Leo Igwe, an outspoken atheist, examines Zamfara Governor Abdul’aziz Yari’s claim that the on-going meningitis outbreak in Nigeria is “punishment from Allah for fornication”.
Recent events in Nigeria, Senegal and other parts of Islamic Africa should make Muslims across the region to start rethinking and reviewing their faith in Allah. Muslims claim that Allah exists. Does Allah really exist? In many places, Muslims are experiencing poverty, suffering, famine, violent conflicts, outbreaks of diseases and other problems that could make one doubt the existence of an omnipotent god. However, due to the supreme price on questioning the being and reality of the Islamic god, there is seldom any open and public inquiry into this Allah idea.
But let’s face it, there is a valid basis to query the existence and potency of Allah. In fact, there are compelling reasons to doubt and disbelieve the Islamic god.
Muslims across Africa really need to give a serious thought to the supposed existence of Allah and the attributes because such an undertaking has promising possibilities and could awaken the population, enlighten the communities and emancipate the people. Muslims in Africa should seize this opportunity and recreate their societies.
In fact, Muslims really need to pause awhile and ask themselves if the so called most gracious, benevolent and beneficent Allah is a reality and not an illusion, not a figment of imagination or an empty idea that signifies nothing.
Let us take a critical look at some cases across the region.
In Northern Nigeria, an outbreak of meningitis has claimed hundreds of lives. Most of the victims are Muslims and mainly from one of the sharia implementing states in the country. So if one may ask: where was Allah and what was he or it doing? If Allah existed, then why did he allow the outbreak? What happened to his assumed gracious and benevolent abilities? The governor of Zamfara, the first state to implement sharia, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari said the disease was a punishment from Allah for fornication. He noted that Allah sent the disease to punish Nigerians for indulging in immoral acts. Really?
The governor said: “People have turned away from God and he has promised that ‘if you do anyhow, you see anyhow.’ That is just the cause of this outbreak, as far as I am concerned. There is no way fornication will be so rampant and God will not send a disease that cannot be cured.”
Interestingly, the Emir of Kano dismissed this statement by the governor as lacking any basis in Islamic law. However, let’s say that by some stretch of the imagination that this was actually the case. That Allah sent meningitis to punish people in Zamfara state for fornication. The question here is: Did Allah send the disease to kill those who actually committed the fornication or did Allah send the disease to punish some people for ‘sins’ that others had committed?
If Allah sent the disease to penalize some Muslims for fornication which other persons committed, then what kind of god is Allah? A just or an unjust god? A good or an evil god?
By the way, where was Allah during the recent outbreak of fire in Senegal? In this predominantly Muslim country, at least 20 persons have reportedly died as a result of the accident which occurred at a makeshift prayer centre during a religious event in Senegal’s southern city of Kolda. Is that not a valid reason to query the potency of Allah?
The Tijjaniyyah Order – a branch of Sunni Islam organized the event and one should expect that Allah should have protected Muslims during such an activity, but he did not. Why couldn’t Allah stop meningitis or the fire outbreak? Why didn’t Allah prevent the death of Muslims even at the prayer centers? The reason is crisp and clear: Allah is not. Allah is unable.
So this is a clear justification for Muslims to begin to cast doubt on the existence of Allah and to subject the claim of an omnipotent Islamic deity to critical examination.
Leo Igwe is a human rights activist and the founder of the Nigerian Humanist Movement. He was the Western and Southern African representative to IHEU, the International Humanist and Ethical Union. He can be reached by email HERE.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.