Yari, menin­gi­tis and God - How we missed the op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress Nige­ria’s unique hypocrisy (I)

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - top­sy­fash@ya­hoo.com (SMS 08070850159)

Ichoose to view Gover­nor Yari’s state­ment that God is pun­ish­ing his peo­ple for their sins - es­pe­cially of for­ni­ca­tion - by killing hordes of them (in­clud­ing chil­dren), with cere­brospinal menin­gi­tis, a lit­tle dif­fer­ently. I ac­tu­ally sup­port him. 50% of the way. I sup­port his ad­mo­ni­tion against for­ni­ca­tion - and per­haps adul­tery and to­tal moral deca­dence. But I know for a fact that many hot parts of Nige­ria usu­ally suf­fer se­ries of cere­brospinal menin­gi­tis at­tacks at the tail end of the dry sea­son es­pe­cially when the rain de­lays.

I be­lieve the dis­ease is en­hanced by heat, so imag­ine the mil­lions of poor homes with no elec­tric­ity, no fan and def­i­nitely no air­con­di­tion­ing in his Zam­fara State.

This is largely a poverty-re­lated dis­ease. It is also not a new phe­nom­e­non. Pfizer’s il­le­gal ex­per­i­ments in Kano in 1996, was premised on find­ing a vac­cine for this ail­ment.

Now let’s un­pack the Yari state­ment. First, I was sur­prised. Yari is not an or­di­nary gover­nor. He is the chair­man of the Gov­er­nors’ Fo­rum. One may as­sume that the gov­er­nors el­e­vated to lead other gov­er­nors must be some­how out­stand­ing but maybe not. But his in­tel­li­gence or lack of it is not my is­sue. I was more sur­prised that a prob­lem such as ‘for­ni­ca­tion’ is com­ing out of Nige­ria’s shariah cap­i­tal; Zam­fara State.

Now Zam­fara is one state many peo­ple I know dread to go. Those who travel to the north of Nige­ria would how­ever tell you that there is noth­ing to be afraid of. North­ern Nige­ri­ans are some of the warm­est peo­ple you could ever meet. Liv­ing among them could be a de­light and most of the cri­sis there hap­pen in the poor­est places but for those who are af­fected, they have ter­ri­ble sto­ries to tell. Again, re­li­gious and eth­nic cri­sis in Nige­ria is al­most en­tirely poverty fu­elled or in­duced.

There came a cer­tain Gover­nor Yer­ima in the Obasanjo days. The bearded fel­low (I saw that he had cut the beards and is look­ing ‘mod­ern’ these days, just when I started to grow some), saw a vi­sion that all that was re­quired to solve his peo­ple’s prob­lems was for them to ‘move closer to God’. And so he de­clared that the state will be gov­erned by Is­lamic Law. Peo­ple pan­icked. Obasanjo felt af­fronted, but quickly de­coded that it was ‘po­lit­i­cal shariah’. The world press went into a frenzy. They would later tie that event with the com­mence­ment of our worst night­mare; Boko Haram, be­cause some­how it is easy to link choos­ing to be strictly gov­erned by Is­lamic laws and re­fus­ing to at­tend the oy­ibo man’s school or ac­quir­ing his ‘soul-con­tam­i­nat­ing’ knowl­edge. This is de­spite the fact that al­most ev­ery­one on planet earth to­day re­lies on this knowl­edge, or more im­por­tantly, that the Is­lamic Civ­i­liza­tion which suc­ceeded the Ot­toman Em­pire around the 16th Cen­tury, is very in­stru­men­tal to the in­tel­lec­tual re­nais­sance of mankind which has trans­muted to­day to what is called “the white man’s sci­ence”. In other words, there is noth­ing ‘haram’ about most of to­day’s sci­ence, and cer­tainly very lit­tle if any­thing is anti-shariah or Is­lamic law about it, be­cause Mus­lims are right at the base of it’s devel­op­ment.

To get the story right, the Ot­toman Em­pire suc­ceeded the Byzan­tine Em­pire (oth­er­wise called the Eastern Ro­man Em­pire), and head­quar­tered in Con­stantino­ple (to­day’s Is­tan­bul). The Byzan­tine era was one of waste and deca­dence, draw­ing the at­ten­tion of the Cru­saders who were Chris­tians and who be­lieved that man should be solely guided by the Holy Books (their own ver­sion), and the need to cleanse the earth by force by fire. They cap­tured the Byzan­tines and pro­ceeded to in­stall their own Em­pire which also fell un­der the same vices of wine, for­ni­ca­tion (oops that word again), and the de­sire for gold, thereby com­plet­ing an­other cy­cle of boom and bust. The Cru­saders had how­ever ban­ished sci­ence and out­lawed the in­tel­lec­tual achieve­ments of the Greeks and Ro­mans (re­mem­ber Torque­mada), which were only later re­stored in the Is­lamic Era, trans­lated into Ara­bic and pre­served in a way that the Bri­tish Em­pire were able to build upon the bod­ies of knowl­edge. Be­fore then, as early as the 8th Cen­tury in to­day’s Bagh­dad, Iraq, a khal­ifa, Abu Ja’far Al-Ma’mun, had taken great in­ter­est in sci­ence and stud­ied the great works of the an­cient king­doms, caus­ing a great sci­en­tific revo­lu­tion.

I be­lieve the dis­ease is en­hanced by heat, so imag­ine the mil­lions of poor homes with no elec­tric­ity, no fan and def­i­nitely no air-con­di­tion­ing in his Zam­fara State. This is largely a poverty-re­lated dis­ease

The in­ter­na­tional lan­guage of sci­ence was Ara­bic for more than 700 years, it could be ar­gued. When the USA at­tacked Bagh­dad in search of non-ex­is­tent weapons of mass de­struc­tion, I had a feeling they were af­ter the his­tory.

Fur­ther­more, Muham­mad Ibn Musa Al Khawarizmi (cor­rupted or an­gli­cised as ‘Al­go­rithm’) lived be­tween 780AD and 850AD. He worked in what was called ‘The House of Wis­dom’ (Bayt at Hikma), as a math­e­ma­ti­cian, ge­og­ra­pher and as­trologer. He is some­times known as the fa­ther of math­e­mat­ics. His great­est work - which he put to­gether with Al-Kindi, an­other poly­math, is known as “Kitab Al Jebr” (which Euro­peans now call Al­ge­bra). There is Ibn Sina (known in the West as Avi­cenna, one of the great­est writ­ers and thinkers of the Is­lamic Golden Age). Other great in­flu­encers in­clude Al Razi (known in the west as Rhazes), Jamshid AlKashi (cred­ited in trigonom­e­try with the Law of Cosines), Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi (the first to treat trigonom­e­try as a sep­a­rate dis­ci­pline), Ibn Hay­tahm, who fused Al­ge­bra and Geom­e­try and is re­puted for what is to­day known as the Al­hazen Prob­lem, Ibn Batuta (a great ex­plorer and ge­og­ra­pher), Ibn Rushd (a great me­di­aval poly­math who wrote on ju­rispru­dence and logic whose name was la­tinised to be­come ‘Aver­roes’), Ibn Khal­dun (ac­knowl­edged fa­ther of so­cial sci­ences and eco­nomic the­ory), who was - to­gether with Coper­ni­cus -in­flu­enced by the work of Al Biruni, a Mus­lim Per­sian poly­math re­garded as the ‘Da Vinci of Is­lam’. There was Muham­mad Al Karaji, an­other Per­sian math­e­ma­ti­cian and poly­math, who took Al­ge­bra fur­ther; by us­ing math­e­mat­i­cal in­duc­tion to prove the bi­no­mial the­o­rem. In fact, Colum­bus in his voy­age to the New World is said to have had Mus­lim nav­i­ga­tors and as­trologers on hand.

The very con­cept called zero (cipher, orig­i­nally from the Ara­bic word ‘sifr’), is an­other gift from the math­e­ma­ti­cians of that era, just as what we know as nu­mer­als to­day in English is en­tirely Ara­bic, from fig­ures 1 to 9. They are writ­ten al­most ex­actly the same way. In the days that the religion barred peo­ple from re­pro­duc­ing the hu­man form in draw­ings, the Arabs mas­tered the art of sym­met­ric draw­ings. When next you are in an Ara­bic­themed place, try and no­tice the sheer ge­nius of their art, which is fused with math­e­mat­ics. And note that most of it was per­fected thou­sands of years ago, when no one had the ben­e­fit of present-day com­put­ers. It is called ‘Geo­met­ric Arts’, fus­ing poly­gons and cir­cles, and tes­sel­la­tions. with Tope Fa­sua

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