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Blasphemy Laws: Why We Muslims Need a Second Thought By Aliyu Bashir Limanci

Over a year after the arrest of Kano’s famous humanist, Mubarak Bala who has been arrested and detained without trial, Kano is at it again, but this time it is a popular Muslim cleric, Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara being accused and prosecuted for blasphemy. Unlike the mainstream Sunni scholars who defend everything attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, Sheikh Abduljabbar’s only offenses that make him a pariah are his novel attempts to expel anything that derides the Prophet as a womanizer, alcoholic who was married to a 9-year old girl. According to him, Prophet Muhammad was so pure to be associated with these avuncular trivialities. The mammoth followers he managed to attract was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Salafi scholars were abruptly alarmed, and started accusing him of insulting the Holy Prophet even though, he took most of his cues from Sunni books. 

After banning him from preaching by Kano State Government after outcry, the sheikh had been trying so hard to engage the clerics in comprehensive dialogues in order to absolve himself from any misconception. The state government managed to connive with the clerics and invited him to a dialogue which turned out to be a shambolic trial. He was given just ten minutes to respond to each allegation. The cleric was taken aback by the twisted trial. He was unable to open a single book because the pressure was too much and the man assigned to serve as a judge was a popular Salafi scholar who was well accepted among the clerics opposed to the sheikh. This was the beginning of Abduljabbar’s woes. Days after, prominent clerics in the state claimed the sheikh should executed and began to incite the public to lynch him despite his public apology that his speeches were taken out of context. It is in the midst of this confusion that the sheikh was arrested and detained pending the beginning of his trial. 

Dr. Sheriff Almuhajjir, the head of a Yobe Micro-finance Bank suddenly came under fire for siding with the Sheikh. Despite his public apologies on his Facebook page, clarifying his stand that as a devout Muslim, there is no way he could insult the Holy Prophet. The pressure was just too much for him to bear. He deactivated his Facebook account, but according to an insider source, the man might be charged with blasphemy. 

Earlier this year in Bauchi. An irate mob broke into a police state in Darazo Local Government, lynched and set fire to a mentally ill man for allegedly committing a blasphemy. In fact, the Muslims were in no way willing to even allow people being accused of blasphemy to defend themselves. 

The life of Prophet Muhammad was full of trials himself. He was insulted and beaten several times, but he never asked his followers to retaliate or lynch anybody until the conquest of Mecca and Medina. 
As we Muslims still reel from the activities of terrorists all over the world who are so intolerant that they are always willing to behead people who disagree with their demonic ideology, the best thing we can do is for our actions to prove we are different from Boko Haram, ISIS, and Alqaeda and we can never extricate ourselves from the wave of anti-Muslim sentiments if we continue to react emotionally to provocative speeches being made by Muslim skeptics, ex-Muslims or even anti-Muslim politicians around the world. 

The world has changed so should be Muslims. The conservative Muslim countries such as Syria, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and northern Nigeria are falling thanks to a deviant version of Salafism. In sharp contrast, modernized Turkey, Qatar and the UAE have become economically and technologically so advanced that they are able to position themselves as role models for Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia itself under the leadership of its young crown prince, is trying to be in tune with the reality of this era. The country’s powerful clerical establishment is being sidelined, women are being allowed to drive. Clubs, nightlife, cinemas are being legalized. Foreign athletes, celebrities and musicians are now being allowed to perform in the kingdom. 

The North is in crisis not because there are foreign conspiracies against us but because we are too obsessed with trivialities that we cannot change. We need to rise above issues like jungle justice when it comes to blasphemy and fanaticism which can only remove all doubt that Islam is synonymous with violence.

Aliyu Bashir Limanci lives in Kano
[email protected]

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