by Ammar Abdulhamid,
The sacred and blessed month of Ramadan we longed for; month of forgiveness and salvation, month of heightened spirituality, self-restraint and physical endurance is finally here with us.
In every Ramadan besides the main fasting, and a kind of tune-up to the people’s spiritual lives, an important tradition of expounding and explicating the holy Quran to public (i.e exegesis or tafsir) take place in mosques of towns and cities to the extent it now becomes integral part of this hallowed period. This year is not an exception, numerous Tafsir by various Mullahs from different schools of thought are already in place. Albeit business activities heightened in this period, Muslims in multitude troop to this important function to hear the interpretation of holy words of Allah and learn the sacrosanct messages therein.
Tafsir sessions are hitherto known to be point of spirituality, sober reflections, and Muslim unity in Nigeria. Unfortunately, in recent years Tafsir sessions have been transformed to something different; politicised leastwise, bastardised at worst.
It’s not only disheartening but also dispiriting to see how some ‘Sheiks’ find no better time than holy Ramadan-and on pulpit of Tafsir-in fanning ember of hatred among Muslims, fuelling schismatic violence and excommunicating from Islam anybody who didn’t belong to their group, sect or faction at the same time registering whom they deem ‘Muslim’ in the heavenly ‘Believers’ register’ they-perhaps-hold ‘custodianship’ of.
While some Sheiks respect the sanctity of this month and stick to promoting real Islamic values such as unity and tolerance, others do not all. They derail to something different in the course of their tafsir; stooping to name-calling and trading innuendos with other Sheiks, accusing and counter-accusing one another of heresy, exchanging takfiri tags; all in the name of Tafsir!
It’s high time for Sheiks and Mullahs of tafsir to change the tone of their tafsir towards Muslim unity, tolerance and restoration of lost societal values. Such tafsir of hate-sentiments, takfirism and advocating intolerance or bloodshed of perceived enemy portend great threat to our collective existence, undoubtedly such kind of tafsir inspired the recent savage hacking to death of Christian woman by Jihad-elements in Kano.
May Allah accept our fasting, sacrifice and supplications and count us among those to be salvaged in this blessed month and beyond. Peace and blessings of Allah be upon our noble prophet, Muhammad and his immaculate family.
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
First published by Daily Trust on 7th June 2016.