As the world marks International Interfaith Week and Harmony by the United Nations, a Muslim woman has donated dozens of chairs to church, while a pastor decorated the structure of a mosque in Kaduna in a grand style.
All of these centered around Intra-and interfaith, inter-religious and inter-cultural values, so as to (hopefully) strengthen an everlasting peace and religious harmony between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria and Africa.
Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani, who is a Peace Ambassador from Northern Nigeria, said the World International Interfaith Harmony was meant to donate important gifts, dialoging various ways on spreading peace messages, share love, unity, visiting each other at places of worship, encouraging togetherness, irrespective of different faith organizations, in order to boost mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue between the followers of the two religions (Islam and Christianity).
“The World Interfaith Harmony Week, which usually begins 1st-7th of February every year, reiterated the two Commandments, adding that ‘Love of the God, and Love of the Neighbour’ – this formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths and those with no faith.”
According to her, “this is part of the effort of strengthening inter- and intra-religious relationship and various strategies that are aimed at preventing, countering violent extremism and promoting conflict prevention, peace building, reconciliation and conflict transformation, which is part of the event of the ceremony, world-wide.”
She said the week celebrated the principles of tolerance and respect for one another that are deeply rooted in the world’s major religions, stressing that this was why United Nations declared and dedicated first week of this month to promote all activities that encourage and enhance religious activities worldwide.
Tijjani said, “Last year, I shared 50 Hausa-translated Bibles to the Church of Christ Evangelical Intercessory Fellowship Ministry, Sabon-Tasha, Kaduna South, in order to create more awareness that we are all from One God, and we worship one God. Adam and Eve were our original parents; we all believe in Bible and Qur’an, pointing out clearly that religions preach peace, harmony, forgiveness and tolerance, and also called for the promotion of inter-religious harmony.
“The impact of the ethno-religious and political crisis in the state some years back claimed hundreds of lives and property that has left so many setbacks and damages to peace settlement in the region, which immensely caused separation in communities in the north,” she said.
Ramatu emphasized the importance of creation of institutes of comparative studies in the country, which according to her, the creation for institutes of comparative studies will surely increase better understanding, religious tolerance, forgiveness, reduce blaspheming tendencies, and how to live in peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians and other religious believers, in accordance with the teachings of the Holy books; and this will boost the activities of local and international interfaith activities across the 36 states of Nigeria and some parts of African countries.
Additionally, she said that there are more than 6,000 religions in the world, most of which are very different from the literate Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), that many people think of when they hear the word “religion.”
“In order to make statements or generalizations about religion – the concept of religion, rather than a specific religion or group of religions – we need to engage in a comparative study of religions, so as to reduce ethno-religious attacks and blaspheming.”
Furthermore, as part of the week celebration, she decided to also include a package of Gift items to the best church/mosques cleaner, so as to encourage them in service of cleaning the environment of holy places, adding that “cleanliness is next to Godliness, and Almighty God has a special reward for those, who are keeping the environment of places of worshipped always clean for worshippers.”
Hajiya Ramatu also indicated that, they are organizing sport competition among different faith-based organizations, which is duly meant to promote inter-faith activities across Nigeria and African countries, also coming up with an environmental sanitation of some environments to raise awareness on interfaith activities through hygiene campaign in local communities to sensitize the public about interfaith activities.
She finally called on States and Federal Government, Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, Civil Society Organizations and Human Rights, Traditional Rulers, Youth Organizations, as well as Community organizations to immensely support during the week through the spread of interfaith harmony and goodwill in the world’s Churches, Mosques, Synagogues, Temples and other places of worship on the need for peaceful coexistence.
Receiving the plastic chairs, the general overseer of the Church, Pastor Yohanna Buru and Pastor Titus, expressed satisfaction with the donation and appealed to Christians and Moslems to learn how to tolerate, accommodate and live in peace with one another, in order to make the country great and peaceful.
Pastor Yohanna said “The place of worship belong to God; we must do everything to protect mosques and churches against unbelievers that are destroying our holy places.”
In conclusion, Pastor Buru said, as the interfaith and harmony week commences, “We are going to organize Endurance Trekking for both Muslim and Christian clerics to create awareness to the public, and also organise Reading and Written competition among Muslims and Christians in schools and Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, Inmates and the less-privileged in the society, so as to enhance understanding of harmony among youths.
Buru said, “We, as Christians, we will also donate more praying matts and plastic kettles to some mosques, in order to foster peaceful co-existence, and share more beautiful white-colour paints to mosques, to sustain good relationship between Muslims and Christians throughout the state.