RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS IN KADUNA STATE, MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS AS CASE STUDIES AND THE ROLE OF RELIGION IN THESE CONFLICTS.
1.1 Background to the Study
Religion for Nigerian people is a set of beliefs and practices based on faith, which are sacred and defy rational scrutiny. Therefore, it can quite easily trigger off emotional reactions. Religion also makes the world more predictable, the vicissitudes of life more tolerable and its complexities more understandable. It provides psychological relief and inspiration for the individual. At the social level, it provides a medium for fellowship and mutual support. Conflicts are unavoidable aspects of human interaction. They arise from the pursuit of divergent interests, goals and aspirations by individuals or groups. Changes in the socio–political environment provide fertile grounds for conflicts involving individuals and groups probably interested in using these conflicts to achieve their selfish goals. Therefore, the negative exploitation of ethnicity and religion results into ethno–religious conflicts. These often arise out of mistrust, hostility, polarization of relations among groups and at times in a competitive setting. All conflicts, according to Elaigwu (2004:4) regiment primordial identities of a group in a competitive relation with other groups are regarded as ethno–religious conflicts. The history of conflicts in the Northern part of Nigeria clearly illustrates the above point. This is because, the Kafanchan conflict of March 1987 as an example, started as religious conflict but ended up as an ethnic conflict. The 1991 market fight between individuals in Tafawa Balewa took on religious coloring, spreading as far as Bauchi town. Similarly, the 2001 Jos fight that started as an ethnic conflict ended up as a religious conflict. The North has had a very large share of ethno– religious brand of conflicts especially since the Maitatsine conflict of 1980 to the recent times. Religious experiences are one of the most important experiences of mankind the world over, and every religion claims among other things, to be an agent of peace. Such claims seem to be true to some extent. That is why Asaju (1988:128) asserted that, “although, religious experiences differ, but one fact is that all people are affiliated to one Supreme Being, that is God who is worship under different names among different tribes of the world”. It is on these bases that the Nigerian constitution recognizes three religions. These are: Christianity, Islam and African Traditional Religion. The practice of the African Traditional Religion in Nigeria before the advent of Christianity and Islam was very peaceful and accommodating because there was no any external influence or unhealthy rivalry among the Traditional Religious Cults. That is why Islam which came into Nigeria at the later part of the 14th century, and Christianity which finally settled in Nigeria in the middle of 18th century were both accommodated by the traditional religion. The toleration exhibited by the Nigerian indigenous religion was not in any way reciprocated by Islam and Christianity. The advent of the two religions rather made the indigenous religion to begin to recede to the background. As a result, most people (Nigerians) identify themselves as either Christians or Muslims. Furthermore, Kukah and Achebe cited in Achunike (2007:3) observed that “both Christianity and Islam today straddle across the Nigerian polity without apologies and are aggressively proselytized”. This has led to a serious rivalry between Christians and muslims.
1.2 Problem Statement
Like it has been rightly observed above, the increasing rate of ethno–religious conflicts in Nigeria in the past and in the recent years shows that the adherents of the two major religions (Christianity and Islam) are not in good terms. Nigeria has witnessed several ethno–religious conflicts.