GEN ABDULQADIR ABUBAKAR GUMI (RTD)
THE CLOAKED ONE’: RELIGION HAS BEEN THE VICTIM ALL ALONG
- How to break Boko Haram (1) published on 29 Jan and 18 Feb 15 editions of the Desert Herald and Leadership newspapers respectively was a general advice to the Federal Government over its primary responsibility in the on-going counter insurgency operations. The World Muslim League, picking from President Obama, hosted a sudden 3 day conference on the novel approach on 5 Mar 15. This edition is however a little digression from the first edition. Guided though, by democratic principles it seeks to reiterate the need for checks and balances without which projections and sharing of responsibilities may not be equitable.
- Apart from the roles of the legislative bodies and the Judiciary, herein all treated as Federal Government, the Muslim community has its obligatory roles to compliment efforts to put things back to order. The Muslims were hitherto designated as the main complainants/victims of the insurgency and by extension the entire Northern Nigeria which formed the battle ground. It is therefore erroneous for the Northern establishments to rely fully on the Government or the National Assembly for all initiatives needed to prosecute the BH insurgency. They should bear in mind that no federal body is structured to either project the North, faith, regional based entity or targeted situations. The North being directly devastated by the Insurgency, as ground zero, needs to design its peculiar defense mechanisms common or suitable to its heritage. This would fill in survival gaps or at the least improve its disposition as to compel the constituted Federal structure to be alive to its responsibilities whenever its social fabrics are threatened. The attitude to wait for an election year before action would amount to accepting the kind of casualties and losses realized within the period for the democracy we have chosen for ourselves.
- The law expects every victim, complainant, indigene, domicile or citizen to defend himself through complaint and preserving records. They are also to sustain cooperation with those assigned with responsibility to secure citizens as a public duty. Apathy and total reliance on government structures for all obligations, checks and balances turns silly a critique as to deserve no ears of a serious responder. The law itself, after all does not rise up to the indolent. It behooves on ‘the Cloaked one’ the waiting to be fed, the victim, every Muslim, group of Muslims and Christians of the North who insist that the situation must change to come out and isolate himself/themselves from the violent ideology that sets itself on war path with fellow countrymen. Just like any meaningful effort, this cannot be achieved except by harnessing concerned energies into one direction that leaves no room for the enemy to exploit. Therefore, in the search for solutions, there is the need to first identify common denominators that bind groups and heritages that held the past. Other areas to identify include primary and secondary causes of rifts that were over blown, latent and apparent dividing lines, foreign or extenuating influences and a fashion that prioritize one direction over another.
- It is heart-warming for Muslims that the Quran dedicated a chapter for “the Cloaked one”, which respectfully composed its comment to include the people of the Book (their established neighbors) “(to) Arise and warn, And magnify your Lord, And purify your garments, And keep away from idols, And give not a thing in order to have more, And be patient for the sake of your Lord. And we have set none but angels as guardians of the Fire. And fixed their number only as trial for the disbelievers, and that the people of the book will be strengthened and the believers may increase in faith and until no doubt remains with the people of the book and the believers, even though those yet with disease in their minds and those wont to turn away will still say ‘what does Allah mean by this example’? That way Allah leads astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And none except your Lord knows the hosts of troops that belong to him” (verses 2 to 8 and 31, Chapter 74}.
- One must at this juncture commend the leading traditional institutions, the clergy and the general public who in groups and Individual basis murdered sleep to foster peace messages across all divides in the land. The success of the last presidential and general elections is probably the greatest manifestation of the Nigerian zeal ever to overcome daunting and threatening challenges. It is no doubt the greatest beacon the North will make to the South to please join this success and save the common and inseparable destiny under very peaceful and progressive circumstances. Indeed the success story had been achieved by the crossbreed and across divide campaign mobilizations that took place long before the elections proper making the Change an unstoppable movement that knew no bounds.
- Much has still not been done on the dogma that created the plat form for recruitment of Nigerian citizens against their own Country. Some forms of system failures, ignorance, shock and corruption among others have evaded the Judicial and legislative exploits that would have defined the Nation`s position, locate and isolate the strange creed and its foreign roots. Apart from the use of force in defeating the enemy, forums that would formulate a counter narrative against the enemy was either not made or failed to involve major stake holders for the fight to be potent. These stakeholders include the bar, bench, university academia, traditional institutions, Sharia jurists, Muslim and Christian Clergy and the victims. Rooting out a manifestation cloaked in Muslim garb without distinguishing it from majority of Muslim orthodox or traditional teachings will only leave Muslims generally hanging as accused persons.
- The situation is worsened by the fact that many of the BH suspects had been in and out of police or prosecutor’s charges and arraignments but left off the hook for one reason or the other. The situation that will end BH without an exoneration of the majority Muslim narrations will only rest the suspicion on Muslims for another day. Meanwhile, the license to continue taunting those who take their religion seriously as fanatics and potential terrorists will continue unabated. Many seasoned public servants and tested patriots and nationalists who try to faithfully live with their religion have found themselves labeled as BH in recent times.
- Basic ideological and common narratives tested and known to all must therefore be rehearsed together again and as well rekindle the joints that ensured peaceful divides, tolerance and preservation of national goals in the past. These joints must have been weakened or washed away by some inadvertence to have allowed the kind of deterioration sweeping through the foundations of our century old union.
AN OVERVIEW OF NIGERIAN LOCAL CONTENT
RELEVANCE OF LOCAL ISLAMIC SCHOLARSHIP
- It deserves to mention that local Islamic scholarship as practiced in Northern Nigeria did not bear any extreme views. It has remained the greatest asset for the Government and indeed anyone who was genuinely interested in defeating the BH group. Truly, the BH raised the extant apathy predisposition of its followers on western education to the level of abomination. The fact however that most of Muslim North that attained advancement in western education did it under difficult circumstances should have excused the hard approach on the BH group or its factions that were earlier open to dialogue. The constraint to go beyond just their ideology in order to identify the root cause of the violence and its consequent insurgent manifestation is only reasonable.
- Furthermore, since BH grew to be branded with substantial success, discourse on the ideology in contrast to the majority position would become a starting fairness to all Nigerians. It is necessary to debunk the BH sources of authority, define its roots, diminish the multiplying effect and at the same time purify the orthodox narrations that must remain intact even when BH dogma is long gone.
LOCAL CONTENT AND THE WORLDWIDE ORTHODOX
- Local content and the orthodox brand of Islamic theology and history must be purified by our traditional institutions as recently; Nigerians abroad are increasingly reported to be involved in extremism and terrorist groups. This is against the prevailing urge to relate same to foreign cultures that emanated in the guise of Islam. Many ideas of these foreign cultures are of doubtful origin. Many already are clearly on the run or being chased across the globe by real and phobia forces that can be blind to separation of real from the unreal or true reflection from the absurd. Suicide as indicated elsewhere is never known to traditional Islamic societies. Thus If it now turns out as an art of warfare, it must first be attributed to societies where suicide itself is a known phenomenon. It is therefore logical, in identifying the root of suicide attacks to first rule out the preponderance of self or hurriedly made scholars. They are mostly likely the new converts, drug addicts, terminally ill, ignorant, apologists and psychologically afflicted persons. These set who easily possess preponderance for suicide, seeking for martyrdom as well as premature solace in attributing it to Islamic ideology must first be ruled out. The orthodox Muslim nations and societies must be the last as their methods and disposition never comprehend it in the first place.
- Aspects of Islamic theology could be drawn by anyone and attributed to a plausible link between seeking for martyrdom in Jihad and suicide but this can never be credible as an Islamic source unless such interpretation is known to have gained acceptance or preponderance in typical or traditional Islamic societies. When the persecution of Muslims became extreme, the Prophet SAW did not authorize fighting in built up area (Mecca) but instead opted for migrations. In Madina, the Muslims were in defense while the Meccans were in attack disposition for the battle of Badr, the first Muslim holy war. The Muslims chose the battle ground (defense) while the Meccans chose the battle time (attack). The Prophet SAW chose the plains of Badr for his defensive position instead of remaining in Madina for the Meccans to attack contrary to what the BH have done in Maiduguri. It is rather interesting to note that the Meccans were in the ratio of 3 to 1 with the Muslim force during the battle. This same ratio is being used now by our conventional forces order of battle in attack and defense dispositions inherited from the British Military, Nigeria inclusive.
- It becomes great disservice for anyone therefore, for anyone to attribute terrorism to Islam when the same Islam sources as defined in its holy wars contributed to the standardization of the order of battle adopted worldwide, Nigeria inclusive. The Muslims will have to retrace their Islamic root above any international or universal accepted laws, orders, conventions and practices to be able to protect the image of Islam from being excommunicated by multiple terrorist activities.
SEEKING FOR MARTYRDOM IN ISLAM
- The Prophet’s (SAW) companions have desired and sometimes prayed to be martyred but will always reserve the cause of death to other than self-help. The closest self-help established is in offering a confession to an offence the punishment of which is capital before a court or constituted authority. The Sharia too makes confessions permissible just like the practices of ‘guilty or not guilty’ obtained in the English courts. The Sharia however, left such courage as an act not to be celebrated. Indeed a woman companion (RA) who turned up with the confession for adultery before the Prophet SAW was sent off three times but compelled herself to return with the same confession before the effecting sentence. This delay tested her calm and calculated willingness to martyrdom for about three years. The Sharia accepts her as a martyr but she is not celebrated for the Muslim who is encouraged by the Quran to live longer to find better paradise by long life, more forgiveness, to be shy in revealing wrong done the while stringent burden of proof lay against any witness who comes forward to testify, and which if found to be short of the prescription, is at a heavy cost (Sahih Muslim).
- Compare the Islamic concept with the rash calculation of the BH when they decide on their kind of martyrdom even with the assumption that suicide is not an innovation to Islam. The irony however is that while the BH were able to manufacture constituted authority that defined and executed their rash judicial undertakings within Nigerian territory the use of the Nigerian courts has remained at minimal throughout the long period of the counter insurgency.
TRADITIONAL APATHY TOWARDS WESTERN EDUCATION
- The northern establishments have largely overcome the long drawn apathy towards western education. The BH menace is therefore, uncalled for being parasitic and impersonator to Islamic ideology before the glaring public view. Besides it has also trespassed on the sound carriage given to Islam by earlier Nigerian Muslim judges, scholars, leaders and opinion/policy molders over time. It is not hidden anywhere in Muslim North that apathy towards Western education was only surmounted overtime by elders and progressive leadership. They have used both subtle and rough campaigns to enable the mix and grading to secure for the North the leading role in the polity we have today. My grandfather had to explain to elders that Arabic letters were more in number and that it would not take my father one week to learn all the English letters. It was only after that they conceded on the latter to be released to schools (Where I Stand page15).
- How then should it elude us in the first place, that northern efforts deserve commendation within the Century that it has sacrificed its Muslim and Arabic background in order to measure up to the Nigerian realities unfolded by colonial union of Northern and Southern Protectorates? Why should it surprise anyone that some meager group or left over Muslims of the North are yet to be comfortable with western education when the entire Muslim North hesitated at various times and degrees to accept same for a way of life.
- It is obvious pride that the Muslim North evolved through painstaking management of its cherished Islamic and Arabic heritage as to have, within the century, maintained itself and still yet attained even greater measure of an equal and equitable partner in our pre and post-colonial development. Has anyone outside the northern establishment invested so much as to be disappointed with its drive to catch up with the rest of Nigeria in terms of accepting the reality and values of western education? The views of Great Britain, Nigeria’s former colonial master will be most interesting here.
- Why was it that condemnation more than commendation as to have denied Muslims and the North minimal tolerance under the law, discourse, the idea or even judicial management of the BH menace under the established constitutional structures and/or in conjunction with the Academia? After all, it is on record that Sheikh Jaafar Adam (of blessed memory) alerted the Government and anyone who cared to listen then that late Muhammad Yusuf was up to some dangerous games in very good time. Adam promptly expunged the local content of Nigerian Islamic Scholarship from the BH dogma. But yet, no one will listen to him, neither strengthen nor mobilize him among others to formulate counter peaceful narratives against the group. Consequently, even when Jaafar Adam was mowed down, it could not trigger a suspicion or reaction to use the Clergy as the counter narrative solution against the BH group. Instead more and more Clergy continued to fall until fear gripped the flock as to jettison any other solution outside of waiting for the military resolve. Is the aim and resolve of the military solution properly structured against an internally based insurgency when the leader of the group is no more and neither a successor nor any of his deputies is directly engaged for upward of 6 years?
VITAL SELECTION OF FUTURE CLERGY ROLES
- Again with more than a decade of Clergy silence induced by the Insurgency, would the environment now, not be ripe for easier BH recruitment or its diversion to another phase in waiting? Fresh worries must be assessed and reassessed before the menace can be said to be foreclosed. The foreign content should also be carefully noted as it is also doubtful if any local Islamic scholarship took part in the molding of Faruq Umar Mutallab, the Detroit Airline attempted bomber and his likes. The boy like many of his peers schooled abroad for the greater part of their adult life. It is natural that the local scholarship is sulking over what has become of one of its pupils simply because he was not well grounded before the foreign exposure. How much of our custodians of the orthodox Islamic traditions and our local content going to remain opinion molders in post BH era, remains a bigger question. How much respect do we even still have for the local scholarship when compared to foreign contents of our scholarship that are hardly vetted or debriefed on arrival? The answer would determine the road to success considering the inadequacy in its management and the damage already done to Muslims confidence and security since then.
- The beginning of the solution for now may only start at the point in which the insurgency is defeated by the military and the new leadership is up to the light and wherewithal to build upon both the successes and manifest failures left behind. The clergy are obvious molders of opinion among the populace but a properly organized structure must be in place to put them to their calling. Apart from running mosques and churches, they could be supported or subsidized to run schools duly accredited with syllabi screened by foremost scholars from among themselves. They could also be encouraged to partake in policy formulation, juridical and arbitration roles among others to be put together by a ministry or parastatal on religious affairs.
- The integration of general law, LLB and judicial courses in universities and tertiary institutions of advanced theology with Sharia subjects in different parts of the Country is great foresight that fills gaps between the clergy and judicial officers but a lot remains to be done in terms of their exposure to the challenges ahead. More elaborate structure must be put in place to accommodate Sharia adjudication of the local Islamic content downstream of the Muslim populace together with its integration with the traditional institutions that have remained highly respected and potent to date. Learned judges or clerics in training must acquire experience in juridical applications and appearances over time just like the English Bar and Bench marks to be up to the defense of Sharia in the manner it is constituted in Nigeria and as it were in the past that followed the regimen of the Schools of thought and their indelible records.
….To be continued