4th February, 2020
MURIC HAS NOTHING AGAINST ANY TRIBE
The Islamic human rights organization, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has clarified its position vis-à-vis the Yoruba ethnic group. This is coming on the heels of the allegation made by a former minister of aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, who called the leader of MURIC a traitor. According to the group, its membership cuts across all states of the federation and all ethnicities, as a result of which it must work for the interest of all without fear or favour and it cannot afford to lean towards any particular tribe.
MURIC’s statement was circulated by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Tuesday, 4th February, 2020.
The statement reads:
“The impression is being bandied in certain quarters that we are anti-Yoruba simply because we objected to religious and ethnic bias in the new security initiative. There is an urgent need to clarify our position particularly because of our Yoruba members. We must not give a red carpet reception to a regional initiative which does not guarantee the safety of people from other regions. Our membership cuts across all states and ethnicities, as a result of which we must work for the interest of all without fear or favour. Therefore, we cannot afford to lean towards any particular tribe. Neither must we manifest hostility to any ethnic group, state or region. The whole country is our constituency.
“True to the teaching of our faith, we must not discriminate between the Igbo, Itsekiri, Yoruba, Hausa or Fulani. We must treat all equally. The Glorious Qur’an chapter 49 verse 13 lays emphasis on the need to treat all tribes and nationalities equally. In the same vein, the hadith cherishes the unity of mankind of all colours and races and forbids tribal jingoism. In fact, it is sinful for a Muslim to fight for his tribe alone at the expense of other ethnic groups.
“We have given this background for Nigerians, particularly the Yoruba people, to understand the position of MURIC on current issues. We must stand by the teachings of Islam no matter the situation because that is the divine truth and divine truth must eventually overwhelm social truth and human dispositions. MURIC may be a human rights association but it should be understood that it is not only a non-governmental organization (NGO), it is also a faith-based organization (FBO). It should therefore be guided by the tenets of the Islamic faith.
“This is why the allegation of treachery leveled against the leadership of MURIC by the former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, is unnecessary, baseless and unfounded. The author of the allegation simply does not understand the basic tenets of Islam because he is not a Muslim and has not deemed it necessary to investigate.
“The loyalty of a Muslim is, first and foremost, to Allah, his Creator, not to any group or tribe. A Muslim does not fight blindly for his tribe. But that does not mean that he has worked against his tribe. It is natural for every human being to have sympathy for his people but he must suppress the emotion to swing in favour of his tribe. That sentiment must never at any time override the need to be fair to all other tribes and to the rest of humanity.
“Islam sees the whole of mankind as one. People in a community must be one and those in a city must be united. Cities within every state must form a synergy and this must transform into national unity when all states will come together as one. This is what we lack in Nigeria but it is what Islam teaches. It doesn’t stop there. Countries of the world must come together in unity. This is the essence of the oneness of Allah.
“We therefore call on Muslims in Yorubaland to appreciate the beauty and wisdom in the message of Islam and to stand firm with their faith. Allah will not ask us about our tribes on Yawm al-Qiyamah (the Day of Resurrection). Rather he will ask us about our relationship with the whole of mankind and how well we worshipped Him.
“Ours is a larger brotherhood in the oneness of Allah. Contrary to insinuations in some quarters, particularly that of Femi Fani-Kayode who called the leader of MURIC a slave of the Fulani, there is no slave-master relationship in Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘You are all equal like the teeth of a comb. There is no difference between the Arab and the non-Arab except in the level of piety of each individual.’ That is why the Igbo Muslim, the Ijaw Muslim, the Yoruba Muslim and the Fulani Muslim stand shoulder to shoulder in prayer (Salat) and no special place is reserved for any Muslim worshipper.
“Our stand on the controversial security network in the South West should therefore be properly understood. No sane Nigerian will oppose initiatives aimed at boosting security but religious and ethnic tinges must be removed. There must also be transparency in the recruitment and management of such security outfit. We reiterate our stand with firm commitment. No retreat, no surrender, no U-turn.
“The death threats, blackmail, abuses and insults that have been hurled at us cannot shake us from our conviction because we know we are standing on the truth. Nobody can kill the truth. It will always resurrect. Not even media blackout will stop us from speaking the truth because social media has offered a better alternative. We encourage the organisers to go ahead with recruitment bearing our observations in mind.
“The recent hostility from a section of the Yoruba public towards MURIC and its leadership arose from its lack of understanding of the teachings of Islam. They expected MURIC to support anything introduced by the Yoruba because the leader of MURIC happens to be a Yoruba person. That was exactly what Femi Fani-Kayode referred to when he called MURIC’s director a ‘traitor’.
“But on the contrary MURIC’s director cannot be a traitor because neither him nor any other Muslim leader in the region was carried along in the process leading to the emergence of a security outfit. Fani-Kayode felt disappointed that a Yoruba man refuses to accept a Yoruba initiative. But the fact is that the issue goes beyond that narrow perspective. A Muslim must not consider his family, tribe, or friends alone. He must be thinking of all the people in the country, nay, the whole of humanity resident in the Yoruba region.
“Allah commands in the Glorious Qur’an 4:135. ‘Oh you who believe, stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even if it is against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it is against a rich or poor man, because Allah can best protect all. Follow not your lusts lest you swerve (from the path of truth). And if you distort justice or refuse to do justice, verily indeed Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.’
“This is the rich heritage of Islam and it has informed our actions and comments on the issues at stake. No true Muslim in the region will refuse to abide by it because it is in our Qur’an. MURIC did not concoct it. What we expect non-Muslims in the region to do is to respect our faith just as we respect their own. Let us discuss the little differences we have on this security issue. Dialogue will work, but not this death threat, blackmail, intimidation and coercion. It will not work, not on MURIC at least.
“Our differences can be easily identified. One: prospective recruits into the new security initiative have been asked to collect birth certificates from churches and letters of reference from pastors. That is a no-go-area. We reject those two conditions totally, categorically and emphatically. It will not happen. No true Muslim in the region will join the security outfit with those myopic, obnoxious and parochial conditions. However, we will encourage Muslims to enroll in the system if you withdraw both prerequisites.
“Two: we alleged that the name of the security outfit was picked from the bible, of course that is very obvious. We have requested that you should pick a neutral name that will give nobody any complex or suspicion. If you change it you will get hundred percent support from Muslims in the region. If you insist on using the name, that will not stop Muslims from joining it but it will put the scheme under our radar. We will put you under our x-ray machine watching every action of yours from now on. We are not enemies and we believe that we must be able to reach across to one another on condition of mutual respect. This is our position, afterall you did not carry us along ab initio.
“We assure all and sundry that we have good intention towards all tribes and faiths. Therefore, no tribe will enjoy any special sentimentalities or be given any preferential treatment by us. Neither shall we exhibit animosity towards any tribe. We are all equal, like the teeth of a comb.
“MURIC is not for any particular tribe. Our vision of Nigeria is that of an egalitarian community where people live together in peace and harmony, a nation in which no one is oppressed, where every citizen enjoys Allah-given fundamental human rights regardless of class, creed, or ethnicity. We are middle-roaders and socio-intellectual jihadists fighting corruption and extravagance, seeking freedom of worship for all, emancipation for the oppressed, justice for the persecuted, jobs for the jobless, food for the hungry, healing for the sick, clothing apparels for the naked and shelter for the homeless. All these are part of principles of Islamic liberation theology.
“As we round off, we call the attention of all men of good faith to our offer of dialogue to the South West security initiative. We reject all forms of intimidation, blackmail and death threat. They are inconsequential as far as we are concerned. We reject any form of religious bias in the security system being planned and insist on mulling ethnic prejudice and tribal particularism. We seek the understanding of people who thought our group should have supported a Yoruba security initiative simply because its leader is a Yoruba man. MURIC insists on pursuing the ideals of nationalism and humanity propagated in the tenets of Islam as opposed to the narrow confines of ethnic segregation and tribal jingoism.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)