Islam is at stake in Northern Nigeria

December 25, 2018

Professor Dahiru Yahya delivered a speech at the Conference on Opportunities and Challenges in Nigeria in which he called on the international community to demand accountability from the Nigerian Federal Government for atrocities it has committed in Nigeria.

In the conference that took place in Washington on December 17, Prof Yahya requested excess political and diplomatic pressure on the government of Nigeria until it ends “religious minority suppression” and sticks with the “human rights law” and “principles of rule of law”. 

Below is the full text of Prof Yahya’s speech. 

Background

When the Americans fought their Wars of Independence (1775-1783), commonly known as the American Revolution, the rest of the world was not asleep. The American Revolution was not the first or the most important revolution that the world had witnessed, but the Americans paved the revolutionary path in the modern age.  Some others, especially the French, the Russians, the Chinese and the Iranians, followed suit.

Man had undergone more pronounced revolutions that have inspired him. Since Adam (Koran al-Qur’an 7:23-27) who found solutions in confession and repentance, man decided to fight against arrogance and accepted the possibility personal redemption through reforms. With Noah (Koran 11:45-47), man developed the understanding that judgement must be based on knowledge and the truth, not on nepotism, the mother of all forms of exclusion including tribalism, racism and nationalism. 

Abraham, the Father of Faith for the Jews, the Christians and the Muslims, established faith and freedom of choice as the backbone of human existence.

“When the child was old enough to share his father’s endeavour, the latter said, ‘O my dear son, I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you, consider then what will be thy view!’ O father, do as you are commanded, you will find me, if God so wills, among those who are patient in adversity”  (Koran -al-Quran 37:102). 

Many a man is patient in adversity and even sacrifices his life for what he believes in and out of his free choice.  We need to be redeemed even as Abraham was redeemed with a sacrificial lamb.  

The Commandments (Koran 17:101) introduced law to save the weak from the strong and the strong from himself. The Rule of Law is crucial to the survival of man and the human civilisation. Moses stands for all of us as the Father of Law.  The President of Federal Republic of Nigeria rejected publicly the Rule of Law. Then, where does the weak and the strong stand? Where is the dividing line between right and wrong and between truth and falsehood?  

Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, introduced the notion of the “milk of human kindness” to buttress and supplement the law. The Koran (Koran 19:21) said he was a mercy to mankind. The activities of ICON and USCIRF are certainly within the purview of his teachings. Nigeria is a nation that SEEMS to have expunged the Christ within it. 

As Muslims, we see Muhammad as the Father of Rationality; for he has imbued us with all these teachings. The belief in all these teachers is a precondition to becoming a Muslim (Quran 2:136).

“Say, ‘We believe in God and in that which is revealed to us and which has been revealed to Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and their descendants and which was given to Moses and Jesus and other Prophets from their Sustainer. We make no distinction between any of them and it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.’Furthermore, There is no coercion in matters of faith...,” the Koran (2:256) declares. “And proclaim, ‘This is the truth from your Sustained. Let him, then, who wills believe in it and let him who wills reject it.” (Koran 18:29). 

Then, where is the rationality in the Islam of the Nigerian Muslim leaders?

In the great race of humanity against evil in its journey on earth, religion, defined here as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, is a competitor against brutality, exclusion and otherness.  Religion takes the journey of life, as a relay race that must not lose a moment in its momentum; Judaism handing the baton of Commandments to Christianity and Christianity, its baton of Beatitude to the Rationality of Islam, and immediately too, is a most likely way to win the race.   

Mutual recognition and spiritual zeal maintain the momentum in a life where our innermost negative impulses suggest otherwise. All revolutions, ancient and modern, are about human dignity and human responsibility. Freedom from oppression and related issues take the centre stage.

The deterioration of Islam in Nigeria

There was a well-documented Islamic Revolution in Northern Nigeria around the time of the American Wars of Independence, quite different from those in the Western world, but advocating the same value system. That revolution was led by Shaykh ‘Uthman ?an Fodio, which led to the amalgamation of 32 pre-colonial African states in the 19th century and establishing the basic foundations of the modern state of Nigeria. When the British colonised the Sokoto Caliphate, the present Northern Nigeria more or less, a hundred years later, they built the colonial state on the foundations of the defunct Caliphate. For the security of colonial policy, the British instituted a Muslim ruling class who saw eye to eye with the colonial policies and identified them as their own. The type of colonial policies USA overthrew to claim its independence and a revolution.

By the time the British came, the values of the Caliphate as established by the Founding Fathers of the Caliphate had dissipated and sacrificed on the altar of the TWO permanent pillars for the destruction of value, state and society, NATIONAL SECURITY and GREED. This led to the destruction of values, the society and the nation. Under the original charter of the Sokoto Caliphate religious rights were protected. It was illegal to coerce any non-Muslim to become a Muslim. The successors of the Founding Fathers misread that policy to deny the right of non-Muslims to become Muslims; a situation they thought would drain the state treasury. These people, as Muslims, could not be enslaved and slavery was an important part of the state economy.  With the coming of the British colonial rule, the abolishment of slavery and free access to Western education, these non-Muslims became Christians and free, but political power has eluded them. Their pre-colonial status remains submissive and they continue to be subject to raids. They engage in counter raids too to protect themselves. In the end, peace was the victim.

Background to backwardness and terrorism in Northern Nigeria 

Presently, the Muslim establishment in Northern Nigeria has become myopic. The Sultan and his emirs parade themselves as the Muslim leaders on the claims that they are blood successors of the Founding Fathers of the Sokoto Caliphate. Such claims are unacceptable and lacking intelligent consideration at any time in history.  Such leadership shows no positive results. They cut themselves off from Islamic education and values and the consistent truth that history is dynamic and change is inevitable. On the basis of falsity of National Security fuelled by Greed, they connive with any government of the day at the expense of the Rule of Law and the common interests. 

These so-called Muslim leaders are unproductive and poor, which leads them to rely on the state treasury, charity and corruption for survival. They have emasculated the Muslim society. They turn children away from schools to becoming street beggars, ready for recruitment by terrorist organisations. They turn youth unemployable and murderous fanatics grounded in hatred. They support corruption and through purchase, they install the corrupt elements with self-deceiving titles. They render the aged and the physically handicapped into permanent destitution and street begging.

The story of Islamic terrorism in Northern Nigeria began in the 1960’s when these Muslim leaders invited the Saudi Arabs into the Northern Nigerian politics with the hope of attaining to religious ascendancy. The Saudis use the weapon of money to infiltrate the Nigerian political class and the military and imbue them with total hatred of those who do not subscribe to Wahhabi murderous doctrines. This is the worldwide policy of the Saudis, which US government considered recently as dangerous to world peace and directed the Saudis to remove the violent elements of their teachings from the curricula of the mosques and schools that they had built worldwide.

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria

As an indigenous Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), which is absolutely self-sustaining financially as a matter of policy and survival, members of the IMN give weekly donations to sustain their programmes. This fund angered the Sokoto Caliphate establishment, which thought the Sultan should have a share to maintain his horses and the sycophants in the palace. 

The relationship of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria with Iran is purely doctrinal and certainly not political. The Revolution led by Shaykh ‘Uthman ?an Fodio two hundred years ago in Northern Nigeria, the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the last century and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria drew inspirations from the same common source in the House of the Prophet, Ahl al-Bayt, the tradition of which the Shi‘ah branch of Islam sustains. The Saudis sustain an alternative tradition of the corrupt enemies of the Prophet in intransigent and violent schools (i.e. of Abu Jahl, Abu Lahab and Abu Sufyan). These violent and unjust schools are actively supported and protected by Northern Nigerian Muslim leaders, especially under the auspices Jama'atu Nasril Islam, a criminally inclined pseudo  politico-religious organisation. 

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria stands on the following practices:

  • - Self-determination: They operate schools from kindergarten through primary to secondary schools. The graduates of these schools easily acquire admission to Nigerian and foreign universities. They do not allow their children to beg for survival in the street as the children of some other Muslims do.
  • Politeness and civility to all and sundry are their hallmark. They are different from the uncouth Wahhabi Izala youth.
  • Law abiding, but resist oppression in any form and attach importance to persistent acquisition of knowledge. They are good citizens. They use Nigerian passport and pay their taxes promptly. 
  •  Efficiency, punctuality and truthfulness in conduct in working and marketplaces make them unique in the Muslim society. Their medical doctors assist the public in times of need irrespective of religious beliefs. They provide services where government fails to do so.
  • The IMN does not believe in violence in whatever form and manner. They demonstrate occasionally in Abuja against one injustice or another, but not a single window glass in the government offices is broken even when they are being killed 

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria sees opportunity in the concept of La Convivencia, coexistence and cooperation between Muslims, Christians, Jews and others for the promotion of world peace. The policy will establish an enduring legacy encompassing all faiths. Interfaith approach will provide possibilities for all across divides. To this end, the IMN extends its hands of co-operation and solidarity with Christians against religious bigotry, persecution, oppression and brutality against religious minorities in all locations – specifically in Northern Nigeria. The result could prove promising.

State brutality

In the last forty years, members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) suffer untold hardship, which the brutal Wahhabi Izala influenced Nigerian military who are reported to receive illegal private grants from Saudi Arabia mete on them. They kill them in the thousands with active connivance of Muslim leaders or their conspiratorial silence as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria keeps a definite and undignified silence of approval. The Nigerian State confiscate their property illegally, imprison them without trial and where the courts acquit them, court orders are ignored as in the celebrated case of Shaykh Ibrahim az-Zakzaky. It is believed that the Sultan ordered publicly his subjects whose children were members of the IMN to be publicly massacred. Many people were forced to leave their homes in fear of their lives as many members of the IMN continue to lose their lives – while many are still in prison and several thousands are unaccounted for.

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria denounced the Rule of Law in a public address to Nigerian lawyers to the chagrin of many Nigerians and continues to disobey any court decision that he believes encroaches on State Security. Even an unarmed group, such as the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, is considered as inimical to state security.

There is a need for the international community to demand accountability from the Nigerian Federal Government – like ICON and USCIRF are doing here today. Increase political and diplomatic pressure on the government to end religious minority suppression until a genuine commitment to the principles of Rule of Law, justice, religious freedom and human rights can be demonstrated beyond rhetoric and half-hearted measures by the Nigerian government. 

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