As We Celebrate Eid-El-Kabir!

To all my Muslim friends,I say 'Barka da Sallah.' I wish them happy Eid al-Adha. This is a time for both Christians and Muslims to make sacrifices in order to build this nation. This occasion centers on the significance of sacrifice. Sacrifice is a very important aspect of the doctrines of both Muslims and Christians . Both religions believe that the performer of the sacrifice was Abraham/Ibrahim and it was God (Allah)that instructed him to do so.

However,while Christians believe that Isaac was the legitimate son hence Abraham decided to sacrifice him ,the Muslims believe that Ishmael (Ismail) was the firstborn son hence as the heir apparent,Ibrahim decided to sacrifice him to Allah.

It is proverbial that whenever a story is reported by two or more people there must be variations,no wonder when there is any disaster anywhere ,one media house can give death toll like forty while another media house will report fifty and the figures keep on changing from one media house to another. Even in the bible,the synoptic gospels(Matthew,Luke and Mark) give different but similar(sorry for my use of Oxymoron) accounts of a particular event.

Now, let us build on our similarities and leave our differences to God who had ordained it from the beginning of creation that we would be amalgamated in 1914. First,the Christian and Muslim accounts show that we originated from the same ancestor(Abraham/Ibrahim) though the bible still went further to show how Ishmael and Isaac came about through the same father but different mothers.

The lesson we should learn from here is that both Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters hence we should see ourselves the same way members of a peaceful polygamous family see themselves. We should learn to tolerate one another's religion because even in the Middle East where both religions started ,they are relatively living in peace with respect to their religious differences. Anytime they fight,it is mainly due to bad administration/boundary dispute and not because of their religious differences. The legendary Fela Kuti cried in one of his songs that our people were living peacefully before the missionaries,mostly of whom where used by colonialists,came to our country.

We should learn to see our different religions the same way sane fans see their respective European football clubs. It is only foolish and confused fans that will kill their own innocent citizens due to their differences in the choices of football clubs. If you cannot kill your brother because you are fans of different European clubs ,how then will you kill your brother/sister if he/she decides to choose another religion different from yours? Section 38 of CFRN still grants every Nigerian citizen that inalienable rights to freedom of religion.

Secondly, both Christian and Muslim accounts accepted that there was a sacrifice at the end of the exercise. This means that we must sacrifice all our selfish ambitions for the unity of this nation. We should remember that when we talk about power,we have different types of power. Our mind-boggling 170 million population is a threat to a lot of our neighbouring countries the same way USSR was a threat to USA till USSR was split into her components units in 1991.Our large population is part of our political power in the international community. We should accept the principles of sacrifice which both religions teach.

Abraham/Ibrahim never withheld his son from God (Allah) hence God provided a ram that Abraham/Ibrahim used to finally perform the sacrifice. This means that We should learn how to play our individual roles first in uniting this country before God(Allah) will render help to us. Believe you me,if Abraham/Ibrahim had withheld his son ,there would not have been EId al-Adha today hence we should learn to make sacrifices for the unity of this our great country,the African largest economy.

Meanwhile ,concerning our differences, whether Isaac or Ishmael(Ismail) is the legitimate and firstborn son,I think we should leave that to God as the answer cannot contribute anything to our individual lives. It is akin to an Igbo adage that says that 'he who has money, let him sponsor the burial of the father in that the burden should not be left to the firstborn son alone because the father was not killed by the firstborn son.' It follows that whether we are the firstborn sons or lastborn sons,our achievements in life depend on our individual efforts. Gone are the days when people fought for firstborn positions in their respective families as in this information age what we will be in life depends on our individual efforts. That one's father is a medical doctor does not automatically confer on one the title and status of a medical doctor in that for one to be a medical doctor, irrespective of one's position in the family,one must pass through the medical college.

In view of the above,we should be wary of ambitious and unscrupulous politicians who I call neocolonialists, they carry out their nefarious activities in the name of religion. We should remember that our colonial masters tried different ways to penetrate our land but failed but when they introduced foreign religion,our people were weakened and before our people knew what was happening we were already under their colonial rule. Well,I can pardon our forefathers for falling prey to the colonial masters' antics but I cannot pardon our present generation if we allow these 'neocolonialists' to keep on using the name of one religion to manipulate us even now that many of us are literate and in this era of different social media. Our forefathers never had the type of information and opportunities we have these days hence they were easily deceived.

How can I forgive myself after all my education and life exposures ,I allow myself to be manipulated by our politicians and religious leaders? If somebody tells me to die in the name of my religion,I will tell the person to blaze the trail because Jesus and Mohammed lived exemplary lives. The religious leader must first die and I must confirm that he has inherited the so-called seventy-two virgins before I will follow suit. This is why a renowned lawyer in Lagos said he was not interested in life after death,that he was more interested in developing this present life that God gave him.

To many ,the lawyer sounded stupid but to me he made a vital point because we preach about life after death more than preaching how to use our physical and mental efforts to develop this place God handed over to us but at the same time we all desire to either relocate permanently to or enjoy our holiday in USA or London. Who developed USA and London and made them habitable?How can we present ourselves before God when we fail to manage this country God placed in our hands?

Also any task that a politician will give me ,I will make sure that his own children must have carried out same task and are now successful because there is no way a politician will send me on risky and life demanding errands while his own children will be busy travelling from one part of the world to another .The only way I can accept anything from anybody is that the person and his children are ready to carry out the assignments first.

Also, we should know that extremism in religion is a global affair and it did not start today. It is a historical fact that the European powers pillaged African resources and imposed colonial rule on us for many years. Some Christian slave traders justified their inhuman activities with certain verses in the holy bible such as the book of Leviticus 25:44-46 (NLT) which says:

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.

Meanwhile,Christian colonial masters exploited us by quoting the book of Deuteronomy 20:10-14(KJV) which says : When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that are found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: And when the Lord thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.

One funny thing with these Christian slave traders and colonial masters is that they would never quote from the new testament where Christ preached peace,the equality of all mankind before God and the golden rule which encourages us to do to others what we want others to be doing unto us. We still have modern day slave traders who answer religious leaders and desperate politicians. Consider for an instance,a scenario where a religious leader obeyed the law of nature by sleeping through out the day while you were busy at your working place running around,thereafter that religious leader would want you to be awake in the night for a vigil service and if you tried sleeping,then you would be termed evil-spirit possessed.

The likes of this religious leader cure all diseases through different miracles but they have specialist doctors who take care of them abroad hence their incessant travels abroad. They preach that God is our light and salvation that we should not fear but they spend billions of naira (or do I say dollars) in paying their retinue of security men and for the purchase of bullet-proof cars. They preach about the coming to an end of this world but they are busy investing in all sectors of the economy nationally and internationally with at least five hundred years development plans.

Other peoples children are asked to be workers in the lord's vineyard while their own children are studying professional courses in the best universities in the world. They are telling us that we are heir of the kingdom but only their children and wives are board of trustee members for all the registrations and incorporations with corporate affairs commission with respect to their prayer houses. They live in the choicest buildings and they tell us that we should not gather our wealth in this world that will soon perish. I have said it before and I am saying it again that I can easily forgive our forefathers for allowing the colonial masters to colonise them at least the colonial masters were whites but I will not forgive this present generation if we allow our own black politicians and religious leaders who I call 'neocolonialists' to use religion to be manipulate us.

Meanwhile,the Islamic jihadists have also taken advantage of some verses in the holy Qur'an to draw inspiration for perpetuation of violence in North East Nigeria, other African Countries and Asian continent .How are the following verses supposed to be interpreted correctly?Quran (2:191-193) - "And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief] is worse than killing...

but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)" (Translation is from the Noble Quran).

I think colonialism and foreign religions have largely shaped our moral values. I also feel that superstitious beliefs, violence and religious fundamentalism are antithetical to economic growth and development. This is because I have a lot of friends who are Muslims ,they are peaceful and gentle .However,the same way we have false teachers/prophets among Christendom that is exactly how we have false teachers in Islam .If a christian refuses to help his/her own sibling because the said sibling belongs to another denomination,that christian is a religious extremist the same way that a Muslim who starts beheading and killing innocent non-Muslims is.

I seriously disagree that Islam is a religion of war ,only that dubious politicians in Africa and Asia know that the people are mostly poor and uneducated hence the politicians manipulate the people in the name of religion. These desperate politicians and religious leaders cash in on the primitive mode of religion in these two continents to carry out their dastardly acts. Why do we have all these religious extremists in countries where rebels want to take over power by all means?

If you doubt my assertion that Islam is a religion of peace,why do we not see Islamic extremists in other continents outside Africa and Asia?Even in Nigeria here,why do we not have Yoruba Islamic extremists?The reason is simple,those politicians that are ambitious at capturing power make use of the poor,uneducated and jobless youths in a particular section of the country in order to destabilize the polity as they had earlier promised us in the previous election . Right from ISIS,Al-Qaeda,Al-shabab etc they are established by rebels who were hellbent on capturing power by all means and in order to win people's sympathy,they attach religious colourations in order to manipulate the people.

The 'neocolonialists' live by creating fear into our largely illiterate society and then reaping them off. They make use of Robert Greene's principles of power in that in the world today,it is dangerous to seem too power hungry,to be overt with your power moves. Neocolonialists have to seem fair and decent,so they need to be subtle,congenial yet cunning,democratic yet devious.

Violent or overt power moves are frowned upon hence they work silently and secretly in the name of religion. They appear as paragon of elegance but continue to outwit and thwart the populace in the subtlest of ways. They make use of velvet gloves to stab us at the back with the sweetest of smiles on their faces. They portray themselves the pinnacle of refinement ,but underneath their glistening religious surfaces ,a cauldron of greed,evil,atrocity and hatred simmers. They equally apply Napoleon's piece of advice of placing one's iron hand inside a velvet glove(now,using the name of a religion),in all their power moves . This is why in some communities, some people will be hiding information from the security agents because the people believe that these extremists are fighting for Allah,having been 'judiciously' brainwashed by these neocolonialists.

Let us examine how saner societies handle cases of religious extremism. Recently USA police reported the case of a 30-year old Alton Nolen,a worker,who had recently tried to convert colleagues to Islam. Finally, he beheaded one of his colleagues in a knife rampage after being dismissed from his job in Oklahoma state. Thereafter he attacked another colleague with the knife before being shot by the Oklahoma Food Distribution Firm's head. The reactions from Muslim leaders in USA surprised me and that shows the importance of education in emancipating the people from the shackles of religious bondage. Immediately,the spokesman for the Islamic council of Oklahoma said that,' Muslims were shocked,horrified and saddened .He was not known to any of the leadership in Oklahoma mosques.

We do not have any confirmation of his conversion either in prison or out in the community. Muslims are supporting law enforcement efforts to perform their due diligence and seek justice in this case.' Also the Washington Dc-based Muslim Public Affairs Council(MPAC) also said ,'it was horrified.' What interests me is the way the Muslim leaders in that part of the world came out to condemn and deny the suspect but in Nigeria here,we will not only politicize it,we will go a long way to bring in ethnic sentiments into the matter. Some will even accuse the law enforcement agents of carrying out genocide in a particular region of the country in order to render the investigative efforts of the law enforcement agents nugatory hence terrorism continues unabated.

Sequel to this,I call on all well meaning Christians and Muslims in this great country to come together for us to consolidate on our similarities and in our differences ,let us find love and unity. We must not allow neocolonialists to manipulate and divide us along religious lines.

Dr Paul John,
Port Harcourt,
Rivers state.

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Articles by Paul John