In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation—may He extol the Messenger in the highest company of Angels and send His peace and blessings upon him—likewise upon his family, Companions, and true followers.
Fellow Nigerians! I urge the Nigerian clerics, scholars, Imams, Pastors, and all religious leaders to fear Allah/God and avoid inciting comments in the name of politics, and to devise strategies on how to ensure peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in the country.
Religious leaders had a duty to promote mutual understanding and tolerance among adherents of different religious beliefs.
Today in our dear country Nigeria, some Christian leaders and organisations are heating the polity, are making inciting comments in order to divide the people and cause dangerous religious crises and bloodshed in the name of politics.
Also some Muslims leaders and organisations are doing the same thing. They are quoting Qur’anic verses and misinterprete them. They said Allah Almighty says:
“Let not believers take disbelievers as allies, rather than believers. And whoever [of you] does that has nothing with Allah, except when taking precaution against them in prudence. And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the [final] destination.” [Qur’an, 3:28]
At one glance, it is as if the above verse categorically prohibits Muslims to have social relations with those who do not share the same belief. This verse, together with some other verses, have often been quoted by isolationist groups to justify claims that Muslims should not be friends with non-Muslims, or to curb social relationships with religious others.
However, this narrative is not only problematic but it is also at odds with the universal message of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)’s revelation to humanity. Here are the factors how we can challenge the myth of religious exclusivism:
1. There is no blanket prohibition in the Qur’an against befriending non-Muslims
Upon a critical look at the exegesis (Tafsir of Qur’an) of these verses, we will realise that they are in fact making a specific reference to forming an alliance with non-Muslims who seek to harm the Muslim community. Furthermore, these verses were revealed against a backdrop of political hostility and not during a peaceful era.
In understanding these ‘hostile’ verses, the scholar of Tafsir, Imam Tahir Ibn Ashur commented that the prohibition in the verse [Qur’an, 3:28] is conditional and not absolute. The rulings for this matter differs according to the different circumstances of allegiance. According to Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, only one circumstance would lead to disbelief (kufr) and it is to have an inward allegiance to disbelief and hostility towards those who believe in Islam.
This was in reference to the hypocrites (munafiqun) during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). They lived amongst the Prophet and his companions with an outward allegiance to Islam, but in reality they rejected Islam and plotted against the Muslims by causing instability and committing treacherous acts.
2. The Qur’an does not say Muslims cannot take disbelievers as friends
Our reality today is vastly different from the hostile environment that set the context of this verse. According to Contemporary Irshad Series published by Office of The Mufti:
“Interpretations of Qur’anic verses to justify hatred towards anyone is both incorrect and not suited for our multi-religious society.”
The irshad (religious guidance) emphasised that this verse does not indicate a blanket prohibition for Muslims from dealing with religious others.
3. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) established social relations with other faith communities
The perception that Islam prohibits Muslims from befriending and establishing social relations with other people is completely flawed. It contradicts the reality of today and that of our Islamic history. It is also a dangerous worldview as some have claimed that befriending the non-believers is an act that may render one to become an infidel (kafir). This line of thought is highly problematic.
Historically, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had co-existed peacefully with people of various faith communities. He lived alongside the Christians and Jews both in Makkah and Madinah. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not cut off ties with the entire Jewish community even when there were some apparent disputes with some of the Jewish tribes in Madinah. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) recognised the Jews as a single community with the Muslims in Madinah.
4. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) respected other religions
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had also entrusted several non-Muslims in the pivotal moments of Islamic history. For example, in the event of the Hijrah, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had relied on Abdullah Bin Uraiqit, who was not a Muslim, to guide and navigate him and his companion Abu Bakar (RA) as they left Makkah for Madinah. In a Hadith recorded in Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) visited a Jewish boy who used to serve him until he was sick. The Prophet’s kind manners demonstrate the beauty of his teachings which ultimately inspired the boy to accept the Prophetic message. These are examples of exemplary social interactions between Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and people of other faiths. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) did not disassociate from the religious other in social interactions.
Beyond his social relations with people of other faiths, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) also emphasised that ties of kinship should not be severed as a result of differences in faith. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) advised his companion, Sa’ad Bin Abi Waqqas, to continue maintaining a good relationship with his mother, even though they did not share the same faith. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) emphasised that ties of kinship should not be affected by one’s faith and belief. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) himself was close to his uncle Abu Talib and he was his close confidant. Abu Talib was instrumental in the success of the Prophetic message. He provided the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with protection against adversaries that had tried to stop the Prophet (Peace be upon him) from pursuing his mission. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) also showered his uncle with endearing love and respect. His demise left an empty space in the Prophet’s heart.
5. The noble Qur’an encourages friendships with non-Muslims
In Islam, there is nothing wrong for us to be close to and befriend those who do not share our belief system. We can always extend our friendships with anyone we wish to be our friends and to accept friends, regardless of what they believe in. A friend in need is a friend indeed. And indeed, some of our friends are those who do share our beliefs, but what we all have in common are our ties of humanity, and more personally, our strong bonds of sincere friendship.
Beyond friendship, at the family level, Muslims are still obligated to maintain good ties with family, kin, and relatives, regardless of their religious orientations. A Muslim son or daughter still needs to take care of their non-Muslim parents. Muslims can continue to maintain familial ties with relatives who do not share the same beliefs. Muslims can visit them, attend family events, join them in celebrating happy occasions and in grieving for their losses, such as attending funerals. This is the beauty of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
6. Islam promotes peaceful co-existence
A careful examination of the overarching message of the Qur’an, together with various practices of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) would provide sufficient reason for us to reject any narrow or exclusivist interpretations of these verses. There have been several verses in the Qur’an that call us to do good to people of other faiths and encourage us to establish good relations with them. Allah Almighty mentioned:
“And He (Allah) does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes; Allah loves the Just.” [Qur’an, 60:8]
Muslims have also been living as minorities in states that are not under Muslim governance, under non-Muslim leader (Negus/Najjashi). The early Muslims have lived in Abyssinia (Habasha/Ethiopia), where they sought refuge from the just ruler, Negus/Najjashi. Even after the Hijrah (migration) to Madinah and subsequently the liberation of Makkah, there were some companions who continued to reside in Abyssinia (Habasha/Ethiopia). The early Muslims had recognised the authority of Negus/Najjashi as a ruler/leader of the land. Negus/Najjashi also did not impose Islamic law on governed land, even after his conversion. He respected the local law and the will of the majority. The Muslims who lived in Abyssinia (Habasha/Ethiopia) had participated in the development of the state they were living in, contributing to its economic growth and prosperity.
There were also examples of early Muslims who had embraced Islam and continued to reside in their non-Muslim countries. A companion by the name of Fudaik (RA) had asked the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) if it was possible for him to continue staying in his hometown, where he was the only Muslim. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) replied:
“O Fudaik! Establish prayers, pay Zakat, avoid evil-doing, and stay wherever you like with your people.” Fudaik said, “I assume that Prophet Muhammad also said ‘(Then) you are as those who migrated.’” [Narrated by Ibn Hibban and Al-Baihaqi]
It is important to note that a sense of belonging or an allegiance to a country does not negate one’s allegiance to Islam, as seen in the Abyssinia (Habasha/Ethiopia) model. These mentioned historical accounts of the companions co-existing with people of other religions show us how faith can still be resolute even in a Muslim-minority environment.
Throughout the Islamic history, Muslims have continued to live as minorities and majorities, and in both instances, Muslims have been living alongside other faith communities. In the eighth century Andalusia (Spain), Muslim and nonk-Muslims co-existed harmoniously. The La Convivencia or religious tolerance framework defined the relationships between Muslims, Jews and Christians in the ninth and 10th century Cordoba. Christians and Jews were recognised as members of the Andalusian community; they were appointed at the Royal Court and contributed to the intellectual and cultural development of the society.
In today’s globalizing world, Muslims continue to live in plural societies. In fact, a third of Muslims today live as minorities around the world. The majority of Muslims also do not live in homogenous societies. Therefore, living as a member of diverse societies, we need to ensure that peace and harmony can be harnessed and maintained. Islam is about peace-building and establishing good relations with humanity.
As Muslims, it is our religious duty to challenge interpretations that seek to cause crisis, discord and promote hatred between Muslims and their neighbours in our societies, either from Muslims or from non-Muslims side. It is our obligation to project the positive image of our faith and categorically reject the exclusivist interpretation of our scriptures. We extend Rahmah (mercy) to all, as taught by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). We need to be confident that our faith does not prescribe us to be distant from other communities, and it clearly does not promote hatred in our relations with others in the name of politics or leadership. In order for us to establish social cohesion, it is important for us to make efforts to know and integrate with others. So yes, we can befriend our non-Muslim friends. And yes, we should! Because, in diversity, lies the beauty of human relationships!
Fellow Nigerians! Anyone can say or claim anything, be it true or false. What distinguishes the truth from falsehood is one’s practice, actions and deeds. If one’s speech conforms to his/her deeds, one is considered truthful and vice versa. To be truthful, you have to walk the talk!
In the case of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), it was not him who talked about or described himself. Rather, it was Allah the Almighty Who described him saying:
“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” [Al-Anbiya’, 107]
Therefore Prophet’s mercy was not, in any way, restricted to Muslims. It encompassed all, Muslims and non-Muslims, humans and the Jinn, and even animals and non-living things.
He (Peace be upon him) even showed mercy to those who wronged him or attempted to kill him. Below are some prime examples of the mercy shown to his non-Muslim neighbours, relatives, and fellow countrymen.
If you are a new Muslim facing difficulties dealing with your relatives or a young student who has non-Muslim colleagues or perhaps you are a professional wondering how to interact with your coworkers of different faiths, these Prophetic Hadiths are for you:
• Be kind to your non-Muslim relatives
Asma’u Bint Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (May Allah be pleased with her) said:
“My mother came to me while she was still a polytheist, so I asked the Messenger of Allah, ‘My mother, has come to visit me and she is hoping for (my favour). Shall I maintain good relations with her?’ He (Peace be upon him) replied, ‘Yes, maintain good relations with your mother.’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
• Is your non-Muslim family hostile? Pray for them
Narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him):
At-Tufail Ibn Amr came to the Prophet and said, ‘The Daws (tribe) have perished as they disobeyed and refused to accept Islam. So invoke Allah against them.’ But the Prophet said, ‘O Allah! Give guidance to the [the tribe of] Daws and bring them [as Muslims]!’” [Al-Bukhari]
• Exchanging gifts with non-Muslims
Narrated by Ibn Umar: Umar saw a silken cloak for sale draped over a man and requested the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to buy it in order to wear it on Fridays and while meeting delegates. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘This is worn by the one who will have no share in the Hereafter.’ Later on, Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) got some silken cloaks similar to that one, and he sent one to Umar. Umar said to the Prophet (Peace be upon him), ‘How can I wear it, while you said about it what you said?’ The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘I have not given it to you to wear but to sell or to give to someone else.’ So, Umar sent it to his non-Muslim brother at Makkah before he embraced Islam.” And the Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not blame him for his deed.” [Al-Bukhari]
• Receiving gifts from non-Muslims
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) accepted gifts from non-Muslims too.
Al-Bukhari narrated that a Jewish woman brought him a sheep which was proved later to be poisoned after he ate some of it. The Prophet pardoned her.
However, later on, when Bishr Ibn Al-Bara’, who had also eaten from it, died, the Jewish woman was killed for him.
• Protect non-Muslims rights
A number of the Prophet’s Companions narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:
“Beware, if anyone wrongs a mu’ahid [i.e. a non-Muslim enjoying the protection of Muslims], or diminishes his right, or forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall be his adversary on the Day of Judgment.” [Abu Dawud]
Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever killed a mu’ahid shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling).” [Al-Bukhari]
• Visit the sick
Narrated Anas (RA):
“A young Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet and he became sick. So the Prophet went to visit him. He sat near his head and asked him to embrace Islam. The boy looked at his father, who was sitting there. The latter told him to obey the Prophet and the boy embraced Islam. The Prophet came out saying: “Praise be to Allah Who saved the boy from the Hell-fire.” [Al-Bukhari]
• Joining hands in doing business or politics with non-Muslims? Why not?
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) used to do business and enter into dealings with non-Muslims. It was narrated that Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said:
“The Messenger of Allah bought some food on credit from a Jew, and he gave him a shield of his as collateral (rahn).” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
• Respect for deceased persons
Jabir Ibn Hayyan said:
“The Prophet and his Companions stood up for the funeral of a Jew until it disappeared.” [Sunan An-Nasa’i]
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) treated all people well, including non-Muslims. Allah enjoined fairness, kindness, good treatment and rendering back trusts for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Qur’an says:
“Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and fairly with those who have neither fought nor driven you out of your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are fair.” [Qur’an, 60:8]
From this Qur’anic verse we understand that Muslims should be kind to all peaceful people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
As charity begins at home, a Muslim, be it a born Muslim or a new Muslim should deal fairly and nicely with his peers especially when they are family or neighbours.
Fellow Nigerians! Allah Almighty has described Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as a “Mercy for all the Worlds,” as He said in the Qur’an:
“We have sent you as a mercy for all the worlds.” [Qur’an, 21:107]
This means that the Prophet’s characteristic of being merciful was not just limited to the Muslim Ummah or nation, but it also extended to non-Muslims, despite the fact that some of them (non-Muslims) made every effort to harm the Prophet and his mission. This mercy and forgiveness are clearly demonstrated in several instances when the Prophet (Peace be upon him), despite having opportunities to take revenge, never did so and always forgave even his staunch enemies.
Aisha said that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) never took revenge on his own behalf on anyone. She also said that he never returned evil for evil, but he would forgive and pardon. This will, Allah willing, become clear after a deep analysis of the accounts of his life.
In the earlier portion of his mission, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) traveled to the city of Ta’if, a city located in the mountains nearby to Makkah, in order to invite them to accept Islam. The leaders of Ta’if, however, were rude and discourteous in their treatment of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Not being content with their insolent attitude toward him (Peace be upon him), they even encouraged unruly urchins of the town to abuse and harass the Prophet (Peace be upon him). The riffraff followed the Prophet shouting at and abusing him, and throwing stones at him, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. Thus the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had to endure even more obstacles in Ta’if than he had had to face in Makkah. These ruffians, stationed either side of the path, threw stones at him until he was deeply injured with his shoes smeared with blood. These oppressions so grievously dejected the Prophet and plunged him into in such a state of depression that a prayer, citing his helplessness and pitiable condition and seeking the aid of Allah, spontaneously came from his lips:
“O Allah, to You I complain of my weakness, lack of resources and humiliation before these people. You are the Most Merciful, the Lord of the weak and my Master. To whom will You consign me? To one estranged, bearing ill will, or an enemy given power over me? If You do not assign me any worth, I care not, for Your favour is abundant upon me. I seek refuge in the light of Your countenance by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest your anger should descend upon me or Your displeasure light upon me. I need only Your pleasure and satisfaction for only You enable me to do good and evade the evil. There is no power and no might but You.”
The Lord then sent the angel of mountains, seeking the permission of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to join together the two hills and crush the city of Ta’if, between which it was located. Out of his great tolerance and mercy, the Messenger of Allah replied:
“No! For, I hope that Allah will bring forth from their loins people who will worship Allah alone, associating nothing with Him.” [Muslim]
His mercy and compassion was so great that on more than one occasion, Allah, Himself, reprimanded him for it. One of the greatest opponents of Islam and a personal enemy, was Abdullah Bin Ubay, the leader of the hypocrites of Madinah. Outwardly proclaiming Islam, he surreptitiously inflicted great harm to the Muslims and the mission of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Knowing his state of affairs, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) still offered the funeral prayer for him and prayed to Allah for his forgiveness. The Qur’an mentions this incident in these words:
“And never (O Muhammad) pray for one of them who dies, nor stand by his grave. Lo! They disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger, and they died while they were evil doers.” [Qur’an, 9:84]
Abdullah Bin Ubay worked all his life against the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and Islam and left no stone unturned so as to bring him into disrepute and try to defeat his mission. He withdrew his three hundred supporters in the battle of Uhud and thus almost broke the backbone of the Muslims at one stroke. He engaged in intrigues and acts of hostility against the Prophet of Islam and the Muslims. It was he who tried to bring shame to the Prophet by inciting his allies to falsely accuse the Prophet’s wife, Aisha, of adultery in order to discredit him and his message.
Fellow Nigerians! The general policy in Islam is to guarantee full rights to non-Muslim populations and therefore people subscribing to other religions were granted full civic rights by the virtue of the Qur’an and through the application of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Non-Muslim populations living within Muslim communities were granted peaceful and prosperous life through guaranteeing security for both their lives and properties and were given the appellation of “ahlul-Dhimmah” which denotes those people with whom Muslims have an agreement or the responsibility of their personal safety and security of their property are undertaken by the Muslim state.
The basic guidelines which were laid by the Prophet in the early stage in Madinah where he established a city-state formed a blue print of how Muslims should deal with Christians and Jews among many other adherents to different religions. Granting minority rights to different religious groups through pledges, documents and mutual agreements succeeded in creating a healthy atmosphere for the development of both spiritual and material growth of the different religious groups living under the Islamic rule.
In order to achieve and grant full rights for different religious minorities living in Madinah, the Prophet initiated a historical charter which was later known as “the Charter of the Madinah.” By the virtue of this charter, preventive measures were in place to avoid blood feuds and crimes among different Arabian tribes composed of all creeds. The universality of the Islamic creed was meant for the totality of human beings and this necessitated fair treatment and full equality to those who chose not to subscribe to the Islamic view on life. Prophet Muhammad made a historical move of abolishing religious and social inequality. The sixth year of the Hijrah was considered a year of emancipation for Christians as the Prophet granted the Charter to the Fathers of the Monastery of St. Catherine; an act which secured Christians with privileges and amenities.
Muslims were prohibited under severe penalties from violating and abusing the provisions of the Charter. Prophet Muhammad was adamant to ensure religious freedom to non-Muslims across the Islamic state and for this reason he sent instructions to distant Muslims governors not to tax them unfairly or enforce them to abandon their faith. Their churches and sanctuaries could not be pulled down and replaced by mosques or houses for Muslims. Moreover, Muslims were asked to cooperate with Christians should they need an assistance for the repair of their churches or monasteries or any other matter related to their religion.
Prophet Muhammad was keen to grant religious minorities sufficient judicial autonomy which was a basic characteristic of the Islamic legal system. Through granting religious freedom to different religious groups, the Prophet meant to set guidelines on how we should treat each other fairly which leads to the prevention of blood shed and wars among nations. The Prophet throughout his life had a tenacity of the purpose of establishing peace among nations through signing different pacts, and treaties to ensure peaceful coexistence and security to all people. This is proven through pacts like the Peace of Hudaibiyyah and the Treaty of Ta’if. Another famous example is the treaty of Najran which was delivered to Christians of Najran and it surrounding area. The document reads:
“To the Christians of Najran and its surrounding territories, the security of Allah and the pledge of His Prophet is extended for their lives, religion and their property- to the present as well as the absent, and others besides, there shall be no interference within the practice of their faith or their observance nor any change in their rights and privileges, no bishop shall be removed from his bishopric, nor any priest from his priesthood, nor any monk from his monastery, and they shall continue to enjoy everything great and small as heretofore no image or cross hall be destroyed, they shall not oppress or be oppressed; they shall not practice the rights of blood-vengeance as in the Days of Ignorance (Jahiliyyah), nor shall they be required to furnish provisions for the troops.”
The treaty of Najran is an illuminating proof of how Islam unreservedly conferred upon the Scripturalists not only social and religious freedom but also granted them the power to decide their own civil matters through establishing judicial autonomy which was not only pertinent to personal status but also covers civil, penal and all life affairs. Religious freedom and independent judicial system laid the foundation of a true confederacy which had a constitution through which different religious groups became an integral part of a political arrangement by means of a social contract. The integration of non-Muslims in the political life through becoming real contributing players marked a milestone in the history of human rights. For instance, Jews and Christians had the right to join the services of the state. They had the privilege of being consulted on important matters. They were sometimes deputed to embassies in foreign countries. They exercised the right to vote. Their opinions were thought on the administrative affairs of the state. Above all, non-Muslims continued to live in both Makkah and Madinah and there are reports of Christians being buried by their Muslim children in Madinah.
Eradicating injustice and ill treatment to different social and religious groups was not meant as a bait to lure new converts into Islam but actually was meant to rectify the crooked way of looking and thinking of other human beings who do not happen to share the same social status or religious affiliation. Once some Christian Fathers came to visit the Prophet in his mosque at Madinah to discuss the merits of a true religion, but during their stay they couldn’t find a church to offer their prayers so the Prophet offered them his mosque to pray in it. On another occasion there was a delegation from the tribe of Thaqif visiting the Prophet so a tent was fixed up for them within the premises of the Prophet’s mosque. When it was pointed that the visitors were polytheists, the Prophet said in reply that no one was such but he made himself one.
The pinnacle of religious tolerance and clemency was provided by the Prophet upon his victorious entry to Makkah after long years of suffering and persecution by the non- Muslim Makkans. The Prophet and his companions endured ridicule and scorn poured on them by the Makkans who had implacable hatred and enmity against Muslims. The long years of bitter, cruel and sustained persecution, all the fighting, the hardship and suffering and the loss of a lot of dear and devoted companions; all these were laid aside at the moment of triumph, banished from mind and forgiven in the name of the Lord. The clemency of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was unparalleled in the history of mankind for the accused were told that they were free. Giving a pledge to this effect, the Prophet informed the Makkans they were free and there was no reproof against them. The glorious act of unconditional forgiving has no similar act available on record. There occurred no retaliation, no dispossession, no enslavement, no execution, no looting and no kidnapping and dishonouring of women by the conquerors.
What Prophet Muhammad achieved was not less than opening a new chapter of tolerance and justice in world history. Establishing an independent judiciary system free from external influences guaranteed the protection of the interests of the citizens and securing justice for all regardless of their colour or creed. The scrupulous observation and literal adherence of the Muslims to the terms of the pacts, treaties, alliances and agreements with non-Muslims was a foundational step into establishing an effective system of international law.
By setting clear rules for war engagements and prohibiting Muslims soldiers from excesses in war fares, Prophet Muhammad left indelible imprint on the annals of humanity. In his endeavour to establish rules of justice and freedom for different religious groups, Prophet Muhammad emphasised in different occasions that:
“Whoever oppresses a Dhimmi, shall find me to be their advocate on the Day of Judgment (against the oppressing Muslim).”
The Prophet also warned the Muslims against abusing Dhimmis as he stated:
“Remember, one who is unjust to a Dhimmi, breaks his word with him, overburdens him or dispossesses him, I shall plead against him on the Day of Judgment.”
Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to the world to establish the true meaning of brotherhood among humans as they should all stand united regardless of their skin colour or theological belief. He succeeded in liberating man from the bondage of man. He gave the dynamic conception of an undivided humanity, the family of Man, the children of Adam. He managed to raise the ambitions of people from the limited confinements of national identity to the liberal wide-open meaning of humanity.
The world is passing through a dark phase of moral bankruptcy, social disintegration and parochial loyalties which helped in inciting wars and increasing the weight of the roaring voices calling for enmity and hatred. Prophet Muhammad’s message sanctified the life of all human beings irrespective of their racial origin or religious affiliation. He taught us the true meaning of mercy to all and came to confirm the essence of the three Abrahamic faiths; an essence based on dispassionate love for humanity regardless of colour, culture or creed.
Fellow Nigerians! Clashes that repeatedly occurred between Arab tribes during the forbidden months were referred to in general as the Fijar Battles. There are four such battles known to have taken place during the Age of Ignorance (Jahiliyyah), the last one being between the tribes of Quraish and Kinanah, in which the future Prophet–upon him blessings and peace-, still twenty years of age at the time, also took part but without shedding any blood; he merely collected the stray arrows shot by the enemy and handed them to his uncles. [See Sirah of Ibn Hisham]
The battle came to an end in the month of Dhul-qa’adah, one of the months deemed holy by Arabs. Not long after, a Yemenite tradesman from the tribe of Zubaid arrived in Makkah to sell his goods. The Makkan, Ass Ibn Wa’il, one of the richest tradesmen of the town, purchased the goods brought by the man but did not pay the price he had promised. Helpless, the poor man asked the help of the strong clans Abdud-Dar, Mahzum, Jumah, Sahm and Adiy Ibn Ka’ab tribes, but to no avail. They even scolded him for seeking his rights.
Unable to find help in resolving the problem, the embittered Yemenite trader climbed the hill of Abu Qubais near the Ka’abah and recited a poem, which began with the words ‘O Sons of Fihr’, referring to the reputed forefather of the Makkans, explaining the injustice he had suffered at the hands of Ass Ibn Wa’il, calling out for the help of Makkans who had gathered around the Ka’abah at that time. The first man making a move to help was Zubair, the Prophet’s uncle, who organised a meeting at the house of Abdullah Ibn Jud’an, attended by many notables of Makkah.
There, they joined hands, they formed a group, they made a solemn pledge to defend and restore the rights of anyone, beginning with the Yemenite, who suffers any injustice within the borders of Makkah, and to struggle against tyrants on behalf of the weak, “as long as mounts Hirah and Sabir stood in their places and until there was enough water left in seas to moist a single strand of hair.”
The newly founded society remained strong even after they successfully regained the rights of the Yemenite from Ass Ibn Wa’il and remained on its feet to help the victims of injustice thereafter, trying its utmost to restore justice among people. [Ibn Kathir, in Al-bidayah wan-nihaya]
Being entrenched in justice and based on helping the weak, the Hilful-Fudul was the first group that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) supported and joined (himself and non-Muslims) during the Age of Ignorance (Jahiliyyah), remembering the society with sympathy long after his Prophethood, he said:
“I was present with my uncles at the house of Abdullah Ibn Jud’an when the Hilful-Fudul was established. So satisfied was I with it that being given red camels (the most prized Arab commodity at the time) in its place could not have satisfied me more. If I were invited to participate in such a group even today, I would certainly accept the offer without hesitation.” [Ibn Kathir, in al-Bidayah wan-nihaya]
Fellow Nigerians! What I want you to understand is, today in our dear country, we are looking and praying for a vibrant, just, healthy, powerful, knowledgeable and sincere leader, whom Allah Almighty will use to unite the people of the country, whom Allah will use rectify the economy of the country, whom Allah will use to bring an end to the problems of insecurity bedeviling the country, and whom Allah will use to make all Nigerians happy, irrespective of his region, tribe, creed and religion.
Please, we should not listing to those people, from both sides of Muslims and Christians, trying to divide us and make us be killing each other in the name of politics!
Nigeria belongs to all of us Nigerians. Muslims and non-Muslims. We are not fighting for Muslim president or non-Muslim president, we are fighting for a good president who everyone will be happy with!
Allah surely knows best and he is the Lords of the universe and May his peace and blessing be on his Messenger, his family, his companions and those who follow them.
I ask Allah, the Most High to grant us success and enable us to be correct in what we say and write, ameen.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org