(Lagos, 04/06/2016) The Muslim Public Affairs Centre today condemned the gruesome killing of a woman, Bridget Agbaheme, in Wambai area of Kano State on Thursday 2 June, 2016, on the excuse that she blasphemed against Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessing be upon him).
News agencies report that late Mrs Agbaheme was accused of blasphemy during a "religious argument" at Wambai market and a Muslim mob set on her, taking her life. Even if the accusation of blasphemy was correct, Islam does not leave redress of such legitimate grievance to a murderous mob or frontier justice.
Also, the text of the Qur'an is clear on the sanctity and inviolability of human life, young or old, male or female, irrespective of religious or non-religious affiliation. This heinous attack should therefore be seen for what it truly is: a criminal act by people who have no respect for constituted authority and rule of law. Their action, and the potential it has to further damage community cohesion in that part of the country should refocus our attention, government and citizens, on the grave need to quickly intervene and wean our mostly idle youth from the propensity to take human lives without any religious, moral or ethical consideration.
MPAC is urging the police to swiftly bring to justice all individuals who were involved in this senseless tragedy in any way for the sake of justice to the victim (although no amount of reparations can take back the pain that came from this tragedy) and as a deterrence to others.
MPAC's condemnation of this heinous crime is a crucial stance which reflects our core value of sanctity of all human lives as expressed in the following Quranic verses:
"Nor take life- which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand retaliation or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life, for he is helped (by the Law)" (Quran 17:33)
(Imam Al-Ghazali has quoted this verse and drew the conclusion that "in respect of the sanctity of life and the prohibition of aggression against it, Muslims and non-Muslims are equal. Attack on the personal safety of non-Muslims invokes the same punishment in this world and the Hereafter". [Muhammad Al-Ghazali,Huquq al-Insan, p. 54])
"Do not kill yourselves, for verily Allah has been to you most merciful" (Quran 4: 29)
"....take not life which Allah has made sacred" (Quran 6:151)
Lastly, we call on the government to intensify efforts and confront the challenge of merciless killers in our midst. To invest heavily in developing and re-educating the youth and rescue them from an existence which makes some of them prone or susceptible to take human lives at the slightest provocation. Also, faith leaders must redouble efforts to dismantle the structures and ideology of hate/misguidance and religious illiteracy that seem to be fueling this level of unrestrained violence.
In the final days of the month of Sha'ban, let us pray for the families of the murdered victim and pledge to work to uphold the Quranic value of the sacredness of human life, for believers in God and all people. No words can describe the horror, disgust and sorrow felt by Muslims about this and similar criminal actions purporting to defend the honour of the Prophet (Peace and blessing be upon him) against vile attacks.