Deborah Samuel: Yet another victim of religious intolerance

BY ALABA ABDULRAZAK

The gross murder of Deborah Samuel, a female student of Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto state, is one of those senseless and callous acts that makes one wonder whether these bloodthirsty religious bigots are really human beings. This despicable action carried out by students in a citadel of learning has once again reminded us of the deep-seated resentment we bear against one another in a nation that has failed to find solutions to the myriad of problems bedeviling us.

This kind of iniquitous action is happening in a country that parades ‘classical pretenders’, who use religion and ethnicity to settle personal vendetta and further promote hatred among us. Unfortunately as a nation, neither religion nor ethnicity has united us. The only factor that unites us is ‘corruption’. Believe me, anytime corruption and self-aggrandisement are involved, Nigerians put religion aside; they become Mammon worshipers at night and by daytime real adherents of the two religions.

How are the students who murdered Deborah Samuel in cold blood in any way different from ISIS, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, ISWAP, Al Shabab and other terror groups hiding under the guise of Islam to unleash mayhem? Islam is a religion of peace and a religion that detests violence in any form. These fanatical hypocrites usually use the word ‘Jihad’ to perpetrate heinous crimes against non-Muslims and even the moderate Muslims who do not believe in their mendacious fanatical doctrines.

Jihad in Islam is of three types that include: The Jihad against oneself; which in Islamic idiom is called the greatest Jihad (Jihad Akbar) — to purify oneself.

There is the Jihad that is waged against Satan and Satanic teachings and designs, and is called the great Jihad (Jihad Kabeer) — propagate the religion. And the third one is Jihad which is waged against the enemy of freedom of conscience; this is called the lesser Jihad (Jihad Asghar) – holy war.

For better understanding, the greatest Jihad is the Jihad Akbar (purifying oneself): This is because one’s internal struggle to lead a pure good life is very difficult. God always guides us to good, but our natural tendencies are inclined to evil. The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 12, verse 54, describes this as Nafse Ammarah, ‘the self that inclines to evil’. Our natural state, as long as we are not guided by reason and understanding, is to follow our natural bent of eating, drinking, sleeping, waking, anger and provocation, like the animals. Once a person is guided by reason and understanding and brings their natural state under control and regulates it in an appropriate manner, then they start to develop their moral state to the second stage of development called Nafse Lawwama, ‘the reproving self’ (75: 3) and then to the final moral state of Nafse Mutmainnah, ‘the soul at rest’ (89:28). Thus to purify one’s self is a constant internal struggle which one must strive to practice in order to achieve paradise.

The second type of Jihad is Jihad Kabeer (propagating the religion). This is because to go out and spread the message of God and to try to improve the society that one lives in, means that first you have to overcome your inhibition and be ready to face abuse, humiliation and even persecution. To propagate the religion means that you have to lead by example and live by what the religion teaches. You cannot say to someone that this is what my religion teaches me, but I personally do not follow it, and then expect that person to take you seriously. It is for this reason that to spread the message of God through word and personal example is the second hardest type of struggle that one must strive to do.

While the third type of Jihad is Jihad Asghar (Holy War). This is placed third, because no war can be Holy! But, Allah recognizes that in certain circumstances, there is a need to defend yourself for the sake of your faith. A true Jihad should only be raised when these two conditions are there; (a) It is in defense (b) The aggressors are trying to prevent you from practicing your faith. Because ultimately our purpose in life is to worship God, if someone prevents you from worshiping God, then you should reason with them. If that fails, then Islam teaches us that we should move away and worship in a different place. But if they follow us and still prevent us from worshiping God, then we are permitted to fight them as a means for our freedom of belief and worship.

From this explanation, we can see that the best of all Jihad is internal struggle to lead a pure good life; to make one a good example that others will be willing to emulate without any kind of cohesion.

Unfortunately, the understanding of religious fanatics is that ‘Jihad’ is a Holy War that must be waged by spilling the blood of the innocent.

The killing of Deborah Samuel in Sokoto is against Islam. Prophet Muhammad is a role model for millions of Muslims today. The life of the Prophet is a source to understand and contextualise. And Muslims interpret the events of his life from him so that they can replicate them in every aspect of their lives. Prophet Muhammad was never a violent person. He made peace with whoever that came his way. And Islam as a religion preaches peace.

Even the Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles 18, 19 and 20a states that the freedom of religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to freedom of association are interdependent, interrelated and mutually reinforcing.

Those who murdered Deborah Samuel in cold blood over allegations of blasphemy have murdered sleep and must experience insomnia. Not a single one of them must escape justice. They must be made to face the music to serve as a deterrent to others. Moderate Muslim scholars and clerics must be at the vanguard of sensitizing congregations on what the Holy Quran and Hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad say regarding the misconception about Islam.

Alaba Abdulrazak can be reached via [email protected]

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