Yes. The helicopter came down in blazing fire and with it came to an end the eventful life of five people last weekend in Leicester, England. While the sporting world was grappling with that, little did we know that about a hundred and eighty-nine Indonesians had already booked their ticket to the hereafter. Little did they know that theirs shall be the final departure from this world and that their arrival shall be to the great beyond. Little did they know that riding a new plane does not mean the arrival is guaranteed; that there is no guarantee that whenever there is a departure there would be an arrival.
The other ‘helicopter’ equally came down at Pittsburg, in United States. The ‘helicopter’ of hatred, animus, antipathy and evil. It descended on the Jewish place of worship. It emptied its bullets of pain, grief and sadness on the old and the young. Contrary to what Islam enjoins, the hater of the Almighty sought to destroy what He holds sacred. He acted all alone. No. He was goaded into the action by rhetoric of hatred. Of bile. Of race and racial superiority. Of unwarranted aversion of the self for the Other. He did not care nor bother what the implications of his noxious action would be. Yes. They do not bother. Assassins and murderers do not care to know and indeed cannot see what lies ahead of them. Worse than that are those who commit atrocities and murder in His name. Or in the name of an hegemony, an authority. I wonder whether those who butchered Jamal Khashoggi were Muslims. Were they? How does the assassin feel after committing the act? Does he still go to the mosque and say Allahu Akbar? How does the adulterer feels whenever he meets the husband of the woman with whom he commits infidelity? Would he still say “Salaam alaykum”?
I hold that it is puerile and an indulgence in acute docility and imbecility to think that by killing scores or even thousands of people, one could put an end to the faith or ideology they hold dear. Islam teaches us that such is abhorrent to the Almighty; history teaches such is bootless and feckless. I equally hold that he is not a Muslim at the time he does all the killings and perpetrates all the indecencies. You cannot freely, unjustly and iniquitously appropriate the Other’s properties and look up to the heaven thereafter for redemption.
While the ‘sheep’ in the cathedral of the faithless was busy visiting terror and violence on his compatriots in Pittsburg, hundreds or was it thousands of my fellow compatriots were on the road in Abuja beckoning on the ‘lion’ to bare its teeth. Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were on the move; they went out in pursuit of the federal government. They wanted to ‘move’ the Federal government into positive action through mass action. They are known as the Shiites in Nigeria; followers of El-Zakzaky. The latter has been in incarceration since over a year now. He has been forced to be a guest to his enemy. The enemy here being the Nigerian state. Legal interventions have not yielded the much-desired solution- the release of El-Zakzaky from gulag.
But what a price we are all paying. What a heinous path we can ill afford to tread. Yes. Whenever the ‘movement’ is massed against the security forces, the scene becomes that of the guillotine yard where souls are violently plucked from the tree of life, where women are widowed before dusk, where children become orphanated at dawn. Such is the scene to behold- that of those who want to be killed and that of those whose sole profession is to kill. She wants to die as a Shiite, in defense of what he believes in; the belief that negates the catholicity and the stellar personalities of Abu Bakr, Umar bn al-Khatab and Uthman bn Affan (r.a); the belief that women could be taken in wedlock for hours or days or months. The other quality that you need to possess, aside from your Islamicity, in order to make a success out of this world, is to know that there are certain things in this world that you cannot know; you need to understand that there are certain things you cannot understand; you need to know that what appears to you as nonsense is indeed the real sense for which some are prepared to pay the ultimate price. The truth of and in life!
Such truth has been brought closer home to us all by the above tragedies – the tragedies that unfolded in United Kingdom, in Indonesia, in Pittsburg, United States and here in Abuja. One element that operated as the transversal across these events is death- death at the peak of life; death in the ‘presence’ of the divine; death in defense of lunacy or madness; death by choice; death by chance. But no matter the locale or style of death, these events, once again, served as a reminder to us all that water sometimes becomes, in line with ibn Zaydun, poison for its drinker; that if he says he is a Prophet in your place of worship, ask him when and where is he likely to die.