Having grown up in the north and around Muslims, I’ve always enjoyed the company of a few. To an extent I can say that I understand the way of life of an average Muslim of northern descent. I get invitations to join in at ifthar during the Ramadan fast. Of course, I have never joined in their fasting but I sometimes honour the invitation to breaking of the fast with them.
A number of my friends are of the Sunni denomination. And I can authoritatively say that there is something so agreeable with the way they (in particular) practise Islam that you soon begin to like the faith and its adherers. No hypocrisy, No fanaticism & No compulsion! But it would seem this type of Muslims are few and of the ‘enlightened’ class.
In my study of the Holy Qur’an and my interaction with these few Muslim friends, I’ve come to realise that nobody who ever read and digested the Quran on his own is ever violent, fanatical, radical or extremist. The people who take up arms against fellow Muslims and faithful of other faiths are often those who have the holy book interpreted (or misinterpreted) for them. They are those who, rather than read the Quran, would settle for other books, claiming to be interpretations of the message contained in the Quran, or sit at the feet of some Islamic teacher (or leader), who often has a hidden agenda, as he spews out hate and indoctrinates his naive followers. The same also applies to the Christians and the Holy Bible. There is no way you can read and understand the teachings of Christ and raise a finger to hurt a fellow human being – be he Christian, Muslim, Animist, Judaist, Hindi or Atheist .
The fundamental message of all of these faiths is love, tolerance, peaceful coexistence, equity, justice, freedom and the sanctity of human life. So, when your pastor tells you to go burn a mosque – either as a retaliation or an offensive move, just know that he is a pastor from hell. When an Islamic cleric brainwashes worshippers at the Jumat prayers to move from the mosque and unleash mayhem on Christians and their property, such a cleric is clearly an agent of Satan.
Unfortunately, we have a few of such people in and around us. People who feel that our differences is more important than our common humanity and challenges. These set of people spend so much time trying to convince others why we cannot unite to defeat our common enemy, that I’m not sure they understand how ridiculous they sound. Can we just enjoy being Nigerians without a debate of tribe or religion? Can we agree that what binds us as a nation is more important than want makes us different?
Some of our brothers nowadays can be so aggressive, doing exactly what atheists do: persecuting people who are different from them. They get especially upset when ‘believers’ are actually educated and intelligent, because it comforts them to think that ‘believers’ of a particular faith are brainwashed. But basically, people have rights to believe in whatever they want as long as they don’t plan to harm anyone in the name of a deity, so if their deities (or Gods) don’t comfort a person the same way, one definitely have the right not to believe, but one should be polite in relegating it.
One of my other friends who is an atheist once told me, ‘God and religion aint for me, but if one can’t just accept someone’s source of comfort, strength or solace without berating, insulting or mocking them, then they really need to examine the insecurities which forces them to ignore common courtesy and simple respect for the other’s faith’.
Summarily, as a practicing Christian, I’ll rather gladly take people who will build from a sense of love and community stemming from a faith I don’t share than those who would destroy and divide by attacking those who believe differently than they do.

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