Is There Such a Thing as a Radical or Fundamentalist Muslim?
What struck me was that CT described the murderers as “Radicalised Fulani herdsmen” [my emphasis], suggesting to the reader that their actions were not in accordance with Islamic tenets. I clicked CT’s hyperlink to see if it was a direct quote from the Morning Star News. What I found was: “Muslim Fulani herdsmen on Monday night (April 26) killed 10 Christians who had taken refuge…”
Not only was there no reference to “radicalised” to describe the Fulani herdsmen; there was nothing of the like in the entire article. Was CT‘s wording a misquote, or an attempt to disassociate the assailants from authentic Islam?
This is not a criticism of the honest and exclusive reports CT has posted over the past years, especially providing information most mainstream media outlets refuse to publish. But to describe the Fulani tribesmen as “radicalised” is itself a misconception, indicating that this radicalism, of course, would not apply to the majority of Muslims. In fact the Fulani’s jihadist acts are in compliance with the Islamic texts since they believe that they are ordered by Allah to turn Nigeria into an Islamic Sultanate, simultaneously replacing democracy with sharia law.
It is not just Boko Haram
We know that whenever we hear of Islamists killing Christians in Nigeria, the first and perhaps only group that comes to mind is Boko Haram. They are not, however, the only Muslim terrorists in Nigeria.
As reported in Christian Activities on July 21 last year, of the 1,202 Nigerians killed by Muslims during the first half of 2020, 812 died at the hands of Fulani Herdsmen (who slaughtered over 6,000 Nigerian Christians in 2018) while Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) slaughtered 390 between them.
In a piece I wrote last year entitled “Nigerian Government Accused Of Killing Christians By US: Why Does It Still Continue?“, I explained that Christian persecution in Nigeria, which can be traced to the Sokoto Caliphate (1804-1903), has increased since 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari was elected president because he has tacitly targeted those who profess the Christian faith with the aim of wiping them out.
According to Emmanuel Ogebe, a leading human rights lawyer in Nigeria,
“Buhari, who is himself from the jihadists’ Fulani tribe, has filled his security council with his kinsmen. He infamously refused to visit Benue State after the New Year’s Day Massacre  that claimed over seventy lives then commanded the state governor to go and “accommodate” the Fulani Herdsmen who had killed his people. The minister of defense has justified the killings and General Buhari’s Government condones and sometimes outrightly supports the Herdsmen. Worse still, General Buhari is a life patron of one of the Herdsmen associations that has claimed some of the attacks.”
Buhari’s Islamist agenda is apparent in what he said in 2001 at an Islamic seminar in Kaduna, when he was a military general:
“I will continue to show openly, and inside me, total commitment to the Sharia movement that is sweeping through all Nigeria. Allah willing, we will not stop agitating for the total implementation of the Sharia in the country [bolded for emphasis].”
Faithfulness to the Islamic Texts
The concept of jihad, as explained in the Encyclopedia of Islam (1960-1986), stems from the fundamental principle of Islam’s universality: “this religion, along with the temporal power which it implies, ought to embrace the whole universe, if necessary by force.” This can be attested by the numerous Quranic verses and hadiths.
The Quran contains at least 109 verses that speak of war with nonbelievers — some are quite graphic, with commands to decapitate infidels. Muslims who do not join the fight are called ‘hypocrites’ and warned that Allah will send them to hell if they do not join the slaughter:
- As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help. —Sura 3, 56
- And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten your Salat (prayer) if you fear that the disbelievers may attack you, verily, the disbelievers are ever unto you open enemies.” —Sura 4, 101
- So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them. —Sura 9,5
- Allah’s Apostle said: “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’. And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally.” —Sahih Bukhari 8, 387
Because Muslims hold that the Quran was sent down by Allah, they must fundamentally apply his precepts contained in it. In other words, there is not the slightest possibility for any allegorical or historical interpretation of the Quran, not even for those elements that are indisputably related to the traditions of a specific historical period and culture.
One can then say that the jihadists, such as ISIS, Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, the Fulani, etc., are the most faithful Muslims on earth. It is not the place of the author to make such judgements, in as much as pointing out to the Quranic verses and to the hadiths that command incursions against those who do not submit to the will of Allah.
Islam is more than just praying on a carpet facing Mecca. The sooner this is understood by politicians, churchmen, NGOs, the mainstream media, and others, the better we can tackle the problem of Muslims who commit violence in the name of Islam.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University. He is also author of Islam: Religion of Peace? – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.