When the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi built on the initiative of his predecessor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo by introducing Islamic (non-interest) banking system in 2011, the initiative which birthed Jaiz Bank, a section of Nigeria’s non-Muslim community kicked against it, with the puerile claim that: Nigeria is a secular country and allowing Islamic banking will be antithetical to its secular status.
In fact, some Christian leaders called Sanusi unprintable names in the media, saying he was “harbouring sectarian loyalties and of exacerbating inter-religious tensions”. They also claimed that such banking system will lead to Islamisation of Nigeria!
Ten years down the line, Nigeria is yet to be Islamised. In fact, it’s rather more Christianised as the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo is not only a devout Christian, but a senior Pastor of one of the leading pentecostal denominations in the country. Interestingly, there are at least two Churches in every military facility across the country, while the Muslims have just one.
Sadly, in the pyrrhic, so-called islamised Nigeria of today, Muslim students and their mothers are being molested in public and private institutions over their use of the Hijab, despite constitutional backing and judicial approval. They say, in their ignominious ignorance that the virtuous divinely ordained attire is a threat to national security.
Calling a dog a bad name in order to harm it and painting the truth bearers with the paint of falsehood are the rules of the game. The underlining principles are mischief, petty jealousies as well as pathological hatred for Islam and Muslims by those whose stock in trade and survival depend on spreading falsehood and schism in the land.
At the end of the day, a large chunk of the beneficiaries of the interest-free banking loans of Jaiz Bank are Christians, especially from the Eastern part of Nigeria.
Interestingly, those who spent the last 10 years criticising the introduction of Islamic banking have suddenly floated what they call “an interest-free Christian Bank” in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, few days ago.
Did I hear you say copy copy? Oh yes, some would admit…like they copy the Muslim faithful who go on pilgrimage, the fifth pillar of Islam. They also embark on sightseeing or ‘pilgrimage’ as they choose to call it, to Israel, and now, Jordan (a Muslim country) which many consider as tourism.
Some, however, believe the grand plan of those who criticise Islamic banking system is typical of a ‘dog in the manger’, whose motivation is sheer jealousy, selfishness and wickedness to destroy the Jaiz brand on one hand and on the other hand, to pave way for their own version (brand) – as if the sky is not wide enough for birds to fly without disturbing one another; but in the end, they failed.
Whether these allegations are true or not, what is obvious is that the emergence of Jaiz Bank ten years ago has paved way for several other non-interest banking operations, including the newly established Christan Bank and others yet to unveil.
It’s therefore a good development, because riba (interest) is fundamentally an evil and of course prohibited in Islam. Allah says, “O you who believe, fear Allah and give up what remains of your demand for riba if you are indeed believers. If you do it not, take notice of war from Allah and His Messenger.” (Qur’an 2:278-279).
We cannot continue like this as a country that aspires to grow and maintain its status as the giant of Africa. There is a need for us all to stop the petulant hatred, unhealthy jealousy, unnecessary rivalry and unite, irrespective of our religious and tribal persuasion, to bring about a better Nigeria. That’s one of the reasons Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic Newspaper will be addressing the best approaches to curbing negative media framing of Muslims at its 3rd Anniversary Lecture, come this Saturday, September 18 at Old Secretariat Mosque Hall, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos.
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