Boko Not Halal
“The black economy in Malaysia is quite significant I think,” I said to unhappy looks on the face of my audience, which matched the puzzled look on the waiter’s face when I said “Black!” in response to his question how I liked my coffee. Innocent faux pas on the part of the Malaysian trainer faraway in deep Africa. I quickly recovered the situation by deftly referring to the ‘underground’ economy instead in my next sentence but I stood my ground on the coffee as I was not too fond of the condensed milk being used here being too rich for my taste.
Other than that Abdullahi my Training organiser whispered I passed with flying colours in my first sojourn conducting training in Africa. Abuja is the capital of Nigeria and an hour’s flight away from Lagos and that is pronounced ‘Lay-gos’ if you please, I am reminded often by my friendly local hosts. I have trained central bankers before in my own country but yesterday was a special experience teaching Central Bank of Nigeria staff. I began by telling my story of how I experienced the longest birthday in my life when I went to Jigawa, a northern state of Nigeria many many years ago with my dear friend Allahyarham E (Shukri Aris Class of 70- AlFatihah to our dear brother). Just passed midnight at Changi airport then arwah E wished me happy birthday; when we landed in Cairo some hours later of course I was allowed a few extra hours of birthday since we had to turn back the clock to Cairo time. Little did I anticipate as we landed in Lagos a bit later I had to turn the clock back yet again to experience a few more additional hours of birthday! It was the longest birthday I have ever had.
Nigeria is leader of the pack in Africa, an Opec as well as OIC member state.
However it is also a fifty fifty Muslim Christian nation which makes for lively debates and discussions amongst themselves at the best of times. I was warned by my friend Ziyad, a fellow conspirator in this particular training trip, as well as Abdullahi that there is this constant undercurrent of rumble at all times between the practitioners of the two religions. It made for lively atmosphere much of the time during the courses I conducted with the Muslims more often than not on the defensive having to defend their much misunderstood religion. So used to Malaysian audience I did not bother to explain the meaning of halal and haram. When asked to do so by a non-Muslim participant immediately the questioner exclaimed Boko Haram is haram upon hearing my explanation of halal and haram. I probably won a few hearts when I did not disagree with him. With yesterday’s reported massacre of 24 villagers further up north it’s difficult to fathom whether they are really Muslims. Many now suspect they are more likely than not a planted group by the enemies of Islam.
Today was a group of lawyers who of course expressed the same indomitable traits as a profession as you would find anywhere in the world. I had a great time triggering debates, sparking fires and eventually guiding thoughts to the final message I want planted in their minds. And Nigerians are not shy to give their opinions I can tell you that; being shy is not in their vocabulary. It’s amusing sometimes to just sit back and enjoy the firefight I just started. They are also very bright at cottoning on to the facilitator’s innuendos and subtle messages.
Lovely country, lovely people really, trying very hard to make a success of their nation. Malaysia and Malaysians I find are treated with much awe and respect and I responded accordingly and in return not without some jealousy regarding the prowess of their football team. In the World Cup again for the umpteenth time in June when my country is bridesmaid again in one of the few sports it can top the world. I was of course constantly urged to reveal to them where our fateful aeroplane really was. A question where most I see already have the same answer.
I see a very bright future for this nation if they can rise above themselves and see the woods from the trees. It was a great opportunity to guide thoughts again about the evil of our monetary system, a common factor in all nations, of youth unemployment and neglected SME’s, of an international and local banking system that enriches the rich and impoverishes the poor, of how usury legitimised itself although clearly prohibited in the books of all the three major religions, and of how nobody questions the injustice of it all. Perhaps there ought to be a national service of suffering where the well to do are deprived of their wealth for a period of time for them to feel and live the struggle and the pain of the poor, caught in a system that continuously persist to further squeeze them out of what little they have to begin with. Perhaps then we will feel the pain and see the injustice of it all. Leave alone how supporting and maintaining the current monetary system supports the lifeblood of the group that is the bane of all Muslims, and indeed of all human race, as we see their evil game being played out on the world stage.
A journey of a thousand miles begin with the first step. May Allah give me strength to continue to strive for Man to see above themselves and to think as constantly enjoined by our Creator.
Zahid, Class of 72 Sulaiman House