The noble Nigerian mosque imam

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

The strangest, yet happiest, thing is when you see something beautiful in the folds of ugly news. This is how I felt while reading about a noble mosque imam in Nigeria who protected Christian citizens from an imminent massacre that was about to be committed by Muslim citizens.

According to the news story published by the BBC, some Nigerian Christian families from the Berom ethnic group and who are farmers fled their town following the usual disputes with Muslim herders from the Fulani ethnic group. They escaped the town after Fulani gunmen attacked them and sought refuge in the town where the noble imam is.

Throughout history, religious and ethnic tendencies have been exploited to manipulate people, the public specifically, as we’ve seen during the “general strife” in Bilad al-Sham in 1860

Mashari Althaydi

“I first took the women to my personal house to hide them. Then I took the men to the mosque,” the imam told the BBC.

Controlling unruly fatwas

I will not say this is strange as it’s rather the right principle and the right thing to do. There will always be good deeds as long as there is loyalty, mercy and the concept of protecting the neighbor. However we must remind of these principles.

Religion in Lebanon

Throughout history, religious and ethnic tendencies have been exploited to manipulate people, the public specifically, as we’ve seen during the “general strife” in Bilad al-Sham in 1860. The spark of the civil war erupted in Mount Lebanon between Christians and the Druze and Muslims and the fire of strife eventually reached Damascus, the center of Sham.

There’s a wonderful document on what happened by a witness to the massacre. What’s interesting is that the writer spoke about some Christians’ foolishness and arrogance in provoking Muslims and the Exalted Ottoman State, as it was described at the time.

In a piece published by Lebanese daily An-Nahar, Father Georges Massouh wrote about an important document by Dimitri Dabbas, the Christian cleric who was the witness to that great strife.

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Dabbas talked about three “wonders” that protected the Christians in Damascus and Sham and they are the Pasha of the fort Hashim Agha, the chiefs of al-Midan neighborhood and Emir Abdelkader El Djezairi, the Pasha of Maghrebis as he described him.

Talking about the leaders of Al-Midan neighborhood, Dabbas eloquently says: “They gathered the people of Al-Midan who are the foolish and preached them: Sons, do not do anything at all. Protect the Christians in Al-Midan as whatever deed you do, it will reflect on you,” and urged them to protect the Christians, their interests, religion and world.

The people responded: “We comply with your orders.”

“Dabbas believes that the Christians in Damascus survived because of these three: Hashim Agha, Al-Midan aghas (chiefs) and Emir Abdelkader El Djezairi,” Massouh wrote, adding that Dabbas compared them, in a Christian conception, to the “three angels” who visited Prophet Abraham.

The origin is the goodness in people.

This article is also available in Arabic.

Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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