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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Boko Haram extremism and the way forward

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Boko Haram, a terrorist group in Nigeria, which has hijacked the good name of Islam and using it to manipulate and machinate evil, has once again trampled a fundamental and cardinal pillar of the sacred Islamic law. The Shari’ah law does not compromise when it comes to the protection and security of women. However, it’s a paradox that the same so-called people fighting for the entrenchment of Shari’ah would trample upon that injunction and kidnap over 200 girls. Never in the history of Islam as a faith and civilisation have Muslims indulged in the continuous abuse of women, without being condemned by the majority of believers, because it simply goes against the very spirit of the divinely revealed and ordained law. 

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Terrorism and kidnapping are not the trait of true believers of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to the world, and as Muslims we are commanded to follow the prophetic pattern both inwardly and outwardly to make the purpose of such laws a reality. If we are to follow the Muhammadan path we can only be merciful people upon all of mankind and all other creatures of God. The pleasant disposition of the companions of the Prophet to all is a clear testimony to this fact.

 

Their charitable deeds towards all to the extent God said about some of them that they preferred others above themselves, and gave out everything in seeking God’s pleasure. The Qur’an states in very clear words: “O ye who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.” 

 

Needless to say, the adherents of Islam are called upon to uphold justice and not follow their own inclinations. To an extent that Islam was the foremost religion in history to have codes of conduct on the just execution of wars and battles well before the other bodies of treaties were drawn and put in place. 

 

In light of the foregoing, the recent nefarious action of Boko Haram in kidnapping young girls has no basis whatsoever in the pristine prophetic teachings of Islam. The same goes for all these groups breaking laws upon laws of Islam with the distorted notion that they are upholding the law and rule of God on earth.

 

West Africa in particular is very new to this phenomenon, which makes it all the more important and urgent to fight against the increased radicalisation of young people. We have been the beacons of tolerance, Islamic knowledge, practice and gnosis for the rest of the Muslim world for centuries without such menaces lurking amongst our communities. De-radicalisation of course begins with knowing that adherence to the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah demands from us love and mercy for all, with the knowledge that the Prophet Muhammad was the most pious and God-fearing to ever walk this earth; yet he was the most merciful and generous with his people. We must also strive harder in reviving the ancient Islamic scholarship of our ancestors. The great scholars who built kingdoms and empires based on that pattern which promotes genuine tolerance for others. Shaykh Uthman dan Fadio who was from Nigeria, for example, built a kingdom based on the Shari’ah and it thrived without terrorising the masses or believers of other religions for almost a century.

 

Therefore, we must take seriously the imperative to revive and revitalise the authentic traditions of the path of Sunni orthodoxy, which is imbued with wisdom and the Muhammadan virtues. Unless we do that, the increasing tide and force of extremism and fundamentalism will only grow stronger, consuming the evident mercy that was revealed from on high. 

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