Peace, orderliness, welfare from prism of religion
Edited by Kehinde E. Obasola, Olatundun A. Oderinde and Akeem A. Akanni, this 529-page book comprises a collection of carefully arranged chapters by authors from diverse academic backgrounds.
Its six sections contain 34 chapters of varying quality contributed by 45 prolific scholars from 20 institutions of higher learning covering all but two of the six-geopolitical zones of Nigeria. It is remarkable that only 14 of these 45 contributors are affiliated with Olabisi Onabanjo University, where the subject of the Festschrift, Prof. Kamaldeen AbdulAzeez Balogun, is based. It is also remarkable that only two of the contributors are independent researchers while the others are eminent academics in various disciplines with no fewer than nine of them as Professors.
In its first paragraph, the Foreword, written by the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde, leaves no one in doubt over the worthy nature of the Festschrift (p.iii). In Section One, which comprises five chapters, Chapters 1, 2, 3 and 5 shall be reviewed in reverse order in the conclusion owing to their interconnectedness. Afolorunso Dairo and Fornatus Alabi, in Chapter 4, see peace building as ‘usually an aftermath of conflict…which takes critical and tactical analysis of issues by those who because of their positions in the society are respected by the populace’ (p. 47).
The authors engage critically with the hazards of leadership in peace building (p. 56) but fail to distinguish between the roles of key stakeholders identified in the chapter who, in most cases, lack the expertise required for the ‘critical and tactical analysis of issues’ (p.47) assigned to them which, in the scholarship of Security Studies, is the job of technical stakeholders who are security experts.
In Section Two which also comprises five chapters, Dauda Egbeolowo in Chapter 7, appraises the practice of polygyny which he comparatively assesses in the contexts of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In Chapter 8, Muinat Agbabiaka-Mustapha enumerates the objectives and functions of the family in Islam as well as the wife’s rights and the husband’s obligations while Bashir Olanrewaju, in Chapter 9, focusses on Women in Islam. Chapter 10, by Babawale Taiwo, Segun Olulowo, and Oke Moses, discuss the importance of revelation to healthy marriage.
Of the eight chapters in Section Three, six are peace focussed. These are Chapters 11, 12, 13, 15, 17 and 18 respectively contributed by Ismail Odeniyi, Ahmed Arikewuyo, Auwal Mohammed, Oyekolade Oyesanya, Sunday Emuze and Kehinde Obasola, as well as Afolorunsho Dairo and Adeniyi Abodunrin.
Chapter 11 by Ismail Odeniyi addresses religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence in Nigeria while Chapter 12 by Ahmed Arikewuyo exposes some of the factors responsible for intra-religious differences in Islam.
Auwal Mohammed, in chapter 13, interrogates the concepts of religion and peace from the perspective of Islam. Chapter 14 by Oyekolade Oyesanya and Idris Oni is simply a discourse on the Boko Haram Movement, which takes no less than nine pages (pp. 222-230) of the 15-page chapter.
The authors deserve plaudits for a good job though their engagement with the literature suggests an insufficient familiarity with the scholarship of extremism under which violent extremism is subsumed. In Chapter 15, Sunday Emuze and Kehinde Obasola underscore the significance of religion for the enthronement of peace and sustainable development.
This is followed by Chapter 16, where Afolounsho Dairo and Adeniyi Abodunrin, examine the causes of and solutions to religious conflicts in Nigeria.
Section Four is entirely peace-focussed with eight chapters (19-26) respectively contributed by Olatundun Oderinde and Julius Ademola, Marian Alarape and AbdulGafar Fahm, Ogbenekevwe Jibromah, Samuel Alamu, Muhsin Balogun, Ahmadu Folami and Majeed Musolihu, Jacob Babalola and Samuel Oladiran, Victor Akerele and Babajide Dasaolu, as well as Oluwaseyi Shogunle. The section covers such interesting issues as Christian-Muslim Relations (19) Muslims and non-Muslims in Ikorodu (20), Christian Religious Education (21), and Romans 12-18 in the Nigerian context (22). Others are commonalities between Islam and Christianity (23), moral decadence and the role of the Church and the Society in peace building (24), the ethical dimension of human relations (25) as well as Covenant Meals and Fellowship Imagery in the Old Testament and Its Implications for Religious Harmony in Nigeria (26). This last chapter is at its best where it applies the concept of covenant meals to the Nigerian experience and underscores its implications for economic development, social integration, religious harmony, responsible citizenry, reliable leadership, and nation-building (pp. 383-387).
Section Five is the most diverse in the book and covers Sufism, Literature, History and Civilization, and Religion. In Chapter 27, Dauda Yusuf makes a case for sufism in the realization of ethical and spiritual values in Nigeria and examines various sufi concepts (pp. 400-404). In Chapter 28, Rafiu Surakat examines the concept and typology of feminism (pp. 410-415). What is conspicuously missing in this chapter is what makes al-Kansa a feminist poet. The author identifies her courage and perseverance as instrumental to her attainment of eminence but fails to demonstrate that any of these qualifies her as a feminist poet. It is a good chapter though the Arabic version of the quoted Al-Khansa’s poem was inaccurately captured (pp. 416-417) and the very verse that launched al-Khansa into prominence was missing: ‘Sunrise reminds me of Sakhr and I think constantly of him at sunset’!
In Chapter 29, Aminu Taofiki and Ayinla Akanni ground their analysis of the concept of caliphate in the Qur’an and identify the historical sites in the Sokoto Caliphate which include Maratta, where Shehu Usmanu Danfodiyo was born, Degel, where Abdullah Danfodiyo was born, Gudu to which the Shehu migrated.
But for its omission of the present Sultan’s Palace in Kawunri, this chapter would probably have passed for an exhaustive list of historical sites in Sokoto. Lawrence Abiola, in Chapter 30, identifies visits to Makkah and Madina by many Nupe indigenes as a positive impact of Islam on them and reduction in the number of the traditional religious festivals as a negative impact whereas AbdulGaniy Hashimi’s chapter, the thirty-first, sees the spread of Islam from its earliest days as the beginning of both the theological and cultural crisis between the people of the West and East (p. 465).
Section Six, which is the last, comprises three chapters. In the first, Chapter 32, Olalekan Arikewuyo examines the development of Islamic universities in Nigeria. Obviously the shortest in the section, the chapter is remarkable for its differentiation of the three categories of private universities in Nigeria namely Sole Proprietorship, Religious based, and Hybrid types. He identifies Al-Hikmah, Al-Qalam, Crescent, Fountain, and Summit as ‘Islamic universities’ (pp. 483-484). How accurate is it to characterize all these universities as ‘Islamic’? Are they truly ‘Islamic’ or merely ‘Muslim’ universities? Are there no distinctions between a ‘Muslim’ university and an ‘Islamic’ university? These are some of the salient questions that should have guided this interesting chapter.
Chapter 33, by Rasheed Adeleke examines the evolution of Islamic education in Nigeria while Chapter 34, by Sulaiman Adua which is highly commendable erroneously employs the terms Islamic Studies and Islamic Education interchangeably as though they convey the same implication. Islamic Studies is a body of knowledge constituting the discipline while Islamic Education is all-encompassing as it applies to the totality of learning activities involved in schooling.
The ‘Family as a Bedrock for Corruption-Free Nation’ by Kabir Paramole and Siddiq Uthman is the only non-peace related chapter in Section Two. The chapter should be appreciated for relying on appropriate authorities though cited with imprecisions. It is perhaps the weakest chapter in the book on account of conceptual pitfalls, linguistic errors, imprecision in citations, unsystematic prose and arguably insufficient grasp of academic language. For instance, the authors say ‘divorce between the two couples’ instead of ‘couple’ (p. 76), ‘sucking the child’ instead of ‘suckling’ (p.76), ‘look inwardly’ instead of ‘inward’ (p. 86), ‘with references to the lives and character’ instead of ‘with reference’ (p. 87), ‘corrupt-free’ instead of ‘corruption-free’ repeatedly and consistently throughout the chapter, and ‘Encyclopaedia America…argues’ instead of ‘Encyclopaedia Americana states’ (p. 74). Yet, all these may not really suggest that the chapter lacks merit!
Chapters 14 and 16 are the only non-peace related chapters in Section Three. In Chapter 14, Akeem Akanni examines such salient concepts as strategic plan, orderliness, and development, which he situates in the context of Islamic principles. The strength of this chapter lies in its elegance prose and interlinked subsections while its weakness arguably lies in its few instances of using ‘plan’ for ‘planning’.
Chapter 16, contributed by Sheriffdeen Tella and Mumeen Alabi, examines Islam’s provision for poverty reduction, Zakat for income redistribution and poverty alleviation, Islamic finance and interest-free banking and system of waqf and sadaqah as measures for poverty reduction. The chapter is impressive though it fails to acknowledge the discrepancy between the theory and practice of Islamic banking due to heavy reliance on credit facilities that are similar to conventional ones.
Back to Section One where Chapter 5, by Tiwatola Falaye, analyses Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther’s leadership strategies in peace building. The most remarkable part of the chapter contains the multiple sterling qualities of the great bishop, which include hard work and perseverance. In Chapter 4, Fatimah Adesope and Taofeeq Salahudeen appraises the scholastic efforts of Professor Fatimah Biade a female scholar with an enviable professional record.
Chapters 1 and 2 are purposefully delayed owing to their significance. In Chapter 2, Asif Azeez, one of Professor Balogun’s Ph.D students recalls how the Professor called him concerning a Ph.D course. This happened while the Professor was away on Sabbatical at Fountain University, Osogbo. He was so concerned about the students that he arranged a visit for them to enable him teach them. The Professor, a kind but no-nonsense mentor queried them for arriving fifteen minute behind the schedule. From that moment to their departure from Osogbo, he not only taught them but also fed, accommodated and ‘spoilt’ them with his hospitality! In Chapter 1, Samuwilu Owoyemi examines the Professor’s strategies in building symbiotic relationship between the town and the gown as well as his enviable record as an academic leader and university administrator. Aside the author’s imprecise translation of the title Rihlaul-Bahth as ‘Drama in Arabic’ instead of ‘Voyage of Research’ as well as his inaccurate translation of the title Arba’un Qissah as ‘Short Stories in Arabic’ instead ‘Forty Stories’, the chapter would probably have been a perfect piece.
Rufai, immediate past Dean, Faculty of Education, Sokoto State University