NIGERIA: Muslim Solidarity Forum lists solutions to religious hate, blasphemy-related crises, makes demands

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By KEMI KASUMU

 

The attitude of many Christian leaders who impliedly endorse blasphemous utterances through silence; refusal to openly condemn such heinous utterances and not teaching their congregations to avoid such sacrilegious acts, also encourage blasphemous acts by some of their members.

 

The Muslim Solidarity Forum, Sokoto, has told Christians in the state and across Nigeria that there is no reason for crisis between Islam and Christianity if there can be mutual respect for each other’s religious values, as no one’s religion, whether Christianity or Islam, will be insulted and he will not feel hurt except he is deceiving himself.

It made it clear to them that, to achieve a truly peaceful co-existence, there must not be situation where the hearts of followers of the two closest faiths will be filled with hate, intolerance and disrespect towards one another. It advised Christian leaders and parents against badly indoctrinating their followers and children, respectively, to think that their freedom of expression extends to committing crimes like blasphemy against Muslims’ religious values – for example Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and bless of Allah be upon him).

The MSF Sokoto was speaking even as it believes that taking the law into one’s hand is not only unIslamic but also punishable in Islam and should never be found to be committed by any true Muslim.

In a three-page statement titled, ‘STOP BLASPHEMY FOR PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE”, jointly issued and signed by Prof. Isa Muhammad Maishanu, its Acting Chairman, and Malam Muhammad Usman Ali, its Acting Secretary, Muslim Solidarity Forum, which is umbrella body for Imams, scholars, preachers, Islamic organisations, Islamic centers and Sufi orders in the Seat of Caliphate, said it had been following the sad events that happened last Thursday 11th Shawwal, 1443 AH equivalent to 12th May 2022 at Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto and their aftermath with great concern and made its submissions.

“We therefore, condemn in strongest terms reviling and disparaging the personality of our leader, the Noble Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon him) by any person whoever he might be.

“Despite the terrible nature and seriousness of this offence, we call on all Muslims not to take law into their hands and allow the relevant organs of government to handle cases of such nature,” it said.

The MSF, however, noted that, “This is not the first time a Christian whether, student or not is deliberately making blasphemous statements against the person of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon him) or trying to desecrate the Glorious Qur’an within and outside the state, thereby triggering religious crises and loss of lives and properties as witnessed in the last thirty (30) years. To stop this ugly trend, there is need for concerted efforts by all stakeholders towards addressing the roots of the menace.

Facts about Muslims attitude towards their religion

“In order to achieve the above mentioned, the following facts should be clear to all:

“i. Any true Muslim – by the dictates of his religion – loves the Noble Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon him) more than his own self, parents, children and the entire humanity. He will not hesitate to sacrifice his life in defense of his honour.

“ii. Muslims equally respect and honour all other Prophets and Messengers of Allah without discrimination, from Adam to Jesus, son of Maryam (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon them all). Speaking ill or showing disrespect to any one of them is an act of disbelief that takes one out of the fold of Islam. That’s why no any true Muslim will consider doing that.

“iii. The punishment for blasphemy against Prophets (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon them) is death according to the Islamic law. It is also the same in the Bible as mentioned in Leviticus 24 verses 10 -16; First Kings 21 verses 10 -13 and Second Kings verses 23-25. However, the execution of that punishment rests with the authorities.

“iv. History and current realities have shown that blasphemous utterances against the Noble Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon him) is suicidal and a sure way of living a miserable life in the least, whether in a Muslim majority or minority climes. The case of French teacher who presented Charlie Hebdo blasphemous cartoons to his students last year is still fresh in our memories.

“v. In all cases of blasphemy in Nigeria within the last three decades, it has always been a Christian deliberately provoking Muslims through unguarded and unjustified insults against the personality of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (may the peace of and blessings of Allah be upon him) or desecration of the Glorious Qur’an leading to reaction which often escalate into religious crises. There was no single time when a Muslim made blasphemous comments against any personality honoured in Christianity.

“vi. The poor handling of this very sensitive issue of blasphemy by many governments in the past, where the inciters, such as Rev. Bako in Kafanchan crisis of 1987, escaped justice while many innocent Muslims suffered maltreatment in the hands of some security agencies, made the generality of Muslims to view the position of this and many past governments as skewed in favour of Christians.

“vii. It is on record that unjustifiable killings of Muslims were committed at Zangon Kataf in 1991 and 1992; Tafawa Balewa in 1991, 1993, 1995 and 2001; Yelwan Shendam in 2004, Zonkwa and Jarkasa in 2011; Mambilla plateau in 2017; Dura du in Jos in 2018; Ijagbo killing of a Muslim student in 2022 among others, but no single person was punished for those crimes.

“viii. The attitude of some Muslim leaders who are quick to condemn wrong actions committed by some Muslims, but are always deaf and dumb whenever Muslim religion, lives, properties and honour are trampled upon has compounded the matter, pushing an average Muslim to resort to self-help as there’s apparently nobody interested in safeguarding his fundamental rights.

“ix. The attitude of many Christian leaders who impliedly endorse blasphemous utterances through silence; refusal to openly condemn such heinous utterances and not teaching their congregations to avoid such sacrilegious acts, also encourage blasphemous acts by some of their members,” the Forum detailed.

Our demands

Continuing, in view of the highlighs listed, “we make the following demands:

“a. The extant laws punishing acts of blasphemy not only in the state but in the whole country should be immediately reviewed to reflect the enormity and gravity of the offense in order to prevent disruption of law and order in the society and needless destruction of lives and properties.

“b. Sokoto state government shall pay full compensation to the families of those slain and injured by the security agents during peaceful demonstration on Saturday 13th Shawwal, 1443 AH (14.05.2022 CE) in Sokoto, while we also call on the government to investigate the activities of those security agents and prosecute those found responsible.

“c. The Nigeria Police, The Department of State Security and other relevant agencies shall as a matter of urgency investigate and bring to face justice those behind a YouTube channel called JARUMA HAUSA TV, who made it their primary duty to churn out contemptable statements on respected and eminent Muslim personalities such as the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, Shaikh Usmanu bn Fodiyo (may Allah have mercy on him), President Muhammadu Buhari, His Eminence the Sultan of Sokoto, numerous Emirs and many notable Islamic scholars. This should be done to avoid a religious conflagration.

“d. The Muslim leaders who refuse to defend the honor of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon him) and stand for Muslim rights for whatever reason should know that Islam is their source of honor, and if they sought for honor from outside its fold, Allah the Most High will surely humiliate them.

“e. The Christian leaders should, in the interest of peaceful coexistence publicly preach against blasphemy and educate their followers that blasphemy is against the scriptures and is a trouble shooter that will consume the perpetrator first before others.

“f. We call on Islamic scholars, Imams and preachers to intensify efforts in educating and enlightening people both Muslims and non-Muslims about the Noble qualities and life story of the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon him) and other Prophets of Allah (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon them), as sublime human personalities who deserve all honor.

“g. Similarly, we call on all Muslims to remain calm, law abiding and avoid any act that will lead to chaos, as well as continue to emulate the Noble Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon him) in all spheres of their lives.”

Finally, the Muslim Solidarity Forum rounded up the statement with prayer that Allah the Most High will “increase our love, respect and emulation of His Noble Messenger Muhammad (may the peace and salutations of Allah be upon him); keep us firm on his path in this world and the hereafter; guide those who ignorantly hate him to the right path and bring peace and prosperity to our nation, surely He is able to do so,” it said.


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