Monday, December 15, 2008

After Eid el Kabir

From Vanguard to its millions of readers, it is still Eid Mubarak. May the lessons of submission and sacrifice which were the essence of the Eid el Kabir remain with us and lead us unto a path of renewal, as a people.
This year, the world celebrated the Eid el Kabir against the background of major killings round the world linked to intolerance. In Mumbai, India, about 195 people died from attacks allegedly by a fundamentalist group. In Jos, Nigeria, hundreds of people lost their lives from premeditated acts of violence. Contest for power degenerated to ethnic and religious tailored killings. The claims and counter claims have seen the two major religious groups pointing accusing fingers at each other.

With this celebration over, it is time again to reflect on the use of religion as cover for some of mankind’s evil deeds.

During the Eid el Kabir, millions of Muslims go on pilgrimage to Mecca and use the occasion to ask for forgiveness for their sins. They seek renewal before the Almighty. At least three million faithful made it this year, among them about 95,000 Nigerians.

As in India or Nigeria, even if an inquiry fails to uncover those behind the mayhem, the God who both sides ascribe to, knows who did evil. This should really guide the thoughts of religious leaders, as they are aware that their beliefs preach a day of judgement for our deeds.

What a difference it would have made if Nigerians reflect their religions in the way they live? Why are we unforgiving? Why are we ever so eager to take lives in God’s name? Why do we burn places of worship once there are differences?

Eid el Kabir is about Ibrahim’s trust in God, to the point of sacrificing his only son in obedience to God. Only at the point of the sacrifice, did God intervene by providing an alternative - a ram.

Nigerians should trust the Almighty and draw confidence from the fact that the Almighty who caters for 6.8 billion people can look after His own affairs. We need to imbibe the message of forgiveness, which all the major religions preach. The resort to riots, reprisal attacks and more violence has no place in either Islam or Christianity which are founded on love for one another.

There is a lot of room for forgiveness. Let us leave God to fight His own battles. The killings attributed to religious differences have no place in the Almighty’s plan for the human race.

After the Eid el Kabir, the lessons of forgiveness and dependence on the Almighty should continue for all. A lot of forgiveness is required to heal the wounds of these killings and to forestall such incidents.