Proving Doubting Thomases Wrong; When Peter Obi Attends Tafsir……

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History is always made when ordinary people do extraordinary things. In our nation’s political landscape, no one has ever witnessed a non-muslim politician, let alone a presidential candidate attending a tafsir, an interpretation of the Holy Quran session in a mosque during the month of the Ramadan, or his vice versa. It is really unprecedented and epoch making in political engagements of our nation’s polity.

The recent LP presidential candidate Mr Peter Obi attendance to a Ramadan tafsir session, has been a gigantic step towards Muslim/Christian dialogue in pursuance of genuine and people-centred leadership. How does it feels when a much-taunted christian political candidate who was demonised as championing religious politics is not only sighted in a mosque, but seen seated on the floor together with other Muslim faithfuls listening to a tafsir – an interpretation of the Holy Quran in English language? This act of foresight, courage and mutual understanding Peter Obi has exhibited has never been done by any politician in this country. It proves his critics, detractors, and arm-chair critics wrong.

That singular sacrifice, though some might attributed it to politics, is a clear demonstration of Peter Obi’s non-sentimental and non-bigoted stand against Muslims and Islamic religion. It punctuated an earlier false propaganda to that he rode on Christian faith agenda not on his record performances. Obi has set the pace in politico-religious engagements, which shall certainly go along way in deepening understanding, tolerance and togetherness among our diverse religious people. If other politicians could do the same, there would have been less mistrust, hatred, division and often sectarian violence among citizens. It is imperative to say that, the Peter Obi tafsir attendance has debunked in practical terms, the notion among most Muslims that, a Christian is not allowed to enter, let alone attend any religious session in a mosque, and the.vice versa. There is no Quranic verse or Hadith, tradition of by the Holy Prophet saaw that, ban a Christian from entering a mosque. There is none, whatsoever.

Secondly, it has set a pace for Muslim political class to equally attend church services and engage fellow christians in a religious dialogue, since the two faiths have proximity with one another.
The third most significant benefit of Obi’s tafsir attendance is it has punctuated the politicians use of religion as an instrument of resentment and division to foment hatred, and violence among the citizens, especially in the North where religion and tribalism are mostly the commodity, while the citizens are the profits.

Another interesting aspect of Obi’s conduct are although most tafsir sessions are being conducted in Hausa language, except on few instances, the one Peter Obi attended in Abuja is done in both Arabic and English languages, which accorded him and his entourage an opportunity to listen to the divine message therein. It’s certain that, he has listened to monotheistic ideology of Islam, the power of Almighty Allah on the universe. What an excellent development!

It’s a pointer that, Obi as a Christian by faith is more tolerant and embracing to Muslims than most of the so-called politicians who claims to be so. His is an action not just rhetorics, because he has demonstrated it in practical terms that he is never anti-islam and muslims. How many Muslims politicians have ever attended church services or periodic ceremonies like Christian Mass, Xmas and the likes? How many? In fact, this writer has never seen or known a single Muslim politician of high calibre attended church services to demonstrate his high level of understanding, tolerance and togetherness with christian faithfuls.

Contrary to that, there is a lopsided and fake notion that, it’s prohibited for a Muslim to enter a church, let alone attend an on-going service. But in actual sense, Islamic religion does implores Muslim to engage christians and people of other faith in mutual dialogues and understanding. Many verses in the Quran has enjoins Muslims to invite the Ahlul kitab, people of Book, for a discussion and sound debate on religious issues especially the monotheism, oneness of God. In the same token, during the lifetime of Holy Prophet Muhammad saaw, he accommodated some Christian clergy from Yemen in his mosque in Medina at the tail end of his life. The Christian clerics spent about six days in the mosque observing their morning and evening prayers inside the mosque. It’s only an ignorant fool that could oppose Obi’s tafsir attendance because it’s faultless, an excellent conduct, permissible and sought-after efforts, from a seemingly non-muslim political leader.

Therefore, the time is apt for all politicians in this country irrespective of party sentiments to jump into such inter religious engagements, in order to learn and unlearn an understanding of their faiths and others, and close the existing gap among our people. So far, with Peter Obi’s simultaneous visit to mosques – for Iftar and listening to a tafsir session, it’s an open challenge to all politicians in this country, particularly Muslims among them to equally attend churches and listen to the biblical scripture as well. It is called comparative understanding of faiths.

Some few weeks ago, in this same month of Ramadan, the same Peter Obi has attended an iftar, a breakfast session with Muslims in a mosque, which has gone along way to portrayed him as pro-muslims and people of other faith, not what some vested political interests wants Nigerian people to belief. Again, the mosque iftar session with Muslims has somehow generated side-talks from some quarters that doesn’t make sense, but above all, it destroyed the prejudice, false propaganda, lies, misinformation and disinformation associated with his LP candidacy that, he is a Christian religious candidate out to conquer and persecute Muslims and Islamic religion once he wins election.

In a nutshell, no matter from which prism or angle one look at it, Obi’s twice visit to a mosque in a blessed month of Ramadan is win-win situation. He has made history this time around through these visits, which are both monumental and significant in politico-religious engagement in a pluralistic nation like Nigeria. Besides debunking the myth created by his political enemies from the left that, he is anti-muslims and Islam, it has established him as a realist whose mindset and sense of horizon are better and well-placed to be a leader this country yearns for. This is because he has achieved, with these two mosques visits, what his rivals in other parties have never envisaged. Obi has set a pace for practical politico-religious engagement devoid of rhetorics, deception and illusory traits. It’s now up to the seeming genuine politicians who are contesting for one political position or another, to take a lead from Obi’s engagement with Muslims faithfuls In a realistic way as an example. A word is enough for a wise, as Obi takes the enormous credit in the national political spectrum.

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