"Redeem image of Islam" - Catholic Bishop of Sokoto urges Muslims

Bishop Kukah made this statement during a visit by Catholic students of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto led by their chaplain, Rev. Father Victor Mordi, to the Sokoto Orphanage Home to celebrate Eid-El-Fitr with them

Bishop Matthew Kukah

In the midst of Eid-El-Fitr celebration, the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Mathew Hassan Kukah has encouraged Muslims to try and redeem the image of Islam.

Bishop Kukah made this statement during a visit by Catholic students of Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto led by their chaplain, Rev. Father Victor Mordi, to the Sokoto Orphanage Home to celebrate Eid-El-Fitr with them.

According to Leadership, presenting gifts which included assorted foods items, beverages, clothing among others to the orphans, the bishop said there were future leaders amongst the orphans.

“This is where we have found ourselves. And you should understand that, in a group of any society, the strength of a chain depends on the weakest link. Though, we are not here to judge anybody. The next governor of Sokoto State might be here. The next senator representing Sokoto might be here as well. We do not know who is here. Maybe, the next president of Nigeria is here too. We are only to make our own little contributions and not to judge the circumstances but our society should be more caring. Imagine some of the women, who have brought their children here or abandoned their children, we cannot indict them. Usually, it is the society that produces the conditions that make people do this kind of thing."

“However, our responsibility and reasons for being here is to make sure that we make these children feel loved and have a sense of belonging. That is why we brought these entire gifts for them. We have been able to install a television with enough facilities to enable them watch,”Kukah said.

In his message to all Nigerian Muslims as they celebrate Eid-El-Fitr, Kukah urged them to do more towards redeeming the image of the religion.

“As I said, Islam has to work very hard to deal with the issue of its public image; its public perception. Unfortunately, this is where we are. This country has gone through so many traumas because of the way people have presented the religion itself.

“We are not going to solve the problem by pretending. We know they do not represent the religion, but they are products of the religion. And, I believe that, it is only the Muslim community that could have the honesty to look introspectively to what is it that have gone wrong. Because, some things have definitely gone wrong and the rest of the society is suffering the collateral damages,” he added.

“For us to be able to fix our society, we need to bring religion back to what it really ought to be; mainly, a private encounter between an individual and God. What has happened in northern Nigeria is that, 90 percent of what people are doing with religion is politics and this is not religion. And, this is what has brought us the kind of the sorry situation in which we were in now.

“Muslims have just finished their 30 days of fasting and is an attempt to negate all that is evil in ourselves. And I hope that they would also come to the appreciation and people would also ask themselves deliberately, how have I contributed to bringing this situation about? A lot of people have contributed inadvertently by saying nothing.

“People have contributed by believing that is it possible for us to create an Islamic State. I mean, these is the illusions that many people created beginning from 1979 when a lot of people who are members of the National Assembly, some of them finally got to hold public positions. From President Shagari to a lot of other people.

“I mean, when politicians took on religion and presented it as an alternative; we ended up in these kinds of situations. Now, politicians have become politicians with access to state resources and they are now doing what politicians have always wanted to do; to appropriate Nigerian resources to themselves and their own well-being. The result then, is that the army of people you pretended you are representing have become disillusioned and yes then project of an Islamic state was only a feasible proposition”.

Talking on what gave the insurgents the leverage to operate to this extent in Nigeria, Bishop Kukah said, “Now, a lot of people might not have immediately contributed to Boko Haram, but the attitude has massively contributed. For me, my message to Muslims, especially, the Nigerian Muslims is that they should sit up and realize that something has gone wrong with the way the religion has been presented and conducted. And I think that, they should realize that, we need to have a nation first before we can be Christians or Muslims.

“This is the great message. If there is no Nigeria, we cannot be Christians or Muslims. Therefore, our responsibility is do everything that we define the best resources we can to make our country great.

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