Religious Harmony: Onaiyekan Tasks Religious Leaders

… change mode of addressing followers


The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, has called

religious leaders must change their mode of addressing their adherents

to conform with the correct teachings of their religions and promote

total peace and harmony.


Cardinal Onaiyekan made the call on Monday in Ilorin in his Keynote

address at the First International Conference of Inter-Religious

Council organised by the University of Ilorin.


The theme of the Conference is: “A peaceful co-existence among

adherents of different religions: a panacea for National integration

and Development”.


He was of the view that there was the need for the total training of

both Muslim and Christian clerics on knowledge of scriptures

pertaining to religious harmony in Nigeria.


The Cardinal believed that there were too many ignorant Christian and

Muslim clerics misleading their adherents.


He noted that religious harmony was possible in Nigeria, but required

that clerics from the two major religious body should to go back to

the scripture and be retrained.


The Cardinal also called on both Christian and Muslim Clerics to stop

misleading their followers in their sermons.


“Religious harmony is not just peaceful co-existence, which is often

not peaceful at all especially when there are perceptions of injustice

in some quarters.


“Peace is more than the absence of war,” Cardinal Onaiyekan said.


Onaiyekan stated that it is only peace that can brings about national

integration, in which every section finds itself at home and valued.


He warned that the nation was moving towards polarization and

division, with the failure of the two major political parties in the

country to meet the legitimate expectations of the average Nigerian.


“There is need for a radical theological updating of our ideas of God

and our faith, in such a way that we can accommodate others, just as

God Himself has accommodated all of us,” he said.


He called on the diverse religious adherents to celebrate the common

grounds we have in our faiths, despite the non-negligible doctrinal



Speaking at the occasion, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, Secretary General of the

Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs said the conference was

appropriate and timely.


He was of the view that discourse on peace and peaceful co-existence

was a continuous one, as nations have been experiencing serious

clashes in one form or the other.


Oloyede, who was represented by Dr Yusuf Adebayo, Lecturer at the

Depart of Religions of the University of Ilorin advised against

forcing religion on people.


He quoted the Quran that says: “Let there be no compulsion in

religion; truth stands out clear from error.”


Oloyede warned that condemnation and provocation of people of other

faith is considered a wrong step that can lead to unhealthy

relationship among people who belong to different faiths and it is

therefore condemned in Islam.


“In order to foster social interactions between Muslims and

Christians, the Qur’an legalizes the consumption of Christian food for

Muslims, and vice-versa,” he said.


Earlier in his welcoming address, Prof Sulyman Abdulkareem, Vice

Chancellor of the University described religious bigotry as one of the

major problems confronting Nigeria.


He said the degree of citizens’ intolerance against one another is

very high and the reason behind the endemic religious crisis that

permeate various divides of the nation.


The VC said that God created religion as an instrument for unity and

peaceful co-existence among people.