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The Contested Relationship Between Catholicism and Islam in Nigeria (Essay Sample)


I was required to research and read about the conflict between christians and muslims in nigeria. the client also wanted me to include sub-headings.

The contested relationship between Catholicism and Islam in Nigeria
Nigeria is Africa’s largest country and the only country with an almost equal population of Christians and Muslims. The Muslims population dominates the northern side of Nigeria while the Christian Population occupies the Southern part of Nigeria. The Christian population represents 48% while the Muslims Population is 50% of the Nation’s population. The Christian population has grown tremendously over the years. As at independence, the Christian population was only 23%, and this number has increased to the current 48%. This increase is linked to the increased evangelism among the Christian community. The Muslim community, which has dominated the north, has also increased though not as much as the Christian community. By 1960, none of the religious communities had surpassed the 30% mark (Iwuchukwu and Marinus, 79).
Islam in Nigeria
Islamic religion in Nigeria represents the largest Muslim population in Africa and also in the country. The Muslim community comprises the Sunni, Shafi Madhhab as well as Shia, which is a minority community in Nigeria (Tajudeen et. Al, 49). Due to the Muslim domination in the Northern Nigeria, some of the states have introduced Sharia law into their legal systems. This has caused controversy, and most Christian clerics are against this. This is a source of conflict among the Muslim and Christians in Nigeria since the Christians are against Muslim controlled constitutions since they have different beliefs and practices.
Christians in Nigeria
The Christian population in Nigeria is experiencing tremendous growth since independence. The Christian population comprises the Protestants, Catholics and those still embodied in traditional Christian beliefs. They dominate the Southern part of Nigeria. This is because the Catholic missionaries who visited the country at the time of colonization concentrated on the south (Nyamnjoh and Francis, 235). The found Muslim colonizers had already dominated the northern part.
The Catholics represent a big portion of the Christian population in Nigeria. The Catholic faith has also experienced a fast growth rate in Nigeria as well as in other African countries. Statistics shows that Africa has 16% of World’s Catholic population. The Catholic population experienced tremendous growth of approximately 21% between 2005 and 2010. This increase in Catholic population has left many people speculating that the next people to succeed Pope Benedict XVI will come from Africa. Nigeria, Ghana and Congo lead in the number of Catholic population in Africa (Nyamnjoh and Francis, 235).
Conflict between the Catholics and Muslims in Nigeria
Due to the large size of the country, there are many people living in the country whom the Catholic and Muslim clerics complete winning. The vibrant Catholic movements competing with Muslims has escalated the level of conflict to higher levels, as both religions compete to win souls to their sides (Okoro, 104). This conflict has made the Vatican worried as extremists from both sides emerge.
The rapid increase of Muslims and Christians since independence has brought tension between the two religions. This has seen both sides rising against each other as they complete over who is superior to the other (Nyamnjoh and Francis, 235). According the Nigerian government, religious intolerance has claimed over 50, 000 deaths since the early 1990’s (Iwuchukwu and Marinus, 79). This was through religious uprisings with each religion having its share of extremists.
Despite the current conflicts, the West African country was initially formed based on interreligious cooperation. At the time of Independence, the North and South regions of Nigeria were united for a common good. The Leaders from both religious sides played an instrumental role information of the largest country in Africa (Iwuchukwu and Marinus, 79). However, with intensified religious activities to win over more souls, this unity is currently hanging in the balance.
The contented relationship between Islam and Christianity, particularly catholicism, has also played a role in the county’s leadership. The politicians have split the Nigerian population on the basis of religion and not tribal basis. The choice of who becomes the president is between the Muslims and Christian communities. In the Past national elections, the race was between a Muslim president and a Christian president. The 2007 elections attracted Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian, and Umaru Yar Adua, a Muslim (Tajudeen et. Al, 49). The recent 2015 elections saw the Presidential race being completed by Jonathan Good luck, a Christian (Catholic), against Buhari, a Muslim.
The distinct geographical location of Muslims and Catholics has made the conflict even worse. The religious extremists born out of this conflict have been responsible for thousands of deaths in the country. The latest extremist group Boko Haram allied to the Islamic sides has carried out multiple attacks in the country. The group is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Christians in Nigeria (Okoro, 104).
The Islamic Extremist group is one of the many uprisings in the world mostly targeting the Christian populations. They carry attacks in Christian dominated areas including churches where women, children, and men are murdered by bombing, using grenades or even mass shooting. This attacks against Christians have caused division among the residents as well as the ruling class.
There are various attacks that have happened in Nigeria in recent years. In 2000, there were riots by Christians when the Muslims northerners changed their legal systems to sharia law. The changes in legal systems introduced punishments against wrongdoers in Islamic states. Such punishments included Amputations as well as death by stoning for those who went against what the Sharia law demands. The anti-religious riots claimed the lives of over 100 people. In 2002, there were other anti-religious riots where the Muslim community was against the holding of Miss World competition in their country. The claimed that such a function is what the Quran teaches. This riot claimed the lived of over 200 people.
In recent years, there have been reports of alliances being formed by Islamic leaders. The Nigerian media alleged that the Islamic leaders were preparing a jihad. The Islamic leaders were against what they alleged as mistreatment of Muslims against a Christian President (Nathaniel and Abubakar,64). They complained that a Christian president had ruled for a long time, and the Muslim community had suffered victimization and mistreatment in the regime of a Christian ruler.
The continued intolerance prompted the former Head of Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II to appoint a powerful cleric to intervene on behalf of Catholics and Christians as a whole. Cardinal Francis Arinze was appointed to lead the Catholic Church in Nigeria as well to change how different religions viewed each other. The cardinal intervened by addressing issues that were a common problem with all religions. Catholics and Muslims are against sexual permissiveness as well as contraception (Nyamnjoh and Francis, 235). He focused on these issues as a way of uniting the antagonizing religion groupings. He achieved this by addressing crowds of people comprising both Christians and Muslims.
“Authentic dialog demands that Muslims and Christians accept one another with all their similarities. Muslim-Christian relations are challenged and obstructed by religious fanaticism or extremism.”
Despite the intervention of Religious leaders, extremism is on the rise and each side confront the other for enhancing their religion. Different countries are facing the problems of extremists. This is caused by by the fear of their religion being encroached by the clerics of the sides (Nyamnjoh and Francis, 235).. Some of the Muslim clerics have protested when evangelical churches hold mass gatherings to preach and teach about Christianity. They are against what they term as “too much evangelization”. They feel that their Christian counterparts are on a mission to win converts to join their religion.
Furthermore, the Catholics are also worried about the rapid spread of Islam in Nigeria. They are also worried by the rapid expansion of religious boundaries towards the south. The south in dominated by Christians and this expansion of boundaries shows that Christians are leaving their religion and joining Islam. This is a factor that has motivated the formation of extremist groups to fight against each other (Nathaniel and Abubakar,64).
Conflict in Catholic and Muslim beliefs
The conflict between the Catholics and Islam is due to the different beliefs and practices. One of this beliefs is on the issue of polygamy. According to the Islamic religion, men are allowed to marry up to three wives. This practice is usually contested by the Catholics. According to the Catholic practices, men are only allowed to marry one wife. Catholics who go contrary to this doctrine are usually expelled from the church since it is against their teachings. There is also a content in beliefs on whether clerics or religion leaders should marry (Nathaniel and Abubakar,64). According to the Vatican rules, Cardinals and other Catholic Priests are not supposed to get married nor get involved in sexual relations with women. However, some priests have gone against this rule, and this has resulted in their expulsion from the Catholic Church. Muslim clerics are allowed to marry up to three wives, u...
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