Nathaniel Samuel: “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.” – Mahatma Gandhi
On Sunday, February 2, a 30-year-old man who was identified as Nathaniel Samuel was caught with an improvised explosive device (IED) at the branch of Living Faith Church, Sabon Tasha, Kaduna. This is a very sad news, especially for anyone with moral sense and certain degree of human-feelings. And those who possess moral compass must express gratitude to God for exposing Nathaniel Samuel and preventing him from succeeding in unearthing buried cankerworm of religious crisis in the state. The security men around the church must be commended for keeping a careful watch for possible danger of this nature. In the situation that we face today, constant careful observation and prayers are the only possible prevention and panacea to these dangers.
We must acknowledge that monsters, weirdos, deviants and those whose action is beyond most human comprehension are found in every religion. No religion is immune to rebellious, naughty and misbehaving members within it. And a religion that claims to be free from having the aforesaid elements has at that moment ceased to be a true religion but a mishmash of outmoded crowd and collection of confused group of people. Genuinely God-fearing pastors and Imams know that only 20 per cent of those who have been regularly attending their sermon adhere to the rules of the religion and its tenets. Most of the followers go to the sermon ground to identify with the religion rather than practice the good tidings the genuine Imams and pastors have been preaching.
Should everyone be pious and there are no deviants in the world then what is the essence of preaching? The initial impetus for preaching is to call those who have already taken the impious path to the pious path. And anyone who claims not to have unscrupulous members within his religion has contradicted the initial impetus for religious propagation and the principle of religious teaching. I don’t know what those who have been struggling to Islamise Nathaniel Samuel stand to achieve. After all, in his by-mouth submission, Nathaniel himself confessed that he is a Christian and his biological father testified to that. Sadly, those who should have actually brought the situation to its coolest temper have already conveyed a blatant bigotry.
This is precisely the reason I personally don’t listen and believe much in some rabble-rousers who always parade themselves as religious leaders. Former President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, lived around ostentatious life with former President Jonathan, flying in a private jet but never informed Jonathan to fear God and look upon or come to the aid of those who have been living in absolute squalor even in his hometown Otueke. Same with those Imams who went to the sermon podium during the 2019 electioneering and asked their followers to vote for President Buhari but now that things turned upside down they can’t mobilise themselves to meet Buhari and tell him that all is not well with the nation.
It’s in this country I have heard of a leader of one Islamic sect who strictly prohibited his followers from watching television because, according to his dangerous doctrine, it was prohibited in Islam to do so. The golden luminosity surrounding his household is something to watch; everything that a person needs to enjoy his worldly life was there in the house. These nominal men of God have been using religion to create division among the masses and gain access to national cake.
This is precisely how they have succeeded in deploying all kinds of deceptive and manipulative stunts by exploiting emotions, prejudice and ignorance to arouse an audience, whipping up the passions of the populace and shutting down reasoned deliberation. They have become like politicians whose lust for power without recourse to principle leads them to seek to become masters of the masses. It’s my wish that our science of reasoning should have been unclouded by religious sentiment but unfortunately our logical basis didn’t act as lenses that magnify the light of understanding and tolerance so as to allow us to detect, fine-tune and deliberate the crux of the issue.
Therefore, I anticipate and look forward to genuine imams and pastors to resort to a virtual reality when this rather regrettable incident occurred — summon an emergency meeting to fine-tune a strategy on how to continue to dispel such dangerous belief in the places of worship; the consequences of carrying on with such hazardous assignment in exchange for few pennies; and to also discuss in detail the factors that have been contributing to these acts of cruelty so as to sit-down with government and tell them the bitter truth.
At this juncture, I must commend Governor Nasir el-Rufa’i for swiftly summoning an emergency meeting to work out a solution. We as community should know what it takes to suffer bigotry and intolerance, and we must not harbour hate, anger, bigotry and violence. We must also understand that terrorism has no place in Islam or Christianity.
writes from Kaduna.