As religious houses in Oyo state express reservations over the state Government’s position on the environment and worship and praises to God, they insist that all power is from the Almighty God. In this interview with Federationews2day, the founder and spiritual head of Shafaudeen worldwide, Wakajaiye, Ibadan, Nigeria, Prof. Sabitu Olagoke cautions the state Government to thread cautiously on issues pertaining to religion. Excerpts:
What is your reaction to the clamp down on religious houses in the state over noise pollution, by the state Ministry of Environment ?
I am an environmentalist, noise pollution has resulted in partial deafness of a number of people,and so we must try as much as possible to control the noise. But when you regard what comes out of the houses of God as noise, are we not insulting God ? We have to be very careful in the way we use words. It is true that some people have deviated from the course of real evangelism, of the real dawah or jihad. The real evangelism or dawah demands that we speak the truth, we have a target audience, we must do things in ways that must not encourage unnecessary noise pollution, because whatever you’re saying becomes a noise, when you are no more communicating. So Government got it wrong in declaring that what comes out of the church or mosque is noise, this is an insult to divinity. They would have gone there to correct the practice. Take for example, there was a time that I was treating some verses in both the Bible and the Quran that deals with family cohesion and family surprises, despite the fact that the song happened to be from a Muslim base, most Christians and some other faiths, came to me that I should allow the voice to get to their doors because what I was treating, regarding how to discourage people calling their mothers witches and even if they are witches, the position of the scriptures on this and how to manage such crisis. So, because it was more of teaching, it was problem solving, people loved to hear it, even if it was coming as music, it was supposed to be devoid of hate speeches, must be constructive and suiting. So, all these are lacking in the way we manage Churches and Mosques these days. So, the root of all these ought to be treated, because Churches and Mosques ought to be the divine environment for sustainable development of any community or nation. But in a situation whereby we begin to insult the senses and sensibilities of Pastors and Imams, by generalizing that what comes out of the houses of God constitute noise, is unfortunate. We cannot compare our country with the developed nations, where their culture does not revolve on religion, but with time they discovered that they were having a lot of problems, which their Psychologists and Sociologists could not manage. They now resorted to faith based solutions. And out there the culture is more of individualism. Here in Africa or Yorubaland, we keep extended family structure, here we are our brother’s keeper. No doubt Government needs to intervene, but this is not the way to go about it. They are supposed to help us to control and normalize things. Most of us are not Teachers, we only find ourselves holding the Bible or the Quran to teach people, so we don’t expect expertise. But if they would be structure with guidelines, mainly that nay teaching from the mosques or churches must be based on the scriptures and must not be abusive. It must contain messages on morals and discipline, and if it is music, it has to be constructive and designed to solve problems. But declaring houses of God places of noise ? It is very insulting. We need to rethink the agenda, we have to be very careful, because I don’t want the case of this Government or nay Government, that wants to correct the situation to be like that of the beggars’ strike, a book written, here most of them consulted their Alfas before they got to power, just like it happened in one nation. The beggars, you use them to get to the position of power, and because you want the city or community to be clean, you now say that they are dirty, and you move them somewhere, by the time such an individual starts having problems, the oracle consult, direct him to return to the beggars with gifts. The beggars reject the gifts, so his prayers are not answered and in the process he dies. So, we have to be very careful. Those in power still consult these houses of God. So, there is a need for us to restructure things in the houses of God. We must be scripture compliant in everything we do.