Sunday, 5th December 2021
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Converting from Islam to Christianity: Story of Islamic fundamentalism in South West

Religion in Nigeria is increasingly and rapidly tearing us apart. Religion is a machinery of hatred and anger. It tears the family apart and also a vehicle of harming family member. This division is now more extreme in South-West part of our Country where it was not as extreme in other parts of Nigeria. The…

Religion in Nigeria is increasingly and rapidly tearing us apart. Religion is a machinery of hatred and anger. It tears the family apart and also a vehicle of harming family member. This division is now more extreme in South-West part of our Country where it was not as extreme in other parts of Nigeria.

The recent trends and reports in South West of the country are heightened and more intense. If not checked, it could sink us far worse than we can imagine. It is unfortunate that the present government do not even care at the federal level, it appears that the government is one-sided on this issue of religion. It appears that the Federal Government is mute or is on the side of the Muslims extremists and fundamentalist.

Some persons have taken religion to the extreme, that they rather fight for their God than let their God fight for them. Fortunately, not everyone thinks in that direction. Some still hold sway ‘Religion is a choice’ which should be freely entered into but this is a minority view and does not have any impact in the religious circle.

Sadly though, some of these extremist, would not mind harming any of their member who decides to convert to some other religion. This is very pathetic and devastating as people fear the consequences should they convert to some other religion, and so, decide to stay put in that religion even when they no longer enjoy doing what they do.

Meanwhile, some ethnic groups, like in the Northern part of Nigeria, extremist in these part of Nigeria, sees conversion from Islam to Christianity by their members as a “treasonable act.” Those who convert are “ostracized” by members of their community and cease to benefit from the protection and patronage from both the government of their states and Muslim kinsmen, and are, therefore, prone to endanger their lives.

Despite in South West of Yoruba ethnic group Nigeria where there Muslims and Christian share majority but there is extremists even within the family who would not mind harming any of their member who decides to convert to some other religion. Many of Muslim in South West believe that Interreligious conversion between them amounts to a case of extreme religious apostasy.

Some traditional Muslims may regard new converts from Christianity to Islam with “suppressed disdain”; Meanwhile, some extremist interpretation of the Quran, “most traditional Muslims” perceive new converts from Christianity as “unreliable members” of the Muslim community.

Investigation in Oyo state, Ogun state, Ekiti state and Ondo state, some women who refused to disclose their complete identity told us, they are facing harms and had been attacked on multiple occasions by not only family members but also religious extremists fired up and sponsored by Islamic clerics. Some of them appear in public as a good person while in their private they encourage extremism. They planted a seed of hatred and encourage members to be the courage to ensure every member of their family no family members convert to Christian. Some of Islamic encourage intolerance of conversion of Muslim to Christianity.

The consequences for an Islam converting to Christianity is usually severe, the new convert is most often than none treated like an outcast, treated with disdain, with so much bitterness, hatred and contempt. He/she faces being ostracized and banished, worst-case scenario, the individual is maimed, brutalized or killed.

The thought of being subjected to this ill-treatment and punishment, makes people ever imagine converting from Islam to Christianity. In some circumstances, the individual elope abroad in other to avoid being ostracized, banished, brutalized, maimed or killed. Ms. Modinat from Ado Ekiti State, on 12th October 2020 explained how she was brutalized and severally assaulted by her family members and Imams, on account of her converting to Christianity. She said the pastor of the church who guided her through her conversion was also not spared, as she said he was bastardized and severally brutalized.

According to her, she reported the assault to the Police but the police told her it was outside their jurisdiction, she said. Meanwhile, one Mr. Fatai, with surname withheld, from Sagamu, Ogun State Nigeria, also narrated his ordeal in the hands of his family members and chief Imam, for attempting to denounce Islam for Christianity. He said he was kidnapped, tortured and assaulted, he said he was forced against his wish to erase from his mind the thought of him ever denouncing Islam for Christianity. He said they made him signed undertaking that under no circumstances shall he or his family denounce Islam, else, they should ostracize and banish him and his family if he goes or do contrary to their agreement. Quite unfortunately though, despite the constitution recognizes the secularity of the country, the government has continued to be biased in all of these, even when they are aware these things are truly happening.

The Governmentshould enforce, that provision of the constitution. Nobody, on this basis, has the right to impose his religion on another fellow. Muslims should not impose their religion on people of the other faiths. Also, Christians should not impose their beliefs on Muslims and traditionalists. This is what the constitution says. In light of the foregoing, it is pertinent to note that, religious leaders should begin to address the issue of intolerance. We must teach people to tolerate one another.