Nigerian President Says Islam Forbids Religious Extremism

Muhammadu Buhari

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari recently declared that Islam not only forbids religious extremism but also condemns lawlessness even in regular acts of worship. Speaking at the opening of the International Islamic Conference on Peace and Nation Building in Abuja last month, Buhari clarified that the emergence of any Muslim group advocating the contrary is thus incorrect, irreligious as well as unacceptable.

Urging religious leaders to step up their efforts towards promoting the true teachings of their religion in order to at least balance out the diabolical ideology blindly driving radicals, Buhari said that his government would also pursue them relentlessly until they are completely wiped out from history.

“The tragic paradox of the global insurgency situation is that most of the atrocities committed by various insurgents all over the world today, are being carried out mainly by people who pretend to be Muslims; yet most of the victims and casualties are equally Muslims. To underscore their cruelty and godlessness, they particularly target the most vulnerable members of the society: children, women and the elderly… No religion approves of such heinous crimes against humanity; definitely not Islam nor Christianity, the two to which most Nigerians belong. This is a tragedy, which all normal people must rise up against.

Islam does not permit lawlessness. It frowns at extremism even in normal acts of worship. The emergence of any group advocating the contrary is therefore irreligious and unacceptable,” he said.

Describing Boko Haram, the notorious terrorist group in Nigeria, as a mindless, godless organization far removed from Islam, Buhari explained that insurgents carrying out atrocities in different parts of the world today only pretend to be Muslim and know little about Islam; which is why their casualties and victims often include more Muslims than none.

He said, “In my inauguration address on 29th May, 2015, I mentioned that Boko Haram is a mindless, godless group who are as far away from Islam as one can think of… I assured Nigerians that at the end of the hostilities when the group is subdued, the government would commission a sociological study to determine the origin, the remote and immediate causes of the movement  –its sponsors, its international connections, if any– to ensure that measures are taken to prevent a recurrence of this evil. The outcome of the proceedings of this conference will be useful in that regard.”

He also reiterated that Nigeria, with the cooperation of neighboring countries, had succeeded in reducing the attacking capability of insurgents to such a level that it had compelled them to retreat.

“As we have had cause to mention earlier, our government, in joint cooperation with our neighbors, has substantially degraded the attacking capability of the insurgents to a level that has now compelled the insurgents to retreat. We will pursue them relentlessly until they become an item of history,” he said.

Buhari asked religious leaders to encourage their followers to be more tolerant of others and recognize every person’s right to worship and live freely.

Even though Nigeria’s population –divided largely between Christians and Muslims– has managed to coexist peacefully for generations, spawning terrorist groups in the region have carried out bloody massacres against Christians in an attempt to tear the country apart on religious grounds.

Religious persecution watchdog groups, such as International Christian Concern, have repeatedly requested the Nigerian government to intensify its efforts in offering protection to its citizens; tackling violent threats against innocent lives and properties and focusing on the religious discrimination that is taking place in the country instead of dismissing everything as a resource war or longstanding tribal tensions.

Photo Credits: Watchdog News

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