A faith-based human rights organisation, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has demanded the declaration of the first day of the Islamic calendar (1st Muharram) as Hijrah holiday to justify the 1st January Gregorian holiday that is declared annually by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FG).
The group insists that 1st January holiday is a Christian colonial creation designed to dignify and rubber-cushion the pomp and pageantry of Christmas. It therefore argues that only the recognition of the first day of the Islamic new year can balance the equilibrium and ensure parity, justice and fairplay.
MURIC’s demand was made on Friday, 7th January, 2022 by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
MURIC said :“As usual, the Federal Government (FG) declared 1st January, 2022, a public holiday in recognition of the first day of the Christian Gregorian calendar. But because the day fell on a Saturday, FG created an alternative by declaring the following Monday a public holiday.
“This was an aberration and a gross injustice because Nigerian Muslims have been demanding the declaration of the first day of the Islamic calendar as a holiday for more than twenty (20) years to no avail. It simply means that FG under President Muhammadu Buhari is also supporting the Christianisation of Nigeria. It considers the first day of the Christian calendar as sacred while the first day of the Islamic calendar is regarded as unimportant.
“MURIC frowns at this lopsided arrangement. It is unfair, unjust and undemocratic. We demand immediate review of FG’s holiday policy. We demand the declaration of the first day of the Islamic calendar as a holiday to justify the 1st January holiday that is declared annually by FG.
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“It is important to note that the Christian calendar was established by Pope Gregory XIII (1502 – 1585) while the Islamic calendar was kicked off on 16th July, 622 to mark the historical migration (hijrah) of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from Makkah, where the Muslims faced persecution, to Madinah, where they found religious freedom.
“The decree which declared Anno Hijrae was promulgated in 639 C.E. during the reign of Umar bin Khattab, the second orthodox khalifah (622 – 644). The Islamic calendar also finds divine expression in the Glorious Qur’an 9:36; 2:189; 10:5 and 17:12. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, therefore, the Islamic hijrah calendar is not a product of human machination and manipulation.
“Being a product of a people hitherto repressed by the pagans of Makkah, the Islamic calendar is also an instrument of freedom and liberation. Seen from this angle, all past and present efforts made by Nigerian Muslims for the actualisation of hijrah holiday is therefore part of the struggle for the emancipation of Nigerian Muslims from the clutches of Christian neo-imperialism, oppression and persecution.
“1st January holiday is a Christian colonial creation designed to dignify and rubber-cushion the pomp and pageantry of Christmas. In the interest of peace, FG should review this Christian colonial heritage. Nigeria became independent 62 years ago for crying out loud. 62 years is long enough to right wrongs perpetrated by the British slave masters.
“Unfortunately, Muslims are still being treated like slaves and third class citizens by the government of Nigeria. It is too glaring to be denied. FG continues to impose an inferiority complex on Nigerian Muslims. We reject this imbalance. We will not suffer in silence. We will raise our voices on Nigerian streets and cities. We will cry out in the villages, in the creeks and in the forests. The valleys, hills and mountains will echo our voices. We will rather be free men in our graves than live like puppets and slaves.