Author Topic: 27YRS AFTER, HANDSHAKE BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY  (Read 2105 times)

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27YRS AFTER, HANDSHAKE BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
« on: February 01, 2009, 08:01:30 AM »
  27yrs after, handshake between Islam and Christianity
By FRANCIS FALOLA
Published: Sunday, 1 Feb 2009

Almost three decades after the infamous Zango/Kataf religious crisis in Kaduna State, FRANCIS FALOLA has discovered two of the key actors and what they have been up to since then.

Ashafa

Wuye

TWENTY seven years ago, Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa played a prominent role in the Zango/Kataf religious crisis in Kaduna State.

While Wuye was the leader of the youth wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Ashafa, was the leader of the same wing of the Islamic Society of Nigeria. And the two, who were barely 22-years-old then, armed themselves and their members with guns, swords, bows, arrows to stand in the defence of their religions and unleashed havoc on the religious adherents of the opposing group.

At the end of the crisis, people were maimed and several lives were lost and property worth several millions of naira destroyed with so many churches and mosques burnt.

These principal actors survived the carnage, but not without a bitter price, which will remain indelible in their memories. While Ashafa in his own case appeared luckier as he did not suffer any deformity in the crisis, he did suffer pain, anguish and sorrow as he lost his mentor and Islamic teacher, the 70-year-old Sheik Ahmad Tijani, and two cousins to the violence. Wuye on the other hand not only lost friends and relations, but also suffered permanent deformity as his right hand was completely chopped off and had to be replaced with an artificial limb.

The two were quietly licking their wounds and for two decades, their paths never crossed again until 1995, when providence again played a fast one on them as the then Military Administrator of Kaduna State, Col. Jafaru Isah, in promoting the immunisation campaign against polio and other child killer diseases, invited religious leaders to the Government House. Ashafa and Wuye, as religious leaders, were part of the teams that attended the meeting. And as the Islamic cleric sighted the pastor, his anger rose as he remembered that Wuye led the team that launched the attack from the Christian side that claimed the lives of his loved ones. The same feelings overwhelmed the pastor, who had been fervently praying for an opportunity to avenge the loss of his limb and the deaths of his loved ones. Instantly, the spirit of vengeance took possession of them and their thoughts shifted completely from the subject of the interactive meeting with the military administrator.

But as the thoughts raged on, a friend to both parties, who was a journalist in the Kaduna State Media Corporation and somebody who was aware of the roles played by the two in the crisis, walked towards Ashafa, held his hand and dragged him to the pastor. Just like in wedlock, he joined the hands of the two warring lords together and proclaimed, ?As youths, the future of this country rests on you people, you can make or mar our nation, discuss your grievances and fashion out ways for peace to reign in our fatherland.?

The message did the magic, as the two reluctantly exchanged pleasantries and from this meeting a reunion that climaxed into an enduring bond of friendship later ensued. The relationship blossomed into the Kaduna Peace Declaration of religious leaders in 2005 and the two disbanded their militant groups and converted same to agents of campaign for positive change, religious tolerance and mutual co-existence in the country and beyond. Today the two have been given both national and international recognition for being in the forefront of campaign for peace and mutual co-existence in Africa and beyond.

Today, the faces of the former combatants adorn a documentary, Imam and the Pastor. And because of its relevance in the promotion of peace worldwide, has been translated into various African and European languages. Ashafa and Wuye bagged honorary doctorate degrees from an Indian university in recognition of their works; they also received the Ashaka Fellow award and are co-joint Executive Coordinator of the Interfaith Mediation Centre, a non-governmental organisation that engages in peace works and provides support to victims of communal and religious violence.

On two occasions, the two had been nominated for national honours awards. These two leaders, who for several years were nursing the feeling of vengeance and hatching the plots to kill each other in the name of religion, are today the best of friends to the extent that one can put his life on the line to save the life of the other and their families relate as one. The two are today serving as mediators across the country and beyond in communities torn apart by religious riots.

This campaign for peace and mutual co-existence among religious faithful brought Ashafa and Wuye to Minna, the Niger State capital for a national summit for Nigerian Youths on Inter-religious Dialogue and Peaceful Co-existence, which was organised by Nigeria Inter-religious Council. The Executive Secretary of NIREC, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, presented the clerics to the audience that had 500 Muslim and Christian youths from all states of the federation in attendance.

The professor said that the seminar was brought to Minna in appreciation of the efforts of the state governor, who is also the Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, in promotion of peace and mutual co-existence in the country. He praised Aliyu for abolishing all forms of discriminatory fees in the state; an effort he stated would go a long way in the promotion of peace among the indigenes of the state. He described the North-Central region of the country as the region with the highest level of religious plurality going by the ratio of the Christians to the Muslims, adding that the recent outbreak of religious crisis in Jos called for stakeholders to intensify more efforts at creating awareness and enlightening the youths on the need to shun religious violence and religious intolerance.

Aliyu identified poverty, ignorance as the major causes of religious violence in the country. He said, ?Most of our religious leaders are not helping matters. They preach to encourage religious violence and the people, out of misunderstanding of the true essence of their religion, take to actions they are not supposed to and in the process commit sin against God and humanity.?

Wuye observed that various aspects abound in the Bible and Koran that could be used negatively to foment trouble or instigate violence but advised on the need for the people, especially religious leaders, to look at those aspects that preach mutual co-existence, forgiveness and love. He described the two religions as emphasising peace, love and forgiveness, while urging Muslims and Christians on the need to imbibe these principles.

Wuye, who was a CAN official in 1987 and 1995, spoke on how he became a religious militant. He said, ?Nobody recruited us and no Christian leader assembled us for the role. We believed it was enough of turning the second cheek; I just believed and saw the need for me to defend my religion. I brought people of same minds together. We looked at things from the angle that if the Muslims had spared lives, then we too could go and borrow one; but if they were ready to sacrifice their lives in the defence of their religion, then we should be ready to sacrifice our own too.?

He added, ?I discovered that hate begets hate, if I hit you and you hit me back, it becomes a vicious circle. I have learnt that loving the Muslims is the strongest weapon that a Christian can use. If you love and you keep on loving without caring what the other person is doing one day he or she will be compelled to love you in return. We need as Christians and Muslims to inch into one another and get closer to understand one another. We have been programme to hate each other; we need to de-programmed ourselves from this and reprogramme ourselves positively.?

The pastor admitted that it was a nightmare for him the first time he visited Ashafa in his mosque as he was filled with fear that he might not come out of the mosque alive. But he expressed joy that the two of them had attended several conferences and seminars together all over the world and had on several occasions had to sleep on the same bed. ?We are now like husband and wife that must not divorce; if we divorce our children will suffer and our children in this context are the Nigerian youths whom we must not allow to suffer, so we have vowed to stay stuck together,? he said.

Ashafa stated the need for Nigerians to build a culture where people are judged on the strength of their character, and not on the basis of their religion. ?My dream is for a Nigeria where the son of a Muslim and that of a bishop will work together to make Nigeria great. It is regrettable that we are the most religious nation in the world when it comes to going to church and mosque, but when it comes to actions or living by our faith we are the worst. We need to change so that we can have a nation we will all be proud of,? the Imam said.

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27YRS AFTER, HANDSHAKE BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
« on: February 01, 2009, 08:01:30 AM »

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Offline furtune

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Re: 27YRS AFTER, HANDSHAKE BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2009, 12:12:37 PM »
God forgive us all....
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Re: 27YRS AFTER, HANDSHAKE BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2009, 06:25:07 PM »
THE HISTORY IS IMPRESSIVELY UNFORTUNATE .  FOR ONE I ONLY NOTE THE QUESTIONABLE COSTS .  THAT IT TAKES SO LONG AND THE COSTS ON THE PART OF THE VICTIMS AND OBSERVERS AS AGAINST THE HUMBLING OF THE LEADERS WILL APPEAR TO ME TO BE OBJECTIVELY SHAMEFUL .  THE SUPERIORITY OF THE PRINCIPLE OF PEACE THAT EXISTED BEFORE THIS DISGRACEFUL AND DISTRUCTIVE INTERVENTION REMAINS AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE RELIGIOUS UNTIL AND UNLESS WE GET SOMEONE WHO WILL CLAIM DIRECT AND PERSONAL INSTRUCTION TO BEAR ARMS AGAINST ANY FREE PEOPLE .  GOD IS WISER TO HAVE NOMINATED AND APPOINTED SPECIFIC INDIVIDUALS WITH STERLING QUALITIES TO INVITE FREE PEOPLE TO HIM .  THEREFORE IT LOGICALLY FOLLOWS THAT THE COLLECTIVE RULES THAT PROTECT US INSPITE OF OUR DIFFERENCES MUST BE THE FIRST RESPONSIBLE RESORT .  THIS IS WHAT IS PRAISE WORTHY AND NOT SOME REORGANISATION TO IMPRESS SOMETHING NEW THAT AGAIN COSTS SUPRA-WASTAGES .  IT WAS CONDEMNABLE , IT IS AND WILL REMAIN SO .  AND NO NUMBER OR STATUS OF RECOGNITION GIVEN TO THIS RECOVERY WILL ADD VALUE TO THE BACKWARDNESS OF THE HISTORY AND THE ACTORS OF THESE REORGANISATIONS .

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Re: 27YRS AFTER, HANDSHAKE BETWEEN ISLAM AND CHRISTIANITY
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2009, 06:25:07 PM »

 

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