Christian – Muslim Relations in Nigeria: The Problems and Prospects. PROMOTING ACCESS TO AFRICAN RESEARCH Inter-religious relations imply possible and practicable cordial relationship that exists HOW TO USE AJOL. This article analyzes Christian-Muslim relations and the shaping of Northern Nigeria took many different forms since .. ideologically-inspired promotion of the processes of globalization have led to a perception. Many qualified persons in the field of Christian-Muslim relations were consulted in the A striking feature of our historical memories has been the way in which conflicts . have taken the initiative of promoting objective knowledge about Islam.
For a long period Western scholarly research on Islam was dominated by the desire to convert Muslims to Christianity, resulting in analyses of Islam that were apologetic and highly polemical. Before leaving the historical context it is important to note some of the nonmilitary, cultural, and intellectual ways in which East and West encountered each other.
Much has been made of the interchange between the Crusaders and the Arabs. In some cases each side found in the other chivalry and respect worthy of admiration and even emulation. For the most part, however, European thinking had little influence on Arab culture.
Conversely, the West found great benefit from early Islamic thought in the fields of culture and science. Westerners learned from their encounters with Islamic civilizations in all major scholarly and scientific fields, including philosophy, astronomy, chemistry, medicine, and mathematics as well as the arts and music.
It is well known that ancient Greek philosophy and science came to the West through the medium of Arab translation. Arab-Islamic medical science had a great influence on the development of the disciplines of medicine in Europe. Unfortunately, since the Middle Ages it has been politics that has dominated thinking on both sides, and a legacy of confrontation, distrust, and misunderstanding has prevailed until the present day.
Anti-Islamic stereotypes in both Europe and America today reflect early vitriolic sentiments expressed by ignorant and uninformed Christians aghast at the rise of Islam and by their descendants who suffered defeat by Muslims in the Crusades and beyond. Christian-Muslim Relations in the Early 21st Century The Ottoman Empire, at its height during the 16th and 17th centuries under Suleiman the Magnificent, suffered gradual decline in succeeding centuries, culminating in its defeat as an ally of Imperial Germany during World War I.
Having already lost most of its European territories before the war, the empire suffered a breakup into what is now Turkey and the countries of the Middle East, whose boundaries were drawn by the victorious Western allies.
The impact of religion on a secular state: the Nigerian experience
It was also at this time that the seeds were sown for the establishment of the state of Israel in the heart of the Middle East, with statehood emerging in These events of the first half of the 20th century were pivotal for determining the subsequent relations between Muslims and the West Christians and Jews, and now secularists. Meanwhile in other parts of the Muslim world, especially Africa and South Asia, colonialists wreaked havoc, supplanting Islamic educational systems with secular or Christianity-based systems.
By more than 90 percent of sub-Saharan Africa was already under European control. Inhumane behavior has never been limited to either Christians or Muslims. Turkey during and after World War I carried out one of the worst genocides in history with the massacre of more than 1 million Armenians. Muslim-Christian relations in Europe today are inevitably affected by centuries-old fears of Islamic violence. These fears, of course, are exacerbated by the terrorist events that have occurred in various parts of the world since the turn of the 21st century.
Concern over the rising tide of immigrants coming into Europe from various parts of the Muslim world also has served to raise European nervousness about the presence of Islam. Today some 70 percent of all refugees in the world are Muslim. On the psychological level fear and mistrust tap into a long history of mutual aggression. On the practical level, Europeans fear that they will lose jobs, a fair cut of social services, and the cultural integrity of their respective countries.
For their part many Muslims are experiencing what they see as a new form of international colonialism. The West has long been known for supporting corrupt dictators so as to foster its own economic needs. Muslims, not surprisingly, question the sincerity of Western belief in justice and democracy.
Selected areas of the world are highlighted in the following subsections as examples of the problems that bear on Christian-Muslim relations. Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa Many areas of Africa, of course, are suffering greatly today as a result of deteriorating conditions and relations between Muslim and Christian groups. One obvious example is Nigeria. Since conflicts between Muslims and Christians in northern Nigeria have become violent and often deadly.
The full picture is complex and related directly to the British colonialist venture in Nigeria. Thus, relations between the two communities are based not only on religion, but also more specifically are a combination of economic, political, and religious factors. The British captured the Sokoto Caliphate inafter which it became known as the Northern Protectorate, which, inbecame part of the independent Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Hausa-Fulani, the dominant leadership, were Muslim, and the ethnic minorities were primarily Christian.
This racial-ethnic divide remains as the major identifier of groups today, even though issues of conflict may have nothing specifically to do with religion. Interfaith conflict in Nigeria in the contemporary period took a more serious turn when, insome Muslims objected to Christian evangelization efforts and fighting broke out.
These troubles have continued regularly, often with orgies of killing and looting, much of it unrelated to religion or ethnicity. For Muslims themselves, violence among members of the faith may be of greater consequence than struggles between groups representing Islam and Christianity. Today a major player in exacerbating Nigerian sectarian violence is the Muslim sect called Boko Haram, which is strongly opposed to Western values and forms of education and generally shares a Taliban ideology.
In recent years, members of Boko Haram have raided schools, churches, and government offices in their fight to carve out an Islamic enclave in northeastern Nigeria. In AprilBoko Haram abducted more than schoolgirls, who as of this writing have not been returned. Those familiar with the situation in northern Nigeria believe that Christian and Muslim organizations could greatly assist in ending conflicts said to be carried out in the name of religion.
Many observers believe that the key lies with renewed efforts at interreligious dialogue. Conservative Muslims often think that Christians seek to convert them, and Christians worry that Muslims want to make Indonesia into an Islamic state.
Christians have always harbored a deep fear of Islamization. Under President Suharto Christians began to lose their influence with the regime and felt increasingly marginalized. In after the fall of the Suharto regime, an upsurge in violent Muslim-Christian conflicts took place throughout the country. Since Indonesia became an independent state inpancasila has served as its guiding philosophy, including among other principals freedom of religion within the framework of monotheism.
The cause of violence has been attributed by many people to nonreligious factors such as politics and control of state power. Still, religious rhetoric has been used to mobilize groups and forces.
The possibility of interreligious conflict has increased dramatically in recent years. In exchange for a kind of religious equilibrium, the church tries to cooperate with secular authorities.
New forms of conflict transformation, specifically efforts toward peace-building, are gaining ground across communities that have experienced some of the worst conflicts. A group called Peace Provocateurs, for example, has worked to advance brotherhood and peace in Ambon, as a result of which Ambon has achieved relative calm.
One of the largest Muslim organizations in Indonesia, the Muhammadiyah, is also working for peace and accepts Christians in its schools. Ina large interfaith conference was co-sponsored by several Christian and Muslim organizations, leading to meetings across the country to air tensions, prevent violence, and promote harmony.
Despite peaceful efforts in Southeast Asia in general violence has not fully abated. Sinceseveral countries have seen the emergence of armed Islamist groups, such as Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines and Laskar Jihad in Indonesia. The world was shocked at the Bali bombings incarried out by an al-Qaida affiliate.
Some observers argue that violence in Southeast Asia represents a defense response on the part of Muslims rather than aggressive fanaticism. Often it represents a response to efforts of local governments to extend their control over areas where Muslims are in the minority. The epicenter of Christian-Muslim relations after the rise of Islam, the Middle East is a complex, heterogeneous region, where the addition of the state of Israel has further complicated relations.
The recent Arab Spring, pressures for a more Islamic state in Turkey, and international dialogue on the future of relations between Iran and the West have added to regional tensions. Generally minorities sometimes tiny ones in states dominated by Muslim-majority populations, Christians are focused on trying to live as full and equal citizens. In some cases, especially in Syria and Egypt today, Christians are struggling for their very existence.
Christians in Muslim-dominated areas generally support efforts to secure the separation of religion and state, while some Muslims argue that the two must not be separated. Christians worry that when no distinction is made between religion and politics they run the risk of being labeled noncitizens, even though they were the primary populations of their lands long before the beginning of Islam.
In general, Christians number about 5 percent of the total population of the Middle East. They account for some 40 percent of the population in Lebanon and 10 percent in Egypt. The modern states have mainly replaced these laws with modern civil codes.
Nonetheless, divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims have deep roots in most areas of the Middle East and can sometimes serve as the central cause of harassment and discrimination. Muslims, especially in states where they make up the majority of a population, are divided into various groups whose supporters uphold more progressive notions of government versus those who advance more conservative views.
Modern Turkey, for example, is struggling to determine the degree to which it remains a secular state, the basis on which it was founded inor move toward the Islamicization of society.Are Allah and the God of Christianity the Same? Nabeel Qureshi Answers
The latter option, of course, presents serious problems for its Christian minorities. The resulting tensions have encouraged some Islamist terrorist response and increased persecution of non-Muslim minorities. For decades Lebanon was viewed as a kind of model of successful Christian-Muslim and Druze relationships at the level of the national government. Now the deadly crisis in Syria threatens to escalate tensions among the several groups that make up the largest religious communities in Lebanon.
Christian-Muslim relations are at a low point not experienced since the days of the Crusades. Christians are being killed in Lebanon as a direct result of the Syrian war, with churches destroyed, priests tortured, and bishops kidnapped.
Fears are growing that indigenous Christian communities not only in Lebanon, but also in Egypt, Iraq, and Syria will be forced out of their native homes in the Middle East permanently.
Conservative Christian communities in the West, especially in the United States, have targeted the treatment of Christians by Muslims in the Middle East as a major concern. Why should we be asked to help foster appreciation of the religion of Islam in America, they question, when Christians are denied their rights in many Middle Eastern countries?
In Saudi Arabia, for example, non-Muslim houses of worship are sometimes burned; religious police regularly close down the operations of Christian Bible distributors and of churchgoers in general; school textbooks are often intolerant of Christianity and Judaism; names that sound too Christian or Jewish are forbidden to be given to babies, among other actions. Despite these deteriorating circumstances and their negative effects on Muslim-Christian relations, some efforts are being made in the Middle East to promote better understanding between the two long-standing neighboring communities.
In the 20th century, both Christians and Muslims worked to improve relations and to build on a long history of peaceful coexistence. Dialogue has taken place both through the structured efforts of organizations, such as the World Council of Churches, and in more informal settings.
- AFRREV IJAH: An International Journal of Arts and Humanities
- Muslim-Christian Relations: Historical and Contemporary Realities
Some groups of Christians, in particular the Orthodox Church, have begun to reexamine the sources of the respective faiths and, on a theological level, to see God working through religions such as Islam. Efforts are being made to break away from the Western concept of nationalism and to emphasis the common historical and linguistic links shared between Christians and Muslims, looking for more positive models for the future.
Christian-Muslim Relations in Europe The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the emergence of newly demarcated states in the Middle East, the retreat of colonialist powers around the world, the creation of the states of Pakistan and Israel, the rise of the Islamic republic in Iran, postcolonial conflicts in Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the breakup of Yugoslavia and consequent ethnic cleansing—these and many other factors have led to large numbers of Muslims moving to western Europe.
Some have come as refugees, some simply seeking a better life. Following the ties developed through Western colonialism Muslims have come from Turkey to Germany, from North Africa to France, from Indonesia to the Netherlands, from the Indian subcontinent to Britain. More recently, refugees have arrived, and continue to arrive, from Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Somalia, and elsewhere. Some 30 million Muslims now make their home in Europe. The great rise in Muslim immigration in the last several decades is perhaps the single most important factor influencing the ways in which Europeans view Muslims.
Muslims are arriving in virtually all the countries of Europe from all over the world, looking for work, education, and a better life. Europeans, for their part, see Muslims not only as part of a generally foreign religion that has been viewed as both repellant and seductively attractive through the decades of the last century or more, but now also as neighbors and even competitors for employment and the services of the state.
This, of course, creates a dramatically new situation for Christian-Muslim relations. Some very specific events in different parts of Europe have led to outrage by Muslims and thus to rising tensions between the two communities. Particularly noteworthy were the so-called cartoon controversies, which started with the publication in a Danish newspaper on September 30,of a series of some twelve cartoons, most deprecating the prophet Muhammad.
The cartoons were reprinted in more than fifty newspapers worldwide, as a result of which hundreds of thousands of Muslims took to the streets to protest and riot, leading to incidents of brutality and killing.
Christians were shocked, Muslims were angry and hurt, and interfaith relations suffered a serious setback. Acts of terror on the part of Muslims, including the bombings in New York, Madrid, and London, have helped to polarize European responses to Muslims and Islam.
Events that are mainly about political power or economic resources nonetheless may be identified with the religion of the perpetrators. Negative stereotyping by the press and media promote fear among the general public. Muslims, meanwhile, wonder why Europeans can so often fail to relate their own subjugation of native Muslim populations through the various means of Western imperialism and colonization to subsequent acts of violence on the part of Muslims. Many immigrants experience a kind of continuation of colonialist treatment in various European countries, some feeling marginalized, disaffected, and economically passed over.
Religious violence in Nigeria
Instead of the wonderful new life they dreamed of they find inferior educational opportunities, unemployment in some European cities up to 70 percent of the Muslim population is unemployedand poor housing.
For some immigrants these disparate conditions lead to violence, crime, drug use, and increasing radicalization, especially of youth. The relative ease of travel to home countries may, in some cases, encourage immigrants to identify with radical elements of Islam.
Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in 'Taghut' [false leaders and false deities] and believes in Allah, then, he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. Allah is the 'Wali' [Protector or Guardian] of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their "Auliya"' [supporters and helpers] are 'Taghut' [false deities and false leaders], they bring them out from light into darkness.
Those are the dwellers of Fire, and they will abide therein forever. Qur 'an, Surah 2, The Holy Bible also states: Let us not therefore judge one another anymore These two verses from the Holy Qur 'an and the Holy Bible tend to come out clearly that the principles of obeying 'onto you your religion and onto me my religion' can help to make the world a better place for the human race.
Another example is the mode of dress that is similar across the religions. Hijab as a mode of dressing is influenced by a religious culture which provides symbolic interaction. Muslim women and Christian Nuns wear Hijabs to symbolise their faith and religion practice. Symbolic interaction is a process where an individual tries to anticipate an opponent's move so as to adjust his own behaviour accordingly Mead The theory also contends that interactions among people are most likely to occur if all participants feel they are profiting from the relationship Schaefer and Lamm For instance, it can be rightly stated that the understanding and bonding amongst the CAN members in Nigeria have somehow assisted them to checkmate the JNI Islamic conversion campaign and the differences within their various denominations.
Freedom does not come cheap and it cannot be taken for granted. Maturity of any nation can be seen from the people's interest in learning the fundamentals of the Constitution, her democratic practice and her ability to convert such learning experiences into 'not merely agreements but Understanding the Constitution is a part of regular military training and it needs to be extended to civilian educational outfits to help them appreciate why secularism, as entrenched in the Constitution, must not be violated in the spirit of national security.
Understandably, in the political sphere politics can be mixed with religion, but the professional military does not ignore the historical fact that the bullet never discriminates who to kill in respect of religious inclination, and therefore allows her personnel to practise the religion of their choice, thereby keeping faith to religion secularity in Nigeria.
This is a part of the military bonding process too. The military table of organisations also includes Chaplain Services which cater for Muslims, Catholics and Protestants of all ranks, meaning commissioned officers and soldiers. On every Friday of the week at 12 noon, the Muslims are allowed to go for their congregational Friday Jumaat prayers, while the Christians go for Bible reading.
However, Sundays are free to both Christians and Muslims not on duty, who are free to go for either worship or rest. Those who die in service are laid to rest according to their religion and faith. As of date the military does not have a Chaplain section to cater for traditional religion worshippers, since there is no written doctrine. However, for oath-taking purposes, on enlistment of such soldiers or for the commissioning of officers into the armed forces, they are allowed to use a bayonet in the place of the Holy Bible or Qur 'an.
By so doing, all members of the armed forces are given equal treatment in all religious matters. In this manner military ethos, discipline and values are maintained.
Religious violence in Nigeria - Wikipedia
The idea of duplicating religious outfits for businesses, as a way of accumulation of wealth found in the civilian setting for fighting spiritual wars, are alien to the military forces. In her spiritual warfare manual, Browncautioned Christians to be careful not to blindly follow any teachings they hear, otherwise they themselves will fall into the trap of practising witchcraft.
This same caution also needs to be extended to the Muslim faithful in the face of self-labelling Islamic terrorist groups, whose ideology is completely at variance with the teachings and practice of Islam; a religion of peace. By the mids, there was widespread government takeover of religious schools in Nigeria. Some people believe that Nigeria would have become a religious state non-secular state if government had not totally taken over education institutions and religious bodies then.
Yet, there are some others who believe that the takeover of schools was a great mistake 2 and a violation of the principle of secularism entrenched in the Constitution.
This latter opinion became the basis of agitation for schools' return to previous owners in line with the adoption of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in which Section 38 2 says: No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction, ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own or a religion not approved by his parent or guardian.
The situation was further reinforced by Section 38 3which expresses disapproval of a situation that will infringe on anybody's religious belief or jeopardise it. Obviously, the need to respect the fundamental human rights of the individual or group of citizens, tops the reasons why people clamour for the return of formerly taken over religious and private educational institutions.
This position was further driven home in Section 38 3 that says: No religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or denomination in any place of education maintained wholly by that community or denomination.
Amended Federal Republic of Nigeria Constitution44 By these provisions in the Constitution, education in Nigeria automatically fell into the concurrent list as stated in the Constitution.
This means that governance at Federal, state and local government levels, as well as the private sector of the economy and also non-governmental agencies, have roles to play in moving education forward at policy formulation level and in financing it. So, it was easy to return such takeover schools to private and religious bodies, as there had been no compensation from Federal Government during initial forced acquisition.
This situation further opened doors for religious, private or community organisations who meet the minimum standards set forth by the Federal Government for the establishment ofprivate schools to apply and set up schools, thereby closing the gate of government monopoly on providing all-round education to Nigerians.
In particular, the Constitution allows religious denominations to maintain wholly educational institutions for pupils of the community to spread their religious cultural diversity.
The impact has been great in creating more educational institutions for the rapidly growing population that would have otherwise been illiterate. Government set up an Inter-religious Council as an avenue for interaction with stakeholders in order to effectively moderate the enforcement of secularity, and to advise the President on ways and means of alleviating violence amongst religious communities.
Similarly, Muslim and Christian Pilgrims' Boards were set up too. Amidst these orderly forms of control, the tax payers' money is directly being spent on religious affairs, contrary to the law of the land that forbids the government from becoming involved in such affairs. When viewed from another angle, such intervention is of national interest and also a way of providing a level playground for every citizen to help in checking the numerous preachers now surreptitiously downplaying the sanctions of heaven in favour of 'a new-fangled theology of prosperity and revelry' Maduekwe There have been too many religious riots in Nigeria Yesufu ; Zahradeen According to a Federal Government15 report, there were more than 33 violent religious riots before the Kano religious riot of Kukahnotes that before the Kano religious riot there was the Kaduna State religious riot.
Sharia debate in the Constitutional Assembly ofand its subsequent adoption in year 2 in some states in the north, took place with total disregard to the constitutional provision of separation of religion from state.
The pilgrimage ceiling of 20 Muslims and 1 Christians by the Buhari administration in the eighties, was also seen as another threat to non-Islamic religion West Africa 6. In other words, these experiences have made people to be edgy about religious issues.
The resulting volatility led to frequent crises capable of destroying any nation's peace, human rights and good governance. For instance, the African continent is witnessing human tragedy in the Central African Republic where citizens of one religious denomination are destroying citizens of other religious faith Human Rights Watch From the above we can deduce that Arab nations' constant grant to promote the Islamic religion, as well as the enhancement of the northern regions of Nigeria's political relevance and retrieval of power from the southern regions Akinkuotumay well be regarded as a manipulation strategy for detonating religious riot time bombs and political crises in Nigeria.
Obviously, such monies might have equally made it possible for radical believers to be funded fully in some states in Nigeria. According to the U. Those actions also constitute lack of respect for the secularism status of the state.
Similarly, the situation is further complicated by the lack of political will or constitutional courts to prosecute offenders who go against the law on secularism. For a very long time, religion has been used by the Nigerian oligarchy as its main weapon to hold on to power Kukah The situation seems to be gradually changing with the waning of oligarchy's influence over citizens in specific states.
Of note is that, whenever an attempt is made to explore the leadership gap created by the waning situation at curbing influential resistance of government or members of religious groups, it generates a state of insecurity. However, the creation of JNI by the Muslims and CAN by the Christians has provided strong impact in the continued interaction and efforts at gaining social positions within the social system in Nigeria. In dialogue with government on religious matters, the two associations were found to readily provide credible leadership on religious affairs in Nigeria without rigid ideology regarding issues of ethnicity and race.
See, National Bureau of Statistics5 June. Federal Government Take-over of schools in the 70s, a great mistake. He did not only describe it as a great mistake, but noted it to be 'a wrong step in the wrong direction' as it puts the education sector 'in a comatose state'.
AfDB Statistics Pocketbook Exchange of social rewards, In Sociological theory: A book of readings 3rd edition. The Macmillan Company Collier-Macmillan. Missionaries condemned at Muslim Congress.
The elementary forms of the religious life. Federal Government Printer, No. Report of tribunal of inquiry on Kano disturbance. Religion Politics and Power in northern Nigeria. Echoes of the future. In Raising the bar: Selected speeches and writings of Ojo Maduekwe.