Issues around blasphemy and way forward

We shouldn’t be influenced by press freedom or any other freedom to do anything that will lead to loss of lives and properties

By Lawan Bukar Maigana

To achieve the relative peace we crave we have to respect each other’s religion and be wary of using nasty words on our “sacred belongings.” However, I wholeheartedly condemn jungle justice, lynching people, and people taking laws into their hands. That is unIslamic. Islam is an organised religion. We should follow due process when it comes to issues that require capital punishment.

For a fact, I know that any negative thing in words or drawing against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) will not be tolerated or pardoned by any true Muslim. However, Muslims should be wary of taking laws into our hands. Some people said that the justice system in Nigeria is slow.; judgment is usually delayed.

Some people cite the case of Mubarak Bala, an atheist from Kano, who was sentenced to 24 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to blasphemous charges against him. They said his penalty is death but he was sentenced to 24 years in prison which is injustice. But this should not be an excuse for people to take laws into their hands because Islam does not encourage doing that in any way no matter how bad our system is.

In the wake of Deborah’s killing by a mob, a woman, Naomi Goni, was reported to the police and the Borno state government over alleged blasphemy she made on facebook. The Borno state government promptly did the needful to avoid jungle justice on her as happened in Sokoto. Jungle justice and people taking laws into their hands are unIslamic. We should respect each other’s religion for the sake of peace. We shouldn’t be influenced by press freedom or any other freedom to do anything that will lead to loss of lives and properties.

On May 16, I read in the newspapers that a Lagos engineer was lynched by motorcycle operators because of N100. This is condemnable and should not be accepted by any reasonable government. It is high time the Nigerian government enacted stringent laws against burning people no matter what they did.

These guys gruesomely burnt the engineer because of N100. You can’t count how many people have been killed because of minor things like stealing food, goat, a paltry amount of money, shoes, among others, in the South. And they happily do it. No northerner will kill anyone because of any of the above-mentioned things. Yet, northerners are called murderers. Really! Are they?

Although I am not an Islamic scholar, I know that Allah has warned and forbidden believers from punishing people with fire. Only Him does that. Insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is unacceptable and unpardonable even in a Muslim minority state or country let alone a place like Sokoto which is regarded as the root of Islam in the North. Desisting from insulting the Prophet will not cost you anything. Why can’t we live in peace?

As Muslims, we should act with knowledge in whatever we do. Allah has asked us to know Him before we worship Him. We can’t worship Him if we don’t know Him. We should respect each other’s religion no matter what happens because none of us will take it lightly when any of us transgresses. I fear that this issue should not metamorphose into religious conflict because the comments people make on the incident are scary and dangerous.

One’s faith in Islam will not be complete until he believes and loves Jesus – Isa (AS). That is why you won’t see Muslims insulting him. Honestly, some of the comments made by some moderate Muslims and Christians are unjustifiable because such things have been happening in the South/East in the open and no Muslim has ever attributed them to Christianity because we know what Christianity is.

Why can’t they do the same justice as Muslims do for Christianity when things go wrong in the South? Until we start telling ourselves the truth and live by it, respect each other’s religion and censor our utterances we will continue to get things wrong. We can live together without crossing each other’s red lines.

It is hypocritical to condemn and label Muslims as murderers because of what happened in Sokoto while you keep mute on the killings thriving in the South. All lives are sacred and no religion has asked its followers to kill people for no reason and no religion has asked its followers to insult or make a mockery of someone’s religion. This has to be understood by all of us.

The only way to end this kind of incident is through the legislation on blasphemy with harsh punishment for whoever is found wanting. I think this will put an end to blasphemy and will save lives and properties in the country.

Maigana wrote from Wuye District, Abuja

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