Interfaith ‘Twins’ Promote a vision of Peace in Northern Nigeria
The Christian and Muslim cleric from Kaduna State in Nigeria, Rev. Joseph Hayab and Sheik Abdulahi Maraya, are known as the “twins of Kaduna” for their affectionate personal relationship and evangelical commitment to publicly emphasize values shared among Christians and Muslims. “When you see me you can be sure that within five minutes you will see Sheik Maraya,” Rev. John Hayab jokingly said, adding that everything that belonged to him – other than his wife – also belonged to his Muslim twin.
“We chose to use our God-given position to influence our community for good,” said Rev. Hayab. “I find in Maraya a man who loves God and I love him and am proud of him. Saying negative things about Christians or Muslims is not an education; it is an incitement. How can you win people [over] when you don’t respect them – when you don’t trust, tolerate and appreciate them?”
“When I first met Rev. Hayab,” reflected Sheik Maraya, “my first thought was that I have met someone from my original family, the family of Adam and Eve. The first thing expected as a Muslim is that whenever you meet another human, if younger than you, you consider him a younger brother or sister.
“From the Islamic point of view, as found in the Quran, there is no basis to dishonor him or her on basis of some racial, religious or tribal identification. Was there ever a time that the prophet Muhammad dishonored a person because he was practicing another religion? No. As a Muslim you are enjoined to be kind and just to all regardless of any difference, particularly religious difference. If one goes by the tenet of Islam you are expected to consider the religion of others as sacrosanct.”
When I first met Rev. Hayab,” reflected Sheik Maraya, “my first thought was that I have met someone from my original family, the family of Adam and Eve.
Sheik Maraya mused that conflict and hostility exists because the majority of Christians and Muslims are ignorant of the rudimentary teachings of their faith. “That is why they are carried away and pass judgment on the basis of sentiment. But the Quran says that even if you hate someone you must not allow that sentiment to lead to injustice to others.”
For the common vision and understanding of One Family Under God to truly take root, we need partners and models of this vision. The GPF approach essentially seeks to create relationships that model the ideal of One Family Under God. Relationships such as the one between Sheik Maraya and Reverend Hayab are key to building peace between groups of different backgrounds and religions.
The “Kaduna twins” Rev. Joseph Hayab and Sheik Abdulahi Marya, were the co-facilitators for the entire One Family Under God campaign’s local peacebuilding programs. Having both a Christian and a Muslim spiritual leader as the models of interfaith leadership was essential for every aspect of this program from its planning, the introduction of the program to the traditional rulers and stakeholders in each community, to the actual educational 3-day training program and follow up programs. Given that the interfaith programming inevitably included members and leaders from both Christian and Muslim faith traditions, Rev. Hayab and Sheik Maraya were able, together and separately, to handle problems, questions, concerns from people of both traditions.
“We chose to use our God-given position to influence our community for good”
Moreover, the warm nature of their personal relationship and obvious respect for one another, regardless of differences in faith or practice, inspired participants to seek out the same kind of relationship with one another, without even being directly encouraged to do so.
So, in building One Family Under God, how you can replicate the Rev. Hayab/Sheik Maraya model in your own community?
The original post appears on Global Peace Foundation. Global Peace Foundation is an international non-sectarian, non-partisan, nonprofit organization, which promotes an innovative, values-based approach to peacebuilding, guided by the vision of One Family under God. GPF engages and organizes a global network of public and private-sector partners who develop community, national, and regional peace building models as the foundation for ethical and cohesive societies. Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon is founder and chairman of the Global Peace Foundation.