With the recent violence and controversy involving Boko Haram, I thought it apt to post regarding another side of religion in Nigeria. Religious violence has flared several times in Nigeria: there was the early 1980s Maitatsine riots, the riots that followed the killing of Gideon Akaluka, the Sharia riots, and many other confrontations between Christians and Muslims. Mass religious murder in Nigeria frequently arises from innocuous incidents such as personal disputes.
Amongst the violence though a Muslim Imam and Christian pastor who were former combatants and enemies have joined forces to try and build harmony between Christians and Muslims. In the 1990s, Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye led opposing militias in northern Nigeria. Ashafa’s uncle was murdered by Christians and Wuye had his arm hacked off by Muslims.
After spending a great deal of time and energy trying to kill each other, they now work together to prevent religious conflicts between Muslims and Christians. As Imam Ashafa explains, “even though we differ in some theological issues, we will make the world a safer place”.