Untold ‘stories’ of “Islamisation” Of Nigeria – Part 2
“Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things.” (Quran 2:256)
Now here comes story number two. Yes; the “untold story of “Islamization” of Nigeria. The incident happened in Ibadan. Ibadan has been the political capital of the Yorubas and is now the capital of Oyo state. Islam has had close contacts with the people of Oyo as early as the 14th century. In fact the first mosque was built in Oyo-Ile in 1550. Islam was established in Iwo in 1655, it spread to Iseyin in 1760; it got to Saki in 1790, it arrived Osogbo in 1889. The cities of Ibadan, Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode, Ikirun and Ede had had contacts with Islam long before the Fulani Jihad of 1804. If in doubt as to how Islam had become the religion of Lagosians as early as the 18th century, ask historians about how the first mosque in Lagos was constructed on Lagos island in 1774. This is the truth – and as Uthman b. Fodio said in 1804, our conscience has only one nourishment – the truth.
He was a Christian from a humble background and from the South South, Professor told me. He was young, very energetic and highly industrious. He was a son of those who never travelled. Neither her father nor her mother knew the ‘word’, or the ‘world’. The only word and world that were familiar to them was the Bible and the Church respectively. Poverty and the necessity to survive the harsh economic condition however pushed the boy out in search of home-duties. He was brought to serve as house-boy in Professor’s modest house. On arrival, he introduced himself as a devout Christian. He requested of his master, our Professor, only one thing not two- that he be allowed to go to the Redeem Church, which was close by, for service every Sunday.
Scholars of Islam would always argue that forcible conversion to Islam is nugatory in Islamic law and jurisprudence (read Quran 2 verse 257 and Quran 105). The boy ought to have known that if he needed religious freedom, he had found one the day he stepped in Professor’s house. Thus he was told to never have any fear about his faith; that he would be granted complete freedom to practice his faith as he deemed fit. Thus the bearer of the Cross found shelter in the homestead of the bearer of the Crescent. Just as it happened during the 7th century when the early Muslims found shelter and security in the palace of Negus, the Christian King of Abysinnia, a Christian boy found succour and comfort in the homestead of a Professor of Islamic studies.
But here is the climax of the story. Each time the boy wanted to go to church on Sundays, he would go to Professor and request for pocket money. Professor constantly obliged. One day he was asked exactly what use did he constantly put the money given to him to. Calmly and with feelings of happiness written on his face, he told Professor D.O that each time he collected his pocket money on Sundays, he used to donate same to the church as tithe. He did that for a whole year before he went back to his parent not as an Islamized boy from the South South but as a young Christian whose religious dignity and identity had suffered no erosion even in the house of a hard-core and first rate scholar of Islam! The teacher of my teachers had also contributed indirectly to the prosperity of that Redeem Church even at a time the sight of Islam and Muslims was anathema in the reckoning of some compatriots of mine who knew Christianity better than Christ.
What an “Islamization” agenda that was! But the current rumpus over Islamization is actually not at the private level but the public. The government of the day is daily being pilloried for embarking on an Islamization agenda the details of which is known, in the main, to its protagonists. But I am tempted to see things the way they see it. I guess there is indeed an Islamization agenda which is currently going on in Nigeria. How else might we describe this other than Islamization agenda when for the first time in its history, the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) recorded so much surplus in its operation that nothing less than five billion naira was returned to the coffers of the Federal Government.
What else other than Islamization agenda that the entire citizenry now appreciates how deep in the abyss of corruption this nation was before the emergence of President Muhammad Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo at Aso Rock and the necessity to combat it and rescue the Nigerian nation? What other strong argument could be canvassed for the Islamization of Nigeria than to say, as had been said last friday, that the roguish and noxious campaign of the Boko Haram in the Northeast which has killed over 20,000 innocent Nigerians majority of whom were Muslims were orchestrated to turn the Cross into the Crescent in Nigeria? What a sound argument that was?! What other evidence do you need to be convinced that there is an Islamization agenda in the polity when governments in South east are now applying for and being granted permission by the Senate to obtain soft loan facilities from Islamic Development Bank; loans that would ease the provision of urgently needed facilities for my compatriots whose simple demand is that the roads be passable, that there should be constant electricity supply, that jobs be provided for the mass of unemployed youth. The last time I checked the Igbo young boy I met in the restaurant in Kano is completely oblivious of the so-called campaign of Islamization. He knows that poverty has no race or religion; he knows that the poor man in Kano is as poor as the poor in Onitsha.
I would argue, if I may, that all these campaigns against the so-called Islamization of Nigeria is probably a strategy to strengthen the self while sacrificing the other. I thought the strength of this nation does not actually lie in the promotion of subterfuge. I am as sure as the rising of the Sun from the East every morning that neither Islam nor Christianity can be wished away from our reality. The quicker we appreciate this, the better.
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