true interpretation of religion.
“Or that does not separate what is personal from what is public… Malaysia is a fantastic example of a Muslim country that has been able to live with its religion and also live in the modern world.
“Why can’t we be more like Malaysia, more like Morocco? Why do we have to be more like Iran and more like Saudi?”
He said governments need to do more in terms of training religious scholars.
“Train scholars, so that they create the kind of society we want,” he said.