Charles Dickson writes that we have learnt nothing from the past

“The biggest enemy of Islam is the ignorant Muslim, whose ignorance leads him to intolerance, whose actions destroy the true image of Islam, and when people look at him, they think that is what Islam is” – Sheikh Ahmed Deedat

Couple of years ago, I had written on what I called An Igbo Reverend Sister, An Hausa Ulamah, And Killing In Allah’s Name (Another Senseless Ethno-Religious Purge). It was my reflections on the reactions of Nigerians on the Danish Cartoons episode.

Again, we have decided to misbehave in faraway Sokoto State, and I dare add my voice and sadly so. In horrific circumstances, based on flawed understanding of religious practice we have killed and maimed.

It is not the first time that a mob based on faith has killed and it won’t be the last, but sadly this is a little different because it was captured visually and the audio was tortuous and those who killed her, spread the same on social media platforms. Before I go far, and make my humble submission, a case as decided by the Supreme Court in *SHALLA v. STATE (2007) LPELR-3034 (SC) on a similar incident guides my thoughts.

Categorically let me state. You cannot fight for the Almighty Allah. I know that because the Holy One can and always will fight His battle whether committed by traditionalists, Muslims or Christians and there are well established and documented ways to go about it.

As usual our leaders have failed, not just the political but the religious leaders too, because like Jawaharlal Nehru said “I want nothing to do with any religion concerned with keeping the masses scarified to live in hunger, filth and arrogance. I want nothing to do with any order, religion or otherwise, which does not teach people that they are capable of becoming happier and more civilized, on this earth….”

Each time we blame touts, jobless young men for these wanton destructions, but what has this society done in encrypting the virtues of the practice of religion into them, be it Christian virtues, Islamic beliefs or traditional and moral teachings…Rather because they are willing tools in the hands of political manipulators, they leave them impoverished, uneducated and diseased in mind, spirit, soul and body.

The simple reason why students in a college of education that should know better have committed murder in the name of fighting for “GOD”.

I will not bore us with the history of sectarian clashes; the Plateau State’s state of emergency has its history in one of such. Between 1999- date, one is beginning to lose count. It seems that our diversity in ethnicity and religion is posing the largest threat to our mutual existence apart from our political confusion as one other factor.

Each time all these crises are dissected, it has always been politicized, religionized, manipulated, ethnicized and all this do not make up for the loss, the dead ones as we keep promoting a culture of self-waste, we set up panels, reports are submitted, yet to no avail. These crises benefit some people upstairs so the people downstairs can die as well.       

In the Jos September 2001 riots, it was that crass story of a girl, crossing the road while prayers were going on; in 2006 it was a teacher who seized a Quran from a student who was reading it during class. In Kaduna it was ‘ba na so’ (we do not want) shariah. In fact, it seems we are just doomed. In 1987 (Kafanchan Riots) started in the College of Education and centered around such issue as misquotation of the Holy Quran by a Christian convert from Islam. The Zangon Kataf Riots in 1992 was just a continuation of the Kafanchan one.

Bauchi Riots 1990 originated from a misunderstanding between the Sayawa ethnic group and the local Hausa/Fulani, Muslim community in Bauchi. The misunderstanding led to the murder of many prominent leaders of the Muslim community. We also are reminded of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa university ATBU killing of a student. 

This nation is one of deep-seated grievances, when the chips are down, another panel and then again, we hear the same song; the issue of conflict always has to do with perceived cultural, political, economic oppression and marginalization. No one bothers to look at the relevance of these crises to the polity and society. This is no longer a flirting phenomenon; it is becoming permanent. The deployment of violence has merely acted as an agent in recycling violence.

Sequel to the present excuse we call democracy and even since its inception the very fabric of this society has been strained by crisis in the religious field and so many people are benefiting and in cases investing in the misfortune especially those obsessed in the quest for power. Our leaders who are ready to invest in poverty, death, ignorance do so without recourse to the same God we use as an excuse in our exercise of dissipating our population. We have not seriously explored these crises to the point of analyzing the content and substances that precipitate these slaughters. Instead, we do a confused labeling of very direct issues. No one of us took the decision to be Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba; we are Nigerians who happen to be Christians or Muslims and pagans.

I will never forget this analogy, now whether it was a paper presentation or essay I cannot remember but I am sure it was on religion by either Matthew Hassan Kukah or Lateef Adegbite. There is this book called Disappearance. It was divided into two parts. Part one was an imaginary account of a world in which men wake up one day and discover that all women had vanished. All the women! The rest of that first part talks about how men tried to survive on their own. The second part was vice versa, our women woke up and discovered that the men had disappeared from the face of earth. The speaker asked us to imagine both scenarios.

Would life be easier for Christians if we woke up and found that all Muslims have vanished? Would life be easier for us Muslims if we woke up and found all Christians gone? Like waking up to find PDP is no more, all the crooks have vanished… These questions sound a bit silly, but they are the true test of our appreciation of our slaughter house mentality especially in the North, the Niger Delta and the nation as a whole. Does the killing of one another bring back the already dead? No, it only berths a circle of revenge, vengeance, retaliation, retribution and the madness continues. We cannot fight for the Almighty Allah and He created us the way we are, color, creed, race, tribe, and religion, but we are not one in this nation.

Dr Dickson is a reacher, policy analyst and media practitioner

Related Articles