If you ask a layman in Nigeria ‘’what does he or she understands about Sharia?” he or she might give an awkward answer, this can be a result of scuttlebutt and prejudices. Most especially people from The southern part of Nigeria find it uneasy to adhere to the so-called Sharia law.
Sharia laws are principles established by the almighty Allah, according to Qur’anic teachings, is to serve as constitution and guidance for all Muslims; those who are fortunate to have been given birth in Islamic religion, perhaps for the reverts because it is believed that all human on earth are born as a Muslim but “freedom of choice” would enhance some people to go astray. Everybody shall be judged according to his will during the last day.
In recent years, Sharia has turned Nigerian’s national topic of discussion. However, some Islamic societies are always encouraged to silence people’s opinions when it comes to commentaries and opinions of other people on sharia, most especially when the commentators are non-Muslim. Some extremists countered analysts on every occasion on issues that have to do with sharia. Some analysts argued that sharia is too strict and unconventional for an operating atmosphere like Nigeria. Some civil lawyers claimed that the so-called Sharia violates human rights as much as possible and it is of no obligation that such laws must be considered in a secular nation like Nigeria.
According to Sharia, these strict laws are mainly for Muslims to polish their ways of holiness and Godliness. The literally meaning of Sharia is “right path of Allah” this connotes the principles are mandatory submission of oneself to Allah. This belief is for all Muslims in other to have blissful moments during the Day of Judgment.
FUNDAMENTALS OF SHARIA
According to some Qur’anic teachings, there’re 6 distinct beliefs that every Muslim must believe in since Islamic religion is an Abrahamic religion and every Abrahamic religion is considered as a religion of the theist. Theism is the belief that “there’s a supreme being” one who is capable of possibilities and eventualities. In the Islamic religion the Supreme Being is called ‘Allah’. Allah is the creator of the universe; the author and finisher of the universe. It is obligated that everyone that calls himself a Muslim believes in Allah.
After believing in Allah the next shift of belief is to the Angels. The Angels are perceived to be the right hand of Allah before and after the creation. The belief in almighty Allah and the Anglels is like a philosophical phenomenon of abstractionism because the philosophers have let us known that believing in a supreme being and the Angels cannot be evidently investigated such belief is likely to be untrue. That’s when the messengers come in.
Every Muslim must believe in all the messengers of Allah, most especially Prophet Muhammad which was believed to be the last messenger. There’s no limitation in the belief of Allah messengers because each messenger has its time together with its distinct mission but only Prophet Muhammad was sent to the entire world.
Every Muslim must believe in Allah’s message which is often referred to as the holy books. According to Quran chapter 2 verse 2, the Holy Quran is the only true message sent to the world by Prophet Muhammad. Although there are thousands of books for Muslims to believe in. But the messages in the Holy Quran are superior to others books. It is mandated for all Muslims to believe in the last day. This belief imposes fairness and equity into the minds of every dedicated Muslim. The last day is considered judgment day.
Lastly, this’s a clause that comes as a ‘no choice to Muslim; everything has been programmed by Allah’. The last commandment is to believe in “Predestination” which means everything transpiring in every Muslim’s life today has already been written beforehand by Allah. This is the most controversial belief that makes several Muslims lose their fate in Islam. After a slight misunderstanding for this belief, some renounce themselves as Muslims and become an atheist; one who doesn’t believe in God.
These 6 beliefs are the main foundation of Sharia. Sharia in African mentality is perceived to mean “equity”. Sharia comes into light in form of law, crimes, justice, and consequence, in which some of its acts are too weird to accept in a secular territory. Some of its modes of justice are death penalty, amputation, stoning, re-orientation and rehabilitation etc. One of its functions is to serve as a guide to all the daily activities of every living man. It touches other aspects of human life apart from being religious law, the aspects of human life, such as civics, customary, finance, politics and governance, etc.
Some crimes are lite in nature but very heavy in Sharia, crimes like murder, adultery, apostasy, and blasphemy, etc. can lead to a death sentence in Sharia. Some analysts said Sharia encourages wife-beating and early age marriage. The Islamic religion is a religion that mandate total submission to Allah and Sharia is the only right part to achieve such mandate. Sharia is almost being accepted in most Islamic countries across the globe and most of these counties are battling with threats to life due to its encouragement of terror activities.
SHARIA IN THE NORTHERN NIGERIA
Arewa is the adopted name given to Northern Nigeria. Arewa simply means “the North” in the Hausa language, the most commonly spoken language in the region. Sharia has been introduced in the 14 states out of the 19 state that make up the Northern Nigeria, it is currently functioning in 12 states of the 14 states where it was initially introduced.
Many people believe that preaches of Sharia led to the mentality of ‘Boko Haram’ which means western education is forbidden. Boko Haram is the name of the well-known terrorist group that has been terrorizing Nigerian for over a decade now. Their terror activities have disrupted many lives in the Northwestern region of Nigeria.
In early 2000, a woman was stoned to death in Malumfashi Local Government of Katsina due to a case adultery crime. There are shreds of evidence that there are over 10 cases of unrecorded death sentences in Kebbi state, from the year 1999 to 2010.
In 6 states out of the 12 states that allowed the functions of Sharia, these states allowed some special task forces known as Sharia police. This task force can intervene in Sharia crimes and have the right to discipline any criminals alleged for Sharia crimes in their states. These Sharia police are called ‘Karotas’ some are being referred to as ‘Hisbah’. These are well known Islamic police or Sharia police in northern Nigeria. This Islamic police has its attack mostly on less privilege Northerners and exhibit special treatments for the elite class.
In recent times, Nigerians have seen this Islamic police in public for brutalizing citizens, they do issue warrants of arrest and parade clubs and hotels in their territory. Some leaders in northern Nigeria have been allegedly accused of corruption and illegal embezzlement of public funds for personal use. But these Islamic police have failed to bring these people to book.
Sharia reign has made some Nigerians not to live comfortably in Northern Nigeria. Meanwhile, other religions count it as a religious attack on them, depriving their freedom of religion as one among the 7 fundamental human rights. Some preachers and lawyers condemn Sharia on the basis of its total violation of human rights, and it must not be allowed to come into play in a diverse nation and a multiethnic country like Nigeria.
Firstly, let us consider freedom of religion as part of fundamental human rights, but this sharia has turned so many persons into homeless fellows due to religious crises in Northern Nigerian. Some forfeited their acquired properties and lost the lives of their loved ones during these crises. All these cannot be considered as things of pride for a developing nation like Nigeria.
Nigeria operates in a bicameral mode of parliamentary and it also runs a con-federalism system of government which allows state’s parliament to determine these kinds of laws that would be preferable in their environment. Sharia has been accepted in the Northern region of Nigeria, it has led to the doubt of being a blessing or a curse to the nation. The Northerners believe that the Sharia is the right mandate, while the Southerners see it as an agent of separation and an avenue for human rights abuses.