By: Shehu Bashir Esq.
People naturally take some things for granted, especially when those things come as an advantage and in peace without anyone having to struggle or fight for it. This is the way I see people not recognizing enough, with profound gratitude, the incredible peaceful roles played by Nigeria Muslim Community in the last general elections. The Community did not only douse all religious tensions ignited by certain bigoted interest of the other faith, they also stood firm to their conscience, to defend what is just, fair, and good for the society, even when they can easily switch based on their religious leaning.
I have once said that the tacit nature of the Nigeria Muslim Community is often taken as weakness. It is not. As much as the Muslims may be stigmatized, with brazen insult on their religion, for the sake of the peace they must ensure all the time, they often brush off any such temptation into face-off. In this election season, they have proved more than just a set of patriotic citizens, they were also extraordinary in volatile situation management skill. To God be the glory.
I’m going to make a particular reference to how the Muslim Community taught others the difference between social politics and religion. They have proven without doubt that the instrument that will ensure the ascendancy or descendancy of any political office holder as we practice it in democracy is purely political and not religious. And the yardstick to determine who gets into the position of power doesn’t have to be determined by the spiritual faith of the contestants but the political sagacity and competency of such candidate. While others saw Tinubu-Shettima’s Muslim-Muslim ticket as “Islamization agenda”, the Muslim Community saw it as mere political calculation based on our realistic national political demography.
The Muslim Community will support even the combination of Christian-Christian ticket if they find merit in it. In Lagos State, there was a candidate of a major political party who is a devoted Muslim, who wanted the Muslim Community to endorse him for the position of the governor. But the Community rebuffed that temptation. Instead, virtually all the Muslim leadership in all Islamic organizations openly expressed their supports and campaigned for Sanwo-Olu to be voted as the governor. The NASFAT, the Ansaru-Deen Society, the FOMWAN, etc, all stood up to speak for Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. His Eminence, Alhaji Muideen Ajani Bello was very emphatic on this. Take note, Sanwo-Olu is a devoted Christian.
The principle the Muslim Community emphasized was that the contest was not a religious contest, it was pure politics, which has to do with the governing of the affairs of the State in a secular society, simple as abc. Unlike the other faith, antagonising some candidates because of their Islamic faith, or closeness to someone of strong Islamic orientation, the Muslim Community refused to be blackmailed into religious sentiment to openly endorse a Muslim candidate or oppose a candidate based on religious sentiment. The few who attempted to bring that sentiment on were cautioned. Rather, many Muslims campaigned for Christian candidates across board. This is an impressive commitment to national peace and unity.
In Oyo State, I can count about three Muslim groups which openly prayed and campaigned for Seyi Makinde to be re-elected, even though he is a Christian. This is more so that his closest rival, Senator Teslim Folarin is a devout Muslim.
While some Christian organizations literally abandoned and denigrated the spiritual stature of Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who is a Deaconess in the biggest Church in Nigeria, just because they despise her Muslim husband, the Muslim Community were literally giving her all the moral supports she needed and praying hard that she would not be put to shame for her loyalty to her husband. God Almighty answered that prayer and granted her husband the deserved victory.
Today, while the crises between Labour Party and PDP was raging on the true winner of Abia State governorship election, I am so proud of how my Muslim brothers and sisters were speaking out to defend the Labour Party candidate. The same Labour Party, whose presidential candidate dangerously cast aspersions on their religion. This is an exemplary religion understanding and tolerance from Muslims.
There is no religion that preaches peace and tolerance like Islam. It is our every day way of life – from greetings to prayers. We are enjoined by Allah to shun injustice, inequity and conspiracy. We listen to this sermon every Friday. You can’t be a true Muslim and deny other people their rights or conspire against them, even when they are not of Islamic faith. That is why you will not see any Islamic scholar reducing political contest to religious competition unless the sacredness of our faith is challenged.
Therefore, we must recognize and appreciate the Nigeria Muslim Community, from North to South, especially the South West, which rose above religious sentiment to stand by their conscience and the teaching of Islam. Infact, many were surprised that the North remained calm through out the electioneering period and refused to “go in flame” in religious crises, inspite of the so much attacks on Islam
To God be the glory, they refused to be cajoled into a brigandage of religious sentiment which could set the nation on fire. We should appreciate the peaceful and harmonious roles played by the Muslim Community, by fending off all incendiary and incendious utterances that could set the country on fire. Rather, the Muslim Community remained focused on the peace of the nation.
I thank Allah that the Muslim Community did not react negatively to the ceaseless attacks on their faith, keeping calm to ensure that there is continued peace in the land. For I know, if they had reacted otherwise to those inflammatory remarks, the country could have been on fire and the world would have risen in hypocrisy to call Islam and Muslims all manners of stereotyped names. That the Muslim Community ensured there was peace during the last elections, they deserve some respect and special gratitude.
The Muslim Community has demonstrated that they do not belong to any political party, they just want justice, fairness, equity and peace. In this season, they have proven more than enough of that principle.
May Allah Subuhanah Watahala continue to grant the Muslim Community the patience to fend off all forms of provocative verbal attacks against their religion. May He bless every Muslim who stood firmly for justice in the last election, to stand by candidates of the other faith, regardless of the political party. I thank Allah that the election has come and gone in peace.
GOD IS HERE.