Chief of Imam of Imo State: Christians and Muslims are Boko Haram targets
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The new Chief of Imam of Imo State, Suleiman Njoku, is a native of Mbaise in the state. Njoku, who is a lawyer, tells about insecurity and some topical religious issues in the country.
My experience as an Igbo Muslim in the South-East has been wonderful. The people have been very accommodating, depending on how you handle yourself before them. This is because Muslims have been taught how to relate with non-Muslims. If you are going by the principle of the Quran and Hadith of the prophet by exhibiting this to your people, you will have a wonderful experience.
As the prophet of Islam has laid the foundation upon which an Iman should be chosen, that procedure was followed and it was amicably resolved.
I was born a Muslim. My father, the late Alhaji Yusuf Njoku, from Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State was a Muslim. My people accepted me fully as a Muslim. Even one of my brothers, a Catholic reverend father, called me and showed so much love to me as a believer of the Muslim doctrine and traditions. Also, my kinsmen have been calling me and congratulating me. They have also made me feel more at home.
It was a misconception by some people as I was presented to the governor as the Chief Imam of the state.
We are a minority for sure, but it depends on how you look at what we are doing as Muslims to the public at large. That means it is about the way you present yourself or how you live your life. If you present yourself as being in the minority, then that is the way you will be seen and taken. I am not looking at us as being a minority.
We are in a democratic system of government. Muslims should not relegate themselves. They cannot be in a democratic system and say that they are being marginalised. They should do what others are doing to be recognised in a democratic system. For instance, they cannot sit under a mango tree and think they will be recognised by any government. They should do what others are doing in any democratic system to be recognised.
Many southerners have alleged that there is persecution of Christians in the North, but the recent criticism show there may be persecution of Muslims in the South-East, how would react to that?
The religious persecution in the North is done by ignorant Muslims. No Muslim is permitted to kill. And we should not generalise that all Muslims kill. In every society, there are bad eggs. So also in the South-East, they see Islam as Hausa man’s religion. But it is not so because Islam is a universal religion.
Like Sharia law is applicable in India, Pakistan and Nigeria, among others, it can also be used everywhere. This is because Section 242 of the constitution has specified the areas where Sharia Court has assumed jurisdiction. Such law is also applicable to India and other countries. In that regard, as an Igbo Muslim, we are enjoined by the Quran and Hadith to live with our kinsmen in peace and love so that we can live together amicably.
The ignorant Muslims are the ones causing these problems. Despite that, Muslim leaders have been strongly condemning it. This is because the actions of those ignorant Muslims are not Islamic.
I have condemned them several times and preached against such actions in mosques. I have been preaching that Islam does not welcome such unholy actions. The Quran and Hadith do not permit such acts of violence.
The insurgents are not only targeting Muslims, Christians and Pagans; their interest is that as long as you don’t belong to their group, you are a target. So, all of us are targets and are in danger, once we don’t belong to their group. Also, in the far North, they kill more Muslims than people of other religions.
Remember when they (insurgents) went to Emirate Council Mosque in Kano and killed scores of people who were there for Jumat. So, let our people open their minds. It is unholy for somebody to take another person’s life.
That is everyone’s concern. All of us should come together to fight against insecurity irrespective of the geopolitical zone we are from.
Tribe and religion should not deter us from working together to fight insecurity in the land. However, no one should be blamed in any way. It is our collective responsibility to bring peace to Nigeria.
I have heard about it. Of course, it is not Islamic to force somebody to convert to Islam and it is also a criminal offence to force somebody to join a religion without the person’s consent. The Quran categorically states that there is no compulsion in religion. It has to be of the person’s free will. Those that engage in such acts are ignorant Muslims and they will bear the consequences of their actions on the Day of Judgment.
Source: Punch NG