By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari says the greatest commitment to Islam is for Muslims to put the virtues of the religion into practice and make justice and righteousness their guiding principles.
The president gave the advice in his Eid-El Kabir message to Muslims.
The message is contained in a statement on Saturday by the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu.
“We should be the mirror through which others see the virtues of our faith.
“Islam is a religion of peace and we should avoid violent extremist ideas that give Islam a wrong name because our conducts will leave more lasting positive impressions than what we say by word of mouth.”
Buhari regretted that activities of religious extremists were negatively affecting the image of Islam, calling on Muslims to always distance themselves from those preaching violence in the society.
“Violent extremism is the greatest challenge facing Islam today and the only way we can neutralise its evil influence is to distance ourselves from the activities and teachings of those who preach indiscriminate violence against innocent people.
”This flies in the face of the teachings of Islam,” the president stated.
He advised parents to protect their children from the deadly exposure to violent extremists who, he said, manipulated and exploited children for their own evil agenda.
“Boko Haram became a deadly force and major security scourge because Muslim societies were indifferent from the beginning to the activities of extremist preachers, who manipulate their innocent and gullible followers.
”Extremism is like a cancer which must be detected and destroyed from its early stages of growth,’’ the president said.
He, however, assured Nigerians that Boko Haram terrorism, kidnapping and other forms of banditry would be dealt with “uncompromisingly until we see the back of these evils plaguing our country’’.
According to him, in spite of occasional setbacks, the Boko Haram militants have been militarily weakened and scattered by the armed forces.
”They are no longer in a position to occupy any part of Nigeria, let alone hoist their flag and impose their reign of terror longer than 24 hours.
“As our armed forces get more equipped and trained in addition to being more motivated and reinvigorated, this administration is relentlessly committed to protecting Nigerians, no matter what it takes to bring a permanent end to this evil,’’ he said.
The president also advised Muslims to be tolerant and to continue to work for peace, unity, national integration and peaceful co-existence among Nigerians.