Religion and truth as antidote to terrorism

President Muhammadu Buhari, again, this week, urged religious leaders in the country to assist government to overcome forces of destruction.

Tellingly, the President called on religious leaders to enlighten their followers to guard against religious extremism and terrorism.

He spoke when he welcomed the leadership of Qadiriyya Islamic Movement in Africa at the State House in Abuja.

The President, apparently bearing in mind that the country faces religion inclined upheavals, said Muslim leaders have a duty to promote the principles and tenets of Islam as a religion of peace and justice.

He warned against indoctrinating children and planting explosives on them to harm innocent people, saying: “Terrorists who should be identified and fought until they give up their evil ways.” Gratefully, the President commended the Qadiriyya movement for promoting what religionists ought to do – encouraging education, interfaith dialogue and good moral conduct in the society.

Still, however, though the President did not mention that, religious leaders in the country must respect each other and propagate only message of peace to their followers.

Religious leaders should also advise the government on proper moral and ethical behaviour and stay true to teachings of religion which emphasise honesty, empathy, kindness and love for one another.

Of course, this needs not even be said.

Religious leaders should establish peace forums to discuss issues that are capable of uniting them and their followers.

After all, religious leaders should, ideally, inspire an attitude of tolerance and mutual respect to their followers.

They should preach and live by examples of the teachings and principles of their beliefs.

Ideally too, religious leaders should remain in their primary domain and preach the Word of God and lead people to observe righteous deeds propagated by the Holy Books.

They should leave politics to politicians.

Divisional politics, tribalism and ethnicity, which are enemies of the country, must not be championed by religious leaders, as they now seem to be doing.

Of course, like the President points out, there is need for all citizens to be vigilant and fight ideologies which might provoke outrage, hatred and violence in our country.

Above all, religious leaders must caution themselves cautioned against allowing politicians to use them for their not-so-noble objectives.

They must refuse to provide political support to those seeking public office to perpetrate corrupt activities and deprive citizens of their rights.

Rather, religious leaders should guide people spiritually and lead politicians to campaign on merit and deliver on their promises.

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