By Nurudeen Akinreti and Al-Hafiz Yunus Omotayo
The Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Professor Ishaq Oloyede has commended the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community for its contributions towards the advancement of national peace in Nigeria and across the world.
The renowned Joint Admission Matriculation Board’s (JAMB) Registrar was a special guest at the 4th National Peace Symposium organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, Northern Nigerian zone which was held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Speaking on the theme of the symposium, ‘Religious Tolerance and National Peace: Our Collective Obligation’, the eminent Islamic scholar aptly remarked that, for Islam, the usage of the word “Tolerance” should not have even arisen since it has, in the first instance, established the right of the others to exist. Making reference to the famous Quranic verse (109:7), “For you your religion, and for me my religion”, he declared that if Muslims had practiced the teachings of Islam, the trends of violence and insecurity being experienced in the country would not have been.
He maintained that religion is all about worship and service to God. According to him, ‘There can be ICPC, EFCC, Police and security services, but none can accurately detect your actions as Allah would.’ He, therefore, enjoined Nigerians to adopt the fear and consciousness of Allah in all their affairs.
The event had in attendance representatives from Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Hare Krishna and they all lauded the peace initiative of Ahmadiyya community. The programme also allowed the invited esteemed religious leaders and distinguished panelists to address the Symposium from the point of view of their religions on how to enhance religious tolerance for national peace.
Promotion of National Peace is a collective obligation
The National President, Initiative for Progressive Judaism Development Dr. Israel N. Abido emphasized that the advancement of religious tolerance and national peace lies with all religious leaders and followers. He added that it is incumbent on all religious leaders to put national unity above all, and practice religious tolerance which will eventually lead to national peace.
He stated: “Various religion leaders can conveniently teach their adherents/ followers not to segregate against any religious sect, and that religion is not by compulsion. In line with a constitutional provision, we must shun fundamentalism, dogmatic scholasticism and clerical ideological fiat. All clergies should avail themselves of the religious tool of critical rationalism.”
True Preachings Highly Essential
Going by the perspective of Hare Krishna movement, all leaders and followers of true religions of God should endeavor to thrive on the true preachings and teachings and live above lust, greed, envy, and anger in a bid to foster peaceful coexistence and gain the pleasures of God Almighty.
According to the views of the group which were presented by its representatives Subhala Sakha Das and Bhakta Jemine Onuwaje, leaders of religions must continue to project the religions in such a way that the teachings would continue to be centered on God, the absolute truth and righteousness. That they must resist the allurement to thrive on relative truth that extols materialism and promotes sense gratification in any guise, in order to invoke the abundance of peace that resides within everyone.
Preach the undiluted word of God
The Assistant Secretary Christian Association of Nigeria, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Venerable Joshua Lambert called on all clerics to always preach the pure words of God irrespective of the intimidation and situation at hand. He also advised that we should all respect other faiths and recognize the human right of choice in matters of Faith. He added that religious leaders must strive to avoid the pitfall of superiority complex and participate fully and honestly in interfaith dialogue.
Quoting copiously from the Holy Bible, Venerable Lambert opined: ” The innumerable blessings of the Christians revolve around the concept of peace. The gospel is the gospel of peace. Christ is our peace. God the Father is the God of peace.”
National peace and tolerance starts from within
According to Maulvi Abdul Azeem Ahmed, the Principal Ahmadiyya Missionary Training Centre, Ilaro, who presented Islamic perspective on the attainment of national peace and religious tolerance, mutual understanding and tolerance start from the micro units of the society, that is from every individual of a human setting. He said religions today continue to suffer from sectarian polarization instead of harmonious and peaceful coexistence. That people have divided Islam in Islamophobia and Islamomania.
The senior cleric said national peace is interconnected with international peace. That when the foreign powers fund the religious organizations of third world countries, then such organizations will carry out their agenda, a situation he said it should not only be stopped but outrightly condemned.
He submitted: “We need to arrive at a single point agenda of ‘live and let live’. We should create peace within ourselves, mutual respect, coexistence, harmonious environment, accommodating behaviors and noble conduct, it is only then the dream of national peace and religious tolerance is going to see the illuminating light of the day.”
In his address, the Amir (National Head) of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Nigeria Dr. Mashhud Adenrele Fashola affirmed that all religions preach the same thing, going by their scriptures, and thus all religious leaders are expected to emulate the prophets of God.
“Today, religion has been extensively politicized due to materialistic tendencies of religious leaders. Let us all follow the true teachings of the Holy Books. We should expose any religious leader or groups with evil deeds and we should stop honoring the looters and criminals of this country. However, any religious leader pursuing the truth must be ready for persecution. Don’t be discouraged, worship God with glorification, be kind to humanity, do not turn religion to the selfish pursuit and your target should be the attainment of nearness to God Almighty,” Dr. Fashola submitted.
About 2,000 members and non-members of Ahmadiyya Community attended the symposium.