In The Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful
All thanks and praises are due to Allah, we seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil within ourselves and the consequences of our evil deeds. Whoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whoever Allah leads astray will never find guidance.
I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, He is alone without any partners, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger.
“O you who have believed, fear Allah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims in submission to Him.” [Quran, 3:102]
“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Verily, Allah is ever watching over you.” [Quran, 4:1]
“O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice. He will then amend for you your deeds and forgive your sins, and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly attained a great attainment.” [Quran, 33:70-71]
Verily, the most truthful speech is the Book of Allah, the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, and the worst affairs are newly invented matters (in the religion of Allah). Every newly invented matter is a religious innovation, and every religious innovation is misguidance, and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Know that, in the atmosphere of distrust around the world, the mankind could not stand with clash. During world wars humanity witnessed a lot of bloodshed, massacre and distrust. Cold war brought the war of ideologies (Capitalism-Communism) and in Post-cold war world, the consistent use of the terms ―”Terrorism” and ―”Extremism” at the political level and the backlash it faced in the name of ―”War against terror” or ―”Operation desert fox” or some other operations has put a big question mark on the peace process at the global level. The adherents of one ideology are scared of some different ideology. The man of one thought is not in a position to believe the man of different thought. Finally, the man of one faith or a religion gets irritated with a man possessing a different faith. At the end of the day we can say that human beings are becoming ―”Intolerant.” The process of intolerance has been growing in each and every community of human beings. We all know about our intolerance, but unfortunately we could not recognize the faults in one‘s own community. To blame “other” community is very easy because we have chosen ―”other” as our enemy. This is a sad slogan of the new era ―”Other is our enemy.” This sort of mental outlook of the people of new era is well expressed by Samuel P. Huntington while interpreting a paragraph of the Michael Dibdin‘s novel, Dead Lagoon, as:
“There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not we cannot love what we are. These are old truths we are painfully rediscovering after a century….Those who deny them deny their family, their heritage, their culture, their birthright, and their very selves! They will not lightly be forgiven.” [See Clash of civilisations and remaking of the world order, by Samuel P. Huntington, page 20]
Are these truths truly reinvented by our statesmen and scholars? Can we identify ourselves only through knowing our enemies? Are enemies essential in this new era of global politics? Does religion helps us to identify ―”other”?
These are some of the important questions discovered in today’s politics.
For seeking identity and reinventing ethnicity, enemies are essential and the potentially most dangerous hatred and animosity can be found within the men possessing different religion, ethnicity, culture or civilisation.
People who possess different ideologies and unfortunately share a border have the maximum chances of creating a Fault Line. Most of these fault lines are said to exist between Muslims and non-Muslims. Hence the biggest enemies to each other are Muslims and non-Muslims. In this way scholars, politicians and academicians who carry such a view point, unite the whole world against Islam. If we put it straight, this is biased study towards the knowledge of a civilisation. There are people who loath upon others religion and civilisation with a vested interest.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Today, the Fulani herdsman has become the proxy unit for aggression and the expression of hate against Northern Muslims in Nigeria. And this is part of the strategy to contain, clip, cull and further weaken Muslims within the Nigerian community.
The onslaught is from all angles. Particularly noticeable is the glee with which some Igbos have found the opportunity to turn the tables against what they consider humiliating repression of the recent Kanu/IPOB uprising. This is matched and partnered by some Northern Christians political ebullience to reassert itself, against the background of recent marginalisation by the Buhari Government. These two are powerfully aided and abetted by some South Western ethnic politicians, with their powerful press – both traditional and social media. Powerful elements outside power, especially those under threat of corruption charges, provide some of the financial muscle and energy.
In all of this, religion is the main lever of manipulation. With history clearly being rewritten and Nigeria being misrepresented. An often told lie can begin to look like the truth, after all, especially to the vulnerable young, who know little or no history.
Today, the agenda has been set, of a Christian Nigeria, more than half the population in their claims, fighting a murderous and insidious “Islamist and Muslim design” to conquer Christians and deprive them of their ancestral lands. This is the false and insidious narrative, everywhere. And that this government is using state apparatus to aid this purported Fulani Islamic jihad. Foreign countries, especially in the West, are inundated with this false and dangerous propaganda.
They also disingenuously claim that this jihad is a continuation of the 1804 Shehu Usman Danfodio Jihad, which, itself, has now thoroughly been misrepresented by all sorts of ignorant opinion writers and speakers.
Respected Servants of Allah! What is actually facing us today is a political rivalry whereby some powerful Christian politicians have chosen religion as their main weapon of fighting not only the Buhari regime, which we all knows, witnessed and agreed has its many mistakes, shortcomings, failings and failures, but to, majorly fight Northern Muslims for political power. And the Fulani herdsman has unfortunately become the proxy for this hate and enmity, and for this fight against Northern Muslims. This strategy to leverage religion to force political advantage, and to possibly wrest political control, has been made inevitable by the complete ineffectiveness of political parties today.
The danger is that this creates more violence in a country already severely challenged and weakened by terrorism, insurgency and violence everywhere.
Respected Servants of Allah! We are living in a world where there could obviously be more peace. As Muslims, we realize this fact more than most people, as the peace of many of our brothers and sisters in various parts of the globe has been tragically disrupted: Nigeria, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Chechnya, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Libya and other locales. Similarly, we are living in a world where there could be more justice. We read almost daily of killing and assassinations in various parts of the world where terrorist groups, militias, military forces, or intelligence services, oftentimes in summary fashion, declare victims guilty and then proceed to execute them. Unfortunately, such unprincipled political behaviour has become increasingly common in both the foreign and domestic policies of many countries, causing untold damage to their image and credibility abroad.
Respected Brothers and Sisters! These two issues, peace and justice, are joined in the slogans we hear from many activists, in the world and especially here in Nigeria, “No Justice, No Peace!” This linkage is logical, as justice must be considered one of the indispensable prerequisites of any lasting peace. This article intends to briefly look at the ideas of peace and justice in Islam and explore their deeper significance in the life of a Muslim and his neighbour.
My Respected people! In the Arabic language, the word peace is derived from the radicals S-L-M. The scholars of language mention four closely related terms that can be derived from this origin: Salam, Salamah, Silm, and Salm. Imam Raghib al-Isfahani says in his lexicon of Qur’anic terms:
“As-Salm and as-Salamah mean freedom from any external or internal ruination.”
Based on that, he mentions that true peace will only exist in Paradise, for only there will there be perpetuity with no end, complete satisfaction with no need, perfect honour with no humiliation, and perfect health with no disease. In this regard, Allah is known as As-Salam, because He alone is described as being totally free from any defects or flaws. This understanding of true peace being a reality associated with a transformed world is also understood in both Jewish and Christian theology.
At the level of interstate relations, if we ponder the above definition, we can consider peaceful relations between nations as a condition where violence, a state inevitably involving both internal and external ruination, is absent. In this sense, war can be viewed as an aberrational state. The aberrational nature of war is made clearer if we consider that murder, the ultimate consequence of war, is considered an innovation that destroyed the peace formerly existing among the human family. It is stated in a Prophetic Hadith that:
“No soul is killed unjustly, except that the elder son of Adam (Cain) shares in the stain of the crime. That is because he was the first to innovate murder [in the human family].”
At the individual level, peace can be viewed as an absence of the ruinations of the heart. One free from such ruinations will succeed, Allah-willing, when he/she meets his/her Lord. Therefore, he/she will enter safely into the Abode of Peace (Dar as-Salam). Allah says in that regard:
“[On] the day no amount of wealth or children will be of any benefit. [The only one benefited] will be one who comes before Allah with a sound (salim) heart.” [Quran, 26:89]
If one reflects on these meanings, it should be clear that the wars that Muslims have been involved in throughout our long history do not nullify the validity of the statement:
“Islam is the religion of peace.”
What is meant by that expression, and Allah knows best, is that Islam provides a path for the human being to enter Paradise (Dar as-Salam), and there he/she will know true peace.
Respected Servants of Allah! Peace has meanings wider than those mentioned above. One of the loftier objectives of our religion is to introduce into the world an ethos that facilitates the spreading of peace at every level. Our personal relations with our fellow Muslims should begin with the implementation of the Prophetic order:
“Spread peace between you all.”
This order is so pressing that the Beloved Prophet – advised its indiscriminate implementation. He said at the end of a Hadith in which he described one of the best forms of Islam:
“Extend the greeting of peace, to those you know and those you know not.”
This is a very weighty matter that calls for our deeper reflection. Its weightiness is illustrated by the fact that it is mentioned as being one of the things that completes our faith. The Prophet said in that regard:
“You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I indicate to you something that will surely lead to your mutual love? Spread the greeting and spirit of peace between yourselves.”
Our relations with our spouses should also be characterized by peace. Allah admonishes us concerning those relations:
“And peace is best.” [Quran, 4:128]
Similarly, in our relations with other warring nations, Allah commands us:
“If they (the enemy) incline towards peace, then you should similarly incline, and place your trust in Allah.” [Quran, 8:61]
As mentioned above, peace is the original state that prevailed in relations between individuals and societies. This opinion is based, among other narrations, on the saying of the Prophet that Jesus:
“Will return the world to a state of peace” (Yurji’ as-Salim) after his appearance at the end of time.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters! Our lexicographers define justice, variously, as:
“To rule and to judge based on that contained in the Book of Allah and the tradition (Sunnah) of His Messenger and refraining from ruling and judging based on empty opinion.”
It is also defined as:
“Extending inherent rights [to their possessors] equitably.”
This latter definition emphasizes the importance of equity as an essential aspect of distributive justice.
The concept of justice is one of the essential pillars in the maintenance of both the natural and social orders. Allah, be He Exalted, has said:
“He has established the scale, therefore, do not transgress in the scale [of justice]. Undertake the measuring with justice and do not cheat concerning the scale.” [Quran, 55:7-8]
Justice, as many of our scholars point out, is one of the underpinnings of the order that has been established by Allah. This reality is also a foundation of a healthy social order. Allah says in that regard:
“O You who believe! Be upright for Allah, witnesses to justice; and do not let your hatred of a people move you to a position where you are unjust. Be just, that is closer to piety. Be mindful of Allah! Verily Allah is well informed concerning all that you do.” [Quran, 4:135]
This social aspect of justice has been beautifully summarized by Imam al-Qurtubi. He says, discussing the relationship between two words that are usually translated as justice (al-Adl), and distributive justice (al-Qist):
“Justice is the basis of all human relations and a foundation of Islamic rule.”
This saying is illustrative of the meaning conveyed by the saying of Allah:
“Verily, we have sent Our Messengers with clear proofs, and we have revealed unto them the Scripture and the Balance in order that they lead people with justice…” [Quran, 57:25]
Imam al-Mawardi has summarized the social implications of distributive justice in the following way:
“One of the things that reforms worldly affairs is the principle of distributive justice. It facilitates amicable relations between people, engenders obedience to the Divine Law, and brings about the prosperity, progress and development of countries. It is the basis of a thriving economy, strong families, and stable government. Nothing devastates the land nor corrupts the mind as quickly as tyranny. That is because there are no acceptable limits [to regulate tyranny].” [Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah of Imam al-Mawardi]
For this reason, Imam Ibn Taymiyya sees the responsibilities of Islamic government emanating from a single verse in the Qur’an:
“Allah enjoins that you deliver the Trusts to their rightful possessors. And when you rule over [or judge between] people, that you do so with justice…” [Quran, 4:58]
The Noble Prophet has said in this context:
“Surely the most beloved of people with Allah and the closest to Him on the Day of Resurrection will be a just leader. And the most hated of people and the furthest removed from Him will be a tyrannical leader.”
Clearing himself from even an inadvertent association with oppressive, unjust acts, our beloved Prophet is reported to have said:
“You bring your disputes to me for adjudication; perhaps one of you is less eloquent than another, and I rule against the wronged party on the basis of what I have heard. Therefore, if I inadvertently grant one of you something owed to his brother do not take it, for I am granting him something that constitutes a piece of Hellfire.”
Our impeccably just Khalifa Umar bin al-Khattab uttered the following penetrating words:
“Verily, Allah sets forth parables for you, and He directs admonition towards you in order that hearts will be quickened. Surely, the hearts are dead until Allah quickens them. Justice has signs and portents. As for its signs, they are shyness, generosity, humility, and gentleness. As for its portents, they are embodied in mercy. He has [likewise] made for every affair a gate, and He has made that gate accessible by providing a key. The gate of justice is a deep consideration of consequences, and its key is otherworldliness. Consideration of consequences ultimately involves remembering death and preparing for it by freely parting from one’s wealth. Otherworldliness involves dealing justly with everyone and being satisfied with what suffices. If one is not satisfied with what suffices him, no abundance will ever enrich him.”
Much of this discussion has focused on distributive justice. However, the Qur’an also places great emphasis on commutative justice. Allah commands us:
“Do not be moved by partiality to discriminate in meting out divinely legislated punishments.” [Quran, 24:2]
The Prophet Muhammad mentioned that one of the reasons behind the ruination of a nation is a lack of commutative justice. In this context, he mentioned that even if his very daughter were to steal, he would not hesitate to punish her to the full extent of the law.
In summary, this brief discussion should make it clear to any Muslim and non Muslim that peace and justice are comprehensive concepts with deep implications and we have to be people committed to peace and justice. We must clearly illustrate to the world that our religions are indeed the religions of peace. However, our striving for peace must never allow us to be unjust, nor should it allow us to passively accept injustices. We must take a stand for justice, as we are ordered in the Qur’an:
“Be you upright supporters of justice…” [Quran, 4:135]
However, that stand must go far beyond slogans, such as the one mentioned at the beginning of this article, and move into the realm of positive action; action inspired by the Qur’an and the words and deeds of our illustrious Prophet (Peace be upon him).
Respected Brothers and Sisters! Allah is our witness, we warned those state governments who want to ban the cattle rearing in their states, that the law will plunge their states into a war, but they refused to listen to us and went ahead to ban it. We also warned that the Fulani’s patience and silence over recent killings of their kinsmen in Adamawa, Taraba etc, should not be misconstrued for fear or weakness. We also called for thorough investigation into the recent killings in four Numan villages. We also warned about the massacre of the dozens of women and children of fulanis in Shaforon, Kikem and Kodemti villages. We warned that government and other relevant security authorities should thoroughly investigate those involved and bring the perpetrators to book for fear of reprisal attacks and for peace to reign.
Dear Brothers and Sisters! For Allah’s sake What happened to Fulanis in Mambilla, Sardauna, in Taraba State? What happened to them in Numan? And what is happening to them of killing, raping their wives and children, and stealing their cows in many states and many places in Nigeria? Why if the fulani man have been killed in Nigeria nobody will say anything? Why denying them freedom and justice in their own country? Why all this hate, hatred and enmity towards the fulanis? Are they not Nigerians? Are they strangers? Are they not human being like all of us? Why, why, why please? Haba! Let us fear Allah!! You see, at many points in our history, we make mistakes of confusing patience for fear or weakness. I hope, we would not make that mistake this time; what happened in Adamawa, Taraba, etc, to fulanis, would not go unpunished, let us be just, because in the absence of justice there must be a problem.
Respected Brothers and Sisters! We must come together and rise above ethnicities and religious bigotry for us to live peacefully with one another, and to know that Allah created us in different so that we may know and understand one another. Attacking, Killing, maiming and destroying each other or our property does not make us better than one another. We all are guilty and must repent and learn to live with one another as provided by our Constitution. We, as Muslims and Christians are a prayerful people, so please we should continue praying and resolving our differences in a civilised ways. May Almighty Allah help us in this direction. Ameen Ya Rabb!
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our Noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
May the peace, blessings and mercy of Allah be upon you all.
Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached through: [email protected] or +2348038289761.