There is no denying the fact that the history of religion is as old as the history of man himself. Even back to the age when man was glaringly primitive, there is evidence of worship of some form. Scholars have discovered that there never existed a time when people were not religious.
Religion exists in great variety and affects the lives of millions of people in various ways. The Hindus make coconut, flower and apples offerings to their gods while the monks of Buddhism are usually decked in saffron, black or red robes.
In Christendom, worshippers put on their best clothes and congregate in chapels and churches to preach, fellowship, sing hymns and listen to inspiring and life-changing sermons. In Islamic countries, one can hear the voices of muezzins “the muslim who makes the call from minarets five times a day calling the faithful to observe the salat or prayer.
Despite the wide diversity of religious expression that has developed around the world, there is one common thread that runs through the fabrics of religion in its diversity. That thread is the need to worship God and be acceptable unto Him. Making one to be acceptable before God does not require us to kill others. Rather, it requires us to love others like ourselves.
For thousands of years, mankind has had a spiritual need and yearning that many now worship God through various religious means that may not please God. Man in his unbridled quest to answer the questions concerning his trials and burdens, doubts, enigma of death, blessings, his future and other puzzle-like questions of life has no doubt found religion as the only solace on earth. It is no wonder that Christopher Hitchens was quoted to have said that “Religion is part of the human make-up. It is also part of our cultural and intellectual history. Religion was our first attempt at literature, the texts, our first attempt at cosmology, making sense of where we are in the universe, our first attempt at health care, believing in faith healing, our first attempt at philosophy.”
However, many of us cannot be blamed for failing to understand the concept of the religion faith we profess since religion has become a matter of family tradition. We usually follow the religious ideals and directions of parents and grandparents because they are first and foremost the first people to influence our religious inclinations.
Be that as it may, many religions are different when viewed from one perspective and are similar when viewed from another. On the surface, many religions in existence today seem different from one another. However, beneath their differences is the goal of love which many religions preach and which is the primary and ultimate objective of any religion.
The two major monotheistic religions in our country are Christianity and Islam. That both religions preach love and unity is never in doubt. Almost all the historical narratives of the Koran have their Biblical parallels. This writer has many Moslem friends. It is also a fact that many of us are known to have married from the Moslem families and vice-versa. We have been together, and still are, as business partners. We have been in the same offices, and still are, as co-workers. We have also been together, and still are as lawmakers in the legislative houses.
But alas, the incessant crises rocking Southern Kaduna State particularly with the December 2016 killings in Goska village, few kilometres away from Kafanchan, Jema’a local government by suspected Fulani herdsmen tend to portray us as not being together.
At this juncture, it is expedient to ask that despite the fact that the two major religion that exist in the country preach peace, unity and love, why has there been incessant religious crises in Kaduna? A chronicle of previous incidences of religious crises in the state would buttress this view. For instance, in year 2000, there were religious riots between Christians and Muslims over the introduction of sharia law in the state. Not too long after the crisis, another riot broke out in November 2002 when some Muslims interpreted an article on Miss World Beauty Contest that was published in Thisday newspaper to be blasphemous. As if the state has not had enough dose of religious crisis, the recent alleged killing of over 800 citizens, mostly women, children and the elderly in the state by suspected herdsmen has added to the gory list.
But why is there incessant crises in Kaduna despite our claim to being in unity and togetherness? Are those behind the incessant religious crises not Nigerians? If they are, where is their sense of patriotism? While they kept spilling blood in Kaduna in the name of religion, have they asked if their personal conduct is truly a reflection of their religious backgrounds? A good religion is supposed to produce a kinder person of a more generous, honest, humble, tolerant and compassionate dispositions. But in the case of those behind the killings in Southern Kaduna, it is like their religion’s primary objective is to kill others. It is like they want to validate Blaise Pascal (1623-62) saying that “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”
In the Christendom, the word of God admonishes Christians in the book of Philippians chapter 4 verse 8 thus: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” I believe other religions also admonish their followers to be doing what is true, honest and what is of good report. If the act of slaughtering human beings like chickens is seen as a virtue in a certain part of the world, we should not see it as such in Nigeria because of our cultural differences.
Mahatma Gandhi, famous for his non-violent leadership, on March 23, 1922 proclaimed that “Non-violence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed.” Permit me to repeat myself again, I do not think there is any religion that supports hatred, killings and violence in any form.
Finally, the Bible says in Ecclesiastes chapter 8 verse 11 that “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” I am of the opinion that responsible security agencies in Kaduna state should put in more efforts to bring the perpetrators of the killings to book. Given the present situation it may not be wrong to say that toes can be stepped on if that is what it would take to stem the tide of killings in Kaduna state; no matter whose ox is gored.
Isaac Asabor, a Journalist, writes from Lagos