Press Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday 26 December, 2010
(Lagos, 26/12/10) Nigerians witnessed another bloody days of barbaric and gruesome murders on Christmas eve when defenseless civilians became soft targets for murderers in both Jos and Maiduguri. While the Jos blasts claimed 32 human lives and injured 74, Governor Ali Modu Sheriff of Bornu State and the Police Command in Borno claimed that the Maiduguri attacks, which claimed 6 people, including a pastor and a retired soldier and injured 25 at two churches, were perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect members.
These incessant acts of terrorism represent another low point for our nation. For more than two decades now, inter-religious tragedies seem to be occurring with depressing frequency as political leaders have failed time and time again to find the solutions to the underlying causes. Most Nigerians actually know that these root causes rest squarely with unscrupulous politicians who have absolutely no value for human lives and no scruples about damaging societal cohesion, harmony and peace.
As Muslims, it is important to reiterate unequivocally that the Christians are our brothers and sisters in humanity, co-citizens and most especially people of the covenant of the prophet of Islam (See A Forgotten Covenant below). Their lives and places of worship must be respected and protected from any violation as commanded by Islam. We therefore use these times of murderous attacks during their celebration to remind ourselves of the commonalities of our religious heritages, both of which hold the life of Jesus Christ (AS) to be an example for humanity. The Qur’an states “Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! God gives you glad tidings of a word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and in the Hereafter and in the company of those nearest to God.'”
Anger, rage or urge for revenge cannot be a valid justification for ignoring the most basic principles of our religion and its core values of justice, mercy, human dignity, freedom, sanctity of human life and equality for all. As the Qur’an states in Chapter 5, verse 6: “And never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice.” Attacking civilians, even during the time of war, or attacking Christian places of worship are clear deviation from the tenets of Islam, which uphold the sanctity of life and forbids crimes against humanity. When such crimes are attributed to people who claim to be Muslims, as Muslims ourselves we cannot be bystanders, we must be involved in constructive intervention at all levels of crime prevention and law enforcement.
We call on all decent Nigerians not to lose heart and to stay determined to work together across barriers of faith and ethnicity, to rid the nation of the scourge of terrorism and those incubating it. Islam does not tolerate the use of terrorism for any purpose, regardless of the identity of the aggressors or the nature of their motives. Furthermore, individual members of society are not allowed to take the law into their own hands and render punishment, regardless of whether a similar crime had been committed against the Muslims or not. The case of these latest victims can be viewed only as a horrible murders for which the perpetrators, whomever and wherever they are, should be hunted down and punished under the full extent of the law.
A Forgotten Covenant
(In 628 C.E. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) granted a Charter of Privileges to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. It consisted of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.) “This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah (Prophet Muhammad, SAW), as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”
Director of Media and Communications
Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC
e-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com