No compulsion in religion, By Hannatu Musawa

Hannatu Massawa

“It is regrettable that Islam, a religion of peace, harmony, goodwill and brotherhood has been used by unruly and ghastly people to justify unwarranted acts of violence such as suicide bombings, threats and other forms of violence.”

Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Abubakar Gumi is not only a knowledgeable Islamic scholar; he exemplifies the character of a Muslim nurtured from an early age in a virtuous environment. Having been taught and raised by his late father, Sheikh Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi, he serves as a role model for the spirit and virtue that Muslims can aspire for and attain.

In the spate of the recent unabashed religious threats and violence by misguided elements, it has been necessary for notable and respected members of the Nigerian Islamic society to speak out on the outrageously arrogant, criminal and aggressive actions of people purporting to speak and act on behalf of Islam. Up until the recent sermons Sheikh Gumi has given, in which he has contradicted much of what these unsavory elements spew, hardly anyone within the Nigerian Islamic leadership order has had the courage and persuasion to speak out. Few Scholars have been brave enough to set the record straight on the fact that the individuals and groups presently attacking the peace and stability in Nigeria by claiming an Islamic affiliation are operating with a vile distortion of the noble and peaceful teachings of Islam.

 It is regrettable that Islam, a religion of peace, harmony, goodwill and brotherhood has been used by unruly and ghastly people to justify unwarranted acts of violence such as suicide bombings, threats and other forms of violence. At the very base of Islam is the quest for freedom, justice and equality and when a Muslim uses Islam to threaten and condemn another because they do not share the same faith, that discrimination is totally foreign to the pure teachings and doctrines of Islam. In the Quran, God bestowed honour on every single individual, no matter their background, race or tribe. Liberty and everything that emerges from it are some of the great favours God has given us and concepts such as kidnappings, threats and the kind of unprovoked violence we are seeing in Nigeria today towards people of a different faith to Islam, especially the Christian community, are not part of the true teachings of Islam.

It is so shocking that people claiming to promote Islam can issue an ultimatum in which they threaten a Christian president to convert to Islam or face their wrath. How on earth can they give a Christian who believes in his religion as much or even more than they believe in their religion that kind of ultimatum? Under Islamic dispensation, it is clearly taught that “There is no compulsion in religion…” The Qur’an was very clear on the issue of forced conversion by stating, “Had your Lord wanted, all the people on earth would have believed. So will you force people to believe?”

Throughout history, Muslims themselves were the targets of forced conversion during the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades and the Communist era of the 20th century and first hand Muslims understand how unacceptable and unreasonable such a notion is. Threatening people who don’t convert to Islam, persecuting non-Muslims and treating a society in the unjust manner that extremist elements have been doing most definitely is not what Islam is about. When one reads in the Qur’an that Allah encourages Muslims to deal kindly and justly with anyone of any faith who has not fought Muslims for our faith and driven us out of our homes because God loves the just, one wonders why anyone would want to put a negative interpretation to what is clearly a message of patience, peace and harmony between different faiths cohabiting.

The second source in Islam, after the Qur’an, are the statements made by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who in his lifetime gave a clear view on the persecution of non-Muslims when he stated, “Whoever kills an innocent non-Muslim will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise.” How could such statement possibly be compatible with the extremist ideal for Islam to force itself onto others? Instead, it makes it clear that non-Muslims should by no means be harmed by Muslims.

The one doctrine that is used by extremists to lend credibility to the notion that Islam encourages violence is the concept of jihad. The word Jihad brings into play the vision of a marching band of religious fanatics with savage beards, short trousers and fiery eyes, brandishing swords, screaming in Arabic and attacking everyone and everything in their wake.

However, the true spirit of Jihad in Islamic terms means to endeavour and strive in a noble way. Over time this meaning of Jihad has been eradicated or at least diluted. The critical juncture in the Islamic world requires reviving and recapturing the true and pristine meaning of Jihad. Jihad can be divided into two broad categories. First is ‘Jihad-e-akbar’. This is Jihad against one’s own person to curb sinful inclinations, which is the purification of self. This is the most difficult Jihad and hence in terms of rewards and blessings is the highest category of Jihad. The second is ‘Jihad-e-asghar’. This is Jihad of the sword. This is communal Jihad and presupposes certain specific conditions. The Quran speaks of fighting only as a self defence and this is the very condition laid down in several verses of the Holy Quran. The so-called verse of the sword in the Islamic scripture is often taken out of context as if it inculcates an indiscriminate massacre of all non-Muslims. The Quranic words such as “kill whatever you find them” apply only in cases of self-defence and a state of unprovoked war; they do not apply to provoked wars and battles. The Muslims who interpret these verses in any other manner commit a travesty of the lofty ideals of Islam. There is not a single instance in the life of the Holy Prophet where he offered the alternative of the sword or Islam to anyone.

The Holy Quran does not make Jihad in context of an article of faith. The sayings and traditions of the Holy Prophet render it into a formula for active struggle that invariably and incorrectly tended towards a militant expression. Suicide bombings, violent threats and killing those of different faiths just for the sake of killing are contrary to the purview of the real spirit of the Islamic Jihad. It is pure and simple mass murder. The presentation of Islam as a crude and barbaric religion which gives itself the right to cause unwarranted human and material suffering and destruction under the guise of Divine authority is not the kind of Islam we find in the precepts of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

The basic unity of the followers of all faiths is emphatically stressed in the Holy Quran and the creation of discord and disunity by terrorism or otherwise has no place in Islam. Islam is an all-encompassing codes of values and conduct and with those values, those of us that practice it from the depths of our heart and soul must use its teachings as a ground of hope to progressively promote unity and accord in Nigeria rather than mischievously and maliciously using it as a justification for violence.

The Holy Quran teaches that God has sent His revelation to all people from time to time. Jesus Christ and many of the Prophets of the Old Testament are mentioned by name and they are all honoured and revered by all true believing Muslims. Indeed, the Quran requires belief in the truth of all the Messengers of God and requires an affirmation in them all wherever they appear. And therefore it seeks to bring about reconciliation between the followers of different faiths and to establish a basis of respect and honour among them. The Quran says: “Surely, those who believe and the Jews and the Christians and the Sabians – whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah (God) and the Last Day and does good deeds, shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve.”

In the Holy Scriptures, the Qur’an, Torah and the Bible, both Christians and Muslims are taught that God is the Source of peace and the bestower of security. And since the doctrine of peace and security are ‘His’’, the establishment of that peace and maintenance of security must, therefore, be the constant objective of all Muslims and Christians alike. Those who choose to exact a campaign of hatred, violence and threats against others who have done nothing to provoke them, purely because others worship in a different way to them, must revaluate Allah’s message of peace and harmony and understand that, only through conformity to the spirit of peace, patience, conscience and the promotion of human welfare can we achieve a society where all can co-exist. If they don’t, they have only themselves to blame in the hereafter when they have to make the real account to the Almighty, All seeing and All Knowing.

 Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Abubakar Gumi is a beacon to the inherent justice in Islam and a brave Scholar, especially when examined with the lenses of the present Islamic leadership in Nigeria. Like his father, he lives a life outstanding in its dedication to the cause of Allah. May God protect him and guide him to continue speaking out against those within the Muslim Ummah choose to distort the message and meaning of Islam. Nigerian Muslim, extremists especially, can learn from Sheikh Gumi when he explores them to follow Allah accordingly and advises them that there is no compulsion to Islam.

 Hannatu Musawa

I invite you to follow me on Twitter -@hanneymusawa


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  • Nice one sister

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    What a misleading headline.Islam requires compulsion in order to spread and maintain its followership. THAT IS WHY apostasy is a capital offence in islamic state like Iran and Afghanistan.
    THAT IS WHY hisbah arrested non fasting muslims in Kano, this monday. see
    Stop deceiving people, Hannatu. Islam is compulsion. Dont think for a moment that your prophet could have converted the middle east by being nice. islam is compulsion.QED.
    The Yorubas who practised enlightened Islam are of course a big exception. No wonder, most northern muslims do not regard them as pure muslims.

    • Garba lawan

      If you said that then you are a certified history illiterate, Christianity is the religion that was spread by sword and intimidation in Europe and world over. remember the history of eleven thousand German farmers who were executed because they refused to convert to Christianity eleven hundred yr.
      Emperor Charlemagne executed 4500 Saxons unwilling to convert to Christianity ur seven eight two.
      What about the catholic execution camp where any resistant element to spread of Christianity in Europe was mercilessly and brutally eliminated.
      Check the records and find the religion that was spread by terror and threat!
      Killing followers for apostasy was initiated in the bible more than two thousand years
      Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God
      Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa


  • Oluremi Olu

    One of the most surprising things about the reaction of those
    now claiming that Islam represents peace is the long time it took them to
    realise this and come around to speaking up against this insurgency. Their silence,
    nay tacit approval and ambivalence while their religion was all along being
    associated with and used to justify the senseless slaughter of innocent fellow
    citizens speak volumes of their real intentions and motives. Why are they now speaking up after everything
    has gone out of control? Is there a relationship between the time they have
    chosen to speak up and the reaction of Christians in Kaduna, or for that
    matter, in other parts of Nigeria? If indeed it was their names that were being
    dragged in the mud, all along, would they have taken this long to react?

    Nevertheless, it is OK that they have now elected to speak
    up, all be it belatedly. But, they need to do more than speak up. At this juncture, the political and religious leadership
    of the north need to lead their followership in critical self-introspection with
    a view to purging the Islamic umma of
    the cankerworm of insurgency that resides within. Because local cover, within
    and outside Nigeria, is very essential to the success of an insurgency. And, one
    is sorry to conclude that some fellow Muslims give these insurgents this much
    needed cover and financial backing. Once the cover and / or funding stops, the
    insurgency will stop. There will then be no need to dissipate energy on image
    laundering exercises which convince no one, other than the propagandists themselves,
    and probably, some of the adherents of their faith.

  • nldel5

    I do not know who you think you fool? Maybe some of the people yes BUT all of the people NO. Dont ever thing you come here to MY nation with your cult and start to murder and try to pass shria law as even if our stupid government will allow it the people will NOT, ever allow it. You can see this when the corrupt tried to get the citizens to disarm. It did not happen and never will. You can slither your snake tongue else wear with your false holiness BUT may know of how you many lie and it is ok with your cult moon god. I hate islam the murdering pedophile cult and always will and there are many more like me. Come to American and try it and see who you meet.YOU sicken me…

    • Garba lawan

      Dump illiterate , who cares about you and what you represent! Islam is now growing in America more than any whereelse in the world. You can go and hang yourself if you don’t like that.
      The church fathers are the masters and expert in pedophile and child molestation, a lot of victims in Europe and America have openly collected their compensation and recently the pope has categorically apologized on behalf of the church to millions of victims -male and female- who have been brutally sexually molested.

  • Broodyn

    Then what is Boko Haram doing? I feel they are just miscreants being used as agents of destruction. Their days are numbered and the law will catch up with them.