Boko Haram: From de­spair to hope

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Disu Kamor

In an ex­tra­or­di­nary ad­dress to the United Na­tions Gen­eral As­sem­bly on Septem­ber 29th, 2015 dur­ing the “Lead­er­ship Sum­mit on Coun­ter­ing ISIL and Vi­o­lent Ex­trem­ism”, Shaykh Ab­dal­lah Bin Bayyah, Pres­i­dent of the pres­ti­gious Fo­rum for Pro­mot­ing Peace in Mus­lim So­ci­eties, Abu Dhabi, UAE car­ried a pow­er­ful mes­sage of peace in Is­lam, in his dis­tin­guished voice, to the world. Shaykh Bin Bayyah is listed as the 23rd of 500 most in­flu­en­tial Mus­lims in the world by the The Royal Is­lamic Strate­gic Stud­ies Cen­tre, Jor­dan and is also the Vice-Pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Union of Mus­lim Schol­ars, former min­is­ter of ed­u­ca­tion and former min­is­ter of reli­gious af­fairs of Mau­ri­ta­nia. In 2010 he cor­rected a 101-year old ter­ri­ble mis­print of the Mardin Fatwa of Ibn Taymiyya that al­most all the Mus­lim ex­trem­ist groups have re­lied on to jus­tify their vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism. Shaykh Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), one of Is­lam’s most force­ful the­olo­gians, had is­sued a de­fin­i­tive fatwa (le­gal edict) against the Mon­gol (Tatars) rulers dur­ing the great Mon­gol cri­sis of the years 1299 to 1303. He de­clared that it was com­pul­sory for true Mus­lims to en­gage in ag­gres­sive ji­had against Mon­gol rulers, on the grounds that they did not fol­low Sharia and as such were not Mus­lim, notwith­stand­ing the Mon­gol rulers’ claim of con­ver­sion to Is­lam.

The un­re­lent­ing siege on the the­o­log­i­cal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions of the ter­ror spe­cial­ists, the ques­tion­ing of their reli­gious cre­den­tials and the rig­or­ous and con­tin­ual scholas­tic dis­sec­tion of their most im­por­tant premises have played great roles in ef­fec­tively coun­ter­ing their ex­treme ide­ol­ogy and vi­o­lent in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Is­lam. Also, it shows how se­ri­ously the schol­ars have held the trust upon them to guide and lead at all times. Per­haps, it is for this rea­son that ex­trem­ist groups like Boko Haram have de­clared un­lim­ited war on Is­lamic schol­ars, send­ing af­ter them hunter killer teams and mur­der­ing many of them in cold blood. It is very im­por­tant for the Nige­rian so­ci­ety to re­mem­ber the im­mense work and sac­ri­fices of those mar­tyred schol­ars who fought, tooth and nail, to dis­pel Boko Haram’s evil ide­ol­ogy, and counter their rhetoric.

The so­lu­tion to the scourge of ter­ror­ism that Nige­ria faces is not solely in the hands of the Mil­i­tary or the Nige­rian Mus­lim com­mu­nity. Just putting it on the shoul­der of either is grossly mis­taken and naive. In the reli­gious as­pect, it is re­ally an in­ter­faith com­mu­nity-based so­lu­tion. All peace lov­ing peo­ple, Mus­lim and Chris­tian, must start to think of them­selves as equal stake­hold­ers in mak­ing sure this is the very last time com­mon crim­i­nals are al­lowed to go on ram­page, un­leash­ing ter­ror on us from safe havens. All hands must be on deck to heal the scars of the long years of sense­less divi­sion, sep­a­ra­tion and hate­mon­ger­ing which cul­ti­vated the mind­set that al­lowed some to look on while oth­ers bled and died. We need to re-en­gage our youth with non­vi­o­lence tac­tics, re­build re­la­tion­ships and trust, be bound­lessly com­pas­sion­ate, re­vile vi­o­lence of all kinds, re­struc­ture what in­ter-faith re­la­tions re­ally means, from the top and the bot­tom. All th­ese need to be taught in schools, as much as they are taught from the pul­pit.

It is great to see that the Nige­rian Mus­lim com­mu­nity is led, through the

Nige­ria Supreme Coun­cil for Is­lamic Af­fairs (NSCIA), by lead­ers that have in­cor­po­rated best prac­tices in deal­ing with vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism on one side and in­ter-faith re­la­tions on the other. His Royal High­ness Sa’adu Abubakr, the leader of the Nige­rian Mus­lims and 24th of 500 most in­flu­en­tial Mus­lims in the world has trav­eled the length and breath of the coun­try call­ing for and pro­mot­ing both reli­gious and civic peace. In the last few years, he has en­abled many meet­ings be­tween Nige­rian schol­ars and other world-renowned schol­ars pro­mot­ing peace. A few years back in Abu Dhabi, 20 schol­ars from Nige­ria met with other prom­i­nent schol­ars and re­solved to con­tinue to work to­gether for peace in Nige­ria. His Em­i­nence Car­di­nal John Onaiyekan and Sul­tan have shown ex­em­plary lead­er­ship in work­ing to bring faith com­mu­ni­ties to­gether. Both had been No­bel prize nom­i­nees and are both elected co-pres­i­dents of the World Coun­cil’s Re­li­gions for Peace. The World Coun­cil is a global agent of mul­tire­li­gious ac­tion en­trusted with Re­li­gions for Peace gov­er­nance. Its mem­bers are com­prised of dis­tin­guished reli­gious lead­ers who are ded­i­cated to build­ing peace. His Royal High­ness Sa’adu Abubakr was the first sig­na­tory to the “A Com­mon Word Be­tween Us and You”- a pow­er­ful doc­u­ment set­ting out the means for co­op­er­a­tion and world­wide co-or­di­na­tion be­tween Chris­tian­ity and Is­lam. This pow­er­ful doc­u­ment does so on the most solid the­o­log­i­cal ground pos­si­ble: the teach­ings of the Qu’ran and the Prophet, and the com­mand­ments de­scribed by Je­sus Christ in the Bi­ble.

De­spite their dif­fer­ences, Is­lam and Chris­tian­ity not only share the same di­vine ori­gin and the same Abra­hamic her­itage, but the same two great­est com­mand­ments- the love of God and the love of the neigh­bour.

As a part­ing shot, Shaykh Ab­dal­lah Bin Bayyah ob­served to the Gen­eral As­sem­bly: “The ship of hu­man­ity is in per­ilous wa­ters: our hu­man abode is threat­ened by fire, and there­fore our cur­rent sit­u­a­tion calls for ur­gent col­lab­o­ra­tion. To­day, hu­mankind is in dire need of the Ark of Noah. In keep­ing with our Prophetic tra­di­tion, our cen­tral con­cern is how to res­cue this sink­ing ship. We are at­tempt­ing to ex­tin­guish the fires that have en­gulfed our hu­man abode; hence, we are merely fire­fight­ers and life­savers. “Nige­ria is cer­tainly caught in the dan­ger­ous un­der­cur­rent of the per­ilous wa­ters which the Shaykh spoke of. We need young lead­ers to sup­port those in­ter­faith he­roes that have con­sis­tently raised the flag of peace and har­mony, and we need masses of peo­ple that will be peace ad­vo­cates.

In all of the chaos and ex­treme vi­o­lence, the over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of Nige­rian Mus­lims have stood against the ex­trem­ists and re­jected the dis­course of vi­o­lence. In a sin­gle and un­equiv­o­cal voice, Mus­lim

Nige­ri­ans have told the Boko Haram: what you call to is not Is­lam and we stand with all your vic­tims.

Disu Kamor, Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man, Mus­lim Pub­lic Af­fairs Cen­tre, MPAC, Nige­ria.21 Sal­va­tion Road, Opebi, Lagos 0807 604 9545E-mails: communications@mpac-ng.org

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