TOLERANCE: No Religion Is Better Than The Other

Richard Odusanya

Richard Odusanya

Religion intolerance or religious intolerance means when a group (society, religious, non-religious, group or tribe) refuses or denies to tolerate the practice, person or belief on the religious grounds. When a group of society neglects or criticizes any religion irrespective of the fact of secularism.

Religious intolerance is an act of denying the right of people of another religious faith to practice and express their beliefs freely. Religious intolerance is like discrimination based on religion. Even though religious extremism is currently a hotly debated topic, it is often reduced to a unidimensional construct that is linked to religious violence. Nigeria for example is a secular nation, it should remain so.

We argue that the contemporary use of the term “extreme” fails to capture the different interpretations, beliefs, and attitudes defining extreme religious identity. Religious extremism is a global issue that raises questions and tensions in many countries. Particularly in a country like Nigeria, a secular society.

In Nigeria, for example, it is a known fact that religion has been abused in many ways to suit the interests of some groups of people who consider themselves as custodians and defenders of religious values and faith. Apparently the trend of violence in Nigeria is a sign of the need for introspect and a honest appraisal. This is certainly a very big challenge awaiting the incoming government, “if 2023 comes” policy makers and the government of the day.

On the other hand, the over a decade long Boko Haram insurgency epitomized religious radicalism. Although the phrase Boko Haram, derived from the local Hausa language, is generally understood to mean ‘Western Education is forbidden or sinful’, it is now widely acknowledged that the group’s fundamental objective is to rid the region of all Western influence, especially education and governance, and establish an autonomous state in which a ‘puritanical’ brand of Islam is practiced.

The ideology of Boko Haram seemed to resonate particularly well in North East Nigeria. This begs a number of questions. First, why was the call particularly appealing to a large, and ever-growing, number of mostly uneducated, unskilled, unemployed and frustrated young people in this region? Second, and perhaps more critical, why would so many young people be willing to be recruited into the group? In my humble opinion, this is the result of the monster created by reasons of long time carelessness and neglect.

Flowing from the above, and mindful of the dastardly and unfortunate incident in Sokoto some days back, if it is purely about salvaging the Prophet’s honor as prescribed by God Almighty (Allah) through His Shari’ah. You can not love the Prophet more than the Almighty God (Allah). It is certainly the responsibility of Authorities to act, to forestall a recurrence, not irate mobs drunk on their own self importance, hypocrisy. Under Islamic Shari’ah, every sooty hand who participated in that ignoble lynching should be put on trial. They are nothing short of murderers. It is a crime against humanity.

Nevertheless, the salient lesson, in the backwash of the recent bloodcurdling events in Sokoto, must be why willful dithering and deference should always be our easy recourse when tempers flare. And, tempers will always flare. This is part of the reasons why government and our faith based leaders must be more circumspect and encourage unity in diversity and tolerance.

The attributes of TOLERANCE would have prevented; the ill-thought, reactionary mob action has – inadvertent, so it seemed to it’s proponents – only given non-Muslims even freer reigns to further questioned the image of the Noble Prophet (uh,bp), opening a floodgate of more scathing vituperations from every irate Tom and Mariah.

When we nitpick and cavil over every slight, over every directed flak, at our persons, at personages we hold in high esteem, we afford people a power over ourselves, over our minds. A power they are most unworthy of. We allow them free real estate in our already clustered minds.

We must rise above pettiness, whether in the name of our faiths, whether for King and Country. So much lives lost, so much energy dissipated, when we loose our composure, when we lashed out indiscriminately. A lesson to me, first.

Hopefully, to all, and in particular the endorsers of religious intolerance, extremism and criminality.



Richard Odusanya is a Social Reform Crusader and the convener of AFRICA COVENANT RESCUE INITIATIVE ACRI

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