This is the full text of the Christmas Goodwill Message Delivered by Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria on 25 December, 2018 read at different Churches across Nigeria.
The leaders and worshipers of this and all other Churches, I greet you in the ways and manners that Prophets (AS) greet; Shalom. Salam, Peace unto you.
Today 25th December, 2018 we are here, as we usually do over the years in various places, to felicitate with you on the auspicious occasion of the birth of Jesus (AS), whom we also so much love and cherish. Christmas is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar, and many Christians celebrate the religious significance of this day. We are here to merry with you on the birth of he whose return has been foretold by our Prophet (SAWA) to herald the appearance of the awaited one, Imam Mahdi (ATF). Both, we are told in our scriptures, will return to fill the Earth with justice, even as it is presently filled with tyranny and oppression.
We are here at Christmas to celebrate with you Christians and your leaders, who follow the pure teachings of Jesus (AS) – a great prophet of God Almighty. We therefore share the joy and celebration of our Christian friends and neighbours. This is not the first time. This interfaith harmony between us is indeed not a new phenomenon. It was exemplified by the founder of Islam himself. When the persecution got out of hand in Mecca, in the early days of Islam, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) had asked his followers to migrate to Abyssinia, where the righteous Christian King Negus “would not tolerate any injustice.”
After Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) migrated to Medina and was anointed the head of state, many Christian delegations went visiting. They were always well received by the Prophet (SAWA). During one of such visits, an envoy asked for a place to pray. He was not sent out in the open. He was rather offered the mosque. The Prophet (SAWA) was quoted as saying, “Conduct your service here in the mosque. It is a place consecrated to God.”
In the covenant with Christians of Najran, the Prophet (SAWA) had stated; “I will protect their religion and their Church wherever they are found, be it on earth or at sea, in the West or in the East, with utmost vigilance on my part, the People of my House, and the Muslims as a whole.”
Again, in the Covenant with the Christians of Persia, the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) said; “No Christians shall be brought by force to confess Islam, and Muslims shall extend over the Christians everywhere the arm of mercy and kindness, protecting them from the exactions of oppressors.” Also in the Covenant with the Monks of Mount Sinai, the Prophet (SAWA) stated; “If a monk or pilgrim seeks protection, in mountain or valley, in a cave or in tilled fields, in the plain, in the desert, or in a church, I am behind them, defending them from every enemy; I, my helpers, all the members of my religion, and all my followers, for they [the monks and the pilgrims] are my protégés and my subjects.”
In the Charter of Medina, our Prophet (SAWA) guaranteed equal rights and freedoms to Christians and Jews. “Christians are my citizens, and by God, I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. The Muslims are to fight for them. Their churches are to be respected. No one of the Muslims is to disobey this covenant till the Last Day.”
We therefore hold these covenants very dear. That is why this same hospitality is displayed by our leader, Sheikh Zakzaky, who follows the true teachings of the Prophet (SAW) and his legacies. He showed us that Christians are not our enemies, but our brothers and sisters in humanity. He feels the pains of all oppressed and wronged in whatever part of the world, no matter the religion and no matter the colour of their skin. Christians are very much at home during our programs. For several Christians, his house was a preferred place of refuge in times of crises. He sends his adherents to attend churches to protect them and also during Christian celebrations such as this. As the Patron of Christian-Muslim Alternative to Conflict C-MAC, the speech he delivered at the inauguration of the body remains a reference point in the cause of peaceful co-existence. Hence, we have done this over the years. The bond of fellowship can only wax stronger to impress the admirers and confound our common enemies.
Like I mentioned earlier, Both Jesus and Imam Mahdi will work together. If we join forces from now against tyranny and oppression, we will be laying a good foundation for them. When they both return, they must see us prepared to assist them in their Divine mandate. It is on this basis that we call on Christians to team up with us. The Church should join the struggle against oppressors and tyrants right away. Together, we can champion unity among all religious people and take a unified stance against aggressive leaders. We therefore implore you to stand by us and our leader and all oppressed people in the country and beyond, against aggression and discriminations.
Fellow Christian friends, we wish you well and share your joy this day, and we hope you accept our heartfelt warm wishes and prayers.
Merry Christmas and a happy Prosperous New Year in advance!
Islamic Movement in Nigeria