A research based opinion and peculiar case studies.
Persecution means hostility, especially because of a race or political or religious beliefs: oppression. The noun persecution is related to persecute, which comes from Latin persecute: meaning “followed with hostility”.
Nigeria, a heterogeneous country with her common peculiarity in land mass and multi ethnic parlance has tethered religious waves in relation to independence and modern day style of governance.
Religion be it Christianity or Islam has her Holy books which serves as a sacred guide for doctrine, the provisions for existence of persecution and grounds for its existence in case of newly discovered faith will be dwelled upon briefly.
From the Christendom which believes in the Bible therein entails histories of persecution itself as can be seen in the following chapters and verses and styles. The Bible clearly states that Christians will be persecuted. It still happens today in many different forms, from as simple as being mocked to as serious as murder. Be that as it may, you should not let persecution discourage you from being a Christian. Accepting Jesus Christ as your Saviour is one of the most important things you will do on this Earth. You shouldn’t avoid it just because of the persecution so preaches the Christian faith as a doctrine hence there is a pre indication of a mind-set entrenched in Christianity. They are antidotes in the bible through those trials or persecutions that will help in the transition basically by reading Bible verses about persecution. Below are the following.
Psalms 9 :13-Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:
Psalms 119 :86-All thy commandments are faithful: they persecute me wrongfully; help thou me.
Jeremiah 20 :11-But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten.
Matthew 5 :12-Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
John 15 :18-If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
John 15 :20-Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord.
If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Romans 8 :35-Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
1-Corinthians 4 :12-And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
2-Corinthians 12 :10-Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
1-Thessalonians 3 :4-For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
Hebrews 10 :33-Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
1-Peter 4 :16-Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
From the Muslim corridors which we take an in depth look at because of its parabolic nature.
On the eve of Islamic invasion of the Middle East in the seventh century, more than 95 percent of the population, not including Persia, was Christians. The rest were Jews, pagans and others. Back then, the Muslim attitude toward the People of the Book, as Christians and Jews are called in the Quran, does not entail any obligation on the part of the Muslims either to convert or to exterminate them.
Following the death of the Prophet of Islam in 632, the second successor, Calipha ‘Umar, had a covenant with the Christian majority of the Middle East; it is known as the Covenant of ‘Umar. The Covenant was in the form of a letter presented by the Christian community; it reads the following: “When you (i.e. ‘Umar) came to us, we asked you for safety for our lives, our families, our property, and the people of our religion on the conditions: to pay tribute out of hand and be humiliated; not to hinder any Muslim from stopping in our churches by night or day, to entertain him there three days and give him food there and open to him their doors; to beat the ‘naqus’ (the wooden board which serves as ‘bell’ amongst the Eastern Christians) only gently.…and not to raise our voices in them in chanting;. . . .not to build a church, convent, or hermitage, or cell, nor repair those that are dilapidated; nor assemble in any that is in a Muslim quarter, nor in their presence; not to display idolatry, nor invite to it, nor show a cross on our churches, nor in any of the roads or markets of the Muslims; not to learn the Quran nor teach it to our children, nor to prevent any of our relatives from turning Muslims if he wishes it;. . . .Not to resemble the Muslims in dress, appearance, saddles . . .; to honor and respect them, to stand up for them when we meet together;… not to make our houses higher (than the Muslim houses); not to tip weapons or swords, nor wear them in a town or on a journey in Muslim lands;. . .not to strike a Muslim; not to keep slaves who have been the property of Muslims. We impose these terms on ourselves and on our co-religionists; he who rejects them, has no protections.” (A.S. Tritto, The Caliphs and Their Non-Muslim Subjects, London, 1930).
Muslim writers quote the Quran to present the religion as ‘peaceful’. They present verses from the Quran showing the peaceful, respectful and tolerant nature of the Quran; one verse reads: “You have your religion and I have mine” Quran 109:6, and “There is no compulsion in religion” (Quran 2:256).
Indeed, when you read the Quran, you come across verses that are tolerant to non-Muslims. One verse says: “If thy Lord had pleased, all those who are in the earth would have believed, all of them. Will thou then force them till they are believers?” (Quran 10:99). Another verse reads: “May thou will kill thyself with grief, sorrowing after, if they believe not in this argument (non-believers)” (Quran 18:6).
One verse refers to Christian priests and monks as humble and engage in worshipping God: “…Wilt thou find those who say, we are Christians; because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant” (Quran 5:8). Muslim commentators state that the Quran treats all human beings on equal plain, whatever their creed or color or nation or tribe. They refer to the following verse: “And surely we have honored the children of Adam, and we carry them in the land and the sea, and we provide them with good tiding, and we have made to excel highly most of those whom we have created.” (Quran 17:70).Muslim commentators state that Allah did not create all human beings as one community, but rather different sects, distinctively. They state that plurality of religions and ways of life and different laws co-exist peacefully with the Muslim community.
However going by some Anti Christian Sentiments in the Quran one will marvel and get a quick peep of some extremist views. As the same Quran calls Christians ‘Dhimmi’, an Aramaic word [DMM] means ‘the insulted ones’, who must pay “jizya” (a head tax for protection) and be humiliated (Quran 9: 29).The Quran calls its followers to smite the necks of the unbelievers (non-Muslims): “When you meet those who disbelieve, smite at their necks until when you have killed and wounded many of them, then take them as captives, (Quran 47:4).The Quran commands the believers (i.e. Muslims) to wage Jihad (holy war) on non-Muslims, it reads: “Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows you don’t” (Quran 2:216).
The Quran says: “The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger (non-Muslims) and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hand and feet at alternate side cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom. . .” (Quran 5:33-34).The Quran says: “Verily Allah has cursed the unbelievers (non-Muslims) and has prepared for them a Blazing Fire to dwell in forever. No protector will they find, nor savior. That day their faces will be turned upside down in the fire; they will say: Woe to us! We should have obeyed Allah and obeyed the Messenger! (i.e. Muhammad), our Lord! Give them double torment and curse them with a very great curse!” (Quran 33:64)
In another verse the Quran says: “Truly Allah loves those who fight in His cause in battle, as if they were a solid cement structure . . . that you believe in Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad), and that you strive in the cause of Allah, with your property and persons. That will be best for you, if you but knew! He (Allah) will forgive you your sins, and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow, and to beautiful mansions in gardens of eternity. That is indeed the supreme achievement. And another (favor will He bestow), which you do love — help from Allah and a speedy victory. So give the glad tidings to the believers (Muslims)” (Quran 61:4, 11-13).The Quran calls Muslims not to befriend Christians and Jews; the verse reads: “O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them [for friendship] is of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust” (Quran 5: 51).
Faced with these contradictory verses from the Quran, and instead of explaining these contradictions, Muslim theologian started looking into another mechanism to solve these contradictions. They adopted a doctrine known as “the doctrine of abrogation”, a legal method that allows annulment of seemingly contradictory verses from the Quran, without deleting them from the text. The concept of “abrogation” is stated in the Quran, it means that Allah chose to reveal verses that supersede earlier verses in the same Quran. The central Quranic verse that deals with abrogation is the following:
“None of Our revelations (verses) do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar; knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things? (Quran 2:106, Yusuf Ali translation). This means that when Allah decides to abrogate a verse from the Quran, He simply replaces the abrogated verse by a new and better one.
Modern Muslim commentators confirm the doctrine of abrogation; they state that the laws might differ across time but that there should be no shame in the same lawgiver replacing temporary law with permanent ones (i.e. abrogating). (Tafsir al-Qur’an by Abdul Majid al-Daryabadi, Idara Islamiyyat, Lahore, 1985, p. 36).
Muslim theologian divide the Quran into verses revealed to Muhammad by the Angel Jibril in Mecca when his community of followers was weak and more inclined to compromise with Christians, Jews and the pagans of Arabia. It is during this period in Mecca that the earlier, peaceful, compromising, and lenient verses were revealed to Muhammad. But as his authority grew strong after he and his followers migrated to Medina, other verses came down to him; it is those defiant, insulting, attacking, and calling for jihad against non-Muslims verses that abrogate the previous verses.
Al-Suyuti, (1445-1505), an authoritative Muslim scholar said in his Al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Quran that everything in the Quran about forgiveness and peace is abrogated by verse 9:5. The verse orders Muslims to fight the unbelievers and to establish Allah’s kingdom on earth. Verse 9:5 reads the following:
“When the sacred months are over, slay the ‘mushrikoon’ (those who associate gods with Allah) wherever your find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful” (Quran 9:5).
Changing the course of the outburst, the traditional religion and other religions in Nigeria has no history of rancour into recent times. There have been many memoirs of converts who face persecution in different ways.
Persecution in work places, within family ties, within places of residence, in public associations and even intra religious persecution is beginning to be on the rise.
Shamsudeen Tahiru from the north East Nigeria a brilliant young man who attended a Federal Government College was a Muslim devote from a strong Muslim background and suddenly he listened to television broadcast of Christian ministration and had an encounter with Christ and gave his life to Christ.
His decision was weird to the family, he was ostracised from the family, his education cut short and locked up for 8 months in his house, His father divorced the mother for this reason and the boy was labelled rebel. The boy eventually escaped from the dungeon and home arrest his father imprisoned him today he is still away from home.
Ogunmilade Akeem Adeniran was another case of an adult already married and self-reliant who encountered Jesus Christ and his parents being Muslims were disappointed and his parents kinsmen took it up frustrating the man to the extent of having clashes with his family and loss of properties.
Needless to mention brutal killings all over the country based on religious differences.
Religious persecution in Nigeria is not limited to Christianity and Islam conversion but some churches persecute members who change their church of worship as well.
Matters arising from this imbroglio have left a lot of schools of thought with rhetoric’s. Some believe that the poverty rate in Nigeria is responsible for this while some say failure of the government to produce basic social amenities is responsible.
The fact remains that in both religions Love is sacred and basis of core tenet. Hence this piece is meant to open our eyes and shun religious persecutions and stigmatism as God the creator of the universe didn’t intend to bring religion as a tool of human destruction but to make life more beautiful.
Reference-Gabriel Sawma is professor of Middle East Constitutional Law, Islamic Sharia (law), European Union Law, Islamic banking and finance, Arabic and Aramaic. Consultant on Islamic divorce in US Courts. Consultant on recognition and enforcement of foreign divorce judgments in US courts. Author of a book titled, “The Qur’an: Misinterpreted, Mistranslated, and Misread. The Aramaic Language of the Qur’an.”