The clash between Christians and Muslims is a current and critical issue in governance and religion. The clash has been of great magnitude and has threatened to through the entire world into a theological abstraction of these two religions. The states of Nigeria, Somali, Indonesia and Philippines still continuing to suffering due to clashes based on these two world largest religions. This is according to Eliza Griswold in her book The Tenth Parallel.
The book is an insight into the increasing concern of the increasing clash between Christians and Muslims in some hot spots all over the world. The book draws its title from the lines that provide a link between hotspots in these unending fights and wars. Griswold vividly brings out the issue of whether fundamentalism alone leads to the continued violence. Her book carefully investigates this issues through the lives of individuals rather than speculations and abstractions. I am going to explore the factors behind these Nigeria conflicts and some of the efforts that she has made to curb it.
Nigeria, which is in the middle belt of this, has witnessed devastating effects of the conflict between the Christians and the Muslims. Very many people have died due to these clashes. This has happened mainly in the northern part of the country where the majority of the population are Muslims. Nothing captures the grinding effect of these ruining wars than the author’s visit to the region where she meets the Emir of Wase.
The author describes His Highness Haruna Abdullahi as a leader who has played a big role in the promotion of peace. This is clearly revealed in their conversation. As a peaceful leader, he preaches the necessity of the Christians and Muslims to live peacefully. Together with a local priest, he compiles a collection of verses from both the Quran and the Bible which teaches the followers of the two religions to exist peacefully. He intends to use the collections to clarify some misunderstandings about the two religions which have fueled the religious conflict.
Emir also castigates the tendency by some religious leaders to preach bloodshed using religious platforms. He calls for forgiveness among these people by quoting the issue of revenge as taught in the Holy books of both the religions through the reincarnations of Jesus and Prophet Mohammed. He cites how Jesus called on God to forgive those who persecuted and nailed him on the cross hence the need for Christians to forgive (Luke, 23:24). On the hand, he quotes how the Prophet answered Archangel Gabriel-“Gabriel’ that he was not going to revenge against Tai’f. this should also be emulated by the Muslims.
In the face of this increasing violence in Nigeria, the British colonial legacy has been put on scrutiny by many people. Some have pointed accussing fingers it for fueling the conflict. the author refers her readers to the colonial period when the British adopted the indirect system of admistration in Nigeria. They thought that it would work in Nigeria as it efficiently did in India. To the contrary this system had negative and unending effects up to date .The expansive mainly Muslim Northern Nigeria was left at the hands of the Islamic rulers who ruled mainly on the behalf of the British(Kalu,2005).These hitherto revered leaders were now being seen as colonialists puppets hence they lost the respect of the local populations. The subjects therefore turned to other people spiritual leaders some of whom have misguided their understanding of Islam. Some of their teachings have been leading to bloodshed between Christians and the Muslims in the middle belt up to today.
The British colonial government in Nigeria bestowed upon the local Islamic Emirs leadership of the northern Nigerian population. This catalyzed the hatred and mistrust between the northern Muslims and the non Muslims. Before the coming of the colonialists, the less powerful minority non-Muslims in the north were constantly attacked and even sold into slavery by their stronger and majority Muslim neighbors (Kalu,2005).So when the British put them under the leadership of their dominating neighbors the hatred ,suspicion and mistrust continued leading to emergence and development of fundamentalists. This is still seen as the two groups are still fighting one another on the basis of religion and other factors such as social inequality.
The evangelical missionary in Nigeria has been described as having been increasing up to date. This has served to sow the seed of hatred and mistrust to alarming levels between the Christians and the muslims.Pentecostal church following has been one of the most increasing in the world with an estimation of 1.7% per year in the world (Marshall, 2009).This increase has alarmed the Muslims in the middle belt who see it as a threat to their religion. Coupled with some of their teachings such as the Trinity, conquering ones enemy has worsened the situation. The concept of Trinity which entails God having a son and the aspect of overcoming ones enemy is tan amounting to blasphemy in the eyes of the Muslim and defeating other Muslims respectively.Exremist Muslims associate the west with blasphemy oftenly.This is extended to the Christian in Nigeria hence increasing conflict and fundamentalism on both sides.
The West has been increasingly associated with Christianity in the Nigeria (Marshall, 2009).This has further increased the rift between the faithful of the two religions. The West fight against terrorism in the world with strong links to extreme Islamists has been translated to the Christians fight against the muslims.This line of reasoning has been taken by some Islamic fundamentalists in Nigeria to wage terror on the Christians who in turn take revenge on the Muslims and the vicious cycle of religious clashes in Nigeria. Very many Christians here identify with the West in their fight against the Islamic fundamentalists in Nigeria who subject them to terror.
Climate change and population growth has a hand in the persistent Muslim-Christian war in Nigeria. Muslims inhabit mainly the Nothern part of Nigeria while the South is homeland to the Christians. As climatic conditions worsen in the North, muslims tend to migrate to the South. This migration increases the population in the southern region. However, the quantity of resources in this region does not increase with such increase in population. This calls for the struggle for natural resources between these two religious groups leading into conflict.
In conclusion The Tenth Parallel is at best providing an unparallel insight to the problem of religious conflicts in the world while underlining the fact that there are also some salient factors such land dispute, local politics, struggle for water and pastures combining to further fuel conflicts in these hotspots.
1. Griswold, Eliza.The Tenth parallel: Dispatches from the Fault Line between Christianity and Islam. New York: Farrar, Straus &Giroux, 2012.
2. Marshall, Ruth.Political Spiritualities: The Pentecostal Revolution in Nigeria.London: The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
3. Kalu, Ogbu.Religion, History and Politics in Nigeria. New York: University Press of America, 2005.