The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) issued a press statement yesterday to protest against the Federal Government’s first ever sukuk (noninterest lease assets facilities) which was announced last week. The statement which was dated 19th September, 2017 was signed by CAN’s General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Musa Asake.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) considers CAN’s position demeaning. It is not only infantile, petty and overbearing but also spiteful and egocentric.
Our position is based on the fact that CAN has all it needs in Nigeria today because the whole system is Christo-Western: education, the judicial system, the economy, everything. Muslims who were deprived of all their Islamic landmarks and ways of life by the colonialists are constrained to start the struggle all over again by demanding Shari’ah, use of hijab in schools, Islamic banks, sukuk, etc. It must be made clear ab initio that Nigerian Muslims had all these before the advent of the British colonialists who changed everything in favour of Christianity.
There is nothing the Muslims are demanding now that the Christians don’t have already on a platter of gold. It must also be stated that the Christians do not need the things that the Muslims are asking for. Why should somebody keep blocking his brother from getting his own share when he already has his own?
The fable of the dog in the manger is quite didactic in this regard. A British dog in the 13th century was fed with meat until its belly was full. Then the owner took hay (dry grass which only the horse needed and it is useless to the dog) and gave it to the horse. The dog had eaten and it was now the horse’s turn. Surprisingly, the dog started barking. It jumped on the hay and kept the horse at bay.
‘Dog in the manger’ has since become an English idiom. We must now ask CAN why it is playing dog in the manger. Shari‘ah is not for them but CAN screamed until the roofs nearly came down. OIC does not hurt any Christian but CAN shouted to high heavens. Hijab is for female Muslims alone but violent envy pushed CAN to shout itself hoarse. Islamic bank is for Muslims alone but CAN labeled it Islamisation of Nigeria. Can CAN give us a list of those who have been Islamised since Islamic banking started in the country? CAN leadership has become a professional false alarmist, a dog in the manger.
To reject the existence of sukuk pari passu with Islamic banking is like demanding that the agricultural sector should operate without bringing harvests to the markets or that hospitals should exist without pharmacies and laboratories. Having fought rigorously and bitterly against the establishment of the Islamic bank in Nigeria without success, our Christian neighbours seek to strangulate Islamic banks in the country.
We are constrained to ask, “How Christian is the Christian Association of Nigeria?” Every good Christian wants to be like Jesus and he turns this idea of emulating Jesus to a song. We have no doubt that CAN leaders also sing the song. But how sincere are they about emulating Jesus? Jesus says, “Love your neighbour according to thy self” (Mark 12:31) but CAN leaders do the exact opposite.
There are lots of good Christians in Nigeria and we interact very well but why must the petty ones always lead them? They are a belligerent lot, warlike and aggressive. Have they ever seen Muslims opposing a benefit going to Christians? We did not protest when you started going to Jerusalem even though we know that it is not mandatory for Christians. You enjoy Western banking system, Western education, common law, etc without any protest from us. Why is it that CAN always cries foul each time we seek parity?
CAN’s claim that sukuk is unconstitutional is false, baseless and misleading. How can laws made by the Federal Government be ultra vires? CAN is misleading Nigerian Christians. CAN should know what to do if it is unconstitutional. We challenge CAN to go to court today. It should not wait till tomorrow.
This was how CAN deceived Nigerians in 1999 when it said Shariah was unconstitutional and MURIC challenged it to go to court. They went to court of course but they beat a quick retreat. They withdrew the case when they found out the truth. But why heat up the polity all the time when you have the means of finding out the true status of sukuk? CAN likes making noise and we are enjoying our garrulous neighbour.
CAN calls sukuk a sectional religious financial policy but it forgets that the stock exchange has hitherto been monopolized by Christian-oriented bonds for decades and the Muslims did not complain for once. CAN loves to permanently marginalize Nigerian Muslims yet it is CAN that shouts ‘Islamisation’.
If it is true that sukuk implies Islamisation, then the stock exchange is imperialistic Christianisation. But almost the whole of Europe has embraced the sukuk industry. This includes France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Luxemburg and Britain. Paris EUROPLACE established sukuk as far back as 2007 and France has since established the Islamic Finance Commission. Germany issued its first sukuk in 2004. That was 13 years ago. Ireland’s sukuk assets amounted to 180 trillion euros by 2010. Luxemburg started using sukuk in 2002. Britain has been using Islamic banking since the 1990s and the Sanctuary Building Sukuk was launched in 2005. The United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recognized the ijarah and mubarahah more than 30 years ago! But has America been Islamised? According to Bloomberg LP, KFH Research, the global sukuk issuance as at 31st December 2013 was $135 billion but grew rapidly to $2.004 trillion by 2016.
These are verifiable facts if CAN would eschew its armchair leadership style. Even Google alone is enough but CAN leadership will not search. They are just interested in rabble-rousing and cantankerous razz-mataz. CAN should seek education. The Bible says “My people perish for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). CAN should stop misleading Nigerians and inciting Christians against their Muslim neighbours.
MURIC calls on Nigerian Christians to either ignore CAN or find out the truth by themselves each time CAN cries wolf. Afterall the Bible asks Christians to “Investigate everything but hold onto that which is the truth” (I Thessalonians 5:21). Don’t allow anybody to push you into violent behavior. Don’t allow anyone to make you hate your Muslim neighbour.
Let us eschew primordial sentiments. Sukuk is purely business. We advise Christians to take their destiny in their own hands instead of allowing warlike leaders to lead them into unnecessary confrontation with Muslims every time. We invite CAN leaders to eschew bitterness. We should be partners in lending the voice of reason to the national debate instead of constituting clerical nuisance to the Nigerian nation.
Before we round up, we advise CAN leadership to desist from giving religion a bad name. The word ‘religion’ is from the Latin word ‘religio’ meaning ‘to link’, ‘to tie’ or ‘to bind’. Therefore religion is about linking people together in love and sharing. It is not about dividing them. Religion is about love, forgiveness, tolerance, giving and taking. Let us be good examples for the young generation. Our constant bickering has led to too many religious crises. It has pushed our followers to the precipice of war and instigated them against one another. Why must we live together like two envious wives of the same husband when we should see ourselves as two sons of the same father? This is the etymological essence of religion.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)