LAGOS – In a bid to protect their children from activities associated with Christmas, Muslim parents in Nigeria are increasingly enrolling their children in Islamic camping programs where they learn more about their faith and are tutored in key educational subjects.
“This is a period of carnivals with the attendant evil exposures and negative activities, so we took it upon ourselves to organize camping programs for our children, youths and interested adults too,” Idris Qasim, spokesman of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), told OnIslam.net.
“There are thousands of participants already and many more are still expected. It is in batches. We have one strictly for secondary school students and another one for school leavers, adults and kiddies,” he added.
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Over the past few years, special camps were being organized by Muslim groups to host Muslim children during Christmas days.
Opening on December 23, this year’s camp, which lasts until January 1, 2014, was held under the theme of 'Al-Istiqamah: standing upright on the right path'.
Qasim added that the camp will be held at three different locations across Lagos alone where males will be separated from females.
“The basis is to teach moral and spiritual guiding. That is the basis for any camp at all. For the yuletide session, you and I know that a lot of negative things happen during this season and in order to shield these children and our youths from these negative occurrences, such as carnivals and all sorts of things, we out this program together to benefit the ummah,” he said.
The camp was not limited to Islamic subjects only, as attendants were offered lectures in educational subjects as well.
“We organize class lectures: each level undergoes lectures in English, mathematics and Islamic studies. For school leaver, we teach Fiqh, Seerah, Qur'an and Hadith,” Qasim said.
“We organize examinations for campers and we reward the first three winners. Class Lectures are basically during the day, in the evening they come in for general session where we merge everybody for Islamic teachings.”
Other camp events were also organized by other Muslim associations and foundations across the western African country.
“We hold special camps for our Muslim students during this period to shield them from anything not compatible with Islam and its teachings,” Alhaji Madinat Balogun of the Muslim Women Praying Group told OnIslam.net.
“This camp’s programs, which began on Sunday, were held in different locations across Nigeria. We have in Lagos, Ibadan in Oyo State and many other places.”
Away from camps, many Nigerian Muslims choose to share Christmas festivities, exchanging gifts with their non-Muslim friends and neighbors.
“Whilst I don't celebrate Xmas because I am a Muslim, I don't forget to buy Xmas card for my Christian neighbors and candies for their kids since I owe them a duty to felicitate with them when they are celebrating. I don't see anything un-Islamic about this,” Misbahudeen Sa'adallah, a Lagos resident, told OnIslam.net.
“I eat their rice and chicken, and I also send money to the countryside for my uncles who are Christians to enjoy their festival. Again, I don't believe this contradicts any Shariah rule.”
Another Lagos resident, Sayfullah Aderibigbe, said he purposely buys hampers for his Christian neighbors who also celebrate Sallah (`Eid Al-Adha in Nigerian-related languages) with his family.
“If they celebrate Sallah with me and my family, what stops me from doing whatever my religion allows me to do to show friendship? They know my position on Xmas,” he told OnIslam.net.
“But that doesn't stop me from buying them gifts during Xmas. It is their belief and they have right to it,” he added.
Calling for harmonious relationship between Christians and Muslims, prominent Nigerian Muslim scholar Prof. Ishaq Akintola said in a Xmas message today: “MURIC (Muslim Rights Concern) reaffirms its resolve to respect the rights of people of other faiths to observe their festivals and the attendant holidays without let or hindrance.”
“We call for peaceful coexistence and dissociate ourselves from any group which carries out or encourages attacks on Christians and their places of worship as this stands in contradistinction from the true teachings of Islam.
“We assert clearly and unambiguously that contrary to the distorted doctrine of violent groups, Al-Jannah does not lie at the feet of killers of Christians and bombers of churches but rather it is, first and foremost, attained with the incomprehensible grace of Almighty Allah and bestowed upon righteous Muslims who extend charity, love and tolerance to their neighbors,” he added.
Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.
Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.
Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar. Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.
In the Noble Qur’an, Jesus is called “Isa”. He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).
Muslim scholars assert that Muslims have their own identity and in order to keep this identity they must not celebrate Christmas or holidays of non-Muslims.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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