By: Ismaila Yahaya Kana
Let me start by declaring that the biggest source of religious intolerance, especially among Muslims and Christians, is history. Yet, history lights the path to understanding the foundations of religion generally and the contentions that have trailed it’s development over time.
From historical accounts for instance, there’s no doubt whatsoever that the most accomodating religion is the religion of our forebears. It can be argued that many of our ancestors long gone, were coerced into jettisoning the religions of their fathers. But , unlike adherents of the new religions, they didn’t undertake the cross spoliatory attempts on display today to protect their religion. Why? because they were people of great faith. And because they believed completely in the powers of their gods, they relied on them to do battle with the new religions on their behalf. They had the Grace to patiently wait on the gods to angrily visit the proponents of the new faiths with calamities commensurate with their heresy, but seeing none, they decided perhaps, that the gods were happy with the abominable rituals of the religions or so they thought. They knew better than to fight a war of blame, so they left them alone. It didn’t help that these religions went on to challenge all their beliefs, desecrating their places of worship and turning their people against them. No matter, they still took it all, in good faith.
Juxtapose that with the shenanigans of our new religions, and you will find that the traditional religion (African Traditional Religion ATR) is the purest in its past, prospects and even threats. Interestingly ATR doesn’t have a book of dictates and norms, and do’s and don’ts! Yet, it endures and still provides respite to many two-faced, hypocrites who shout God or Allah in the open but run to them for solutions!
This is why it is very disturbing, that the alien religions that came through very dubious and sometimes inhuman means to steal all the adherents of ATR are the ones fighting very sickening and disgusting intra and inter religious battles! Where lies all the wonderful teaching in the holy books?
History, not the wordings contained in the holy books chronicles very dangerous practices of past adherents of the so called new religions, that if people were to rely on these accounts to choose their faiths, they will surely prefer to lead a life of humanity rather than follow the dogma of any religion. But here we are with an increasing statistics of new converts both ways, that is disturbingly greeted with more crime, death, disease and tears that are almost wholly man made.
Take Islam for instance, it first came to Nigeria through trade, the main commodity of which is slaves! traded across the Sahara! The route of Christianity to Africa is rather straight forward – it was tethered to the worst evil that this world has ever seen – the subjugation and enslavement of a whole continent for years. This straight statement, is absent of all other ignominious practices that predated the occupation of Africa, all well documented! Yet, adherents have been able to separate the fact of the road their religions travelled to get here, from the reasons for their faith. How then is it very hard to go all the way in banishing all other historical suspicion handed down by people long gone?
I can bet that a great many adherents of these new religions do not know their history and that’s good really. What’s the point of wasting time on the history of men when you have holy books that describe in details, what it will take for you to be religious? But then again, how many Christians or Muslims truly know the content of the religious books beyond the interpretations granted by so called Men of God. Adherents of today can be likened to Pandours who follow their banner without question. If some sort of sarculation is to be undertaken to separate the truly Godly from the pretenders, you will be shocked at the number that will identify with the latter group.
This then begs the question, where do we get off playing superiority when we are only as good as what we have been told? Or, what is the source of our modern religious posturing when the holy books didn’t say anything about goading people to join your religion? I make no claim to the scholarship of the holy books, but I can jauntily declare that it is far better to preach with ones conduct than utterances, miracles, and bold but empty declarations of religious superiority when in truth, there’s nothing religious deep inside you!
Some weeks ago, I challenged an international author, Eugene Bach of the Back to Jerusalem Movement when he posted on his Facebook wall that Muslims (Boko Haram) are attacking and killing Christians in Damboa which he wrongly spelt as Namboa. I simply pointed him to the errors of his conclusion, insisting that if there were civilian casualties from the Damboa attack, there’s no way they could all have been Christians, because I live in Southern Borno and I know how religiously integrated the people are. Unsurprisingly, because I have read his book on ISIS which makes me aware of his generalist conclusion on Muslims in general, Bach left the issue of falsehood that I pointed out, to start spewing a well rehearsed gibberish of how historical accounts puts the prophet Muhammad (SAW) as a serial rapist and many other unprintable allegations. This person calls himself a preacher of the gospel!
Which will be better; Eugene Bach concentrating on winning souls for his religion or engaging in the wasteful venture of correctness where his aim is to cast aspersions on the faiths of others? If we are to take a critical look, we are sure to find that Bach and Boko Haram are the same, at least, ideologically. While Bach is shouting at the top of his voice that Islam and it’s prophet – Muhammad (SAW) is a religion of cutthroats and mindless killers; Boko Haram is saying that Western Education is not good and that all Christians and Muslims who abide by Western practices including statecraft are infidels to be put to death!
Well, there is a soft insurgents in both our religions -no scratch that! There’s a soft insurgent in virtually everyone of us. We draw strength from the tacit and spoken support of our so called men of God to maintain this enduring atmosphere of hate. Meanwhile, the gulf between a world of peace and religious harmony continues to widen to catastrophic effect, but we are oblivious. We just hide in one corner and convince ourselves that all our careless statements condemning every other religion as fake except ours, does not poison the chalice of our mutual coexistence.
The outbreak of COVID-19 has shown the world that humanity is far better than religiosity. At the height of the Wuhan outbreak, a Muslim cleric made a very careless statement that God was punishing China for their sins. Today, COVID-19 is on the verge of doing what nothing or no one has ever managed to do before – the possible suspension of the 2020 Hajj pilgrimage. If this were to happen, it will be the first time since Prophet Muhammad (SAW) performed the first Hajj some thousands of years ago. I wonder what sin the people of Saudi Arabia in particular, and the Muslim world in general committed to make God forsake them like this.
With Pejorism on the rise and all sorts of sublunar elements threatening worldly implotion; pushing the whole world to the brink of a complete shut down, one wonders what becomes of our precious religions when disease not the bombs of terrorist, is the albatross preventing us from worshipping? It becomes more interesting if one considers the fact that this threat requires the expertise, sacrifices and commitment of men, many of whom may not be religious, to save the world. All the talk of the power of God has been relegated into silence to give space and voice to more practical approaches. If this is not lesson enough, then this world is beyond saving.
©️ Ismaila Y Kana Onzonu