I am not a Muslim by faith. My interventions here are purely based on my human feelings for others because I am involved. I do not understand what the Holy Quran and other Islamic literatures teaches its followers about blasphemy and other sins against Allah, Islam or Prophet Muhammad (SAW). I have utmost respect for Islam and will continue to. I have friends who are Muslims, very faithful adherents, who have actually impressed me of what a true Muslim should be. In fact, I almost married a Muslim and till date we have remained friends. I am in no doubt that I can decide to be a Muslim tomorrow because of my conviction that Islam is indeed a true religion of Allah. There are some Islamic teachings and ways of life I have come to accept and practice because they make sense to me.

We were not born with religion, we met it here on earth and shall also leave it here when we pass on. I am of the conviction that no man would be judged according to his religious belief but according to our deeds here on earth. Most followers of this or that religion are engaged in it because of where we have found ourselves, either by birth or upbringing. I am a Christian because my parents are, my family members, the environment I grew up, my training and exposure supported my holding on to Christianity today. No man/woman was born with a particular religion, we all took after what we met on ground.

It is completely inappropriate, insensitive for any responsible adult to blaspheme against God. Whether you are a believer of a religion or not, you must show respect for others faith. As humans we must respect the belief system of our neighbours, their mode and place of worship. Religious tolerance is sacrosanct. There cannot be any excuse for a grown up adult to ridicule the name of Prophet Muhammad or Jesus Christ in a music, concert, speech, writing, drawings, etc. It is offensive, provocative and stand highly condemned.

However, there is no sinner that is above conversion, if the Kano based Islamic musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, and indeed others has sinned/blasphemed against Allah, Prophet Muhammed, then it is quite appropriate, our responsibility as believers to convert such derailed soul. I believe that there is no repentance in death but there is in life. In the northern part of Nigeria, several of its political leaders are Muslims yet, looting of the treasury thereby impoverishing the society is not fought with the same religious approach usually reserved for the poor. Prophet Muhammed cannot be a supporter or enabler of heinous crimes against the society and humanity. So much poverty has been planted in the region because of stealing of the people’s common wealth. Illiteracy, disease, squalor, malnutrition, abuse of children, and others are all sins against Allah, which are promoted and encouraged by man. No high ranking man or woman has ever been convicted by the Shariah court system, not even the conventional judicial system for misappropriation, mismanagement, economic sabotage or outright stealing of public funds. It is usually the poor, less privileged, downtrodden, illiterates that are severely punished with death penalty.

There are several sentences that have been passed in the past for either blasphemy or extra-marital affairs. In early 2000s, in Zamfara State, under the governorship of Alhaji Yerimah, a citizen was arrested for stealing a goat, arraigned before the Sharia court, found guilty, sentenced and his hand was chopped off. Some years later, the EFCC, then chaired by Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, investigated and accused Alhaji Yerimah of stealing the Zamfara state funds. He was never brought before any Sharia or conventional court to answer to the charges levelled against him by the anti-corruption agency, neither did he explain to the world how innocent he was of the charges. Till date Yerimah walks the streets of Nigeria freely, very unfortunate! He became a Senator of the Federal Republic after leaving office as governor. The conviction of the poor for crime in Nigeria is usually speedy and achievable by our courts but, not so for the elites.

Islam, I am told is a religion of peace. Killing souls cannot be peaceful. For a man that has erred, deviated from laid norms, he can only be brought back to the rail track by meting out punishment that would make him sober and seek for repentance to be responsible. The extermination of his life, if it comes to pass, will not in any way make him repent of his sins. He would have died with it. Appealing to his conscience to see and receive truth will be an advantage. Something that would make him sober and reflect on his actions and, become a lover and preacher of the good deeds of Prophet Muhammed. The God we call on will always rejoice, appreciate at new converts. Allah needs more of repented souls to worship Him, glorify His works and spread His words. It is only the adherents of the religion that can convert unbelievers to embrace the teachings of Prophet Muhammed. If in Nigeria, we continue to allow offenders of heinous crimes go scot free because of their social-political weight in the society while, it is only the low, the talakawas that are severely punished for crimes, then where lies Justice?

*** Written by Uzodinma Nwaogbe / 0708.438.1845