By Abdulmumin Giwa
Though not unexpected but I was breathless for a while when I heard that the Sokoto State Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has banned all public activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) in the state.
I was shocked to have seen him joined the bandwagon of religious bigots and extremists, despite an adored political reputation he has built for years. How could he come so low to become sentimental shallow-minded to even presume that he can become a sectarian and join the Wahhabi fight against the IMN who are minority Shiites? This is very unfortunate.
After several years as the Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representative, I was convinced that a complete detribalized Nigerian has been founded in a jolly good fellow, a personality that would not tolerate any form of sentimentalism whether of religion, tribe or region. But unfortunately here he is coming down so low to exhibit elements of hatred, intolerance and religious bigotry against a minority faith simply because he belongs to the majority.
I still don’t want to believe the governor has anything to do with this illegal, unconstitutional and irrational ban on IMN activities inn Sokoto state. I rather want to believe that it is the work of his enemies struggling to pull him down and give him a bad image.
It is in order for me and millions of other Nigerians to say that we hate President Muhammadu Buhari, COAS Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai and Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state for killing innocent unarmed civilians including women and children in Zaria in 2015, burning some alive and burying their victims in mass graves with some buried alive. This is simply on humanitarian grounds as they have committed crimes against humanity and are condemned by human rights groups of international repute.
But in the case of the Sokoto Governor I personally hold him on the neutral side but his latest actions are already pulling me to the negative side of him and so are millions of other Nigerians. It makes me wonder what good he hopes to achieve by engaging in bloodshed of innocent worshippers no matter what they worship.
There is no rational behind the action he has taken apart from the fact that he was induced with hatred of the group by their self-appointed sworn enemies and he got emotionally carried away. The IMN members are simply commemorating the death of Hussain AS the grandson of Prophet Muhammad SAWA. What could then be wrong with that? How does it threaten anybody because somebody commemorates the death of Hussain AS? Are you an enemy of Prophet Muhammad or you prefer them to celebrate the death of his grandson instead?
How can you allow yourself to be misdirected by some religious bigots despite you experience as a former Speaker of Reps? You should be a man of your own principles that will tell them that everyone in the country has the right to practice the religion of his choice and it is your duty as a citizen to respect his choice. Yes you can be ignorant about the Shi’a belief as a result of which you can be induced with false information about them but is still not an excuse.
Shi’as are Nigerians and you can reach out to them to hear their own side of the story and not to be fed with lies by those hungry Arabic speaking idiots you see as clerics. It is only from the Shi’as that you can know anything you want about them and not from their opponents who only tell you lies.
Yes we understand that the Wahhabis hold a contrary view about Shi’a Islam but is not enough reason for the Shi’as to be banned from practicing their religion by the state government. At least the constitution allows for freedom of worship. One can belong to any religion of his choice. There no such thing as state religion or sect of the state.
If the Shi’a can be denied the right to worship then Christians can also be denied the right to their religion as well. It is the opinion of the Quran that Jesus Christ (AS) is not the son of God and even sees it as blasphemous to say God has a son. But this is not enough reason why Muslims will clampdown on Christians and stop them from practicing their belief system.
Hence if you are Sunni and I am Shiite then it is my own business and not yours. Just as it is my own choice, my own right and my own prerogative to become a Shiite it is also your own responsibility to respect my choice as a citizen and not to use force to stop me.
We are aware that Saudi Arabia has bribed some clerics and politicians to exterminate Shi’a in many countries including Nigeria but I will not want to believe that you can stain your hands with the blood of innocent women and children just to make money, like a popular colleague of yours.
IMN members are already aware that killing is the worst thing you can ever do to them. Also you have been killing them all these year but this has never changed their stance and commitment to their faith. I wonder how a responsible and right-thinking person will ever be convinced that killing IMN members will stop them from their faith. All those involved in one way or the other in harassing them are already facing the repercussion in their lives. If you can meet any one of them he will definitely tell you that nothing is moving well for him.
Definitely you are taking the wrong step in your political life and this will definitely destroy your political ambition. I expected that you will be one of the strong-minded governors in the country that have refused to be misdirected into fighting with Shi’as in their states but I must say I am disappointed.
This issue you are fighting with, the issue of commemorating the death of Imam Hussain (AS) is something that will make you greater than you can ever be in your life because greater people than you can ever be have become heroes learning from Imam Hussain AS irrespective of their religious inclinations.
Nelson Mandela remained committed to his cause copying from Imam Hussain AS while he was I jail for 29 years. He said any time he felt weak and was about to give up on his struggle he remembered Imam Hussain’s struggle and remains more energetic and steadfast.
Mahatma Gandhi wished he had supporters with spirits like those of Imam Hussain AS and he would have impacted even more than he had ever. But here you are trying to engage in a fight with Hussain’s followers.
I must say that you have already lost in the battle because Hussain’s followers are never threatened with death and no amount of death threats can stop them from their faith. The worse you can ever do to them is the greatest achievement they reap from you. Nothing has changed of them since the Zaria pogrom where over 1000 of them were extra-judicially killed by the Nigerian Army despite persistent intimidations.
In your position as an elite and politician maybe the greatest achievement in your life might be for you to be praised by the imperialists as a good stooge but to us as Muslims we know and understand their conspiracy. They see Islam as the greatest threat to their interest in the world and are doing everything possible to deter it. One of their steps is that of dividing the ranks of the Muslims into two by inducing hatred and enmity. They are using the weak majority Sunni to exterminate the strong minority Shi’as and in the end, if they ever succeed they will dominate over the majority Sunni and determine their faith forever.
I will advise you not to turn yourself into a hunting dog of the imperialists working to exterminate Islam and still calling themselves Muslims. The followers of Hussain AS are your pride, your heroes and your only hope as Muslims
In conclusion I will remind you that staging protests and rallies in Nigeria are fundamental human rights of citizens that do not require any police permission. This has since been decided by the Federal Court of Appeal in the case ANPP vs Inspector-General of Police in 2007. Nigeria is a democracy. Hence nothing will deter us from the annual Ashura demonstration for which you are free to come with your killing machines and kill everybody as did the followers of Yazid LA to Imam Hussain AS and his followers at the plains of Karbala.
As a fellow brother in Islam I appeal to you not to place your reputation at stake by engaging in a lost battle of fighting against followers of Imam Hussain AS, the Shi’as.