Chief Imams from six states and Abuja are meeting in Niger State.
Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger on Friday, urged Nigerians not to link Islam with Boko Harm as “Islam abhors extremism in all aspects.”
Mr. Aliyu made the call at the opening ceremony of a three-day workshop for Chief Imams of North Central Zone of Nigeria in Minna.
“We all know that Islam is a religion of moderation and abhors extremism in all aspects,’’ he said.
Mr. Aliyu described a situation whereby some people linked the “heinous activities” of Boko Haram to Islam as unfortunate.
He said that the activities of the sect negated the basic principles of Islam, stressing that “Muslims do not attack another religion in the name of jihad.”
Gov. Aliyu, however, observed that many Muslims were ignorant of the rudiments of Islam because some parents had abdicated their responsibility of teaching their children the basic tenets of the religion.
He added that schools no longer encouraged moral or religious education.
The governor advised the imams “to mould and reform the society through wise preaching, sincere and honest admonitions, spiritual advice and community support at all times.”
“You are entrusted with the guidance of everybody in the society; the leaders and the led, the rich and the poor, young and the old, father and son, husband and wife, that you see as servants of God.
“The imams should also be in the vanguard of mutual understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims; similarly, the imams should serve as guides to political leaders.
“They should reach out to the youth, inspire them in peaceful pursuits and teach them the correct understanding of Islam, to avoid them resorting violence,” he said.
He also appealed to the gathering to advise the government on whether the imams should be paid allowance or depend on charity.
The governor, who said that the advice should also include the method of selecting the imams and the location of Juma’at Mosque within a community, said the effort was necessary to avoid conflict.
The Chairman of Niger League of Imams, Ibrahim Fari, called for unity among the Muslim community to ensure better understanding and advancement of Islam and in the interest of the larger society.
He also called for adherence to the true teaching of Islamic tenets, obey the leaders and avoid abusing them for failure to tackle the problems confronting the country and its citizens.
About 210 imams from Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau, Benue, Abuja and the host state were participating in the workshop.