By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
As part of this year’s international inter-faith week and Harmony celebration, a Muslim woman, Hajiya Ramatu, has visited a church in Southern Kaduna, the “Church of Christ Evangelical and Life Intervention Ministry,” and donated some vital utensils useful for the cleaning of the church premises and environment.
According to her, the cleaning materials donated to the church would help in cleaning and decorating the entire premises of the church, adding that the place of worship belongs to Almighty God (the Creator of the universe), and that “we should remember that “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
Ramatu said, “We must remember that we are from one family under God, because Adam and Eve were our original biological parents; we all have our holy scriptures, the Bible and Qur’an; we all believed in paradise and hell. Then we must be our brother’s keepers, in order to live in peace and harmony,” she said.
“Last year we donated dozens of plastic chairs to Church in Kaduna, in order to immensely promote the values of tolerance, mutual respect and better understanding, which is centered around intra-and-interfaith, inter-religious and inter-cultural values, so as to strengthen everlasting peace and religious harmony between Muslims-Christian in Nigeria and Africa,” she reiterated.
Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani, who is a Peace Ambassador from Northern Nigeria, said the World International Interfaith Harmony was meant to donate importance 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 interreligious dialogue between the followers of the two religions (Islam and Christianity).
She said, for the past 6 years she has been organizing series of events and conferences on interfaith and harmony, aimed at promoting peace and freedom of religion.
“The World Interfaith Harmony Week, which usually begins 1st-7th of February every year, extends the Two Commandments by adding ‘Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbour.’ This formula includes all people of goodwill. It includes those of other faiths, and those with no faith,” she added, pointing out that, this is part of the effort of strengthening inter- and intra-religious relationship and various strategies 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 worldwide.
She said the week celebrates the principles of tolerance and respect for one another that are deeply rooted in the world’s major religions, while stressing that, that 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 all are from one God, and we worship one God. Adam and Eve were our original parents; we all believed in Bible and Qur’an,” pointing out clearly that religions preach peace, harmony, forgiveness and tolerance and also call for the promotion of inter-religious harmony.”
The impact of the ethno-religious and political crisis in the state some years back, which claimed hundreds of lives and properties, has left so many setbacks and damages to peace settlement in the region, which has immensely caused separation in communities in the north.
Ramatu emphasized the importance of creation of institutes of comparatives studies in the country, which according to her, would 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 that this will boost the activities of local and international interfaith activities across the 36 states of Nigeria and some parts of African countries.
She disclosed 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.”
Nigeria has been facing different forms of religious violence and attacks on holy places by both Muslims and Christians for many years, causing series of set-backs confronting all forms of socio-political, economic and peace stability in the country.
Dispersing fears, she said clearly, “A comparative study is not about proselytizing or attempting to convert people from one religion to another, but it is an attempt to understand human behavior in a very broad sense. And if government can introduce a course in our schools, this will surely help in tackling all forms of religious differences and other forms of ethnicity-induced crises.”
Furthermore, as part of the week celebration, she decided to also include a package of Gift Items to the best church and mosques cleaner, so as to encourage them in the 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 worship, 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, and are also coming up with an Environmental Sanitation of some environments to raise awareness (to sensitize the public) on interfaith activities through hygiene campaign in local communities.
She finally called on State and Federal governments, Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, Civil Society organizations, Human Rights, Traditional Rulers, Youth organizations, and 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 belongs to God. We must do everything to protect mosques and churches against unbelievers that are destroying our holy places.”
Additionally, 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-privilege in the society, so as to enhance understanding of harmony among youths.
Buru said, “We as Christians, we will also donate more praying mats 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-Christians throughout the week.
Also responding, Reverend Titus Asiyaku said “It was surprising seeing Muslim woman performing miracle through peace mission,” while calling on every Nigerian to also find means of forgiving one another, in order to live in peace and harmony.