OPEN LETTER TO BOKO HARAM WOMEN
I would like to make a call to conscience to my fellow wives, daughters, sisters and especially mothers affiliated with Boko Haram. More than anyone, I believe you are in the unique position of bringing this carnage to an end. Even if this forum has the capacity of reaching only a handful of women, the message it carries can never be understated. Although many are of the opinion that there is more than meets the eye in the Boko Haram saga, the call for the women in the lives of whoever the perpetrators of violence are is a collective one.
In the past several years, we have all lived through much indignation with a new low in the escalating violence that continues to saturate our lives. It would be unfair to speak about the violence unleashed by Boko Haram without first acknowledging the violence unleashed onto Boko Haram and condemning the murders of your children, husbands, fathers and leaders, specifically Mohammed Yusuf, under the regime of Governor Ali Modu Sheriff and the reprisal killings it aggravated. I have written several times on the persecution your people suffered and the following are the internet links that show your suffering; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxrI8ihrkrw&feature=relatedand http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5_DQY4Wfeo&feature=related
However, notwithstanding the suffering your people have gone through, in these times of deep rage and hurt feelings, we must, as women, channel the Islamic ethical imperative we know which instructs us to show empathy toward our fellow human beings no matter the crime they have committed towards us. Quite rightly, a great injustice was done to you, but in the Qur’an, we are warned not to give in to such provocation. If an incitement to discord is made to us; we should seek refuge in Allah. As women you should tell your husbands, sons and fathers that under the 199th verse of Chapter 7 (sūrat l-aʿrāf) of the Qur’an, they have a duty to indulge people with forgiveness, accept what issues from people’s manners of behaviour knowing that God is the ultimate judge. And they should not scrutinize their persecutors but enjoin them with kindness, decency and not counter their stupidity with the like. The Qur’an tells us that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Prophets before him were ridiculed and persecuted but they extended kindness and decency to their persecutors. They did not resort to intimidation and violence but were patient because they were conscious of compassionate God. If you believe Allah is ‘the All seeing, All knowing and All just’, direct your men to take their prayer beads and prayer mats, bow their heads to the ground and lament to Allah about the injustice that was done to them instead of unleashing terror onto an already impoverished population.
How on earth do you expect your men to receive understanding and compassion from others and from the Almighty when they commit worse atrocities than that which was committed to you? If your kin continue to kill and respond with violence, they have become prey to the forces of evil and they have become manipulated by such forces.
More than anyone, you know the despair of loosing one of your own in such an unjust and vicious manner. Yesterday, your sons, husbands and fathers were brutally murdered in cold blood and nothing was done to correct that wrong. But today, it is your sons, husbands and fathers that commit the very cruel act of brutality which ravaged your clan. They commit it towards a population which has nothing to do with the injustice that was meted out to you; a population that is already suffering from hunger, poverty and strife.
Today, it is your kin who seek to cause bloodshed; to destroy cloisters, churches and mosques, places wherein God’s names are repeatedly invoked. You must know that in Islam, the violations of the sanctity of non-Muslim sacred sites are violations of the Qur’anic command to be respectful of others’ religious sensibilities. In the Qur’an and the Hadith, there are numerous verses and stories that illustrate that an angry or violent response to those who ridicule or persecute Muslims is not an Islamic axiom. Given this doctrine, how can your men continue to plant bombs in Churches, randomly shoot at Muslims going into Mosques and targeting markets and schools where innocent children go to? How can your men claim to have a divine mandate of unleashing violence and intimidation when the authority they are using is the same Quran and Hadith that top Islamic scholars all over the world maintain prohibits such acts?
There is a saying in Hausa; “One woman’s pain is another woman’s pain”. When our children are hurt or taken and when our husbands abandon us or die, we know the pain every woman goes through. No matter the religion, that knowledge, that emotion is shared by all women. For every bomb that is detonated, groups of people die. Every dead person in those groups is the child, parent, spouse and sibling of other women like you.
Apart from the destruction of property, the violence is a violation of one of the five fundamental protected rights of the Sharia and a major sin in Islam, these acts of violence amounts to a wilful creation of human strife, sectarian hatred, social turmoil and mayhem. If it is the intention of your brethren to incite sectarian hatred and provoke a war of sorts in Nigeria, how exactly will that benefit your course? If the country were to split up, it is impossible for the section in which you reside to be completely Islamicised because there are non-Muslims indigenes in these areas. And these Nigerians have as much right as you to live freely with their families and practice their religion.
In the Hadith, it is said that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was insulted, ridiculed and targeted for assassination during his lifetime. The Prophet (SAW) did not react with outbursts to these provocations at any stage of this ordeal. Instead, he offered a prayer of forgiveness to those who showed contempt for him. He indeed set an unparalleled example of patience and fortitude. Your men cannot claim to be defending the Prophet (SAW) and his message by attacking places of worship, threatening people and carrying out suicide bombings. These measures do not comply with the values of an ideal community whose Prophet is described in the divine scripture as a Mercy to Humankind.
The fact that some of your men are willing to use themselves as suicide bombers indicates the fact that they truly believe in the course that they are on. You will notice that the men who send out other people’s children to commit suicide bombings have children of their own which they do not send. Mothers among you should advise your children to ask the men commanding them to commit suicide Jihad why they do not command their biological children instead. It is very unlikely that there is any amongst you that will knowingly give her child permission to become a suicide bomber based on the natural instinct a mother has to protect her children. And in that same vein, you must know that the value of your child’s life to you is not worth more than the value of another woman’s child to her. The circumstances required in Islam for a religious Jihad do not exist in our current atmosphere, so if your men commit Jihad-suicide at this very time in Nigeria, they are simply committing suicide. And in Islam it is a sacred Hadith that suicide is strictly forbidden because it is an affront to God and any servant who does so has precipitated Gods’ will with regard to himself and therefore will be automatically forbidden entry into heaven.
At this moment of extreme fear and sadness, I make a call to conscience to the women, especially the mothers, affiliated with the Boko Haram members and pray that you be guided by God’s promise so that you may guide your men. I plead with you to join many of us to read the Qur’an for guidance, consolation, self-control and the courage to do everything we can to urge our sons, fathers, husbands, brothers and neighbours to stop the violence. May we all join our hands, voices and prayers with all peace loving Nigerians who are committed to preserving our peace and humanity