Nigerians, especially Muslim netizens have condemned in strong terms, the video of a masquerade pretending to be observing salat in an open space in Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, noting that it is a high level of mockery of the peaceful religion of Islam.
The act, many observed, is capable of inciting a religious crisis in a peaceful society such as the metropolitan city of Lagos State which has hitherto enjoyed related peace. They, therefore, called on the relevant government agencies to call the perpetrators to order.
The masquerade, Okakin from Oya compound in Lagos Island was spotted on Sunday, August 29, near Sura market, a popular joint where masquerades meet, pretending to be praying in the manner the Muslims observe their salat, after which he used the Muslim rosary. See it HERE.
Muslim News findings reveal that a revered Islamic scholar, Sheikh Safwan Akodo in the Epe area of Lagos state was beheaded in 2003 by the traditional worshippers over a claim that he was mocking their faith. This is similar to what the masquerade exhibited.
Similarly, in 1953, a popular Islamic preacher, Sheikh Bisiriyu Apalara in the Ebute-Metta area of Lagos, was also murdered for the same offense as Sheikh Akodo.
Both Sheikh Apalara and Sheikh Akodo’s bodies were said to be carted away by their killers, in broad daylight.
“We’ll not do it again”, Masquerade handlers plead
In the latest development, the head of the masquerade group, Chief Bashir Olayigbade Ope has pleaded with the Muslims over the mockery and noted such action would not take place again.
Unveiling this development after a meeting with the Area Commander of the Area A Police, Amir Qamardeen Ajala, an Islamic scholar leading the petition, noted that due constitutional process was followed and the head of the masquerade group signed not to do such again.
In his words, “We wrote a petition to the police and we were invited to write a statement. We met with the TYC of the Area Commander and requested what happened and both parties narrated their sides of the story. He asked what we wanted. We made it clear that we don’t want the masquerade to parade himself as a Muslim when he is not. His action is tantamount to the mockery of Islam.
“We reminded them how their counterparts killed Bisiriyu Apalara over the allegation that he was mocking their faith. Equally in Epe, the traditional worshipers killed Sufyan Akodo over the same allegation. If they could kill Muslims, why would they also make a mockery of Islam?
In a video posted on his Facebook, Imam Ajala disclosed that the head of the masquerade group, Chief Olayigbade said the masquerade is known for observing Salat before going out.
“The head of Masquerade said this isn’t the first time he was doing this. But, this is the first time we are seeing such a disgusting and instigating video. People have been calling, expressing their disappointment, but we don’t want it to lead to a religious clash. If it is done within, no one will know.
“They signed an undertaking that they would not do it in the open again. It was at this point that the Area Commander said he has informed the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu and he requested to see both parties at the headquarters, but we couldn’t go because he lost his mother.
“The Area Commander referred to the crisis born out of the Danish cartoon of Prophet Muhammad in Denmark. We appreciate the police for their fairness and establishment of the constitution. The head of the masquerade signed that they won’t do such again and we also signed we won’t cause any problem,” he added.
Amir Ajala further pleaded with the Muslim Ummah to avoid the circulation of the video, advising that the Muslim authority should be informed in case any action detrimental to Islam takes place.
“We plead with those who came across the video not to share anymore. Since they said they won’t do it again, if they do, the law will take its cause. Once again, I plead with all Muslims that whenever we come across something like this, let’s always inform the Muslim authorities for action.”, he appealed.
It’s disheartening, condemnable
When Muslim News interacted with some Muslims, they condemned the mockery of Islam by the masquerade worshippers and commended the Muslims for their civility and orderliness in handling the issue constitutionally.
To Ibrahim Abdullateef, “This is an action that is capable of turning the state and even the nation upside down. Imagine the Muslims took the law into their hands and attacked the masquerade and its worshippers, the story would have been against the Muslims. But, we are a peaceful set of people and we would follow due process to register our grievances”.
Another Muslim, Sulaiman Azeezah appreciated the calmness and wisdom of the Muslims in handling the matter.
“Alhamdulillah, the issue was handled with calm and was reported to the authorities. Muslims are peaceful people, just as the religion has taught us and we won’t go against the teachings of the religion. Lagos as a state in Nigeria is lucky to have the type of Muslims it has in the state. If it were to be elsewhere, the matter would have gone out of control”.
Abdullah Yusuf called on the government to act judiciously to prevent future occurrences, which could be beyond control.
“I humbly plead with the state government, and even the federal, to put machinery in place in terms of law and enforcement to prevent another happening in our state. Lagos is calm and peaceful, and religion should not be a source of crisis in the state”, he noted.
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