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OPINION

Kaduna’s Bold Move To Regulate Preaching

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By Alhassan A.  Bala

One of the major issues, or fundamentally, the sole issue that causes civil unrest leading to protracted crisis in most parts of Nigeria and the north, especially, is religious (mis)demeanor.

This is so because the region is home to both the two dominant Muslim majority and Christian minority in some states and vice versa.

Nigerians in their culture respect religious leaders and any other person in their lives. Recently, some say Nigeria houses the highest number of religious worship centres both Christians and Muslims. 

Conversely, however, that didn’t bring the peace Nigeria has been yearning for, for several years.

The issue of Maitatsine In Kano back in the 1980s and the recurring Kaduna religious crisis were signs of bad approach to what I call unprofessional extremist scholars’ preaching. This indeed remains the continues challenge in most of the northern states.

Boko Haram, whose genesis was Muhammad Yusuf’s extremism aided by the free and open preaching without any resistance and regulation from the authorities.

Alas! that was allowed to fester because of what many deemed freedom of speech and free to practice religion.

Admittedly, that led us to where we are seriously on our knees and battling with insurgency for several years with little or unappreciative level of progress.

So many scholars knowingly or unknowingly have uttered statements that are inciting and capable of causing war between the die-hard followers of the two major religions in Nigeria.

This can be traced back to the fact that they might not be that professional to preach since preaching in Nigeria is not regarded as a profession as many who have no deep knowledge about the teachings of either the religions claim to be Imams or Pastors without proper certification.

As a journalist and someone who studies Islamic studies, I have been looking forward to a law that can regulate preaching or an agency overseeing the affairs of both Islam and Christianity that can be registering and regulating scholars just like other professionsal bodies I.e medicine, law, engineering etc, where one can’t practice without following a laid down  procedure and securing duly recognised licence.

Historically, Nigerians easily forget that Islamic scholars or Christian Clerics are more than Psychologists as they deal with moral, state and spiritual minds of the people. 

These have a major role in their day-to-day lives, hence the need for preaching to leaders.

No surprise that many see Nigerians as religious but not Godly!

The Kaduna State law of regulating preaching is indeed a good development, which, I think, other states most especially in the north should follow suit.

Personally, I am looking at an angle that will help in preventing brainwashing as well as spreading an extreme opinion concerning religious preaching by both faithful.

But while commending the Kaduna State government for that bold move, may I also raise some concerns since we know how politicians more especially those in power behave. Authorities in the state should also understand that those giving the license to operate are not  to praise government in power but to preach the core teaching of their respective religious tenets and also use that to draw the attention of those in authority the responsibilities vested in their shoulders as leaders and what the followers should do based on the teaching of the religion.

With this, the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs should either have a committee that will have record of Islamic Studies graduates and will be having an interface with them or should sponsor a bill to the National Assembly for a professional agency on Islamic scholars not only those that went universities but those that have the knowledge of the religion through “Malaman Zaure” whom at times have more knowledge of the religion then the university graduates.

  Bala, Islamic studies student University of Abuja

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