The Muslim Writers Guild of Nigeria (aka Majlis Ansar Sultanil Qalam, Nigeria [MASQ-NG]) felicitates with the entire Muslim community in Nigeria and the world over on the auspicious 1st day of Muharram, which ushers in the New Year 1442 of the Muslim Hijra Calendar.
MASQ-NG views this moment of the New Year as a reminder of the historic event that took place in 622 AD (1st Hijra) when, on divine guidance, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) embarked on the Hijra (migration) from Makka to Yathrib (later renamed Madina) along with his companions. It was a historic base shift from the Makkan harsh climate of opposition and persecution against Muslims to that of the Madinite relatively conducive environment for the proselytization and world formation of the divine movement.
Indeed, the historicity of the Hijra is reflected in the fact that it hallmarked the historical turning-point that began from that very formative stage of Islam and culminated in the fascinating trajectory of the triumphant formation of the Islamic religion and state. This fact perhaps explains why, during his Caliphate, Khalifa Umar ibn Al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) chose the date of the Hijra as the beginning of the Muslim Lunar Calendar; preferring it over the rest of the historical dates of the Holy Prophet’s birth or of his commission as a prophet, of his victory over Makka and of his death.
More relevantly, MASQ-NG is of the view that the fact that this memorable event was preeminently immortalized as the starting point of the Muslim Lunar Calendar further implies that it has a continual meaning and message to the humanity of the present and the future. This, therefore, mandates that, beyond the usual unorthodox superficial celebration of a New Year, Muslims should engage in a collective sober reflection on, and implementation of, all the positivity which the Hijra represents to our contemporary turbulent time.
A powerful Qur’anic declaration identifies Hijra as one of the prerequisites which entitle man to divine providence. It says, “Verily, those who believe and those who emigrate and strive hard in the cause of Allah, it is these who hope for Allah’s mercy; and Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.” (Q. 2:219). However, as reported in the Sahih Bukhari (one of the canonical books), the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) gave an impressive twist to the contextual meaning of Hijra that goes beyond its literal translation. He declared that, “A true emigrant (muhajir) is he who moves away from all that which God has prohibited.”
Expediently, bearing the foregoing Qur’anic and Prophetic perspectives of Hijra in mind, MASQ-NG is compelled to state that, with the current multifarious and multi-dimension challenges bedeviling today’s Muslim community, in particular, and the Nigerian nation and the world, in general, it is incumbent on us all to ‘emigrate’ (perform Hijra), to shift from every non-divine and anti-human paradigm of life, of religious practice, of politics, of intra and inter-religious, inter-community, inter-ethnic, inter-racial and international relations, to that of the world-constructive paradigm as recommended by God and the dictates of universal human values.
Foremost, the Guild proposes that Muslims have to collectively resolve to ‘migrate’ from our current state of exclusivist religious worldview and idiosyncrasy – that is breeding extremism, fanaticism, radicalism with their concomitant intra-religious ideological skirmishes and inter-religious terrorism – to an inclusivist, pluralist and multiculturalist paradigm. We must shift base from the paradigm that encourages exclusivist claim to orthodox Islamic truths and the takfirism or the divisive phenomenon of declaring Muslims as non-Muslims, to the paradigm of inclusivity and the recognition of Muslims’ collective right to the commonwealth of Islam.
Muslims must shift from the paradigm of politicization of religious issues and the manipulation of religion as a pretext for gaining political and economic power and for causing public disturbance and violence and endangering national and world peace and security. We must collectively adopt a paradigm that fosters mutual respect, understanding, peace and solidarity within a united Muslim world, one which glories under a single world leader.
Furthermore, the Guild proposes that our local and national politics must ‘migrate’ from the paradigm of politics of bitterness and dirty game to that of a genuine spirit of selfless service to humanity. Our inter-ethnic relations must shift from tribalism, nepotism, and favouritism, to a paradigm of collectivity, meritocracy, equality and equity.
More so, international relations must shift from the current paradigm of clash of civilizations and world power-play to a paradigm of dialogue of civilizations and collaboration of powers. Inter-racial relations must ‘migrate’ from the current paradigm of discrimination and injustice to a paradigm of recognition of the commonness of humanity, the mutuality of human fraternity and justice and equity in human relations.
Again, governance must ‘migrate’ from the paradigm of corruption and impunity to the paradigm of transparency and accountability. The contemporary economic and financial system must shift from its current interest-based economic and financial paradigm which fosters continued impoverishment of the poor countries and individuals while the rich continue to be rich, to that of a non-interest-based paradigm. Most importantly, our contemporary religions must ‘migrate’ from being religion of body (materialism) and heart (sentimentalism), to being religion of mind (rationality), spirit (spirituality) and God (divinity) altogether.
Once again, MASQ-NG heartily rejoices with all on the beginning of the New Year, praying Allah blesses the year and makes the blessings permanent in our lives, destinies and world history. Amin.
Al-Hafiz Yunus Omotayo
Muslim Writers Guild of Nigeria