Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mrs. Bridget Agbahime’s Horrific Butchery(1)

By Mike Ozekhome
Few weeks ago, 74-year-old Mrs. Bridget Agbaheme was brutally murdered in cold blood. She had her head gruesomely decapitated from her body in Kano. Her alleged ‘blasphemy’ was that she objected to an ablution by some muslim youths, right in front of her shop, at Kofar Wambai market, Kano, in broad daylight. As Nigerians join their brothers and sisters in Islam all over the globe to observe the holy month of Ramadan, the question can now be asked: Is violence the true tenet of Islamic religion? Does God or Allah need to be defended, or protected by us, mere mortals, who are his creation?
Twenty-four-year-old trader, Methodus Chimaeje Emmanuel, was also killed in Pandogari, Rafi LGA, Niger State, for alleged blasphemy. In Kakuri, Kaduna, 41-year-old carpenter, Francis Emmanuel, was savagely attacked for not participating in the ongoing Ramadan fast. Recall also that Gideon Akaluka, a young Igbo trader, was, in 1995, hideously and horrendously beheaded in the same Kano, allegedly for desecrating the holy Quran. His decapitated head was grisly paraded about on Kano streets, on a pole. I cannot remember the perpetrators, who were initially arrested ever being prosecuted.
Nigeria Is Multi-Religious, Not Secular
Nigeria’s Constitution abolishes theocracy. Some erroneously call this secularity. No. Nigeria is not secular, agnostic, atheistic or irreligious. Rather, Nigeria is multi-religious. Section 10 of the Constitution laconically provides: “The government of the Federation or a state shall not adopt any religion as state religion”. Section 15, inter alia, prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. Section 38 allows freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to change one’s religion or beliefs. When Sections 10 and 15, therefore, specifically mention “religion”, it means we are a religious country, not a secular one. Indeed, the preamble to the 1999 Constitution specifically says Nigerians have “firmly and solemnly resolved to live in unity and harmony, as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God…” Our National Pledge ends with “so, help me God”. The penal code that operates in the northern part of the country is influenced by Islamic principles, while the criminal code that operates in the southern part of Nigeria is greatly influenced by the common law and Christian religion. So, Nigeria, whilst not adopting a particular religion, as state religion, is neither secular, atheist, nor irreligious. Rather, it is a multi-religious country that believes in God Almighty. However, blasphemy, even if any, was committed, in the above episodes, is only a demeanour under Section 204 of the Criminal Code that is punishable with two years imprisonment, not death.
Wrong Interpretation Of The Holy Books
Most fanatics and fundamentalists interpret the Holy Bible and Holy Quran wrongly. For example, they erroneously rely on the Quran, 8:12, which states: “When your Lord revealed to the angels, I am with you. Therefore, make from those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore, strike off their heads, and strike off every fingertip of them.”
On the surface, if taken literally, this would appear to mean that the Quran expects violence to be a divine command intended to inspire terror. No. The explanation from knowledgeable Islamic clerics is that the background to this command was within an actual war situation, dealing with the spoils of war, at the battle of Badr in the year 624. It is just as unfair, therefore, to generalise from this verse and say that the Islamic Religion encourages or condones killings, as it is unfair for critics of Christianity to say that the latter is a violent religion, merely because Christ had said, ‘I have not come to bring peace but a sword’. But, everyone understands that Christ did not mean this literally, or willed that the statement He made be taken out of context. He was merely speaking metaphorically.
In the Holy Quran, 5:32, we are warned: “Whoever kills a person (unjustly)… it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he has saved all mankind”. In the Holy Bible, we are admonished “thou shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13). The consequence of violating this sacred injunction is that, “he that killeth with this sword must be killed with a sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints” (Rev. 13:10).

Christianity And Freedom Of Religion
Why do we segregate and try to be holier than the pope, when the two major religions, align with section 38 of the 1999 Constitution, as regards freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief in worship. In the Christian faith, the Holy Bible tells us in Matthew 19:16 – 23, that after the rich young man came to Jesus and had a brief conversation with him, he “went away sorrowful”. He chose not to follow Christ. Christ did not fret, nor force him. He let him go, allowing him his freedom of choice. This is because faith is personal and voluntary, not coerced or forced out of a person. Never.
Even when in Matthew 23: 37, Jesus had expressed his desire to gather the children of Jerusalem to Himself, He discovered that they “were not willing”. He did not force them.
In Acts of the Apostles, 26:31, we are given the liberty of “preaching the Kingdom of God and teaching the things, concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, with all freedom, unhinderedly”. Then, in 1 Corinthians 10:29, we are admonished thus: “I do not mean your own conscience, but the other person’s. For why is my freedom judged by another person’s conscience?”
It is clear from these scriptural verses, amongst others, that our Lord, Jesus Christ, recognises the right and freedom of every person to worship whom he wants to. And when doubting Thomas asked him: “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” He replied, still not forcing anyone, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father, but by me” (John 14:5). Says John 4:22, “you worship what you do not know, we worship what we know for salvation is from the Jews.”
Islam And Freedom Of Religion
For our Muslim brothers and sisters, the holy prophet Mohammed himself (peace be unto him), did not compel forceful recruitment into the Islamic faith. He expressly allowed freedom of religion. The Holy Qur’an, 109:1 – 6, says, “O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion”.
The holy prophet (S.A.W.) was addressing the pagans of Quraysh, who had proposed that he worshipped their gods for a month, so that they in turn would worship that which he worshipped (Allah), for a year. He roundly rejected their proposal to worship their paganic idols, even as he refrained from forcing them to worship his own Allah, to whom he was actually the messenger.
The first amendment to the US constitution, from whom we modeled our presidentialism, provides most laconically, that “congress shall make no law, respecting an establishment religion, or prohibiting the free exercise on thereof”. Thomas Jefferson, once famously declared that religion is “the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights”.
The Holy Quran is quite lucid on Allah’s admonitions to refrain from evil and do good to all manner of people. Quran Chapter 60:8, states, “though I have not commanded you to be unfair to those that have never offended you at all, be fair to people.” Chapter 2:183, where Allah prescribed fasting as an obligation for Muslims, states the reason at the end of that verse, – “to restrain us from evil, learn God’s consciousness and learn to be God-fearing.” Allah, therefore, “enjoins justice, the doing of good to others, giving like kindred, forbids indecency, manifest evil and wrongful transgression” – Quran 16:91, These are just a few examples:
History has shown that the holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) was raised by a pagan uncle, whom he loved, lived with and prayed for. The Prophet also lived for many years with non-Muslims in Medina. His mosque was frequently visited by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. He never discriminated.
No Trespass On Another’s Property
In his sermon at Mount Arafat, during his last Hajj, the holy prophet warned against the wanton killing of any human being. The life and property of both Muslim and non-Muslim, to him, is sacred; and it is wrong to access the property of a person without his/her permission.
Thus, to have trespassed onto the property of another person, whether to perform ablution, or even to pray, without that person’s permission, as did those youths, violates Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution, which protects citizen’s privacy to their homes, family and correspondence. It also goes against the holy Prophet’s teachings. To have killed the owner of the property in cold blood, for objecting to the trespass, is a heinous crime, which violently violates our Constitution, extant laws and regulations of the land, the Holy Quran, and the teachings of the holy Prophet (S.A.W.). These rampant unprovoked killings can be traced directly to abject ignorance, gross misinterpretation of the prophet’s messages, crass indoctrination, or sheer lunacy.
…To be continued
*Chief Ozekhome is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)

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