Northern Nigerian Breaking News

Religion and violence- Hisham Saleh Gidado


By Hisham Saleh Gidado       

Religion is succinctly a system of belief, faith and worship of the supernatural, any metaphysical deity which demands attention or utter commission.

Violence, on the other hand, is the intentional use of physical force to injure, hurt, damage or kill someone or something.

Our nation and the world at large is blessed with diverse religions as well as a number of diverse ethnic groups living together as a nation. Though religion is not about inciting violence to its practitioners, peace has become a shell of egg in our contemporary society.

Despite the fact that religion is meant for peace and unity, it is unfortunately viewed and bizarrely used by many as the flame igniting violence in our society and the world at large.

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Certainly, people are being influenced by either ethnic, economic or political factors to ignite violence in the society or against one another in the attainment of power or material possession.

Political riot in the year 2011 in Nigeria (particularly Jos the capital of Plateau state) could be said to be one of the sad incidences never to be oblivious of. In what looked like a small riot, it escalated to religious violence between Christians and Muslims which led to the deaths of hundreds of lives, destruction of properties and displacement of numerous people from the comfort of their houses.

The sad incident was merely due to the fact that most of the Christians and Muslims found themselves in an unwholesome political battle and a clash of interest. Politics is openly the flame that triggered such violence, but over the years, religion has been blamed for what has nothing to do with it, and neither does it has anything to be inundated with the shackles of political matters.

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Similarly, in Benue, the conflict between Fulani and Tivs, and that of Hausa-Fulani and Birom people in Jos evolved into a caricature of religious violence, whereas religion in its entirety, has nothing to do with ethnicity or any natural differences of humans. Unfortunately, those ignorant of facts have continued to attribute blames to religion, not knowing that religion, has no lineage to the violence of whatever nature.

It is absolutely clear that no religion in Nigeria preaches any act of atrocity. In order to forge ahead a safer society, what religious organizations are only hinged on pushing for are responsible principles and rules that hold peace, love and unity as well as condemnation of any act of violence and maltreatment of any human regardless of their faith and tribe.

How then could religion be blamed in every circumstance as the flame igniting the menace of violence?

More so, no sacred text of Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism or any of the religions that ever existed or still existing, has as its pinnacle violence as the solution to existential problems of humanity. Religion is just being used as an excuse and justification for violence perpetrated by man in pursuit of his personal and ambitious desires.

It is an undeniable fact that an adherent of Christianity that committed murder could do the same if he is of Islam, Hinduism or any of the religions. Since such a repugnant act was not in accordance with the doctrine and injunction of Christianity, then it is unfair blaming religion for the act committed by its mere follower, and which has also contravened its rules and injunctions.

When a Muslim chooses to be violent against a Christian, Jain, Hindu or Buddhist, and vice versa, which religion is to be blamed? Islam with the glorious Quran that described reconciliation as the best policy and also stated in (4:128) that “God abhors any disturbance of the peace “?  Or the Christianity with the Holy Bible that stated: “turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it “? Or Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism that believe in the principle of Ahimsa as the cardinal virtue which stated nonviolence applies to all living beings? The answer is open, no religion is to be blamed, in fact, even a non-religious person might choose or be influenced to be violent. But our eyes are blurred by animosity, solidarity and selfishness to see even the visibly clear fact.

The world and its inhabitants need to fully grasp that violence is not caused by religion but by those practising such religion influenced by covert intentions out of religion But often enough violence is attributed to religion.

When political, economic and ethnic factors are taken out of the equation, religious violence will fade to oblivion, for it wouldn’t have even existed without their influence. And also if people would be acting in accordance with their respective religions, this world would be something far different from what it used to be, peace will reign and violence itself will be rendered obsolete.

Gidado, an essayist, poet and story writer from Gombe State.

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