By Muhammad Ajah
Ignorance is death in life. I recently enjoyed reading an analysis made on this deadly disease which many people take as a comfortable companion. The study put it that ignorance with poverty engenders criminality; ignorance with wealth creates corruption; ignorance with total freedom breeds chaos; ignorance with power gives birth to tyranny; and ignorance with religion produces terrorism. The last is what the world today is facing. Most followers of the conventional religions are ignorant of the fundamentals of those religions, hence the terrorists from amongst them.
It is evident that the ignorant peasants are the common criminals who take life for nothing. This category of people can kill with the least inducement. They are ready tools for destruction of lives and properties; after all they are high in spirit and accept the belief that there is nothing to lose. Their hallucination is that life should start afresh so that they may be amongst the lucky, according to their perception. Assuredly, criminality of high order reigns amongst the rich. But the rich hardly commit the killings. They use the poor underlings. They also use the ignorant spiritual consultants to effect ‘human’ sacrifices. This category of people perpetuates corruption in all its ramifications because they master the tricks and applications.
It is ignorance that incites man to believe that there is anything called ‘total freedom’. With such unguarded belief, such category of humanity feels that doing anything without limitation falls within human rights. If so, then can man kill his fellow because of minor mistakes? This feeling of total freedom is the cause of disorder; and what happens when there is disorder in any society? What will happen if human beings live without man-made constitution? And what has humanity taken the divine constitutions as?
There is stark ignorance in the misapplication of power. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene is a handy reference. When an ignorant man becomes a king, there is the possibility of tyranny becoming the end. On the other hand, knowledge without wisdom can pose a danger because stories have been told of leaders who were read and polished but became tyrants due to the absence of wisdom. In most cases as in Shakespearean dramas, the protagonists often the emperors, kings or princes fall from very small mistakes, unwise decisions or actions. And the global ignorance with religion has produced terrorism.
If not ignorance, how can a human being kill a fellow human being in the name of religion? If not ignorance, how can people who claim to know their religion better allow themselves to be used to kill other people of different religion? If not ignorance, how can a ‘man of God’ incite the followers to kill? Killing is the greatest sin condemned by all the religions because life is sacred. No man creates another. So, there can be no justification for a man to kill another man on the mere grounds of hatred, resentment and intolerance. God’s mercy precedes His wrath and His patience has no boundary. If not, the wicked would not have found a place on this mother earth. Yet, His ordinations must come to pass. The Last Day will come when ignorance cannot be an excuse.
While in Port Harcourt as a field journalist early in the millennium, my family lived in a compound where a ‘woman of God’ held her Sunday services, evening lessons and deliverance nights. It was a hellish experience for my wife, particularly because I go out every day to hunt for news. Sometimes, I would have to sleep for days away from the metropolis. Similar experiences happened in another compound, though this time the house was adjacent to our compound. The stories are better told in books. But the massage is the high level of ignorance which the promoters of each conventional religion have for others. Sometimes, it is borne out of mere animosity.
Ignorance is the root of most evil deeds committed by many people. Every action which man undertakes in life has its consequences – good or bad. He who kills to survive will be killed by another survivor; he who kills with the sword, gun, knife or stick will be killed with same. And he who killed through the evil spirit will be consumed one day by the same evil spirit. This is the karma of existence. There is always room to learn. Promoters of Islam and Christianity should devote time to learn about other religions in order to understand the demand for peaceful coexistence which every of the religions preaches.
One other day, after one of the daily prayers was concluded in a Mosque in Abuja, one worshipper boldly stood up and addressed other worshippers. As normal, the Imam had though that he wanted to admonish people on some important matters. Though in a local language, the man said: “I want to accomplish an Islamic obligation on me and that is marriage. But I have a problem. I have acquired half of the dowry and I need the remaining half to fulfill this obligation. I beg of you all to assist me.”
There was uneasy calm after this man’s brief speech. Everybody was speechless. The Imam wore the face of remorse, apparently regretting the reaction of his followers some of who at last began to shout at the man. However, the Imam succeeded in bringing down the tempers and led the man out of the Mosque with the warning that he should never try such in any other Mosque. Although there were a few who sympathized with the man, the Imam briefly tutored him on Islamic marriage and the need for a man to be fully ready to carter for his wife and children afterwards. But today, there are organized mass weddings which often end up in unconditional divorces.
It is the same in Christianity. Everyone wants to be a “man of God”. Every Christian preaches the gospel with only few internalized verses of the Bible. Some half-learned Nigerians become religious or spiritual consultants overnight. They are called ‘mallams’, or ‘alfas’ or ‘men of God’. Stories emerge that reveal the atrocities they cause humanity; the confusion they create and the injuries they inflict on their customers. And once a customer becomes addicted to them, he/she can kill and be ready to do anything they demand.
Look at the situation today. The registration of Churches and religious societies on daily basis surpasses that of business outfits. Societies with evil plans against humanity abound. That has made some people conclude that religious houses, especially Churches are now business centers. One of the comic entertainers once released the names of Churches in Nigeria in an alphabetical order A-Z; he assured that he could go round many times naming more. In fact, pegging the number of Churches in Nigeria at 1000 is part of travesty of ignorance.
Some people wake up from sleep one day and proclaim that they have been “called” to deliver people. Some dramas at the Nollywood are actual reflection of the happenings in the Christendom. And Africa has become a grey land for swindlers in the name of religion. A lot of atrocities in the name of religion! And if not because of ignorance, what is the connection between entertainers and churches. The entertainers are used as adverts to attract worshippers. And people go to have a glimpse of the entertainer, laugh in the worship houses and part away with their monies. Worship places should be a place for sobriety, a place for reflection and a place for divine calculation; never a place for entertainment and caricature.
In a weird manner, these religious consultants cannot differentiate themselves from the native doctors. In short, one of my friends once told me that his family had the need to visit a native doctor and on getting there, they saw a ‘man of God’ driving away from the place. One other day, I was accosted by a pastor who confessed that they actually have no divine power to perform miracles but depend on the powers availed them by the native doctors.
With this, it is clear that ignorance is the bane of peaceful coexistence amongst Nigerians. Neither the proponents nor the followers of religions dedicate time to properly learn their religions, not to talk of learning the actual bases, not created fallacies, of the other religions. It is this endemic ignorance amongst Nigerians cum the ravenous hunger for worldly fantasies that cause the killings in the name of religion. It is up to the religious leaders to have a rethink and preach the sacredness of life, the diversity of humanity and the divinity in nationhood.
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.