Hi hi dear reader! This article is intended to examine Religion as it is being practised in Nigeria. A good part of it stems from a conversation I recently had with a friend, Mudy, great guy.
I’ve tried to keep the content fresh by avoiding Googling things and putting them up here. However, I took a sneak peek into the Merriam-Webster’s English dictionary just to help you understand my viewpoint on Religion. Webster says Religion is:
: the belief in a god or in a group of gods
: an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
: an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group
I bet from the topic right up until now, you probably have been expecting this piece to be centred around the first two definitions above. That naturally explains the kind of Space we live in; Nigeria, a Region where so much emphasis is placed on Spirituality. But, religion doesn’t always connote worship.
Our Region (Nigeria) is so charged with religion (I.e., worship) that it influences arguably most of our actions, whether privately or our public conduct. The other day I was going to the bank and to my surprise, a woman just snatched me away from my usual fast pace movement to say: “Brother, do you believe in the resurrection of the dead?” I was…confused, I nicely said: “Sorry ma’am I don’t have such conversations”. That was just to get by. She stared at me through her tinted spectacles until I was out of sight.
This religious charge also exists in corporate environments, sometimes for good purposes. You can freely say “God bless you” when you’re pleased with a colleague or your boss, it may not be weird at all depending on your relationship.
My viewpoint on the word “Religion” was first broadened beyond the scope of worship by a former lecturer of mine; part of his statement was: “…these two are religious with their studies”. Then I researched and found that one could be religious with just about anything; studies, sports, music, reading, work, etc. if it is an activity that interests you.
After Friday prayers, I liked the dress Mudy wore and the Islamic music he was listening to, neat guy. I had had conversations on various topics with him (I’m always elated after bouncing off ideas with Mudy), so I decided to clarify certain things concerning Islam. The goal was to expand my knowledge.
I began by asking “what separates Islam from Christianity if we both believed that Jesus existed”. His answer was short: “In Christian theology, there is no space for Isalm”. That is just it. After Christ, there is no more expectation of any prophet by the Christian faith, Islam says no, Jesus isn’t the last.
Me: “Why do we have so much Terrorism in Islamic States?”
Mudy: “Different Muslims interpret teachings in different ways. There exist erroneous interpretations that deviate from the Hadith (Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and the Qur’an (the Islamic Holy Book)”.
Then we talked on the various roots of terrorist movements that can be traced to social divide as opposed to the popular Religious colourations they assume at latter stages. I found out Muslims are encouraged to be well educated and civil. We went on, juxtaposing problems of the literal interpretation of scripture (both in Christianity and Islam) until we finally hit the mark, next paragraph.
Who is the one person that controls the interpretation of scripture? In Christianity, the closest we have to such organised universal authority is the Pope; Although we have many who ‘protest’ his authority (which is where Protestantism is derived). In Islam, none; only highly respected Imams in some quotas, but their say is never final.
Mudy and I concluded that “Religious Tolerance” need never be a topic of discussion because it ought to be the norm, just like breathing. ‘Tolerance’ in itself says “I’m just avoiding your trouble”, there should be no trouble in the first place.
Nigeria needs to find solutions to its own problems. Youths need to always think solutions; One of which is to rise above Religion that is destructive. You and I need to stay alert against poisonous sermons in churches or mosques. Germany is Religious about advancing education, now their schools are tuition-free. Nigeria can be a Region of Religion that is progressive.