By Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
In solidarity for the 40 days’ fasting and prayers embarked upon by Christian faith world-wide, a Muslim woman, Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani, has visited Southern Kaduna church on Sunday and shared some cartoons of Tea-break items to the church widows and orphans, in order to encourage them, and even calling on them to pray for peace and stability of the country.
Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani, who is a peace builder and interfaith promoter, says she came to the church with some packages of Tea-break items, which include cartoons of Three-Crowns and Lipton’s “yellow label” Tea to share among widows and orphans, to strengthen and support them in the daily fasting and prayers.
She pointed out that, last year during the 6 weeks Lenten period, she bailed out 10 Christian youths in Kaduna Convict Prison, so as to enable them go back and do their fasting at home with friends, families and other relatives, with joy and happiness like every other Christian round the world.
And according to her, the gesture is aimed at promoting peace building, inter-religious tolerance and better understanding among different faith-based organization in Nigeria.
Hajiya Tijjani added that supporting the widows and orphans with beverages and other gifts would give them more strength in devoting their total time in praying to Almighty God for the peace and unity of the country because, according to her, “the purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayers.
“Doing penance, mortifying the flesh, repentance of sins, almsgiving, self-denial and gift-giving is one of the good manners that maintain and strengthens relations between the giver and the recipient, and the importance of fasting cannot be over emphasized.”
She said that, Muslims round the world cannot forget how Pastor Yohanna Buru do always help Muslims, destitute and the inmates, with food to eat during the 30 days of the holy month of Ramadan, bailing large numbers of Muslim youth prisoners out of prison for the sake of Ramadan, irrespective of his faith.
She maintained that, “We are worshipping one God, Allah, and both Muslims and Christians are from one family (brothers and sisters), and both have their Holy Books, which are Bibles and Qur’an; both believe in paradise and hell; so therefore, we are all one family under One God.
“Christians are my brothers and sisters and, as a Muslim I love visiting them, because both religions preach peace, tolerance and harmony. Attending the church service doesn’t make me become a Christian. As a Muslim, I have several Bibles at home and I read them to enable me know how to relate with my brothers and sisters that are Christians,” she said.
She said, the impact of the previous ethno-religious and political crises in the state that claimed hundreds of lives and properties was a serious setback to peaceful co-existence in Kaduna and northern Nigeria at large; hence, the need for clerics from both religions to preach sermons that foster unity and peaceful co-existence.
She further indicated that, she is also going to distribute the same gifts to some Christian inmates in Kaduna and some parts of Northern Nigeria, so as to enable them devote their total time in praying for peace and stability of the country.
She then called for the creation of institutes of comparative studies in the country, saying the institutes would promote better understanding, religious tolerance and forgiveness, reduce blasphemy tendencies and continuously preach peace and harmony between Muslims and Christians.
Additionally, she noted that there were more than 6,000 religions in the world, most of which were 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 generalisations about religion, the concept of religion, rather than a specific religion or group of religions, we need to engage in comparative study of religions so as to reduce ethno-religious attacks and blasphemy.
“We need to change from theoretical approach of peace to practical peace; we need more conferences on interfaith in Nigeria and African,” she added.
She said, some Nigerian Muslims have stand in solidarity with Christians on social media platform by Twitting and posting on Facebook, Instalgram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Vimeo, Live-Streaming, Microblogging, Periscope, Blogging on what they will give-up until the completion of the 40 days’ fasting, “as a sign of total solidarity with Christians round the world,” which is aimed at boosting mutual respect, love, forgiveness, and encouraging peaceful co-existence in all African countries.
According to the Muslims on social media #NigerianMuslims4Lent, this is just to let Christians know that Muslims are their best friends and brothers.
Receiving the gifts, the General Overseer of Christ Evangelical Intercessory Fellowship Ministry, Pastor Yohanna Buru, thanked Hajiya Tijjani for the gesture and urged other Nigerians to learn how to tolerate, accommodate and live in peace with one another, irrespective of religious background.
Pastor Buru also called on all citizens to shun all issues that lead to ethno-religious and political crisis.
According to him, the church cannot forget the donation of 50 copies of Bibles it received from a group of Muslim women in February, 2016, during the International Inter-faith Week; saying, this is geared towards promoting religious tolerance.
Buru says, “The same woman donated dozens of chairs and other utensils to the church, which are used for cleaning the environment of the church, with the aims of promoting peace and tolerance among Muslims and Christians.
“The Muslims are our brothers and neighbors, not enemies; we must join hands together to live in peace and harmony, because we all have Holy books (Qur’an and Bible) that teach us love and peace.”
He stressed that it is time all preachers redoubled their efforts in teaching their followers the right ways and obey the teaching of the holy books so as to end the activities of extremists and terrorists hiding under religion.
He said, “Every year, hundreds of Muslims join Christians in breaking fast in his house with other Christians and other traditional believers.” According to him, “the aim is just to promote religious tolerance and better understanding.”
Also responding, Reverend Titus Asiyaku said “It was surprising seeing a 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.