FEATURE ARTICLE

Monday, August 21, 2023
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Arizona, USA
RELIGION: LIVE AND LET LIVE

"Seek knowledge; read Bible, Quran, and Satanic verses, and research If divination with an open mind from credible sources, even from the perceived devil (?), and you will be thoughtful and also glad you did."- Yahaya Balogun.

"Much so, Nigeria is a secular country that doesn't adopt any faith as an official state religion. And every citizen is free to live in any part of Nigeria so far as they don't breach any law. So it's unthinkable for an individual or a group to prevent others from practicing their faith." - Barrister Korede Abdullah.

Section 38 (1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) states: "Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance."

"I am a Muslim. Because I am a Muslim, I am human, and every human is a constituent of my shared faith and humanity. Everything I possess glorifies Almighty Allah/God through or in every human being, regardless of their faith or religious affiliation." Yahaya Balogun.

t is crucial to recognize that Nigeria's major ethnic groups have varying religious affiliations depending on their location. The Hausa ethnic group in the northern region of Nigeria is predominantly Muslim. At the same time, the Yoruba ethnic group in the western region is primarily Muslim but also has a significant Christian minority and some followers of traditional religions. The Igbos of the eastern region and the Ijaw in the southern region hold distinct religious beliefs and practices. It is imperative to respect and comprehend the diversity of religious beliefs and practices not only in Nigeria but also around the world.

The recent brawls and debates amongst Nigerian religionists should be a wake-up call to all human communities globally to say Enough about the growing religious extremism. It is sickening to watch people maiming vulnerable minds and irreplaceable lives with impudence--all in the name of Allah/God. Responsible religious people worldwide should rise in unison to vigorously condemn these barbaric and heinous acts that have no place in postmodernism and human civilization. The misguided elements (these hoodlums and evil-minded people) have done more defamation to religions, particularly Islam, than those who have misconceptions of the religion of Islam. On the other hand, pastorenuers have used the beauty of Christianity as a tool for politics, fear, and extortion of gullible and unassuming minds--and the mind is a terrible thing to waste.

In a nutshell, can you blame honest and misinformed people who see Islam as a violent religion? Personally, no, because each time these criminals murder impudently, they invoke Allah's name. Have we ever seen those that killed from the other religion (Christianity or Buddhism etc.) invoke Jesus' name (PBUH) while murdering their victims? The answer is emphatic NO-and-NO. Let us face reality; responsible Muslims are not doing enough to condemn these religious bandits. Islam is the most misunderstood religion in the world. Why? Because of the heinous acts of terrorism displayed by these evil-doers, all in the name of Allah (SWT), responsible Muslims' carefree disposition towards condemning the religious fundamentalists swiftly when the killings happened.

Meanwhile, from World Trade Centre (USA) to the London bombings, to Nigerian Boko Haram, to Iraq and Afghanistan, these people have committed barbaric acts, not only against their victims but against Islam. The murderous actions of the religious bandits have taken more Muslim lives than any other religion in human history. I am using this medium to stir up peaceful Muslims worldwide to educate non-Muslims globally that these terrorists and religious extremists are not Muslims in the true sense of it. Islam, in all ramifications, denounces terrorism and extremism and unjustly killing human beings without recourse to laws.

As humane society members, we must actively pursue peace and harmony. Religion has the potential to facilitate this noble goal, but we must acknowledge that specific individuals exploit it to propagate hatred, division, and violence. We must unite to denounce these individuals and their reprehensible actions, which have no place in our contemporary world. While it is unfortunate that some extremists and hate-mongers identify themselves as religious, we must not allow their actions to taint our faith perception. Instead, we must collaborate to foster understanding and love among all people, irrespective of their beliefs or backgrounds.

Existentially, religion was not created to instill fear, promote division, hate, and commit violent acts against humanity. It is crucial to acknowledge that certain individuals wrongly use religion as a tool of fear and violence. These people are ignorant and selfish, and they promote hate in society. It is disheartening to see how some have used (jgdjgn) religious violence throughout human history to seek power, revenge, and recognition. However, we must recognize that these actions do not represent the true principles of religion. Our society must work towards a more peaceful and compassionate future.

However, it's also essential to recognize that historically, using religions as stealth and tools of terror will ultimately fail. This is evident in human civilization, as Nigeria has many examples of current misnomers. Some argue that religion is opium to humankind and has done more destruction than good throughout history. Of course, this is subject to honest debate. In other words, religion should be used as a tool for the good of humankind. Anything contrary to that should be condemned by all and sundry. To my religious friends worldwide, I urge you to wake up and say enough is enough of these barbaric acts against fellow humans and ourselves. It's time for us to stand together and promote peace and harmony.

Unequivocally, it's regrettable to see that there are still some people out there who are spreading hateful and ignorant propaganda about the late Chief MKO Abiola. These religious bigots keep pushing the same old lies from the 1993 political propaganda and campaign of Columny, claiming that MKO Abiola threw copies of the Bible into the ocean. These people are clearly misinformed and seem to be spreading this misinformation to sow more hatred and division among people. But the truth is that the late Chief MKO Abiola was well-known as a fantastic businessman, a kindhearted and compassionate Muslim, and a generous philanthropist who helped people of all religions and backgrounds in Nigeria and beyond. Recognizing and celebrating his legacy is essential rather than spreading lies and misinformation about him. We should strive to be better than those who promote violence and division in our religious debates. It's important not to fall into the trap of unthinking people following their so-called 'pastors' and 'alfas' who don't truly represent the values of our faith. Let's focus on finding common ground and promoting understanding rather than perpetuating conflict.

To my responsible Muslim folks, it is incumbent upon us as Muslims to actively educate others about the magnificence of Islam and its ability to enhance our daily lives. Sharing our knowledge and personal experiences with those unfamiliar with our faith is crucial in order to facilitate a greater understanding and appreciation for it. Personally, I am grateful to have been, at the cradle, tenderly introduced to Islam, Christianity, and traditional religions and their teachings prior to meeting many Nigerian religionists, as it has enabled me to engage with them in a more informed and respectful manner. It is my sincere hope that more individuals have the opportunity to learn about the multifaceted advantages of Islam.

As I approach the end of this thoughtful piece, it is imperative to recognize that any religion that cultivates hostility among Muslims, Christians, or other religious groups impedes the advancement of humanity. Furthermore, any religion that endorses jgdjgn (violent disposition) or spreads t?`mb?`l?`kun (disseminates animosity and discord) among individuals within a peaceful society has no place in a civilized and compassionate community. It is high time for us to break free from religious subjugation, colonial mentality and liberate our minds from reverse slavery. We must strive to become respectable and considerate human beings, liberated from mental enslavement.

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