Unity and peaceful co-existence in a multi-religious society: Islamic perspective – Part 2
• CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK
This Unity recognises three human elements. They are Mentality; Attitudes and Sentiments based on a fixated mindset. Allaah summarised these in one ayah: “Say, Each works according to his manner, but your Lord is most knowing of who is best guided in the way” (Q17:84).
That is why the Shariah of Islam neither applied to the Jews nor to the Christians. Even when the Jews mischievously chose the Shariah, Allaah gave the Prophet options.
Causes and Manifestation of Disunity
Leadership and Disunity: A study of Fira’un (Pharaoh). Leadership Deficit makes an unbelieving and tyrannical leader divide, disunite and oppress the people. “Indeed, Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made its people into factions, oppressing a sector among them, slaughtering their (newborn) sons and keeping their females alive. Indeed, he was of the corrupters” (Al-Qasas 28:4).
Emergence of a Pius Liberating Leadership escalates Disunity and induces violence and killings.
“And he entered the city at a time of inattention by its people and found therein two men fighting: one from his faction and one from among his enemy. And the one from his faction called for help to him against the one from his enemy, so Moses struck him and [unintentionally] killed him. [Moses] said, “This is from the work of Satan.
Indeed, he is a manifest, misleading enemy” (Al-Qasas 28:15). But the Pius Liberating Leader is a human being who can and does acknowledge his weaknesses and limitations. “He said, ‘My Lord, indeed I have wronged myself, so forgive me,’ and He forgave him. Indeed, He is the Forgiving, the Merciful” (Al-Qasas 28:16).
And he has to be strategic and prayerful (Al-Qasas 28:16). He needs to avoid being used and be just towards the other disuniting faction. (Q28:17-24). He also needs to be a strong, trustworthy and hard-working family man (Q28:25-29).
Disunity leads to a demand for sovereignty. “And Moses said, “O Pharaoh, I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds. (Who is) obligated not to say about Allah except the truth. I have come to you with clear evidence from your Lord, so send with me the Children of Israel”(Al-A’raf 7:104-105).
This demand is always met first, with cajoling and then threat of, and actual violence. “Said the eminent among the people of Pharaoh, ‘Indeed, this is a learned magician.’ Who wants to expel you from your land (through magic), so what do you instruct?” (Al-A’raf 7:109 -110).
The consequent engagement of the establishment and its expert will lead to the defeat and submission of the expert to superior knowledge and faith (Q7:111-122). “And the magicians fell down in prostration (to Allah)” (Al-A’raf 7:120). “They said, ‘We have believed in the Lord of the worlds’ (Al-A’raf 7:121). “The Lord of Moses and Aaron” (Al-A’raf 7:122).
The reaction of the Tyrant is violence and killings in defence of the commonwealth. “Said Pharaoh, ‘You believed in him before I gave you permission. Indeed, this is a conspiracy, which you conspired in the city TO EXPEL THEREFROM ITS PEOPLE. But you are going to know.’ I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides; then I will surely crucify you all” (Al-A’raf 7:123-124).
The people become more committed in response to the tyranny of the leadership. “They said, ‘Indeed, to our Lord we will return.’ And you do not resent us except because we believed in the signs of our Lord when they came to us. Our Lord, pour upon us patience and let us die as Muslims (in submission to You)” (Al-A’raf 7:125-126
The establishment becomes embarrassed and threatened. They react by mobilising everyone against the oppressed people and their liberating leader. “And the eminent among the people of Pharaoh said,” Will you leave Moses and his people to cause corruption in the land and abandon you and your gods?” (Pharaoh) said, “We will kill their sons and keep their women alive; and indeed, we are subjugators over them”( Al-A’raf 7:127).
The oppressed become confused and they begin to compare the previous life of slavery with the imminent liberation. “They said, ‘We have been harmed before you came to us and after you have come to us.’ He said, ‘Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy and grant you succession in the land and see how you will do” (Al-A’raf 7:129).
The response of the liberating leader is to call for patience and prayers while he stays with the people who are to be strategically prayerful. “Said Moses to his people, ‘Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah. He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the (best) outcome is for the righteous” (Q7:128).
The response of Allaah to the oppression of the people who want sovereignty is to overwhelm the society with social crises, famine and health challenges that lead to mass killing and death forcing them to seek divine intervention (Q7:130-136).
“And We certainly seized the people of Pharaoh with years of famine and a deficiency in fruits that perhaps they would be reminded” (Q7:130).
“So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people” (Q7:133).
“And when the punishment descended upon them, they said, ‘O Moses, invoke for us your Lord by what He has promised you. If you [can] remove the punishment from us, we will surely believe you, and we will send with you the Children of Israel”(Q7:134).
Pius leadership unites his people and integrates others. Case studies of Prophet Muhammad and Umar bn Khatab. The Prophet consults with his followers and makes himself humbly available and accessible.
“So by mercy from Allah, (O Muhammad), you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude (in speech) and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely (upon Him)” (Q3:159).
Apart from the brotherhood that he established among the Muhajirun and the Ansar and the drafting of the Constitution of Madinah as a commonwealth, the following leadership bond of unity and integrity are germane to this lecture: Muhammad and the old woman in Makkah; Muhammad and Duthur in Madinah; Muhammad and Abdullah bn Ubay bn Salul and his son as well as Muhammad at Udaibiya and role of women.
In the case of Muhammad and the Jews, reference should be made to Abdullah bn Salaam, the three questions, the five questions and request for Justice from the Shariah: “And judge, (O Muhammad), between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations and beware of them, lest they tempt you away from some of what Allah has revealed to you. And if they turn away – then know that Allah only intends to afflict them with some of their [own] sins. And indeed, many among the people are defiantly disobedient” (Q 5:49).
“And We have revealed to you, (O Muhammad), the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth. To each of you, We prescribed a law and a method. Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ” (Q5:48).
With respect to Umar bn Khatab, fundamental reforms such as policy review on children allowance, Umar and the old Jew leading to pension, Umar and his erring son who was flogged to death remain reference points of impactful leadership to date.
Unity is desirable as we are all from the same parents and we are diverse only for the sake of identity and identification. Unity, however, becomes an issue to discuss and manage when the leadership mismanages the people and divides them through tyranny towards a group and slavery towards another.
Disunity is FASAD or CORRUPTION.
Unity of the people is impossible in a multi-religious society because of the primordial mindset and natural paths of disunity. But integration and just disposition to all citizens would make the people think less of unity. Nigerians do not ask for the tribe and religion of a disaster-stricken citizen before they offer help. This is natural integration. Nigerians do not ask for your faith and tribe when watching super eagles play other nations.
Reason Nigerians ask for the tribe and faith of a political appointee is obvious. His competence or lack of it must be, rightly or wrongly, explained with the two yardsticks. Where unity becomes obligatory is in the religious groups or parties. A way out of the disastrous corruption of the people through religious and ethnic divide is to deregulate democracy.
Let each religious group, Muslim, Christian and others produce the best among them to represent the rest. Let the guidance of their God follow them and let penalties for their offence/crimes against God and man be handled according to the laws of their beliefs.
Let us start with the MUSLIMS who already have an established shariah. Let us show the unity of faith in the shariah by doing the needful to the Boko Haram, kidnappers, bandits, collaborating security personnel and other sundry criminals like thieving governors, legislators and contractors. Let us show leadership in unity by proving that the leadership is in charge of the followership by calling followership to order across the nation. This will stop the concept of punishing our thieves while looking away from their own thieves.
Let the non-Muslims also punish their thieves, brigands, cyber-criminals, cult-gangs and other sundry criminals according to their beliefs and cultural values. Let us UNITE against evils and stop mischievous gang-ups for political and economic interest.
• AbdulAzeez, Professor of Communication and Language Arts at the Department of English, University of Abuja spoke at the 61st Independence Day Special Jumu’ah Prayer and Public Lecture held on September 30, 2021, at the National Mosque, Abuja