How To Create an Atmosphere for Religious Co-Existence in Nigeria

How To Create an Atmosphere for Religious Co-Existence in Nigeria

By Reno Omokri

Nigerian Christians and Muslims are very much the problem of Nigeria. In fact, some atheists are better than them. You can reject a religion without hating those who practice it. Once we understand that, Nigeria will progress. God’s religion is love. You can’t love God and hate man!

Many Nigerian Christians and Muslims do not even realise that their choice of religion is not even their choice. It is an illusion of choice. Their parents were Christians or Muslims, and that is all they have ever known. And on the basis of this faux choice, they hate practitioners of other religion.

Learn from the parable of the Good Samaritan. When the Jewish traveler was attacked by robbers, first a Jewish priest, then a Levite passed, and refused to help the Jew, until a Samaritan passed by.

The reason most people do not appreciate this account, is because they do not know how the Jews regard Samaritans. If a Samaritan as much as touches a Jew, that Jew will become ceremonially unclean. Samaritans were despised by Jews.

Look at Nigeria. Imam Abubakar Abdullahi rescued almost 300 Christians from Muslim Fulanis who were on a revenge mission. Imam Abubakar Abdullahi proved that his religion is love, the same religion practiced by God.

What about Femi Otedola. He is a Christian from Lagos. Lagos is the richest place in West Africa. He is a billionaire. He donated $14 million to Internally Displaced Persons in Borno. There are Muslim billionaires in Borno who have not donated even 1% of that money to help their own people.

Otedola proved that his religion is love.

What about Anja Ringgren Lovén? She is an atheist. Yet, when a Nigerian Christian family threw out their own three year old boy, because a fiery pastor told them he was a witch child, she adopted him and loved him as her own child.

Anja Ringgren Lovén proved that her religion is love.

Christianity and Islam will die here on Earth. It is only love that exists in God’s Kingdom. How do I know this? Because God is love. That much is attested to by every religion on Earth. But most importantly, it is attested by one verse in Scripture-John 3:16.

That verse says “God so loved the world”.

Think about that. It did not say God so loved the Jews. Or God so loved the Hebrews. Or God so loved the Arabs. Or God so loved the Cushite. Or God so loved the Christian. No. God loves you. And if God loves you, but you hate me, then you also hate who God loves, because God loves me.

In fact, the word Christian was never uttered by Christ. Christ came to reconcile man to God. You can be a practicing Christian, but if you are not reconciled to God, you do not have Christ. And if you hate Muslims, then you are not reconciled to God, because Scripture says we are to “have a conscience without offense toward God and men”-Acts 24:16.

Hating a person who hates you first is not an excuse before God. God expects you to love always. The only thing we are permitted to hate is evil.

I think the National Youth Service Corp is a splendid idea. However, it is not enough for a country like Nigeria. If I had my way, every Christian NYSC Corp Member must compulsorily take and pass a course in Islamic Religious Knowledge, and every Muslim NYSC Corp Member must compulsorily take and pass a course in Christian Religious Knowledge before they can get the discharge certificates.

That course should include the history of how Christians and Muslims coexisted peacefully in the Christian empire of Aksum, in modern day Ethiopia, 1400 years ago. If we could coexist 1400 years ago, what has happened in the intervening years to make coexistence difficult?

Nigerians need to understand religious empathy, which is different from religious sympathy. That I empathise with your religion means that though I do not accept it, I nevertheless have sufficiently educated myself about it, so I can understand you and better relate with you.

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