I begin with the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
“And if you punish them, then punish them with the like of that which you were afflicted. But if you have patience with them, then it is better for those who are patient.” Qur’an 16: 126
“Allaah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allaah loves those who deal with equity.” Qur’an 60: 8
In 1914, the historic amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates gave birth to what is known today as Nigeria. The treaty which was sealed in a federalist manner in 1960 assured each member of the amalgamation that henceforth they live as a united federation. It is no secret that the Northern protectorate was and still is predominantly made up of Muslims while the Southern protectorate was an entirely a different make up in terms of religion, customs, values and traditions. Be it as it may, the Northerners largely Muslims are molded by the rules of Islam and of such rules is the obligation to respect and abide by the provisions of a treaty. A non-Muslim living under an Islamic state can be a mu’aahid (one who has a treaty with the Muslims) or a musta’min (one who has been granted security by the Muslims) and it is forbidden to take his soul.
There is a hadeeth that speaks of that. The Messenger of Allah peace be upon him) said: “If anyone wrongs a mu‘aahid, detracts from his rights, burdens him with more work than he is able to do or takes something from him without his consent, I will plead for him (the mu‘aahid) on the Day of Resurrection.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3052; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
Late Shaykh Awwal Albani Zaria (may Allaah have mercy on him) said having the basic knowledge of fiqh (Islamic jurisdiction) will make it clear that the non-Muslims living (in the North) are under peace treaty with the Muslims by the circumstances that surrounded the amalgamation of 1914 and the independence of 1960 which gave birth to the Federal republic of Nigeria. Going further to state that if southerners attacked Muslims in the south, it is against the provisions of the Shareeah (Islamic legal system) for Muslims up north to carry out a reprisal attack on innocent and non-enemy combatant southerners in the north. The way out is to sit down and revisit the conditions of the amalgamation and work out a workable reality of either continuing or parting ways.
It is sad that a large number of an entire generation is made to hate a particular group of people because of their tribe and religion, a hatred which seems to be a major part of inheritance, younger ones killing others because of evil tales passed on to them from the mischievous elderly and those that are deeply buried beneath the sod. The tears of agony, the tears of blood running down the cheeks of innocent defenceless people for no fault of theirs. What was the fault of a man that was killed innocently? Was he armed, was he an enemy combatant, or was it just because he was a northerner, a Muslim? This line of thought is destructive and must be condemned in the most vociferous manner and those guilty must be made to pay the price of the terror they created by the constituted authority.
In this era, where information travels faster than light via internet and social media, it is difficult to prevent people from knowing and seeing what is happening to their beloved ones in the hands of miscreants and terrorists. However, it is also effective in disseminating information to calm people down and encourage them to observe caution and restraint because Allaah says, “And if you punish them, then punish them with the like of that which you were afflicted. But if you have patience with them, then it is better for those who are patient.” Qur’an 16: 126. The law of equal retribution dictates that you inflict equal harm to him who inflicted arm on you and not on innocent souls. Al-Hassan Al-Basri favors the opinion that if a man among you takes something from you, then you should take something similar from him. Hence, even if there is room for revenge it should be on the perpetrators and not innocent people that share same ethnic and religious identity with the perpetrators.
However, this submission should not in any way embolden the criminals to keep preying on innocent northerners living in the south, the leaders of the South-East states must be sincere in their fight for moral justice and demonstrate to the world that they are not complicit in this criminal act just as northern leaders have repeatedly restrained the teeming and emotionally charged population that are on the verge of taking a reprisal attack. The beauty of Islam is such that the Muslims are enjoined to live justly and kindly with those who raise not arm against them. Allaah Exalted be He, says: “Allaah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allaah loves those who deal with equity.” Qur’an 60: 8.
Muslims have always been asked to live peacefully with others, to respect their neighbors. The blood of those living peacefully with the Muslims is regarded and treated as sacrosanct to such an extent that transgressing against it unjustifiably is equal to transgressing against the entire humanity. On this, Allaah Exalted be He, says: “Because of that We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation of murder, or (and) to spread mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed all mankind…” Qur’an 5: 32. Al-Baydaawi says in his Tafseer (commentary on the Qur’an): Under Quran 5: 8; that do not let your intense hatred for the mushrikeen (polytheists) cause you to fail to be just towards them and thus transgress against them by doing things that are not permissible, such as mutilating the dead, slandering them, killing women and children, or breaking treaties, because of the resentment in your hearts.”
The Muslim leaders, the northern leaders, rights groups must not only preach the message of peace and restraint in the North but must also ensure that the blood of the innocent that was unjustifiably shed must be treated with respect by bringing those responsible to order. The Muslims appreciate the fact that it is not consistent with the teachings of the religion to employ terror tactics in response to terror. They are sufficiently contented with the verses of the Qur’an that enjoin them to adopt noble characteristics in responding to those who disobey Allaah concerning them by obeying Allaah in observing the limits of sharing concerning them. For peace to reign, there must be an agreement from both parties to respect one another and a commitment to avoid splitting innocent lives. We must avoid any action that will lead to the loss of lives of innocent people. Our actions or inactions must be guided by the tools of religion.
Mr Abdul (Penabdul), an architect, teaches at the Baze University, Abuja. He is also the Chairman/CEO of Sustainable Project Works (SPW) Ltd. He can be reached on Twitter: @Penabdull and Instagram: @Penabdul