Home Opinion Abrahamic Family House: Some personal perspectives during lent in a time of political transition

Abrahamic Family House: Some personal perspectives during lent in a time of political transition

by Isiyaku Ahmed
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Ahmed Yahaya – Joe

Blindsided by the recent post-presidential election aftershock, I missed following up on the opening for public use of a multi-faith prayer complex featuring a synagogue, church, and mosque located on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 1.

Designed by the British architect of Ghanaian descent born (1966) in Tanzania, Sir David Adjaye, three worship places are arranged in an equilateral non-hierarchical triangular format on a 6500 square meter piazza around.

Interestingly, the edifices are of the same cubic proportions of 30 by 30 by 30 meters with uniform white concrete and marble finishing.

The façade of the Ahmed El Tayeb mosque (center) is featured with a structured rise and fall of elliptical arches facing Makkah westerly. The Pope Francis church (left) oriented to the rising sun easterly is defined by linear perpendicularity whereas the Moses Maimon synagogue (right) is aligned in the direction of Jerusalem characterized by acute angularity. All form a unique architectural metaphor for harmonious coexistence.

Lent literally means “40” from its Germanic seasonal origin. It is representative of the fasting period in the church calendar subject to various doctrinal interpretations. This penitential period of forty days started this year on Ash Wednesday, February 22 which is God Willing scheduled to end on Good Friday, April 7.

Each believer (depending on denomination) is to practice abstinence and engage in almsgiving and other charitable acts including rigorous scripture study among other religious duties during the entire period. The rules of engagement vary in strictness and timing. They range from mostly just one meal a day in the evening to absolutely no meat, fish, or eggs throughout the Lenten season but in overall context hinging upon;

 “When you fast, do not be like hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces so that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” – Matthew 6: 16-18

So, how is one currently utilizing the 2023 Lent beyond personal supplication and corporate worship?

Since man is inherently a political animal no period of sober reflection at a time like this can be devoid of post-election musings. I have been currently preoccupied with three:

Firstly, history would always be kind to the present opposition for abundant political maturity and the level of uncommon candor in the face of electoral defeat. The immediate aftermath of the 2011 presidential election particularly in the North will always be recorded in infamy. The exact number of casualties of the politically induced orgy of violence carried out with organizational efficiency across parts of the North remains unknown. What was however established was that even 10 youth corpers deployed for election duty were gruesomely murdered. Ironically, that barbarity took place in those states where the then-opposition CPC predominately won and the ruling (now main opposition) PDP woefully lost.

On the sidelines, Bola Tinubu had teamed up with the PDP to ensure the defeat of the CPC including his own ACN’s Nuhu Ribadu.

Hear him back then, “When Jonathan’s overture came, I brought in my team and we gave him the conditions under which we would not actively oppose him by we would never openly support him.” The present President-elect concluded with a tall claim, “There was no question of money or other personal benefits to me.”

 Whatever the truth about that, as soon as Jonathan was returned elected the former Lagos governor was dragged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal in September. He was arraigned for, “false declaration of assets by non-disclosure.” Tinubu was eventually quitted.

Secondly, I have been variously asked about my concerns that “If/when power returns to the North (since Tinubu is from the South), it will most likely go to a northern Muslim, possibly for another eight years. That would be 24 unbroken years of Muslim domination of the Nigerian presidency.”?

 I am unperturbed by religious popularity contests.

I am more interested in understudying how in President Biden’s cabinet: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Attorney-General Merrick Garland, Director National Intelligence Avril Haines, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, and Treasury Secretary Janet Hallen are all from the American Jewish demography that numbers just 7.6 million or mere 2.5% of a US population of over 300 million.

The moral here is that if any particular religious demography dominating high political office has any sustainable value in Nigeria the North would not be so much besieged by poverty and insecurity within the last 4+4 years.

Thirdly, is the Naira re-design conundrum. I do not know who or what to believe again. But apparently, “As we know, there are known knowns; they are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. There are also unknown unknowns; the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” – Donald Rumsfeld (1932-2021)

In conclusion, the name of Jonathan Haidt’s 2012 book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion – is instructive but are we, good people? Our feigned righteousness is even more appalling, mostly self-advertising gambits.

We are collectively more like Joshua Greene argues in Moral Tribes: Emotion, Reason and the Gap Between Us and Them (2014), “Our brains are designed for tribal life, for getting along with a select group of others (Us) and for fighting off everyone else (Them).”

I commend the visionary oil sheiks of UAE for taking the bold initiative of creating an enabling environment for our different religious values to unprecedentedly share common space on a global stage.


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