The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Nigerian declared that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is paranoid and intolerant of Islam. The council said “Muslims in the country had always tolerated Christians” but CAN is “Islamophobic.”
This accusation follows accusations by CAN that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari was taking steps to make Nigeria an Islamic nation.
The Christian ecumenical body said the government was promoting Islamic financial policy, Sukuk, which “adhere to an Islamic view of finance, avoiding Riba (interest or usury), in flagrant violation of the constitution.
The Deputy Secretary General, Salisu Shehu, Supreme Council for Islam hit back accusing CAN of ignorance. He claimed that even the World Bank issues Sukuk bonds. He said that other non-Muslim countries had done the same.
Salisu said, “It would certainly be embarrassing for CAN to be told that the first and foremost state in Nigeria to submit an application for loan to the Islamic Development Bank is a Christian-dominated state in the South-East. This has been the factor that made Muslims to tolerate several practices or things that are essentially Christian in nature and outlook, in substance and form and indeed in principle and practice, but imposed on us.”
The Islamic Council said, “We have not been talking of Christianisation because Sunday has been forced on us as a work-free day, or the Cross as our hospital sign and symbol, our membership of the International Red Cross, and many other things including almost all the titles of the heads of academic institutions (chancellor, provost, dean, rector, etc.).”
The Muslim body added that, “Despite this remarkable tolerance from Muslims over the years, CAN appears to be increasingly becoming Islamophobic and paranoid about its hate and intolerance of Islam, casting aspersions, unnecessarily overheating the polity and unjustifiably creating fear and distrust in the minds of peace-loving citizens of our great country.”
Responding to the accusations, the National Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) released a statement (23 September): “We cannot close our eyes to egregious infractions on the Constitution and the advent of religious extremism and insurgency in the country, of which the Christian community seems to be the prime target, while Islamic religious extremists are the antagonists.”
The Christian Elders said, “Proponents of Sharia-Compliant Finance (SCF) often convey the impression that SCF is an “ethical” financial system whose roots and practice are to be found in the Quran, hadiths and traditions of early Islam. In fact, it was invented out of whole cloth in the mid-20th Century by Muslim Brotherhood figures like Sayyid Qutb and Sayyid AbulA’la Al-Mawdudi. Its purpose was to provide yet another method to penetrate and undermine non-Sharia societies by stealthily insinuating Sharia into their free markets.”
The Christian body accused Islamists of waging “jihad with money”. They insisted that “Sukkuk is ‘stealth Jihad’ contrary to the Nigerian Constitution.
They stated: “Therefore, other nations may adopt it, but the Nigerian Constitution forbids such infraction in Nigeria. This is crucial in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic society like Nigeria when it is realized that the tenets of Sharia are opposed to the Constitution as “any system of man-made law is considered illicit under Islamic law, for whose adherents Allah already has provided the only law permitted, sharia”. Sharia and Democracy can never co-exist in harmony.”
The Elders decribed allegations of Islamaphobia as ‘mischievous’ and argued that Muslims leaders in Nigeria had failed to call Boko Haram and Fulani Herdsmen to order after insurgencies and atrocities against the Christian community.