“He who unfairly treats a non-Muslim living in a Muslim State, or undermines his rights, or burdens him beyond his capacity, or takes something from him without his consent; I will be his opponent on the Day of Judgment”.
“Whoever kills a non-Muslim citizen under a Muslim government shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise”.
“Christians are my citizens, and by God, I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses”.
“The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. No one of the Muslims is to disobey this covenant till the Last Day”.
In January 2016, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah convened a conference of both Islamic scholars and leaders from other faiths in Marrakesh, Morocco. The gathering was specifically aimed at addressing the rights of religious minorities in Muslim majority countries.
I got to know about the conference from the twitter handle of Sheikh Hamza Yusuf and I was interested in laying my eyes on the agreements that were made at the conference. At the end of the conference, a document to be known as the Marrakesh Declaration was birthed. A seven-point agreement that called on Muslim scholars, intellectuals, Muslim educational institutions, politicians, decision makers and religious groups to address the issues of extremism and protect the minorities in Muslim countries. All this agreements all came from the constitutional contract known as the “Charter of Medina” agreed over 1400 years ago between the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the people of Medina.
While it is important to protect the minorities in Muslim Countries and Muslim controlled territories, what bothers me as a concerned Nigerian Muslim youth is, who is responsible for ensuring that the issues raised in the declaration are followed to the letter in Nigeria.
I remember when the “Letter of Al-Baghdadi” was written in 2014. The letter was signed by prominent scholars of Islam which included Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, Sheik Hamza Yusuf, Sheik Yasir Qadhi and many more.
The letter was signed on behalf of Nigeria by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence Sa’ad Abubakar and Prince Bola Ajibola.
In this case of the declaration, there is no one to hold responsible in Nigeria. My blanket conclusion stems from the fact that most of the Scholars and prominent Muslims I have reached out to on the status of the declaration do not have a clue about the declaration.
I have copied some salient items from the declaration that requires an urgent attention by prominent Islamic groups especially the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. The items are listed below:
- Whenever a Christian is persecuted in a Muslim land, this sacred covenant is broken. Those who willingly remain silent on this persecution contend with such violations of God’s ordinance. In this regard, Pakistan, an “Islamic republic,” has an added obligation to lead by example. If it claims to be the slightest bit Islamic, it has to raise itself to these basic standards of Islam. The government must protect its Christians and stop trying to make under-the-table deals with those who seek them harm.
- Urge Muslim educational institutions and authorities to conduct a courageous review of educational curricula that addesses honestly and e_ectively any material that instigates aggression and extremism, leads to war and chaos, and results in the destruction of our shared societies;
- Call upon the educated, artistic, and creative members of our societies, as well as organizations of civil society, to establish a broad movement for the just treatment of religious minorites in Muslim countries and to raise awareness as to their rights, and to work together to ensure the success of these efforts.
- Call upon representatives of the various religions, sects and denominations to confront all forms of religious bigotry, villification, and denegration of what people hold sacred, as well as all speech that promote hatred and bigotry;
Looking through the above items show that Nigeria was probably one of the countries in mind when the declaration was drawn up. Unfortunately, the items are not on the front burner anywhere in the Ummah. One would expect that Islamic groups will organize symposia to address the issues and draw up a path to addressing the requirements.
What I find really painful is that the only person who has written about the Marrakesh Declaration in Nigeria is a Bishop who wrote about the conference some few weeks ago in the Guardian Newspaper.
We have a lot to do in the Muslim community and I consider this as our major and paramount project for the year. So, I am using this opportunity to call on anyone who can assist to reach out to the Supreme Council for Nigerian Affairs. Like one of my favourite Sheikhs once joked, “Let’s fight less on the controversies of moon sighting and let’s address the issues that really affect the Ummah”