BOKO HARAM AND JIHAD
Guardian journalist Chris Irekemba interviewed Dr. Is-haq Akintola. The interview was published on page 41of the Guardian of Sunday 29th January, 2012. Enjoy it...
What is jihad?
Literally, jihad means 'striving' or 'effort'. Etymologically, the word 'Jihad' was used in the early days of Islam to refer to battles waged by the followers of Prophet Muhammad to protect themselves from invasions from the unbelievers from Makkah who were bent on annihilating the Muslims. The latter were a minority at the time and under constant threat of elimination. As time goes on, the word took on a wider meaning. It was extended to puritanism, charity, social reform and self-appraisal when the prophet began using it in his well documented speeches to refer to the need for self-discipline. For example, the Prophet said in one of his speeches (hadith), "Khayr al-jihad, jihad an-nafs", meaning, "The best form of jihad is self-discipline". Jihad from this perspective means self-control and high level of morality.
The Glorious Qur'an also used the word 'jihad' to refer to charitable deeds. Exempli gratia, Qur'an 9:41 exhorts Muslims to engage in jihad with their wealth as well as their persons (wa jahidu fi sabili Llahi bi amwalikum wa anfusikum), i.e. they should spend their money and property in support of Islam while they should also attend religious meetings, seminars, lectures, etc.
When you consider these ramifications, you find that the word 'jihad' has social, moral and spiritual contexts. It is not necessarily about war or fighting. When a Muslim scholar goes out to deliver a lecture at an Islamic programme, he is doing jihad. When a Muslim abstains from drinking alcohol while others are reveling in it, he is doing jihad. When a Muslim customs man or policeman rejects bribe and insists that the law must take its due course, he is doing jihad. When a Muslim ignores the temptings of an erotic woman, it is jihad.
For your information, it is not Muslims alone who have been engaging in jihad. Anybody who advocates reform is a jihadist. Anyone, no matter his or her religion who fights against corruption is a jihadist. The late Tai Solarin of blessed memory spent his whole life fighting the excesses of Nigerian rulers. He was a jihadist nulli secundus. Chief Gani Fawehinmi was an unrepentant social reformer and human rights activist. He was therefore a jihadist primus inter pareil. So are our living legends: Tunde Bakare, Festus Keyamo, Dr. Okei-Odumakin, Wale Okunniyi, Shettima Yerima, Balarabe Musa, etc.
Boko Haram sect claims that they are fighting jihad, as a means to cleanse the system of corruption.
I cant fault that claim. I don't think anybody can. There is systemic decay in this country. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. Our leaders are simply recycled tyrants and oppressors. If they were Allah, they would not allow rain to fall on the roofs of the poor. Look at the criminal neglect in the power sector. Take a look at education. The only primary schools worth the salt are the private ones. Private universities are the only higher institutions where the students hold their heads with pride. WAEC and GCE certificates are no longer creditworthy. Parents pay mercenaries to sit for examinations for their children. Even our policemen are not properly equipped. A whole navy ship disappeared into thin air in Nigerian waters and nothing happened. Our air force has no single jet fighter that can fly. Successive Nigerian governments explored oil in the Niger Delta for decades without paying any attention to environmental factors. For hanging Ken Saro Wiwa extrajudicially, Nigeria should pay a heavy amount of money (like $1 billion) to his family. It is this type of decadence that causes revolution. Minus the bombing of churches and killing of Christians in the North, the Boko Haram phenomenon may therefore be a revolution of sorts…
Between the early jihad of the Sokoto Caliphate and now, what is the difference?
The difference lies in the Christian factor, otherwise there are similarities. Shaykh Uthman bin Fudi was forced to embark on jihad in self-defence after the authorities began persecuting him and his followers. The Boko Haram was a quiet and law-abiding group until the police took its headquarter by storm and killed its leader in a most criminal manner.
Is-haq Akintola (Ph.D),
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights
Be just Justice is the soul of peace
No one can deny one and have the other
Neither can violence or naked force bring lasting peace