India’s top court cleared the way on Saturday for a Hindu temple to be constructed at a hotly disputed holy site, in a huge victory for Hindu nationalists under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Supreme Court ruled that the site in Ayodhya in northern India, where Hindu mobs destroyed a 460-year-old mosque in 1992, must be handed over to a trust to oversee the construction of a Hindu temple, subject to conditions.
A separate piece of land in Ayodhya would be given over to Muslim groups to build a new mosque, the court ruled in a historic judgement aimed at ending a bitter and decades-old legal and sectarian battle.
According to President Buhari, violent extremism is the greatest challenge facing Islam today and the only way to neutralise its evil influence is for the people to distance themselves from the activities and teachings of those who preach indiscriminate violence against innocent people.
He also advised parents to protect their children from the deadly exposure to violent extremists who manipulate and exploit such children for their evil agenda.
President Buhari noted that Boko Haram became a deadly force and a major security scourge because Muslim societies were indifferent from the beginning to the activities of extremist preachers.
He, however, assured Nigerians that his administration would uncompromisingly deal with terrorism, kidnappings and other forms of crime in the country.
Despite recent attacks by the insurgents, the President explained that Boko Haram has been “so militarily weakened and scattered” by the military.
He noted that the terrorists have lost the capacity to occupy any part of the country, adding that military personnel were getting more equipped and trained.
President Buhari, therefore, advised Muslims to be tolerant and continue to work for peace, unity, national integration, and peaceful coexistence.
Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and First Lady, Aisha Buhari, have met in Mecca where they are currently performing the hajj pilgrimage.
Photos of the meeting where share on the Twitter page of the Speaker.
His tweet reads:
With the First Lady @aishambuhari in Mecca. May Allah answer our prayers for unity peace and progress for our beloved country.
The First Lady was also in the holy land in May, when she and President Muhammadu Buhari performed the Umrah.
Below are photos from the meeting.
More than two million Muslims began the annual hajj Friday under sweltering conditions, as the Saudi hosts sought to deter politicisation of the pilgrimage against a backdrop of simmering Gulf tensions.
The hajj, one of the world’s largest annual religious gatherings, is one of the five pillars of Islam and must be undertaken by all Muslims with the means at least once in their lives.
It consists of a series of religious rites which are completed over five days in Islam’s holiest city and its surroundings in western Saudi Arabia.
“All of the arms of state have been deployed (and) we are proud to serve as ‘God’s hosts’,” said security forces spokesman Bassam Attia.
“We feel cleansed by achieving this pillar of Islam and meeting people from across the world. It’s marvellous,” said Mohamed Jaafar, a 40-year-old Egyptian pilgrim.
‘A golden opportunity’
“It’s an indescribable feeling. You have to live it to understand it,” said an Algerian in his fifties completing the pilgrimage for the first time.
“It’s a golden opportunity and moment,” said his female companion.
Built in a desert valley, Mecca is home to the Kaaba, a cube structure that is the focal point of Islam and draped in a gold-embroidered black cloth.
Muslims around the world pray towards the Kaaba, which is located in the Grand Mosque, and pilgrims walk around it seven times.
Earlier on Friday, worshippers took part in Friday prayers at the mosque.
Pilgrims from around the world then headed on foot or on buses to Mina, a rugged district of Mecca at the base of Mount Arafat, where the faithful will spend Friday night.
A total of “350,000 air-conditioned tents have been pitched” in Mina, a Saudi official said.
Cooling mist sprays were deployed across the area as temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
Mobile clinics and ambulances were on standby along the route, while Saudi Red Crescent helicopters monitored the pilgrims’ progress from the sky.
“The whole world is here… being here in Mecca is the best feeling,” beamed Mohamed Barry, a pilgrim from Britain.
Saudi officials said that 2.26 million pilgrims had arrived in Mina by late Friday, of which 1.86 million were from abroad, the state-run SPA news agency reported.
On Saturday worshippers will climb Mount Arafat, also known as the “Mount of Mercy”, for hours of prayers and Koran recitals.
After descending, they will gather pebbles and perform the symbolic “stoning of the devil”.
That marks the beginning of Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice, marked on Sunday.
Pilgrims then return to the Grand Mosque to perform a final “tawaf” or walk around the Kaaba.
‘Politicising the hajj’
This year’s hajj takes place to a backdrop of Gulf tensions following a series of attacks on tankers, the downing of drones and the seizure of ships.
Riyadh blames regional foe Tehran for the attacks on commercial shipping, accusations Iran vehemently denies.
Despite the absence of diplomatic ties between the two countries, some 88,550 Iranian pilgrims are due to take part in the hajj this year according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.
As in previous years, Saudi authorities have been at pains to stress that the hajj is a religious event and have sought to prevent its politicisation.
Riyadh insisted its two-year embargo on Doha — which includes restrictions on Qataris travelling to the kingdom — would not affect the pilgrimage.
But hajj official Hassan Qadi acknowledged “very few Qataris have come to Mecca for the pilgrimage”.
Saudi Arabia’s hajj ministry accused Qatar of “politicising the hajj and creating obstacles for Qatari pilgrims,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
The scale of the pilgrimage presents vast security and logistical challenges, with tens of thousands of safety officers deployed.
Riyadh faced strong criticism in 2015 when some 2,300 worshippers were killed in the worst stampede in the gathering’s history.
Muslims in the cyclone-ravaged Mozambican island of Ibo are struggling to observe the holy month of Ramadan as most mosques were destroyed and food is in short supply.
The island on the Quirimbas archipelago off Mozambique’s northeastern coast was one of the regions worst hit when Cyclone Kenneth struck last month packing winds of over 200 kilometres (125 miles) per hour.
Residents of the island, where the majority of the population is Muslim, were left without shelter and with few places to worship with estimates that 90 percent of buildings were damaged.
At one of the few mosques still standing, half of the roof was blown away by wind and prayer rugs were damaged by flooding.
Worshippers gather in one surviving section to say prayers. Female worshippers endure the harsh sun praying outdoors.
“Very few people are attending prayers because mosques were destroyed,” said Muzasufar Abakari, head of the village of Guludo.
Residents search for food to break the fast and survive mainly on high-energy biscuits handed out by aid agencies.
“As Muslims we observe Ramadan but there is no food to eat. On Friday (holy day) there was no-one because there is no wall at the mosque,” said Abakari.
The cyclone killed at least 41 people across northern Mozambique and displaced thousand.
Some people on Ibo have been sleeping in damaged mosques.
“People have been sleeping here because their houses were destroyed. With nothing – from clothes to food – God willing our prayers are answered and we will receive help,” said imam Saidi Cassabo, from Kumwamba village.
Before the storm, Ibo island, a popular tourist destination, was a haven of golden beaches, unspoiled coral reefs and lush greenery.
President Muhammadu Buhari has called on Muslims to pray for the peace, progress and prosperity of Nigeria.
In a statement by Garba Shehu, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Buhari said: “Islam is a religion of peace that upholds the values of tolerance and mutual coexistence without a place for hatred and violence.”
Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, has asked Muslim faithful to imbibe the virtue of piety and pray for Nigeria’s unity and progress with the commencement of the Ramadan fast.
Obaseki said the period offers Islamic followers in the state and across the country to draw close to God, live in peace with their neighbours and dedicate themselves to the virtues of charity and sacrifice.
“As Muslim Faithful in the state and across the world commence the Ramadan fast, I urge them to uphold the hallmarks of the period which include commitments to family, faith and community.
“The period is a time of reflection and dedication to God and as Muslim faithful observe this sacred devotion, they should remember to pray for peace, unity and progress in Nigeria.
“I also urge Muslims in Edo State to pray for the progress of the state as they have always and ask that Almighty Allah continue to direct and guild those in the position of authority so they will continue to do His will,” he stated.
While stressing that the state government has benefited immensely from the prayers of Muslims, especially during the month of Ramadan, Obaseki urged them to continue in the tradition.
“As a government, we have enjoyed the support and prayers of Muslims faithful whose prayers have continued to guide us in delivering a better, rewarding life to Edo people,” he added.
President Muhammadu Buhari has insisted that Christians and Muslims in the country can flourish together.
He stated this in an opinion article which featured on Friday on Church Times, UK’s largest Anglican newspaper.
According to his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the President also warned against politicising religion.
President Buhari, in the article, referenced a Biblical verse and stressed that Christians and Muslims share the same root even though their beliefs differ.
Read the article below:
IN 1844, the Revd Samuel Ajayi Crowther returned home to Yoruba land (now part of modern-day Nigeria). Twenty years earlier, he had been kidnapped and sold to European slave traders who were bound for the Americas. He was freed by an abolitionist naval patrol, and received by the Church Missionary Society. There, he found his calling.
Crowther made his voyage home to establish the first Anglican mission in Yoruba land. He came with the first Bibles translated into Yoruba and Hausa languages. He opened dialogue and discussion with those of other faiths. And his mission was a success: Crowther later became the first African Anglican bishop in Africa.
Today, Nigeria has the largest Christian population on the continent. The messages and teachings of Christianity are part of the fabric of each person’s life.
ALONG with the millions of Christians in Nigeria today, I believe in peace, tolerance, and reconciliation; in the institution of the family, the sanctity of marriage, and the honour of fidelity; in hope, compassion, and divine revelation.
Like Bishop Crowther, I am a descendant of Abraham; unlike him, I am a Muslim. I believe our two great religions can not only peacefully coexist but also flourish together. But Muslims and Christians must first turn to one another in compassion. For, as it says in Amos 3.3: “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?”
As they are People of the Book, I believe that there is far more that unites Muslims and Christians than divides them. In fact, I believe that the messages of the Bible are universal: available for anyone to exercise, and instructive to all.
We must resist the temptation to retreat into our communities, because, if we do, we can only look inwards. It is only when we mix that we can reach new and greater possibilities.
Whichever religion or religious denomination they choose to follow, Nigerians are devout. Anything that Nigerians believe will place impositions on their practice, and belief is therefore sure to cause widespread alarm.
And, unfortunately, there are those who seek to divide Nigerians — and our two great religions — and to do so for their own advantage.
I stand accused — paradoxically — of trying to Islamise Nigeria while also being accused by Boko Haram terrorists of being against Islam. My Vice-President is a devout man, a Christian pastor. He, too, is accused of selling out his religion, because of his support for me.
This is not the first time that I — nor, indeed, my Christian-Muslim evenly split cabinet — have been the subject of such nonsense. Fortunately, the facts speak differently from the words of those who seek to divide us from one another.
Since my administration has been in power, Boko Haram has been significantly and fatally degraded; I have befriended church leaders and church groups both within and outside our country; my Vice-President has addressed and opened dialogue with Muslims up and down our land.
In all things, we seek that which all well-meaning Christians and well-meaning Muslims must seek: to unite, respect, and never to divide. Does it not say “There is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2.256)? Does it not say “Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us” (Luke 9.50)? This, surely, is the path that followers of both our two great religions must walk.
UNFORTUNATELY, those who wish us all to walk apart have recently found another focus for their efforts: the tragic clashes between nomadic herdsmen and settled farmers in the central regions of Nigeria.
For generations, herders have driven their cattle from the north to the centre of our country; they tend to be predominantly Muslim, although not exclusively. The farmers, in certain areas of central Nigeria, are predominantly Christian.
The causes of this conflict are not religious or theological, but temporal. At the heart of this discord is access to rural land, exacerbated both by climate change and population growth.
Sadly, there are some who seek to play fast and loose and so make others believe that these are not the facts. When religion is claimed as the cause — and by those who know that it is not — it only makes finding a resolution more difficult.
The government has taken action to mediate, to bring the two groups together in peace and unity. But we also need all parties to follow the teachings of the scriptures, and encourage reconciliation rather than cause division. As it is said: “Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?” (Mark 8.18).
As our constitution codifies, politicising religion has no place in Nigeria; for it makes us turn away from one another; it makes us retreat into our communities and walk different paths.
I believe that there is a better way. To those who seek to divide, I still hold my hand out in brotherhood and forgiveness. I ask only that they stop, and instead encourage us to turn towards one another in love and compassion. Nigeria belongs to all of us. This is what I believe.
Muhammadu Buhari is President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Earlier In his Sallah message, the President urged Muslims to put the virtues of Islam into practice beyond the fasting season.
While congratulating the faithful on completing what he described as “spiritually significant month of sacrifice”, President Buhari also called on Nigerians to forgive one another and embrace peace in the land.
He said, “if people allow the teachings of their religions to influence their conducts, problems such as corruption, which diverts public funds to private pockets, would have been eliminated in the society.”
He also asked religious leaders to always pray for peace and unity in the country and avoid making inflammatory utterances that endanger peace or promote conflicts.
The Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Yakubu Dogara, have congratulated Muslim faithful across the country on the successful completion of the month-long Ramadan fast.
In their separate messages to the nation on Friday, both leaders called for sustained prayers for peace in the country.
Senator Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Yusuph Olaniyonu, noted that despite the Federal Government’s appreciable efforts in combating the challenge of insecurity, it is imperative for Muslims to utilise the period to pray fervently for peace and unity in the country.
He said, “We have just ended a month-long fast thus paving way for the Eid-el-Fitr celebrations.
“These two periods are such times that the Almighty Allah enjoined us to ask for his blessings. We should, therefore, seize the opportunity to pray for the country and its leaders.”
The Senate President also urged Nigerians to use the season to promote national integration, saying “Eid-el-Fitr is a time of love and goodwill. It gives us a message to love all and hate none.”
He was, however, confident that ‘’hope is not lost” for Nigeria, despite the numerous challenges in the country.
Saraki added, “Only tolerance, stronger sense of patriotism, and love for one another will help the country surmount her present socio-economic challenges.”
In his Sallah message to the Muslim community in Nigeria, Speaker Dogara enjoined them to sustain the lessons of Ramadan and replicate same in their daily lives for a better society.
He further called on the Ummah not to be carried away by only the display of the Sallah celebration, but to use the occasion for sober reflection.
Dogara also urged them to extend gestures and hands of support to the needy in the society, as well as to pray against the current security and economic situation of the country.
He stressed the importance of peace, unity and tolerance amongst the diverse people of the country for the envisaged growth and development to take place, noting that the heterogeneity of Nigeria should be a source of strength rather than conflict.
“As you join the rest of the Ummah all over the world to celebrate this year’s Eid el-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, I enjoin you to replicate and demonstrate in your daily lives, the lessons and virtues of sacrifice, forgiveness, piety, self-denial, and genuine love towards one another which you learnt during the month-long fast,” the Speaker said.
He added, “This is, indeed, another moment of celebration and sober reflection and apart from reflection, I urge you to also take out opportunity, cashing on the spirituality of this festive period to offer special prayers for the nation against the backdrop of the current security and economic situation and to lift up our people before God, especially the downtrodden – those who struggle to make ends meet.”
The lawmaker further asked Nigerians to pray for the leadership of the nation – from the president, Vice president, leadership of the National Assembly, governors to the local government chairmen and councillors, for God’s wisdom and understanding.
He pledged the commitment of the House of Representatives to initiating legislative interventions to overcome the challenges in the country.
Dogara also urged Nigerians, irrespective of their persuasions, to cement the bond of unity and brotherhood as a people of common destiny and contribute meaningfully in the quest for building a peaceful and united Nigeria.
Governor of Nasarawa State, Mr Tanko Almakura, has urged Muslims and all Nigerians to remain law abiding and also live peacefully with each other even as the fasting period season comes to an end.
In his Eid-El-Fitr message on Friday, the governor called on Muslims to be steadfast in applying the virtues of Ramadan in their daily activities.
He said,” As you are all aware, fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam aimed at strengthening our faith through spiritual engagements such as abstinence from eating, drinking and satisfying other desires from dawn to sunset.
“It also involves intense prayers, recitation and interpretation of the Holy Qur’an, as well as increased acts of kindness, charity and humility, among other moral virtues.
“As we come to the end of this year’s Ramadan fasting, therefore, I, on behalf of the Government and People of Nasarawa State, felicitate with all Muslim faithful in the State as we join millions of Nigerians and other brethren across the globe to mark the 2018 Eid-el-Fitr (Sallah) celebration.
“I call on all Muslims to be steadfast in applying the virtues of Ramadan through consistent supplication, perseverance, humility, hospitality, good neighbourness and, indeed, the spirit of sharing in our daily activities.
“It behoves us all, as good citizens of Nasarawa State, to continue to pray for the peace, security and economic prosperity of the State,” he said.
Speaking further, he warned residents in the state to avoid engaging in criminal acts as the government will not hesitate to punish the perpetrators.
He also asked them to pray for the nation’s leaders at all levels.
“Government will not condone any acts capable of breaching the existing peace prevailing in our society and will deal decisively with any individual(s) and groups whose stock in trade is to perpetuate crime, criminality and fan embers of disunity among the diverse ethnic nationalities in the State.
“Let us all put hands together individually and collectively to contribute our parts towards the sustenance of peace and security in our dear State.
“As we celebrate this Sallah, I urge us all to re-affirm our obedience to Allah’s injunctions as contained in the noble Qur’an and follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). It is also an obligation on us to pray for our leaders at all levels to govern with the fear of God and the virtues of justice, humility and service for the good of humanity,” he said.
Furthermore, the governor called on the Federal Road Safety Commission and other security agencies to intensify their efforts at ensuring a peaceful society, especially during the festive period.