Poor Orientation, Shortage of knowledge-the Bane of Religious Bigotry and Intolerance in Nigeria By AbdulRahman Agboola
By the virtue of my understanding of the true dictates of religions worldwide, I have refrained myself from joining issues with anybody on acrimonious relationship between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, but with the level of hatred across the divides, one cannot continue to wonder the poor orientation of this generation at the detriment of peaceful cohabitation.
The true dictates of religions are sense of humility, good conducts, positive characters, conscientious deeds, morality and supremacy of God. There is no doubt that each religion claims superiority over others, but the emphasis on humanity is the scriptural books of all religions serves as guide to any reasonable believer of a particular faith to cohabit with people without hatred for their beliefs. There are basic rules of engagements inscribed in these religious books for harmonious relationship with the entire mankind, while rancor with others is only allowed in the face of deprivation of worship and confrontations.
The Foreign Islamic Clerics spread and propagated Message of Islam across the Northern regions and gained prominence majorly in North West and North East earlier enough before the arrival of Christian Missionaries in the regions, which makes the regions Muslims dominated, while the Missionaries spread and propagated the Gospel of Christianity across the Southern regions and equally gained prominence in South East and South South earlier enough before the arrival of Islamic Clerics in the South, which equally makes the regions Christians dominated. The Middle belt and South West have varied population of Christians and Muslims.
A critical analysis shows that majority of Christians in South East and South South lack absolute knowledge of the contents of the Holy Quran while most Muslims in North East and North West lack absolute knowledge of the contents of the Holy Bible which is responsible for serious hatred across the divides. The South Western States are privileged with religious comparative exercise which enables clear-headedness and appreciable level of understanding, while the major rivalry between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria is credited to the religious crises in Middle Belt that started as early as 1947 which is yet to subside till date.
The First Professor of Arabic in Nigeria Professor Ogunbiyi of University of Ibadan is a Christian from South West Nigeria, this is not a new information to knowledge seekers but with the level of animosity between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria which has led to loss of confidence and mistrust, there is a need to alert the hate spreaders to thread the path of caution in order to maintain sanctity in our polity and restore trust among Nationalities across religious divides.
As at the time of amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates in 1914, the Southern Nigeria has an overwhelming population of Christians while the Northern Nigeria has an overwhelming population of Muslims. By representation at the political level, the political leaders of the South were majorly Christians while those of the North were majorly Muslims and they occasionally showed preference for their religions in terms of power sharing.
The colonial masters are wholly responsible for our religious intolerable actions as shown by available records, Nigeria was a fair society where fairness and morality was prevalent and except for warlords who occasionally oppressed the helpless by acquiring them as slaves, the customs and traditions across tribes were sane. The varied mode of worship were unique but with imperfections, yet people lived in peace and tranquility, it was traditional worship across boards and where the Islamic Clerics confronted traditional worshipers in the North to bring about Islam before the spread to the West, the Christian Missionaries confronted them in the South yet traditional worshipers still exists till date.
We have now reached a stage where rivalry between Christians and Muslims have reached a negative trend, many Islamic Clerics and Pastors alike now show open disdain against themselves, the people are divided along religious lines even at the expense of the commands of the religious books. It has now reached a level where Political Parties must show preference for religion and sign pact with religious leaders before they could be supported by people.
President Jonathan now branded himself a representative of Christianity in government as shown by his actions and inactions with the proud support of the Leadership of Christian Association of Nigeria to the extent of receiving a remark of being a Saviour like Jesus Christ, while the Presidential Flag bearer of APC Mohammad Buhari is alleged of having Islamic agenda which he has denied by his actions and inactions. In many States, the rivalry between Christians and Muslims have reached a stage where Christians agitated that Political Parties must field Christians as Governorship Candidates in States where personalities of Islamic background have governed the States for some time, while Muslims equally aligned against Christians in places of equal political stakes.
The social media has exposed the hatred of most Christians from South East and South South for Islam which has been meted with same reactions from the Northern Muslims. This trend must be abated if must progress in this Country and on this note, I wish to bring a poser to most Christians that hates Muslims to explain the meanings of Deuterocanonicals and Septuagint, how many Christians can explain the core reasons why the Protestant Bible has 66 Chapters, the Catholic Bible has 73 Chapters and the Orthodox Bible has 78 Chapters. How many Christians truly understand the history of the Scripture vis a vis King Henry versus Pope. I equally want to bring a poser to Muslims that hates Christians to explain the Quranic injunctions on the People of the Book and showcase their knowledge of the content of the Torah, the Injil and the Sabura of Dawood.
The old are as guilty as the young in Nigeria, poor orientation plus shortage of knowledge is the bane of religious crises and intolerance in Nigeria. “People perish for lack of knowledge” is biblical while “They deceive God and the true believers but they deceive no one except their soul but they know not” is Quranic. We must understand the true dictates of the Scriptures and stop the misinterpretations and misapplications in order to foster peace and unity in Nigeria.
It is fundamental for all of us to seek adequate knowledge on the true ways of practicing our religions in order to be better in all ways and encourage the prevalence of humanitarian deeds above bigotry and extremism. Islam and Muslim are Arabic words meaning Peace and Believer in English, while Christian means Christ like where Christ is synonymous with tranquility, if your actions and attitudes does not promote peace and tranquility and you are claiming to be a Muslim or Christian, you are nothing but a HYPOCRITE.
Nigeria is truly populated with both Islamic and Christians Extremists acting under the influence of misguided indoctrination and brainwashing with poor understanding of the concept of humanity. The few guided and genuine Muslims and Christians in Nigeria should rise to the demands of the moment to educate these misguided elements mischievously spreading hates around in the name of RELIGION.
Comrade AbdulRahman Agboola,
Mass Action for Good Governance and Grassroots Development in Nigeria
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