I've often wondered what motivates one person to murder another. It must be the ultimate act of inhumanity for one human to consciously and intentionally go out of their way to snuff the life out of another human. Even though no murderer has the exact same motivation as another, I believe murderers are, for the most part, really intense individuals who strive for some kind of mental, physical or spiritual release. And even though not all murderers express validation for their actions, the more perplexing type of murderers are those who incorrectly justify the action of snatching another human’s fundamental right to life from them.
Which brings me to the concept of mass killings and suicide bombings. For over two years, Nigerians have fallen prey to the brutality of mass extermination in the form of suicide bombings. While those who are carrying out these suicide bombings justify it by saying that they are fighting for the course of Islam, the vast majority of Muslims recognize their actions as a perversion of Islam and which has nothing to do with Muslims.
As a Muslim sister, a mother; as a person who cares for her people, her country and cherishes Islam beyond everything else in this world, it really is shocking to see fellow Muslims and people from Islam all over the world resort to an action that is a complete contradiction to what Islam, a religion of peace, teaches us and stands for.
As a Muslim sister, a mother; as a person who cares for her people, her country and cherishes Islam beyond everything else in this world, if I had a chance to look into the faces and speak directly to those Muslims, especially those Nigerians who interpret and preach our scripture in a manner that lends itself to the extreme act of suicide bombings and mass killings, I would ask;
“Whether at some point during your journey; during your really quiet sober moments, there have been points when you have asked yourself if the suicide killings that you send your followers to carry out in the name of Jihad is truly what our religion asks of you; whether the thousands of dead bodies and blood that now seeps down your hands is the obligatory religious sacrifice of which our faith and ‘Iman’ is built on?
All the people that you have sent to carry out what you have interpreted and preached as an essential Jihad have been just that; people. People who belong to others; who happen to be other people’s children, other people’s parents, other people’s siblings, other people’s friends, other people’s neighbour’s and other people’s dependants. Every time you send out our brothers to carry out your interpretation of what Jihad requires of them, someone suffers, someone dies, parents lose their children. You do not send out your children for what you say is the ultimate, pious sacrifice; you don’t send out your parents or your wives. You don’t even send yourself, but you let our young brothers, our young men carry out the ultimate sin in Islam to fulfill the fate that you have not given yourself up to.
Yes, the suicide bombings and mass killings that you have subjected our society to is an ultimate sin, because using an Islamic eye to look at the concept of suicide bombings in its very basic form, it is impossible to rationalize it with the beautiful and peaceful teachings of Islam. As a Muslim, if you look at the act of suicide, ask yourself if Islam endorses suicide in any capacity? Whether there is any circumstance where the commission of suicide is encouraged or permitted? Even with your extreme interpretation of Jihad, the first and short answer has got to be absolutely not ever.
During your religious studies, you would have come across several examples of this prohibition from Hadith where it is explained quite explicitly that whoever commits suicide with any weapon will be punished with that very same weapon in the Hell Fire. In Hadith (Bukhari 7:670) Narrated by Abu Huraira, The Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself, will be in the Hell Fire falling down into it and abiding therein perpetually forever; and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it, he will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the Hell Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever; and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon, will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the Hell Fire wherein he will abide eternally forever.’
A further example from a battle in Hadith (Book #52, Hadith #297) Narrated by Abu Huraira tells of a situation in the company of Allah's Apostle in a Ghazwa where He remarked about a man who claimed to be a Muslim, saying, ‘This man is from the people of the Hell Fire.’ When asked why the Muslim man was from the people of Hell fire, he replied that, ‘When battle started, the Muslim man fought violently till he got wounded.’ Somebody said, ‘O Allah's Apostle! The man whom you described as being from the people of the Hell Fire fought violently today and died.’ The Prophet (SAW) again replied, ‘He will go to the Hell Fire.’ Some people were confused as to why a Muslim who had fought so gallantly for his religion would be described as being from the people of the Hell Fire. Suddenly someone explained that the man was still alive but severely wounded after the battle but when night fell, he lost patience and committed suicide and that was why he was described as a man that would serve eternity in Hell. Whilst none of the Hadith mentions suicide bombings in particular, it seems clear that suicide, even 'in the name of Allah' is forbidden and punished severely.
If suicide is forbidden then suicide bombing is strictly haram. Suicide bombing kills innocent people, and Allah says that whoever kills another, it is as if the whole of humanity is killed. You know as much as the next person that it is absolutely forbidden to kill people in Islam except in the case where it has been ordered by Allah, such as during war time. That circumstance does not exist in the present state that we are living in no matter what analysis you have given our situation. I’m sorry it just doesn’t! If you are well read in Islamic tenants, law and jurisprudence, you must know that, as Muslims, we are prohibited from taking the law into our own hands, even if we have been wronged. There is nowhere in the teachings of Islam to where any of us are permitted to make a judgement against another and take the law into our own hands. It is never permissible for you or anyone in the name of religion to suddenly decide to kill another or commit yourself to a bomb where you take your own life and kill innocent people without any right. It is a grave sin!
When you follow the example set by foreign Islamist groups like Al-Qaeda and other militant groups in Asia, the Caucuses and throughout the Middle East, when you take funding, logistics and other support from them, when you travel to receive training in their camps, you align yourself with their struggle. But the struggle of these groups is fundamentally a global jihad against the West; a movement against the United States and its policies, especially in regards to Israel and its occupation of Jerusalem and the persecution and murder of Muslims there. The foreign Islamist groups are waging their war because of that, because of the occupation of the lands of Islam by the United States in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbours, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighbouring Muslim peoples.
The Islamist groups are also fighting because of Americas' past aggression against the Iraqi and Afghan people. Is that what you are fighting for? Because if it is, then why are you targeting Nigerians who have no concept of the West and its foreign policy? Even for our foreign Muslim brothers who target civilian Westerners, you must ask yourself what they have achieved in their Jihad. It has not stopped Israeli occupation in Palestine, it has not stopped American foreign policies that offend and oppress our people. What it has done is gotten our fathers and children killed and locked up. What it has done are massacred Western civilians who have no knowledge or business with their countries’ foreign policy. What it has done is presented our peaceful religion as a religion of violence.
When you recruit a suicide bomber to kill and take the law into their own hands, it is not because Islam prescribed it; it is because you have fallen victim to an extreme way of thinking that is not a fair portrayal of Islam; a religion of peace, hope, harmony, goodwill and brotherhood; especially when you go to the level of killing other people; especially when you use the name of a peaceful religion to justify your unwarranted acts of violence.
The one thing that you continue to speak of is Jihad. You rely on the concept of Jihad to justify your actions. You must remember that the Holy Quran does not make Jihad, in context of an article of faith. The sayings and traditions of the Holy Prophet (SAW) render it into a formula for active struggle that invariably and incorrectly tended towards a militant expression. Your suicide bombings and mass killings of those of alternative and different faiths are contrary to the purview of the real spirit of the Islamic Jihad. Your presentation of Islam as a crude and barbaric religion which gives itself the right to cause unwarranted human and material suffering and destruction under the guise of Divine authority is not the kind of Islam many of us find in the Holy Quran read in its entirety and in the precepts of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
When you get upset at non-Muslims who read the Quran out of context, does it not occur to you that you also read and interpret it in a context that does not reflect the peace, patience and understanding that Islam represents and the teachings and life of the Holy Prophet (SAW)? Among the attributes of God, the Holy Quran mentions that ‘He is the Source of peace and the bestower of security’. The establishment of peace and maintenance of security must, therefore, be the constant objective of all Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Every pursuit and activity which disturbs peace is severely condemned in Islam and you will find this in specific injunctions in the Holy Quran: ‘…And create not disorder in the earth after it has been set in order...’ Mischief and wickedness are condemned in several other verses and Muslims are commanded to work wholly for peace.
When you speak about forced conversions to the extent of telling a President to convert to Islam before you lay down your arms, you make jest of your struggle and give the impression that you are not sincere in what you claim to be struggling for by making demands that even you know to be obviously unreasonable. By saying that, one wonders where you place the expression in the Quran which says, ‘there is no compulsion in religion.’
When you insist that Shari’a law must be applied in the whole of Nigeria, you know that it is not realistic for Nigeria as a country to be ruled under Shari’a law. It has now been fourteen years since some state governors politicised the issue of applying Shari’a law in their states. Fourteen years since those governors set off the domino that has culminated in what you have become today. Ask yourself whether those state governors have taken any responsibility for what they started fourteen years ago. Those state governors personally benefited from that policy back then while blood was spilt and are still benefiting because most of them are now in sitting cushy in the Nigerian senate while “you”, the pawn that was used by them, are today hunted as criminals, branded as terrorists, fallen as mass murderers. Ask yourself whether those states are earnestly practicing Shari’a today.
Thousands of people died in the sectarian and religious clashes that resulted from the fallout during that period. And for what? For the application of Shari’a which evidently, fourteen years on, was not a sincere application? If you believe that the application of Shari’a in those States has been successful and you desire to bring your family up in a Shari’a state, you have the option of moving to any of those states or migrating to an Islamic country such as Saudi Arabia instead of shedding the blood of people who are struggling to live day by day and struggling to do good by their families.
Nigeria is a country that is made up of not only Muslims. There are indigenous people of both the Islamic and Christian faith in all corners of the country. Each of those people has a right to practice a religion of their choosing. What right does any one section of the community have to decide the fate and religion of the rest?
You were born into this country in its secular state and you have grown up as a Nigerian in its secular state. Millions of devout Muslims (Uthman Dan Fodio, Aminu Kano, Ahmadu Bello, Shehu Yaradua, Sheikh Jaafar; and so on) have lived and died in a secular Nigeria, as Nigerians before you. What would make you think that you have the Devine right to make yourself responsible to decide a person’s faith for them above and beyond all those who came before you?
If the Holy Prophet (SAW) provided assurances to non-Muslim minorities living in Muslim majority countries and ordered Muslim minorities living in non-Muslim majority countries to abide by all laws and the rules of the country, there is no reason for any Nigerian Muslim not to abide by the laws of Nigeria. The belief that God is a just God that welcomes those who believe in Him, the last day and lead a righteous life, by whatever name they call themselves should be enough reason for us to co-exist peacefully. In the Quran, it is written that: ‘Surely, those who believe those who are Jewish, the converts, and the Christians; any of them who believe in GOD and believe in the Last Day, and lead a righteous life, have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve. [Quran 5:69].’
If you so desire to do a Jihad and draw people to Islam, why don’t you show them through example the pillar of peace and understanding that Islam preaches? Why don’t you tell them about the complete teachings of the Quran; about the pure way of life, about faith in God; all His angels, all His holy books, all His prophets, day of Judgment, and destiny? Why don’t you teach them about the virtuous existence and lifestyle of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW)? Why don’t you talk about the need to perform good deeds for the benefit of community, nature, and mankind? The need to treat every single person equally like the way you treat yourself, the need for morality and the need for brotherhood, justice, equality, kindness, tolerance, love, sympathy, sacrifice and service to humanity? By doing that, you offer them a positive and attractive choice; by doing that you are more likely to succeed in your Jihad. Show them by positive examples, not by bombs, not by force, not by bloodshed and certainly not by death.
As true Muslims, who know and understand the teachings of Islam, it is not the fact that our religion is going through a period of scrutiny and slur that bothers us. After all, that is the challenge and lesson of faith. Such calamities are a test. They are like medicine; even though it is bitter, yet, in spite of its bitterness you still take it. The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. As we have seen in all the Holy Books, the Quran, the Bible, the Torah, any religion must pass through hardships, scrutiny, persecution and ridicule in order to reach its ultimate goal. No matter what anyone says, many of us believe that is what Islam is experiencing now.
You must remember it is not what the people who know no better believe, think and say about Islam that matters, it is not the verses of the Quran and Hadith that are read out of context by non-Muslims to justify violence that is important, it is what we Muslims believe, think and say about what Islam stands for that is most important. And if you, as a Muslim, take verses in the Quran and Hadith out of context of the overlying message of peace that Islam preaches, then there is an incontrovertible cause for concern and you must acknowledge that you are part of the problem Islam is faced with. If you, as a Muslim, interpret Jihad to the extent that you can commit the ultimate sin of suicide to kill innocent women and children and blow up Churches and other people’s worshiping places, then, let’s face it…, we have a real problem on our hands of which you are perpetrators.
Why would you think it is alright, as Muslims, to intimidate and threaten people? You say that you are fighting a Jihad against the non-believers of Islam. But what about the believers of Islam? What about the innocent Muslim bodies that you leave in your wake? What about the Emirs and the Imams who have not bowed to your requests and have presented a dissimilar Islamic teaching to yours and as a result have been targeted by people who claim to represent you? There is nowhere in Islamic scripture where the murder of other Muslims who hold a diverse view to you is permitted.
Nigerian Muslim leaders are constantly being accused for not speaking out against you and your actions. But the truth is that everyone is afraid of your gung-ho aggression. Everyone is afraid of what you might do to them, their families and their communities should they speak since you seem not to have any boundaries. That is not just! That is not right! That is not Islamic! Our leaders are living and breathing people too, who have families who they strive to protect. Those same Muslim leaders that you and other Nigerians have vilified have gone out of their way to force a reluctant president to offer you an amnesty many believe you do not deserve. A gesture that you disregard. As long as those Nigerian Muslims who present a different view to you are not desecrating or defaming Islam, you should understand that they have a right to speak their minds on behalf of those who look up to them, just as you do every time you send out your messages on the internet.
You may consider yourselves to be Islamic scholars just because you have read and memorized the Quran and as scholars you and your followers believe that what you are preaching is gospel. But memorizing the Quran by no means makes you a scholar. It makes you a reciter (Qari) instead or a preserver (Hafiz), but it doesn't make you a knowledgeable person (Alim). There are so many people in this world who have memorized the Quran, but the fact that they have done so does not qualify them to assume the function of a scholar. Everywhere in Nigeria, hoards of Muslims memorize the Quran, yet they cannot repeat a Tafsir of a single Ayah, so that in itself doesn’t qualify you or any other Muslim as an Islamic scholar.
However, every single rational scholar and knowledgeable person in Islamic law, from Saudi Arabia, to Indonesia, to Bosnia and beyond have all said the exact same thing; that no Muslim has the right to take the law into their own hands and just suddenly declare a war against a perceived enemy.
It is all well and good that you probably truly believe you are doing Allah’s work and that a great reward awaits you in the hereafter when you sacrifice yourself in this way. I have no doubt that you do, because otherwise how could one explain your aspiration for such an extreme measure. But just take a moment to consider, ‘what if...’ What if the interpretation you are applying to the scripture is not one hundred per cent what Allah wills? What if you are making a grave mistake by committing the ultimate sin in Islam from your desire to commit the ultimate deed for Islam? What if? Just that one second contemplation and question you owe to yourself could be the difference between your destruction and your salvation in the afterlife. Would it not be better for you to explore other means of performing Allah’s work through a path of peace that does not harm you, your people or others? Would it not be better to find another route to Jihad, if that is your primary aim, where you have the guarantee of not putting your soul on the precipice of uncertainty? Where you can perform the good deeds Islam speaks about in the hope of ensuring your place in paradise (Al Jannah Firdaus) since that is your main motivation?
I implore you, as a Muslim sister, as a mother, as a person who cares for her people, her country and cherishes Islam beyond anything else, to stop this war you have waged against a perceived enemy because it affects every one of us, you included. Stop the violence, stop the aggression and stop the bloodshed.
There is no doubt that your people were wronged first by the Nigerian State and the Borno government under Senator Ali Modu Sheriff. Your leaders were murdered, your mosques were burnt, your children were slaughtered and your women were locked up. And those crimes against you must be acknowledged. Those who did you and your people wrong when you committed no crime against anyone should be brought to justice. I have written numerous times about this in my previous columns. But today if your leader, Mallam Mohammed Yusuf (Allah ya jikan shi, ya rihamshe shi; Amin) was alive, I am sure he would support your struggle for Islam but I doubt he would have supported the kind of unnecessary bloodshed that has become the staple of your struggle.
I have seen numerous of his sermons and must say Mallam Mohammed Yusuf was one of the most articulate Nigerian Imams of his time. He seemed to care very deeply for you and your people. He seemed devout, kind, generous and very endearing. It is easy to see how wounded you and your people would have been when he and Alhaji Buji Foi were extra judiciously murdered under the alleged orders of your state government at a time when your people were being hounded, persecuted and slaughtered. It has all been documented and some of the atrocities committed against your people when you did nothing more than practice your religion can be viewed on the following links.
When Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta’ala, in His Infinite Wisdom, tested you and your people with the difficult situation you were confronted with back then, you should have had faith in His choice for you. No one if they are honest will say that your people have not been unfairly challenged but, as Muslims, you have to be forgiving and patient. Perhaps if you are more patient with the suffering and challenge that Allah decreed for your people, instead of reacting in the way you are, your reward and salvation may be better, for ‘He is All-Wise and All-Knowing.’
Practice the patience that Islam teaches us and stop visiting your suffering onto other people who are already suffering under the sweltering ineptitude of the Goodluck Jonathan government. Stop making extreme decisions for every single Nigerian Muslim based on your personal belief because you do not speak for them.
When you see stories of hundreds of innocent civilians being massacred in Baga town in Borno State and other similar tragedies, it must be heart breaking. Hundreds of people were killed and a whole community was leveled because the soldiers were hunting for you and your supporters. While you are not the ones who committed this particular crime, you must know that you also have to take some part of the responsibility for their death because those innocent people are the casualties of the unnecessary war that you are waging.
Be patient, even to the JTF troops who kill and persecute your people. Though the JTF are ruthlessly and extra-judiciously killing your people, you must remember that you are targeting them too and they are people with families, just like you.
You are all parents, children, siblings, neighbors or friends. You have people who care for you and rely on you, just like every other Nigerian. You have people you care for just like every other Nigerian. Combine your Islamic teaching of peace with humanity and cease the violence in Allah’s name. As Muslims, you must be patient, not just for you, but for the casualties of your war, for the mothers who cry daily at the loss of their children, for the future of all of our families and for the repose of your soul.
Allah tells us that He is the One who created us and makes it clear to us that it is only He who can take life. You and your people should give credence to this ultimate truth and stop the massacre. Stop the suicide bombings …Allah Subhaanahu wa Ta'ala, in His Infinite Wisdom, knows best…!”
As a Muslim sister, a mother; as a person who cares for her people, her country and cherishes Islam beyond everything else in this world, if I had a chance to look into the faces of and directly address those Muslims, especially the Nigerians, who interpret and preach our scripture in a manner that lends itself to the extreme act of suicide bombings and mass killings, that and just that is what I would say!
I've often wondered what motivates one person to murder another. But in the case of suicide bombings in Nigeria, it’s not so much about wondering but more about a frustration that the message of a beautiful, peaceful religion and way of life is being perverted by those who profess to love and live by it.
One can only pray that, instead of strapping on bombs, setting off explosives and murdering in mass, these people can give peace a chance. Because there must be a better option than killing to die… or dying to kill!
Written By Hannatu Musawa
I invite you to:
Follow me on Twitter- @hanneymusawa
Visit my Website- www.hannatumusawa.com
Like my Facebook- www.facebook.com/hannatu.musawa
Text (SMS Only): 08116759753
Subscribe to my Youtube Channel- www.youtube.com/HannatuMusawa