The anatomy of religious bigotry | Dailytrust

The anatomy of religious bigotry

So, Ilorin the Kwara State capital has witnessed another religious battle over the wearing of hijab, a head covering worn by some Muslim women. All hell broke lose because a religious piece of garment has been added to the school uniform. The way we have fought the hijab wars lately, hell must be filled with our forebears who died without wearing them, except perhaps during their times of worship.

There is no proof that a religious covering increases a woman’s piety, impede or improve her ability to learn. What is obvious is that in Nigeria, the hijab has been politicised. While it might be necessary to prepare humans for eternity, there is the need to make their terrestrial life worth living. Religion has become a political bone thrown to hungry fundamentalists to prevent the masses from asking questions.

Ironically, Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq was born to northern Nigeria’s first lawyer, and like Bukola Saraki before him, is married to a Christian. He attended both secular and an Ilorin Christian school.

Ilorin, the town itself, has as many faiths as it has diverse indigenes. Nigeria prides itself as a secular state and the constitution does not favour the adoption of one religion by any state, but like everything else, even the grundnorm is adopted for the breach.

At this level of our evolution, the big questions any governor should be asking are: How many science and technology teachers are in my state? How could they deliver the vision and mission of a state of the future? They should be working to ensure that their states lead others in science and technology. This starts with topping the grades in WAEC, and in the case of Kwara, whose citizen heads the  Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), it should lead the score in exams to complement the scorecard of its citizen-head. Anything other than that is shameful dirty politics.

How many of the Kwara girls wearing hijab to school would end up as doctors, engineers, lawyers and inventors? How many of them would become astronauts? How many would develop vaccines to cure diseases as beacons of hope? If you ask me, these are the relevant questions which answers would determine Governor Abdulrazaq’s place in history.

In a multi-religious society, when faith is the basis for appointments or serves as bragging rights for a section, things are far from balanced, a sign that equity has lost space. This earth in which we sojourn could have been unipolar if the divine so designed it. From our little knowledge, none of us chose our parents, background or even the region or religion we found ourselves.

In today’s world, religion does nothing for the religious except make them look peculiar. In the economic scheme of things, all humans patronise the same markets. There are no different markets for the Muslim, the Christian or the pagan. When it comes to getting value for a valueless currency like the Naira, the best hagglers go home with more products for their money or the lack of it, just as it approximates or distances us from luxury goods.

When we are sick and need blood transfusion, there are no Muslim blood banks; the faith of the doctors and paramedics that treat us becomes immaterial. Masons who build most of the homes we dwell do not leave their imprints on the walls or the fittings. We drive cars made of components from unknown sources, and wear clothes made by people whose faiths are immaterial.

In 2021, our source of pride ought to be seeing our citizens named as global scientists, inventors and problem solvers; their hijabs, wigs or dreadlocks should be immaterial. Children leaving schools as educated illiterates with no guaranteed future should worry our leaders more than their professed religion. Adrian Smith, the architect who designed the Bhurj Khalifa, is a Christian.

For nearly two years, COVID-19 has thrice knocked the world down to its knees – not a single pastor or imam has found a divine cure or prevention. They didn’t even see it coming for their proximity to the divine. The disease has not spared the Israelis or the Saudis, holders of the keys to the hearts of Abrahamic faith. Italy, the seat of Catholicism is shutting down for the third time, and India, a country of mixed faith, is making vaccines for the whole world.

Religion becomes very important in a lawless society like Nigeria, where the leaders we elect to solve problems turn back to implore us to pray for divine intervention. The religious moral code stirs dead consciences where the law has failed as deterrence.

Nigeria is a classic country chequered by the spirit of religion; a semblance of piety but totally devoid of the fruits of faith or the spirit. We waste man-hours praying while technology advances the world.

Our Fridays and Sundays, Christians are devoted to outward display of the form of religiosity, but our hearts are filled with filth, deception, greed, avarice and all manner of evil. In worship, we barely hang our real garments at the entrance only to put it back on the moment the service is over. It is evident in the way we block public thoroughfare, pollute the air with loudspeakers as if our deity is deaf and crash into each other once prayers are over.

We have taken spiritual jealousy to unenviable heights, creating avenues for corruption and strife to thrive. For the secularity of our state we have doted our skylines with minarets and steeples and filled its columns with people whose hearts are darker than night. Politicians have adopted the building of worship centres as unwritten principles of state policy to mask their non-performance.

The worshiper of Friday or Sunday is filled with hypocrisy and hatred for his fellow men. Corruption fuels their flashy lifestyles and primitive acquisition of ephemeral privileges, including worthless earthly titles.

If a quarter of Muslims and Christians would live by the Golden Rule, endorsed by all religions, Nigeria’s intractable problems won’t defy solutions and the pagan nations we borrow from would be at our feet begging to serve our gods.

Who raised the cultists and scam artists among us? The religious. With what do we fund the building of our religious houses – corruption! We sustain it with greed and avarice. Religion preaches harmony and peaceful coexistence, but we are not our brother’s keeper.

In Nigeria, religion is a scam and those who are subsumed by it are con artists who present an outward resemblance of piety but carry viper venoms in their hearts towards others. If we adhere to the tenets of our religion we would realise that practising equity benefits all because talent is no respecter of faith; intellect is not limited to one religion. Diversity enhances societies while insularity destroys it. A politician who appeals to all for votes turns round to subjugate some in the name of religion. They loot us blind, then scream persecution to avoid the law.

We have built magnificent worship centres and filled it with filthy humans. We could quote the scriptures but we are unmentioned in the fields needed to solve today’s problems. We are nothing but the laughing stock of nations that profess no faith.