WANTED: AN ASSASSIN – A TIT-FOR-TAT MEASURE TO A FATWA
Segun T. Dawodu
The term ‘Fatwa’ is an Arabic term which when translated is a legal statement in
Islam issued by a mufti (a religious leader that deals with juridical issues) or
a religious lawyer on specific issues of religious importance. It is also very
clearly stated in the Quran that Fatwas should not be based upon the muftis
or lawyers own will and ideas, and must be rendered in accordance with fixed
In modern Islamic societies, fatwas have limited importance and are normally
used only in cases of marriage, inheritance and divorce. The importance of a
fatwa depends on its acceptance among most people, and if people don't care
about it, it is in reality powerless.
The first world famous fatwa is that against the Indian-British author Salman Rushdie
by the Iranian Authority through Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 after he wrote the ‘Satanic Verses’
in which he made disparaging remarks about verses in the Quran, Prophet Mohammed
(PBUH) and his twelve wives. This came about after several attempts by Moslems all
over the world to prevent the publisher of the Satanic Verses, Vikings-Penguin from
further publications and distributions of the novel came to no avail.
The Fatwa on Rushdie while not officially lifted, was not forcefully implemented while
Rushdie has since moved from England to New York City and still being guarded by
This brings us to an article written in a Nigerian news medium THIS DAY by Isioma
Daniel in which she alluded that Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) would have picked a
wife from among the contestants of Miss World Contest about to take place in Nigeria.
This subsequently drew the ire of Islam fundamentalists who went on rampage, killing many
innocent non-Moslems who probably never read the article.
Subsequently, it was reported of Alhadji Aliyu Shinkafi the Deputy Governor of Zamfara State,
the first sharia promoting state in Nigeria announcing that a Fatwa has been declared and a
death sentence passed on the author of the said article Isioma Daniels.
In the first instance, a Mufti or a lawyer of the state can only pass the Fatwa, neither of which Alhaji Shinkafi
can be said to be. The good thing is that few days later, the Jama’atu Nasril Islam, the national Islamic
body came out saying that all Muslims should ignore the Fatwa by Alhaji Shinkafi since "The Zamfara
state government has no authority to issue fatwa and the fatwa
issued by it should be ignored,"
The Quran is also against passing death sentence on innocent Elderly, Women and Children who have not committed any Crime. The article written by Isioma Daniel does not go against any Islamic Law or Nigeria and even Zamfara state Laws (despite the fact that the Author lives in Lagos and wrote the article in Lagos). It therefore suffices to say that there is no
legal or Islamic basis for this utterance by Alhaji Shinkafi.
The fact that Alhaji Shinkafi could unilaterally issue a death sentence on a private citizen without any query being sent to him is shocking. It is also more shocking that the National Leaders from the north never came out to castigate the Deputy-Governor for so doing thereby going against any commonsense, the rule of law and a democratic principle of freedom of
expression that are entrenched in the Nigerian Constitution and even had the National Sharia Council coming out to support this unilateral sentence.
It is also an irony of life that outside the Christian Religious Leaders, no southern politicians/Leaders came out to speak against this silly issuance of a death sentence on a citizen without due course of the process of the Law.
This tantamount to the totally acceptance of jungle system of justice and in line with recent breakdown of law and order in the Nigerian society where political opponents pass private ‘fatwas’ on themselves and send their ‘followers’ to ‘go-kill’ perceived opponents or antagonists for peanuts, where armed robbers also pass their own ‘fatwas’ on
innocent citizens for their personal gains, where neighbours even threatens themselves with ‘fatwas’ on little disagreements. Ok, probably they do not all call their actions fatwas, but could not discern any difference between the actions of the above people from the current ‘fatwa’ by Alhaji Shinkafi.
As an individual who believes that the so-called power to be, especially my cousins from the north play on the rule of tit-for-tat and violence as a means of instilling fear and subjugating the south, I also think that the so called Islamic fundamentalists will probably not listen to commonsense or any appeal that borders on intellectual reasoning. I also
believe that the common man that actually goes around carrying out these orders are mere pawns in the hands of the members of the northern oligarchy who use religion and ethnicity to promote their perverted and self-centred ambitions.
In the absence of a coherent order that is similar to a counter religious death sentence from the south and also based on well known facts of a total break down in law and order in Nigeria, it will probably be wise to warn these fatwa protagonists that a retaliation could come their way in terms of using the weapons that the south can muster, which will be
sending private assassins to go after those who send unilaterally pass death sentences on private individuals.
I draw my inspiration from the Quran (Aya 178 of the Surat Al Baqara) on the need for a fair sense of justice under Islam justice system when another man decides to pronounce death or put to death another without due process of the Law. This verse of the Quran abrogates the Jahiliyyah rules and instead instils Islamic values that promote fairness of justice
irrespective of religion.
I will also quote from a speech on Basic Human Rights by Syed Abul A'la Maudoodi,published by Islamic Foundation, UK, which are:
“ We have already seen that every person has certain basic human rights simply because he is a human being, whether he belongs to this country or that, whether he is a believer or unbeliever, or whether he lives in a forest or in a desert. It is the duty of every Muslim to recognize these rights. They are:
- The Right to Life The first and foremost basic right is the right to life. The Holy Qur’an says: "Whosoever kills a human being (without any reason like) man-slaughter, or corruption on earth, it is thought he had killed all mankind." (5:32) The propriety of taking life in retaliation for murder or for spreading
corruption can be decided only by a proper court of law. During a war only a properly established government can decide it. In any event, the Qur’an makes clear: "Do not kill a soul which Allah has made sacred except through the due process of law." (6:151) Homicide is thus distinguished from destruction of life carried out in the pursuit of justice. The Prophet, blessings of Allah and peace be upon him, has declared homicide as the greatest sin after
polytheism. He says,” The greatest sins are to associate something with Allah and to kill human beings." In all these verses of the Qur’an and the Hadiths of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, the word 'soul' (nafs) has been used in general terms. It does not refer only to those of one’s own tribe, race, religion or country. The injunction applies to all human beings.
- The Right to the Safety of Life Immediately after the verse in the Holy Qur’an which has been mentioned in connection with the right to life, Allah says: "And whoever saves a life it is as though he had saved the lives of all mankind." (5:32) There can be several forms of saving someone from death. If a man is ill or
wounded it is one’s duty to get him medical help. If he is dying of starvation, it is one’s duty for feed him. If he is drowning, it is one’s duty to rescue him. This, it is regarded as one’s duty to save every human life, because it is enjoined in the Holy Qur’an.
- 3. Respect for the Chastity of Women The third important element in the charter of human rights granted by Islam is a woman's honor, which must be respected and protected at all times, regardless of her origins. A Muslim must not physically abuse her under any circumstances. All promiscuous relationships are forbidden to him. The words of
the Holy Qur’an, in this respect, are: "Do not approach (the bounds) of adultery" (17:32). Heavy punishment has been prescribed for this crime, and no mitigating circumstances are indicated. Since the violation of the chastity of a woman is forbidden in Islam, a Muslim who perpetrates this crime cannot escape punishment-whether he receives it in this world or in the Hereafter. Apart from individual lapses, it can never be found in the history of Islam that
Muslims commit this crime against woman. It has never happened that after the conquest of a foreign country the Muslim army has gone about raping women, or, in their own country, the Muslim government has provided prostitutes for them.
- The Right to A Basic Standard of Living Speaking about economic rights, the Holy Qur’an enjoins its followers: "And in their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and destitute." (51:19) The wording of this injunction shows that it is categorical and unqualified. Furthermore, this injunction was given in Makkah
where there was no Muslim society in existence and where the Muslim came in contact mostly with non-Muslims. According to this verse, anyone who asks for help and is suffering from deprivation has a right to share in the property and wealth of a Muslim, irrespective of his origins. If one is in a position to help and a needy person asks for help or if one comes to know that he is in need, then it is one's duty to help him.
- The Individual's Right to Freedom Islam has categorically forbidden the primitive practice of capturing a free human being to make him a slave or to sell him into slavery. On this point the unequivocal words of the Prophet (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) are as follows: "There are three categories of people against whom I
shall myself be a plaintiff on the Day of Judgment. Of these three, one who enslaves a free man, then sells him and spends this money" (Bukhari and Ibn Majah). This Hadith does not qualify or restrict this ruling to a particular nation, race, or religion. The Position of Slavery in Islam tried to solve the problem of the slaves that were already in Arabia by encouraging people to set them free. Muslims were told that freeing slaves would mean the expiation of
some of their sins. Freeing a slave of one's own free will was declared to be an act of such great merit that the limbs of the man who manumitted a slave would be protected from hell-fire-one for each limb of the slave freed. The result of this policy was that, by the time of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs, all the old slaves of Arabia had been liberated. The Prophet (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) alone liberated as many as 63 slaves. The number of slaves freed by `A'ishah
was 67; Abbas liberated 70; Abdullah Ibn `Umar liberated 1000; and `Abd al-Rahman purchased 30,000 and set them free. Other Companions of the Prophet liberated a large number of slaves, the details of which are given in the Hadiths and history books of that period.
- The Right to Justice This is a very important and valuable right, which Islam has given to man. The Holy Qur’an has laid down:” Do not let your hatred of a people incite you to aggression"(5: 3), and "Do not let ill-will towards any folk incite you so that you swerve from dealing justly. Be just; that is nearest to
heedfulness" (5: 8). Stressing this point the Qur’an again says: "You who believe stand steadfast before Allah as witness for (truth and) fair play" (4:135). The point is thus made clear that Muslims have to be just not only to their friends but also their enemies.
- The Equality of Human Beings Islam not only recognizes the principle of absolute equality between men irrespective of color, race or nationality, it makes it an important reality. Almighty Allah has laid down in the Holy Qur’an: "O mankind, we have created you from a male and female." In other words, all human beings are
brothers. They all are the descendants from one father and one mother. "And we set you up as nations and tribes so that you may be able to recognize each other" (49: 13). This means that the division of human beings into nations, races, groups and tribes is for the sake of distinction, so that people of one race or tribe may meet and be acquainted with people belonging to another race or tribe and co-operate with one another. This division of the human race
is neither meant for one nation to take pride in its superiority over others, nor for one nation to treat another with contempt.” Indeed, the noblest among you before Allah are the most heedful of you" (49:13). That is, the superiority of one man over another is only on the basis of piety, purity of character and high morals, and not color, race, language or nationality. People are therefore not justified in assuming airs of superiority over other human beings.
Nor do the righteous have any special privileges over others. This has been thus exemplified by the Prophet (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) in one of his sayings:” No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over a black man, or the black man any superiority over the white man. You are all the children of Adam, and Adam was created from clay." (Bayhaqi and Bazzaz). In this manner Islam established the
principle of equality of the entire human race and struck at the very root of all distinctions based on color, race, language or nationality. According to Islam, Allah has given man this right of equality as a birthright. No man should therefore be discriminated against on the grounds of the color of his skin, his place of birth, the race or the nation in which he was born.
The Right to Cooperate and not to Cooperate Islam has prescribed a general principle of paramount importance and universal application. The Holy Qur’an says: "Cooperate with one another for virtue and heedfulness and do not cooperate with one another for the purpose of vice and aggression." (5: 2) This means that
anyone who undertakes noble and righteous work, irrespective of whether he is living at the North Pole or the South Pole, has the right to expect support and active co-operation from Muslims. But he who practices vice and aggression, even if he is one’s closest relation or neighbor, does not have the right to our support and help in the name of race, country, language or nationality, nor should he expect Muslims to co-operate with him. The wicked and vicious person may be
our own brother, but he is not of us, and he can have no help or support from us as long as he does not repent. On the other hand, the man who is doing deeds of virtue and righteousness may have no kinship with Muslims, but Muslims will be his companions and support; or at least his well-wishers. Conclusion This is a brief sketch of those rights, which, 1400 years ago, Islam gave to man, to those who were at war with each other and to the citizens of its state. It
refreshes and strengthens our faith in Islam when we realize that even in this modern age, which makes such loud claims of progress and enlightenment, the world has not been able to produce more just and equitable laws than those given 1400 years ago. On the other hand, it is saddening to realize that Muslims nonetheless often rely on the West for guidance. Even more painful is the realization that, throughout the world, rulers who claim to be Muslims have made disobedience
to their Allah and the Prophet the basis and foundation of their government. May Allah have mercy on them and give them true guidance."
While I am totally against the killing of an individual by another under whatever frame of pretence, I do believe that every citizen should be allowed to defend himself or herself. In the absence of the ability of individuals in the society to defend himself/herself, it becomes urgently imperative that the society should take that responsibility. The Nigerian
Nation has failed its citizens in its entirety, the onus that lies with the Southern Nigerian Leaders to take the initiatives and defend their own even if it means raising an army or an assassination squad to go after the likes of Alhaji Shinkafi.
A tit-for-tat in this instance will be appropriate bringing commonsense and a common fear to all participants and stakeholders in the entity called Nigeria.
Looking at the history of Nigeria, we are gradually moving towards a point in the circle of no-return culminating in endless violence, promoted and propagated by individuals who have personal agenda without care for the rest of us. Anything that it will take to bring this to an end NOW will be better than allowing the circle of destruction to continue even if it
means raising an assassin squad to deal once and for all the incessant forage creating fear and death that is holding the entire nation into ransom.
In conclusion, an anti-Fatwa Assassin Squad is urgently wanted as a deterrent to the Fatwa Protagonists who are using religion as a tool in self-aggrandizement with the hope that this will eventually not be in reality a tit-for-tat assassin squad but an alternative to the jungle justice system currently prevailing and a check on the excesses of religious bigots
misinterpreting the Quran for their own benefits. Let those who put fear of death to others know that death awaits them at the end of the day and judgment thereafter.
And every man's deeds have We fastened around his neck, and on the day of resurrection will We bring forth a book which shall be proffered to him wide open: (It will be said to him) "Read your record: This day there need be none but yourself to make out an account against you." (Quran 17: 13-14).
Dr. Dawodu has no religious bias being of a Christian Dad from the South and a Moslem Mom from the North.