Last year on December 25th when a pseudo-Nigerian attempted to blow up a United States aircraft in Detroit, so many of us rose up to defend our country from being tagged a terrorist country. My first piece, ‘Now that Nigeria resembles a terrorist country’, did not draw the kind of flak that ‘The other Side of Abdulmuttalab’ did. In that piece, I recounted how we were all caught napping when the incident took place and of how I mistook that incident for an earlier attempt by a Muslim to bomb Superscreen Television at Onipanu, Lagos, December last year. As conclusion, I said somewhat lightheartedly that the name ‘Abdulmuttalab’ was beginning to establish strong lexical presence in the vocabulary of many Nigerians – some used it as a synonym for ‘mumu’ or for a rich kid who wanted to use martyrdom as a shortcut to heaven via acts of terrorism on the promise of ‘seven virgins and rivers of Gulder’.
One of my readers, a Muslim, took me to task on this. He accused me of not using the exact words in the Holy Koran concerning the reward system for true Muslim who died as martyrs. Before dismissing me, he took a passing shot, that I was just one cheap columnist only interested in writing just because I wanted to line my pocket with cash from this paper. Ordinarily, I shouldn’t have taken exception to an ordinary response from an esteemed reader but I thought that I must address the insult. I told the chap that he should’ve investigated very well before insinuating that I get paid for expressing the sentiments expressed here. I thought he should know that there is a small group of Nigerians who believe that we will all die when those who can at least speak keep silent in the face of the abundant injustices in Nigeria. This group of Nigerians represent a key component among members of the fourth estate of the realm – we invest personal funds, invest time and effort trying to set the agenda for public discourse and influence the democratic process for good governance without collecting a dime from our mediums. I also told this esteemed reader that as a Muslim, he should be ashamed of himself if he could condone what the would-be bomber attempted to do.
I have the permission of this reader to publish his name and response. He said: ‘We condoned Faruk’s act, is that your judgment? Must we kill ourselves before you know that we condemned his act? I am reaffirming that Islam is not a religion that supports terrorism and there are differences between Islam and Muslims (Islam is the Religion and Muslims are those who practice Islam). Don’t forget that there are good and bad Muslims. It is wrong for you to say what you don’t know about Islam. Say anything or what you like about the Muslims but not Islam’.
Events in our immediate and remote past give robust support to Mallam Abdul Azeez Ismail’s view [for that is the reader’s name]. With that in my mind, the focus of this essay will not be to chronicle examples of the various times that some bad Moslems have consistently portrayed Islam and Nigeria in very bad light by killing their brother Christians at the slightest whim, no. My focus here will be to highlight certain examples of how some ‘good Muslims’ easily converted others to their belief system without shedding blood. Take the case of two traders, a Christian and a Moslem, who sold the very same items side by side daily. They drew patronage and their clientele based on their religious affiliations but on this particular day, the Muslim had met the target for sales he set for himself. So what did he do? For every other person who came to purchase anything from his store, he directed to the Christian’s shop, whose sales for that day shot up to unprecedented levels because of the steady stream of Muslim and Christian patronage. Curious, the Christian asked the Muslims who patronized him on that day why they did and they pointed to his shut neighbour’s store. That was how that Christian converted to Islam.
What is sad and utterly regrettable about this story is that these kinds of acts that portray Islam as a religion of peace are as scarce as sugar in the belly of the Atlantic Ocean. What is rampant however in Nigeria today are major cases reminiscent of the kind of ethnic cleansings that took place in Burundi, the Sudan and in Kosovo. They are usually disguised with the hue of ethnic or tribal cases of intolerance but it is becoming clear that these are brazen acts of terror directed at Christians from their Muslims brothers.
These attacks are already a pain in our collective neck. And they are coming too frequently today. They are the reason why a Muslim leader like Maummar Gaddafi and so many others are calling for the balkanization of this country along the same lines of India and Pakistan. Therefore, before we conclude we will first of all establish that those who call themselves good Muslims are not doing enough to educate the bad eggs in their fold. The good Muslim must work hard to impress it upon those perpetrating these acts of terror that not only are we already fed up with the bad image they are bequeathing on the rest of us as Nigerians, and they must know that their acts soil the name of their religion and bring it to disrepute.