On the martyred rice farmers in Borno (I) | Dailytrust

On the martyred rice farmers in Borno (I)

On Saturday, the 29th of November, 2020, they emerged. Not from heaven but from the dark alleys of hell, they invaded the farm. Like hungry swarm of locusts, they descended not on crops nor on the farmland. Rather, they descended on their fellow human beings. Like fiendish and ghoulish agents of Beelzebub, they tied the young men down and visited the hapless youths with the most violent and atrocious deaths one would shudder to imagine, let alone experience. Ruthless and remorseless, they carried out their heinous task of putting to death souls they could not create with reckless abandon. They dared the Almighty to do what He wants; they beckoned, with their atrocious acts, unto the Inimitable, to visit them with His wrath and anger if and whenever He wills.

Who were they? Agents of darkness. Souls already sold to Mephistopheles. Where were and where are they? They are there in the northeast, in the Southwest, in the north-central and in the South-south. Kidnappers. Murderers. Nemesis of hope and happiness. They emerged in Borno in 2009. They have since become regional and global threat. They started out as genuine fighters for and of the oppressed. They began by pleading Islam and hiding under the canopy of the Din. They emerged on the landscape that is hungry- hungry for bread, for water and for light. Now, neither Islam nor the vast majority of Muslims have anything to do with them. Islam has never had anything to do with those who transact in violence for violence sake. Hungry. Heartless. They are responsible for the unwarranted death of more than 30,000 people across the nation; they are responsible for the displacement of thousands more.

Then came Sunday, the 29th of November, 2020. Then came the report of the horrific incident in which more than forty innocent Nigerian farmers were murdered and their rice farms destroyed by these agents of darkness. Imagine how family members of the victims of this inhumanity and depravity would have felt; how young and energetic boys were violently uprooted from the tree of life.  “And be wary of the fitnah (affliction/trial)” so says the last testament, that would “affect not (only) those of you who do wrong…” (Quran 8: 25). Hardly can it be controverted that the affliction of Boko Haram has become an albatross of the Nigerian nation.

“There will be in my Community a dissent and a faction” so says the Prophet of Islam, “a group of people with excellent words and vile deeds. They will read the Qur’an (or posture as if they do), but their faith does not go past their throats. They will pass through religion the way an arrow passes through its quarry. They will no more come back to the religion than the arrow will come back to its original course…They summon to the book of the Almighty but they have nothing to do with it…”.

Again, he prophesied, saying ‘a time shall come upon humankind when the victim of murder would hardly know why he was killed; when the murderer would kill without bothering to know whether the act is justified or not. The farmers killed last weekend suffered the fate of having their throats taken through the scalpel on the suspicion that they were informers for the Nigerian military. Some of them may have not known or had any contacts with the latter. They were killed in the most gruesome manner for finding themselves in the theatre of war. They were killed while on national duty struggling under the scorching sun of the desertland of Borno while tilling the land. They were unjustly put to death while trying to provide food security for me and you. They died while answering the call of the Almighty. They died as martyrs. And here lies the irony.

It was the Andalusian poet and prose writer, Ibn Zaydun, who once pondered the category of irony in human life. He then said- “surely, drugs could become poison; the patient could die from that which should ordinarily give him life; the thirsty could indeed die while drinking water”. In other words, humans should expect death in and from the very vocation in which their passion is located. Such is the case of those who die atop their female concubines; those who die like ants inside the sugar-box; those who die in the midst of action while pleasuring their souls to hell.

Ironically, the converse is equally true for men and women of nobility and high spirituality- those who died while in sajdah position praying to the Almighty; those who, like the martyred farmers in Zabarmari village in Borno, have departed this world while they were busy pursuing the pleasure of the Almighty. The farmers were murdered while they were giving life to life (Quran 5: 32); they died as heroes. But more importantly, they died as martyrs.