Facebook. What happens to our humanity and collective conscience?

By Sunusi Umar Sadiq

This is the question I asked myself this evening as I passed by BUK Road by Danagundi and saw members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (a.k.a. Shi'ites) leading a demonstration calling for the release of their leader who has been in detention since December last year following the now historic Zaria Massacre.

I feel ashamed that before getting the details of what happened on that day, 12th day of December, I was a little happy with the incident for, methought, it would at least bring to an end the arrogance and total disregard for the rights, convenience and welfare of others brazenly displayed by members of the IMN whenever they carry out any of their activities and programs. It took the tenacity of Mallam Ibrahim Sanyi-Sanyi and further inquiries before I summoned back my humanity and conscience, and see the incident in the proper perspective it should be considered.

I am not interested in going into the substance of what happened, who is to be blamed or even what the government should do with regard to the matter. My concern in this piece is to condemn the attitude and reaction expressed by the majority of the non-Shi'ites Muslims.

I have always subscribed to the view that the so-called Sunni and Shiite antagonism has nothing to do with religion. The two are factions or, more appropriately, political parties that emerged among Muslims following the death of the Prophet and more prominently subsequent to the assassination of Othman bin Affan and the ascension of Ali bin Abiy Talib to the leadership of the nascent Muslim Ummah.

It's unfortunate that gullible and less or even non-informed Muslims have been programmed to believe that the Sunni-Shiite rift is religious. The hatred of the Shi'ites is consequently implanted in the heart of an average non-Shiite Muslim so much so that hating them has almost become a part and parcel of the so-called Sunni Path.

We, the 'Sunnis', are traditionally taught not to delve into the dirty things that happened among the Sahabas. History is disfigured and distorted; atrocities justified, excused or covered up. The Shi'ites refuse to follow suit and insist on exploiting history to showcase and drive home the genuineness of their claim and the nature and extent of their perennial persecution. Their hatred is therefore instilled into the minds of the younger generations by labeling them as those who curse and insult some of the Prophet's wives and his many companions.

This stereotyping and brainwashing made many Muslims greet the persecution of the Shi'ites in Nigeria, from the dark era of Abacha, with either indifference or outright acceptance, which is invariably followed by jubilation. This deep rooted hatred has completely blurred our sense of humanity and justice.

Instead of seeing that it is innocent lives, the sacredness of which the Quran constantly reiterates, that were brought to an end extra-judically, we see it as the crushing of a mortal enemy, the hater of the companions of the Prophet and his wives. We even see it as a visitation from God and a divine punishment against them, something they deserve.

The hatred the so-called Sunnis in Nigeria visited on the Shi'ites is largely based upon ignorance handed down to them by the self-proclaimed ulama that are still stuck in the reading of Seerah without moving on or graduating to the study of tarikh.

Will any reasonable person tell me with all sincerity that the atrocities perpetrated against unarmed children, young men and women on that day is justifiable or acceptable to a good conscience? The Quran, in Surah Ma'ida, teaches us, nay demands us, not let the grudges we have against people to swerve us from the cause of justice.

On 12th December 2015 fathers, mothers and children were exterminated in the most brutal manner imaginable. Parents were made childless, children were orphaned and wives widowed. People that are by law presumed to be innocent have since been detained, separated from what remains of their families and friends, and allegedly without the necessary facilities needed to take care of their failing health.

Under our laws treason and treasonable felony, the highest crime one can commit against a commonwealth, is among the exceptional criminal offenses that are subject to statute ofblimitations. It must be prosecuted within six months from the day of its alleged commission. But here we are with a person detained for almost ten months without having the opportunity to have his day in court. And here we are, the supposed best Ummah ever evolved for mankind for the singular quality of standing for justice and against oppression, saying nothing and doing nothing about it.

Injustice is an evil worth fighting against regardless of who its perpetrator or victim is. I am neither Sunni nor Shi'ite. I am a Muslim Modernist that is concerned with humanity. I feel obligated to speak against the apparent injustice against the Shi'ites though I am not one. If we opt to remain mute over this, then similar atrocity may one day be committed against the Tijjanis when they are celebrating the Maulud of Baye Inyas, the Qadiris when going for their Maukibi or the Izalas when attending their Wa'azin Kasa. If I remain mute when all these groups suffer prosecution, I am pretty sure no one will remain there to speak for me when somebody decides to launch a crusade against modernists like me.

No religion is ever founded on hatred. In fact, all religions came about to alleviate the suffering of mankind, give hope to the hopeless and provide direction to a people that lacks any.

Wrote by Sunusi Umar Sadiq, Posted on his Facebook Wall