The Christmas day attack of a church in Madalla, Niger State was, no doubt, an invitation by the Boko Haram for the rest of us Nigerians to adopt their method and engage in indiscriminate killings in the name of a religious cause.
It is clear that the extremist religious group is engaged in terrorism and as President Goodluck Jonathan said recently, terrorism, especially the type we have so far seen of the Boko Haram, is not a fight for any particular religious cause; it has rather been a fight against all of us, Muslims, Christians, animists, the completely innocent and even women and children, who in all laws of war are prohibited from being harmed. Thus we have all fallen victims to the senseless and relentless assault the sect has visited on this country.
It is a statement of enormous wisdom on the part of all Nigerians that we saw through the cynical mischief intended by the Boko Haram to lure us into a fight that is certain to affect us in one way or another and which also has the potential of leading to the destabilisation of our nation. This repudiation of the evil invitation to participate in an orgy of slaughter will certainly cause the tempters not to engage in what they did on Christmas day in Madalla. If Nigerians, especially Christians, had risen up that day or the days after to begin to go for the throats of Muslims they see around, Boko Haram would have multiplied such attacks on churches across the country by now for its objective was to set Christians against Muslims and southerners against northerners in a meaningless fight that will do no one any good.
Boko Haram does not represent Islam in Nigeria. The Sultan of Sokoto, Sultan Saâ€™ad Abubakar, who is the spiritual father of all Muslims in Nigeria has himself said so, namely, that the people are evil. â€œThey have no respect for human life. All religions, including Islam, hold human life as sacred. A true believer does not have the right to take his own life, not to talk of taking that of others illegally,â€ the Sultan had stated.
That attack, previous ones and others since, should open our eyes to see that the real enemies we Nigerians have right now are the extremists Boko Haram sect whose agenda spell doom for the rest of us. If the Boko Haram people were fighting for Muslims or the religion of Islam, they would have spared Muslims in the murderous attacks they have waged against the fatherland in the past few years. In fact, Muslims have even suffered more in these attacks than other Nigerians. If Muslims are not benefiting from the crusade of the Boko Haram; if Christians are suffering pains and anguish from the same sect and if foreigners also have not been spared, then our common enemy is most assuredly the Boko Haram.
Islam, it has been said for the umpteenth time, is a religion of peace and not violence. But Boko Haram which says it wants a â€˜purerâ€™ form of Islam imposed on Nigeria is now painting the religion black in the eyes of some people.
Now that we have identified who our common enemy is, the question is what do we do? The answer is simple: we must engage them in a clean fight. We cannot afford to adopt the mode and method of fight adopted by the group.
We cannot go about killing and maiming or destroying property indiscriminately. That will not serve any useful purpose, nor will it portray us as any better than them. But we can all get involved in the war of identifying and picking out both the sponsors and foot soldiers of the sect. These clearly misguided compatriots of ours must be singled out and isolated and brought to face justice for the crimes they have committed against our society in the false claim of fighting the cause of God.
As a Muslim, I feel deeply ashamed of the campaign of killing and hatred which the Boko Haram sect has waged against Nigeria. Its methods are all against the prescription of the very religion whose cause it says it is championing. Islam forbids suicide; Islam forbids the shedding of innocent blood; Islam forbids the destruction or desecration of places of worship and Islam says that Muslims should regard Christians and Jews as cousins because they are â€˜â€™People of the Bookâ€™â€™. But the Boko Haram sect have killed men, women and children in a senseless orgy of violence. They have destroyed a church; they have desecrated places of worship with blood. They cannot be a people who speak for Islam or champion the cause of that great religion. The Sultan is right in describing them as forces of evil. We must be ready to confront this new evil.
It is good to have a dream. It is good to have an ambition to achieve something noble. But a reasonable person has to be realistic in the dreams or goals he sets for himself. Boko Haram says it wants to campaign for the imposition of Sharia on the whole of Nigeria. That is a tall dream, a dream it cannot possibly realise in the type of society Nigeria is now. Nigeria is a heterogeneous society. No one can successfully impose any religion or values on others unless we all sit down and agree. We must tell the Boko Haram people that they are embarking upon a war they cannot win, no matter how long they are at it.
â€”Shira, an Islamic teacher, writes from No 57 Minna Road, Suleja, Niger State