It was an opportunity to counter Islamic fanaticism but the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, blew it away. He ignored the elephant in the room – Quranic indoctrination of children. Instead, the head of Muslims in Nigeria lashed out at the social media and described the various programs as morally corrupting to young Muslims. At a Quranic competition in Sokoto, Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III has warned children against the dangers of social media applications such as facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp. He told them that these online devices could divert their attention from meaningful engagements such as their studies and the recitation of the Koran. The social media, he pointed out, would get children to indulge in immoral behavior and prevent the females from fulfilling their roles as mothers and caregivers.
While there is a need to teach children to make responsible use of the social media, it is not clear how the Internet constitutes as much a social and moral hazard to infants and youths than Quranic indoctrination. So, why did the Sultan not warn children against dangers associated with reading, memorizing and blindly believing Quranic verses?
Actually the Sultan would have made the children to understand that that Quranic indoctrination could poison their minds and predispose them to religious extremism, hatred and violence.
Such an advice would have served the children and the country better than his denunciation of the social media. This is because the problem of jihadist Islam in the world today has been traced to how muslims read and interpret the Koran and other holy texts at mosques and at the Quranic schools. Muslim clerics and scholars use provisions in the Koran and the Hadith to instil violence and hatred into the minds of young muslims.
The Sultan should have used the opportunity to warn children against hateful preaching and messages and against a literalist understanding of the Koran and the Hadith
For instance he should have drawn the attention of those involved in the Quranic competition to the potentials of hatred, violence and intolerance that are embedded in the following verses:
Innad dina indal lahil Islam – The only religion recognized by God is Islam.
Ya ayyunan nabiyu jahidul kuffar wal munafukuna waghluzh alayhim, WA maawaa hum jahannam- O Prophet, wage jihad on infidels and hypocrites and make life miserable for them. They are hell goers anyway.
Wal kafiruna humuz zalimun – And the kuffar are wicked
Yukhadi’unal laha wa rasulih – They are always plotting against Allah and his prophet
Wa la tahsabannal lazina kutilu fi sabili lahi amwata bal ahya’un inda rabbihim yurzakun. – and don’t mistake those killed in the way of Allah as dead, no. They are alive with their lord, getting their promised reward.
Qatiluuhum haythu thakis tumuhum, hatta la yakuna fitnatan wa yakuunad Dini kullihi lillah. – Fight/Kill them until they trouble you no more, and all practiced religions are Allah’s alone.
In fact getting children to memorize these verses and accept them as literally and eternally true words of Allah is obscene and puts their mental and moral health much more at risk than the use of social media applications.
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.