HARMONIOUS RELIGIOUS COEXISTENCE IN THE BARRACKS, A MODEL APPROACH FOR HUMANITY
1.1 Background of the Study
At the very heart of nature and human existence is religion. Not only does it give order to a just society, it also oers explanation to the ultimate meaning of life, and how to live accordingly in relation to other human beings. Thus Nottingham (2004) describes religion as; A cultural tool by means of which man has been able to accommodate himself to his experience in his total environment including his fellow group members, the
sacred and the world of nature Therefore for the survival of any nation, religion must be seen as making an essential contribution. However, a cursory glance at religion today indicates that, it has become the source of disunity among people of the same religion and those of other religions. In many parts of the world, religion has become the source of unrest; Battles have been fought, won and lost, all in the name of religion due to the activities of religious extremists fanatics, politicians and trouble shooters.3 Thus the word of the psalmist thus comes to bear and is questioned here; How wonderful it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live together in harmony it is, like the precious anointing oil, running down from Aaron’s head and beard.4
Islam and Christianity along with Judaism are the three world’s major monotheistic religions. That is the religions which believe in one God. All three religions were founded in the Middle East; all three of them make reference to the Torah, the revealed will of God as expressed in the first five books of the Old
Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The number of Muslims in the world is about eight to nine hundred million below the total number of Christians, but almost the same as the number of Catholics estimated at about nine hundred seventy six million(in 1996).6
The world of Islam stretches in a broad band by Senegal in the west coast of Africa to Indonesia in the eastern side of the Asian continent not far north of Australia. Apart from overwhelmingly Muslim countries of North Africa there are few countries south of the Sahara which does not have a sizable Muslim population. Present day Europe and the United States of America in particular have a large follower ship of the Islamic religion too. An increasing number of Catholics in Africa and Nigeria in particular have as neighbors or work colleagues, fellow Christians of other denomination as well as Muslims and even traditionalists. They pass by Protestant, Pentecostal churches and even Mosques to go to school, or to the market. They hear the early morning calling of the muezzin to Muslim prayers. But how much do we Christians know about our different faith beliefs and how much do we know about Islam? What prejudices do we harbor against Muslims and as Catholics, what prejudices do we have against other Christians and they against us?
Christianity did exist as one single unit following the injunctions of Christ for his followers “that all may be one”, “so that the world may believe” (Jn.l7:21,23); however there came two great divisions that shook the whole of Christendom. First, it was the Eastern Church which broke away from the western church,
taking with her a stance of “autonomy” and “orthodoxy” in 1054; then came the second division, which occurred within the western church four centuries later because of the reformation.
In the midst of all these divisions came the advent of Islam and with religious tension, violence and intolerance among different religious adherents today. It is rather pathetic that co-existence among Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims is not cordial. There is total distrust and intolerance among them. Why is this so? Is this the world God created and is it how he had wanted it to be? Is it the unity Christ prayed for? In this work I will want to explore these problems of lack of peaceful co-existence among Christians and Muslims in the barracks. Because the experience which is happening in the secular society is gradually
creeping into the barracks and the situation which is happening in Eastern Europe is in the oing.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The necessity of peaceful co-existence in the world is acknowledged by almost all the populace of the world. Very oen though, this idea is not given the practical interpretation it deserves. Even though this dilemma is pathetic, the real problem is not so much in their dierences of doctrines, faith, governance and theology, but rather the inability of people who claim the same creator, made in his own image and likeness and believe their final destiny lies with the same God, to stay together in peace and harmony.
Growing up in the barracks, the researcher experienced some of his best moments in life. A period when Christians, Catholics and Protestants alike and Muslims shared a lot in common without an iota of distrust. However, years aer leaving the barracks, he returned to his roots again. The situation this time
around has changed. Christians no longer live as one and there is constant tension between Christians and Muslims all waiting for the day of doom.
Why this sudden change? Is it because of outside influence or from within? Where has the military discipline gone to and how do we manage this impending danger before it gets out of hand? In this work, we will try to point out the causes of this problem and draw out modalities to stop them and return to the status quo ante.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The objective of this study is to see how possible the harmonious coexistence among people in the barracks the researcher experienced as a kid will be revisited and once again re-applied to this present day situation and how this can serve as a model approach to improve the level of co-existence among people in similar situations.