The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, on Friday, September 2, 2016, announced that Muslims will observe the Id al-Kabiir on Monday, September 12. Reacting to the Sultan’s announcement, a coalition of 22 Christian groups in Nigeria led by National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) yesterday descended on the Sultan for announcing the Id al-Kabiir celebration day.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is greatly perturbed by the recent trend in the advocacy of NCEF and its parent body, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). To say the least, their interventions are destructive, biased, confrontational, unnecessarily aggressive and openly hostile.
This is definitely not what we need while the country lies in the intensive care unit. CAN and NCEF are not thinking of Nigeria’s survival. They are singing war songs, heating up the polity and making hate speeches.
CAN has deliberately twisted the Sultan’s declaration of Id al-Kabiir day as if the latter had declared a public holiday. For the avoidance of doubts, there is a difference between declaration of Salah day and declaration of a public holiday. Only the Federal Government can declare a public holiday in the country while governors alone can declare it in the states. But the Sultan reserves the right to declare the day for a Muslim festival. CAN has no locus standi to question him. Or did the Sultan declare Christmas day?
The Sultan based the announcement on Saudi’s declaration of Sunday 11th September as Arafat Day. Normally, the following day should be Salah day. So the Sultan was right. He was even being proactive. The declaration is expected to guide government’s decision on which day or days to declare as public holiday. It was an act of patriotism.
The problem with CAN leadership is that they don’t even want to hear the voice of Muslims. They had monopolized the public scene and the media for so long that they arrogated to themselves all the publicity in the land. If CAN leadership has control over the sun in heaven, they will not allow it to shine on Muslims, neither will they allow the Muslims to use daylight.
But it is sheer wishful thinking. The wind has blown. We have seen the ruff of the hen. Nigerians now know the truth. Muslims also know that Christians generally are their brothers and compatriots. Many of them are friendly and pleasant, particularly those who practice the true teachings of Jesus (peace be upon him). They are amenable to friendship and positively disposed to peaceful coexistence. Christian leaders in recent times are the problem. They see the Sultan’s fingers in every pie.
CAN leadership is envious of the progress made by the Nigerian Muslim community under the able, visionary and dynamic leadership of Sultan Abubakar III. Unlike in the past when Muslim celebrations were characterized by controversy, the synergy in Islamdom in recent time has become a source of headache for CAN. Instead of rejoicing with the Sultan for his achievements, they marvel at his methodical and microscopic calculations. They wonder where his superior diplomatic acumen comes from.
As we round up, we assure Nigerians that Muslims are willing to peacefully coexist with their Christian neighbours. We reiterate that Nigerian Muslims have no hidden agenda. We have always told Nigerians what we want. We just want to be allowed to be Muslims. No more, no less. We urge Christians to ignore the hate speeches and incitements coming from CAN and NCEF leadership.
Let us join hands to rebuild our dear country. Let us come together to fight the ills of society. Our criticisms and commendations should be on the basis of an individual’s pedigree and not on his religious leaning. Let us eschew mutual suspicion and ill will. Let us celebrate our achievements together and seek corrections for our failings with one voice. These are the only ways to turn Nigeria into the desired El-Dorado.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)