As Nigeria continues to deal with prolonged violence from terror sect, Boko Haram, Christian and Muslim communities are beginning to work together to ease any misdirected tensions between the two religious groups and curb its mounting influence and destruction in the country, reports Muhammad Ibrahim from Kaduna.Religious crisis seem to have eaten deep down into the soul of Kaduna state over the past few years, as it hascaused a serious setback in its development in all spheres of life.
The past crisis witnessed in the state, especially Kaduna metropolis, which is the state capital, set Muslim brothers againsttheir Christians brothers, making the metropolis adivided city.
Presently, there was mistrust and lack of brotherhood among citizensof the state that once lived in peaceful co-existence with each other.
When one goes down memory lane, some religious crisis that comes to mindin the state include the 1987 Kafanchan crisis, followed by 1992 Zangon-Kataf crisis; theShari’ah crisis of 2000 Part one and two; and then theThisDay attacks that followed the ‘Beauty Contest of Year’,in 2002.
Others are the 2011 post-election violence and the reprisal attackthat followed Boko Haram attack on two churches in Zaria in June,2012.
These crisis have created serious havoc on the people of the state,because it resulted to loss of lives and property worth billions ofnaira within these years. Apart from loss of lives it also led todivision among the people of the state, particularly Christians andMuslims.
Today, Kaduna metropolis has been turned to a divided city between Muslim-dominatednorth of the metropolis and Christian-dominated south of the city. Nowadays,residents from the northern part of town, who are mostlyMuslims don’t feel safecrossing the Kaduna bridge that divides the two areas or communities into the south which isChristians dominated,who also feel the same towards their erstwhile neighbours. In most cases residentsof these areas change their dressing when visiting each other or whengoing to each other’s community.
The northern communities dominated by Muslims include Tudun-Wada, Kawo,Unguwar Sarki, Rigasa, Unguwar-Shanu, Unguwar-Kanawa, Tudun-Nufawa,Kinkinau, Unguwar-Sanusi, Badikko, Unguwar Mu’azu and others.
While the Christians areas are Gwanin-Gora, Unguwar-Romi, Sabon-Tasha, Unguwar-Mai Gero, Narayi, Kudendan, Karatudu, Juji, Kamazo, Unguwar Mission,Television Village, Kakau, Kasuwar-Magani, Unguwar-Boro, among others.
However, there are also communities where both Christians and Muslims still livetogether; those areas are Kurmin-Mashi, Barnawa, Malali, Unguwar-Rimi,and Kakuri among others.
Even with the prevailing suspicion among the followers of these two major religions inthe state, there are interfaith groups that rise up to the challengein order to bridge the gap or lack of trust and unity among theseresidents of the state.
Among such groups is the “Peace Revival and Reconciliation Foundation ofNigeria”, which is a group that aimed at heeling the broken communities inthe state. The group comprises of both Christians and Muslims asmembers.
The chairman of the group, Pastor Yohanna Buru, alongside his Deputy,Sheikh Imam Sani Isa, various scholars are busy trying to bring back trustamong the residents.
Part of the group’s initiative was to join Muslims counterpart tocelebrate Maulud and Eid-el-Fitr celebrations in the state. In fact, onso many occasions the group joined Muslims to break the traditional Ramadan fast by the Muslims, all inan effort to build confidence and trust among the followers of the twomajor religions as teaches by the two Holy Scriptures.
According to the pastor, there is no reason why Muslims and Christiansshould fight each other when the two religions preach peace andcoexistence.
Speaking at one of the events, Pastor Yohanna Buru said his movementhad dedicated this year to pass on the message of peace among Muslimsand Christians.”I will not want to deceive Muslims; because God said I should live inpeace with Muslims. The Bible teaches me on the need to live in peace withothers. It teaches me to love for others what I love for myself; noteven to Muslims alone but to pagans also,” he stated.
According to the pastor, research made him to understand that ProphetMuhammad (peace be upon him) is a messenger of God that Muslims worldwide should emulate, which, according to him, was why his group decided to join Muslims to celebrate thebirthday of the noble prophet.
The village Head of Tudun Nupawa,Dr. Yusuf Nadabo, who attended the Mauludcelebrations organised by the Peace Revival, Reconciliation Foundation,called on Muslims and Christians to come together and livein peace and harmony.He said the best way to attain peace was for people to avoid rumoursand hatred against one another.
“We have to find a way to stop spreading rumours against each other.This hatred and crisis between Muslims and Christians must stop so asto have peace in our society”, he further stated.
The traditional ruler also called on the organiser of the event toensure that they passed the message of peace to the grassroots, sayingthe people there need to understand the gospel of peace.This particular group has also succeeded in building mosque that wasdestroyed at Sabon-Tasha during the last crisis in the state as wellas releasing some Muslim inmates during the month of Ramadan, coupledwith seminars and workshops that had been organised in the state, onways to bring back tolerance within the citizens living in the metropolis.
Such an initiative, he said, will no doubt heal the wound in the mind of whoevermight have felt aggrieved as a result of past crisis in the state.
The effort by these interfaith groups to promote peaceful co-existenceamong residents of the state received the state governor, Dr.MukhtarRamalan Yero’s blessings, who since assuming office vowed to workwith other groups to unite the people of the state.
The governor at different fora always advocated for peace in the state,particularly between Christians and Muslims.Governor Yero noted that residents of the state need to stop living adeceptive life, whereby they mingle together at places of work andmarkets but cannot visit each other’s houses or communities.
“Kaduna town is divided into two; it wasn’t like this before. For someyears now, the town has been divided. The town is divided along religious lines by theRiver Kaduna bridge. The Muslims are staying on one side while theChristians are staying at the other side; this is not good fordevelopment. This thing is not going to help us.
“Right now, any Christian who is coming from the other side to wherethe Muslims are will dress in Muslim attire. Likewise, any Muslim, whois going to the Christians dominated side, will have to wear clothesthat will portray him/her like one of them. This is not going to helpus. It is high time we go back to the way we were in those days. We lived togetherpeacefully before now,” he recalled.
Governor Yero also received leaders of another Interfaith andMediation group who paid him a courtesy call at the state GovernmentHouse recently, all on the need to revive peace among residents of thestate.
The governor, while receiving them, said it was very unfortunate thatthe city is divided along religious line, adding that such attitudewill not bring about unity and harmony among the people to worktogether for the development of the state.
He assured that his administration would strive to reverse the uglytrend in order to return the state to the era when Muslims andChristians live in the same community peacefully.
“For us to move forward, people must be allowed to practicetheir religion anywhere they find themselves. We must all livetogether.
“All of us are serving the same God and we have to try as much aspossible to serve God in a peaceful manner, in a way that we wouldrespect each other, understand each other and tolerate each other;because God has created mankind in different race and tribes, not forthem to fight each other but to understand each other and serve Himproperly,” the governor was quoted to have said.
Whether the governor and these groups would succeed on their crusade,only time will tell; but it is the wish of all the people in the stateto return back to 80s, when the state enjoyed peace and stability.