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Using religious diversity to foster peaceful coexistence

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The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has urged religious leaders to emphasise more on similarities between various religions in order to prevent violence and promote peace in the country.

He made this call during an interfaith dialogue organised by the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Abuja.

Speaking at the event, the Chief Missioner of Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society of Nigeria, NASFAT, Imam Abdul-Azeez Morufu Onike advised adherents of various faiths in Nigeria to always seek a second opinion and deep understanding of their religion whenever they face religious leaders who are preachers of hate and violence.

He buttressed his statement by saying: “If you have a headache and go to a doctor, and the doctor prescribes seven tablets of Paracetamol to be taken every four hours, without you being a doctor, you will know something is wrong, and you will seek a second opinion.

“The same way you will have to ask another scholar if a preacher preaches hate and violence which runs contrary to the objective of Islam, which is the promotion of peace and prevention of pains and harms.”

Onike said the Sharia is founded upon wisdom and welfare for the servants in this life and the afterlife. In its entirety, it is justice, mercy, benefit, and wisdom. “Every matter which abandons justice for tyranny, mercy for cruelty, benefit for corruption, and wisdom for foolishness is not a part of the Sharia even if it was introduced therein by an interpretation”,

He noted that knowledge of principles of Islamic jurisprudence which deals with how laws are deduced in Islam would aid in no small way to get counter-narratives against violence and hate.

Onike advises both political and religious leaders to desist from promoting hate speech, which definitely brings no benefit and this runs contrary to the objective of religion.

He urges Nigerians to remember Nov. 16 and internalise its message, “Tolerance is respect, acceptance, and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human”, according to UNESCO’s 1995 Declaration of Principles on Tolerance.

The UAE Ambassador to Nigeria, H.E. Dr. Fahad Al Taffaq while delivering his welcome address, reiterated the importance of tolerance among people of different faiths.

Other Members of the panels were the Grand Mufti of Dubai, Dr Ahmad Abdulaziz Qassim Alhaddad, Prof. Bambo Adewopo, representing the Ooni of Ife, Prof Saadatu Hussan Liman, Rev. Father Rowland Nwakpuda, representing Cardinal John Onaiyekan among others.


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