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JESUS: Death and Resurrection 2

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According to Catherine Murphy, in her book, ‘The Historical Jesus for Dummies’, the gospels give the impression that several Jewish groups — the Pharisees, the scribes, the priests, the elders, the Sadducees, and the high priest — teamed up to take Jesus out. They all conspired and turned him over to the Romans.

The central question is: What threat did Jesus actually pose to Rome? After all, he spent most of his time in the Galilee, which was not under Roman hegemony. If enough people so much as hoped that Jesus might be ushering in God’s reign —when Jesus entered Jerusalem (Mark 11:1–10; John 12:12–19) — Rome’s prefect, Pontius Pilate, would have intervened with force to make an example of the would-be messiah.

The interesting historical question is whether Jesus himself encouraged the crowds to hail him as the Messiah. His core teaching was that God’s kingdom was coming soon and that it alone offered true justice, peace, and good news to the people. Did he promote rebellion against Rome? Would he have prepared for a final confrontation with the authorities armed with the ‘two swords ‘he gave his disciples, one of which was used to chop off the ear of the servant of the High Priest; and which Jesus immediately glued back while rebuking him saying: Converte gladium tuum in locum suum ; ‘those who live by the sword die by the sword’. Matthew 26:52

Enter Ahmed Deedat’s interrogation of the story leading to crucifixion. See CRUCIFIXION OR CRUCI-FICTION, in which Deedat gave an exhaustive interrogation of the last day of Nabi Isa and delivered a verdict of crucifixion not being the cause of death. It was a live Jesus that appeared to Mary and the disciples: Story for another day. The intervention today is the implications for Islam of Jesus’ prophesised return.

Jesus asked his disciples; “Who do people say that I am?” Their answers—from John the Baptist to Elijah or one of the prophets—reveal how his followers understood his life and mission. Today, asking Muslim communities around the world the same question—who do you think that Christ is?—is equally revealing.

The Quran mentions Isa, 25 times, but differently each time. The Quran explains that Isa was born of the Virgin Mary (19:20–21) and is “high honored in this and the next world” (3:45–47). Thus, he is called Isa ibn Maryam, or Jesus son of Mary. The Quran also refers to him as ruh min Allah (“Spirit from God”), mushia bi’l baraka (“the Messiah—someone blessed by God”), kalimah min Allah (“Word from/of God”), and rasul (Prophet-Messenger) of God.

Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet who was given a special message—injil, or the gospel—to convey to all people. This message both confirmed what was taught in the Torah and foretold the coming of Prophet Muhammad. Thus, Jesus has a vital and unique role to play in the Muslim faith.

Like Christians, Muslims believe that Jesus will return. This is the crux of the problem. Islamic texts say that Jesus will come back on the Day of Judgment, when he will destroy the ad-dajjal—anti-Christ. This however, is a contentious issue as it relates to the Quran’s proclamation of Prophet Muhammad as the last prophet after whom there will be no other prophet: The title khatam an-nabiyyin or khatim an-nabiyyin, usually translated as “Seal of the Prophets”, is applied to Muhammad in Chapter 33:40 of the Qur’an.

In Mu’jam al-Awsat, at-Tabarani narrated a hadith with the last statement being, “So I am that [brick], I am the seal of the prophets, there is no prophet after me”

The question is: If Jesus returns, will he return as a prophet and in effect contradict Quran 33:40 and the Prophets assertion of him being the last prophet?

The belief that a new prophet cannot arise after Muhammad is shared by both Sunni and Shi’i Muslims. Some of the most prominent historical Sunni texts on creed explicitly mention the doctrine of finality of prophethood. For example, in al-Aqidah at-Tahawiyyah it is asserted that “Every claim to the prophetic office after his is a delusion and a wandering desire.” In another popular work, al-Aqidah an-Nasafiyyah, it is stated, “The first of the prophets is Adam and the last is Muhammad.”

The first modern academic to have studied in detail the history of the doctrine of finality of prophethood is Yohanan Friedmann. In his seminal article, Finality of Prophethood in Sunni Islam (1986), he concluded that “While it is true that the phrase khatam an-nabiyyin is generally interpreted as meaning ‘the last prophet’, the exegetical tradition and other branches of classical Arabic literature preserved material which indicates that this now generally received understanding of the Quranic phrase is not the only possible one and had not necessarily been the earliest.”

However, Uri Rubin holds that the finality of prophethood is a Quranic idea, not a post-Quranic one, and that the expression khatam an-nabiyyin implies both finality of prophethood and confirmation. In response to modern scholars skeptical of the early origin of the doctrine, Rubin concludes from his study “that, at least as far as Sura 33 is concerned, the idea of finality of prophethood is well-represented in the text, as well as in the earliest available extra-Quranic materials.” Rubin concludes that the texts confirm the early origin of the belief. He concludes that “there is no compelling reason to assume that the Muslims of the first Islamic century originally understood the Quranic khatam an-nabiyyin in the sense of confirmation alone, without that of finality.”

This therefore poses a problem for the ‘Second Coming’. The matter is however settled by the Quran where it said that Jesus was not killed but: ‘Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise’; (Quran 4:157–158)

If and when he returns, it will not be as a new Prophet but as Jesus, Isa of old. This is not difficult for God to do: Ref the story of Uzair Quran 2:259 and the ‘People of the Cave’ in Sûrat Al-Kahf.

Throughout history and today many Islamic thinkers have used Jesus as an important religious model. Abu Hamid al-Ghazali encouraged Muslims to pray as Jesus prayed. In ‘Arabi called Jesus wilaya (“seal of the friend of God”) because he possessed the highest knowledge of and intimacy with God. Mahmoud Ayoub, a modern Islamic theologian, has developed an Islamic Christology that explores how Jesus exemplifies the fulfilment of humanity by being fully illuminated by God’s light (tajalli).

Of course Islamic thought on Jesus differs from Christian teachings. But we also share many common beliefs: including a profound respect for the mystery of God, love for Jesus, and a willingness to learn from his life as we seek happiness with God. Perhaps here is an opening for a productive conversation between our faiths. And in this spirit of Easter, now is the time to give it much thought. Given centuries of mutual suspicion and misunderstandings as well as ever-recurring tensions; doing so in a winsome and responsible manner won’t be easy. But this is the challenge facing us in the days ahead.

Today it is Kaduna tomorrow it is Jos; the bloodletting must end. If we all follow the teachings of Christ, we would all ‘follow the commandments’ and live in peace with each other.

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

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ECOWAS Court Finds FG Guilty of Violating Rights of #EndSARS Protesters

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The Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS, has ruled that the Federal Republic of Nigeria violated the human rights of Obianuju Udeh and two others.

The court found Nigeria in breach of Articles 1, 4, 6, 9, 10, and 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, specifically on the right to life, security of person, freedom of expression, assembly and association, prohibition of torture, the duty of the state to investigate, and the right to effective remedy.

The applicants, Obianuju Udeh, Perpetual Kamsi and Dabiraoluwa Adeyinka, alleged that these violations occurred during the peaceful protests at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos State on October 20 and 21, 2020.

The presiding judge, Justice Koroma Sengu, who delivered the judgment, dismissed the allegation that the right to life as guaranteed under article 4 of the ACPHR is violated.

He, however, said that the Federal Government must pay each applicant N2 million as compensation for violations of their security of person, prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and association, duty to investigate human rights violations, and right to effective remedy.

Additionally, he said the Federal Government must adhere to its obligations under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, investigate and prosecute its agents responsible for these violations, and report to the court within six months on the measures taken to implement this judgment.

The applicants alleged that during the peaceful protests against the SARS unit of the Nigerian Police Force at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20 and 21, 2020, the respondent committed several human rights violations.

Triggered by the alleged killing of Daniel Chibuike, the protests aimed to address police harassment and brutality.

The first applicant’s claims include that the soldiers shot protesters, resulting in deaths and injuries, which she live-streamed, subsequently receiving threatening phone calls that forced her into hiding and eventual asylum.

The second applicant, responsible for protesters’ welfare, described how soldiers began shooting after a power cut, leading to her hospitalisation due to police tear gas.

The third applicant recounted narrowly escaping being shot, observing the refusal of ambulance entry by soldiers, and later witnessing inadequate hospital care for victims.

She argued that she and her colleagues took over the victims’ care and she faced ongoing threats and surveillance, believed to be by respondent’s agents.

The applicants sought declaratory relief and compensation from the court for these violations.

The respondent denied all claims made by the applicants, asserting that the protesters unlawfully assembled at the Lekki toll gate on October 20, 2020, under the guise of protesting against SARS.

The respondent also maintained that its agents followed strict rules of engagement and did not shoot or kill protesters.

It argued that the first applicant incited the crowd by playing music and using her Instagram page to stir disaffection against law enforcement, who were targeting escapee members of Boko Haram and bandits.

The respondent contended that the second applicant’s logistics and welfare support provision indicated her support for the violent protest.

It claimed that soldiers were present to restore peace until the police arrived, denying any harm inflicted on protesters and the refusal of ambulance access.

The respondent also denied that the third applicant’s presence was peaceful, asserting it was meant to escalate violence.

It argued that the Lagos State Government managed the treatment and care of the injured and submits that the applicants have not provided credible evidence to support their claims, or the reliefs sought.

In its judgment, the court found there was no violation of the right to life.

However, the court held that the respondent breached several articles of the ACPHR which occasioned fundamental breaches of human rights violation therein.

Furthermore, the court declared that the applicants were denied the right to an effective remedy.

The court ordered that the respondent make reparations to the applicants for the violation of their fundamental human rights.

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We’re Already Preparing 2025 Budget, Pro-Wike Lawmakers Are Gone – Fubara

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The Rivers State Governor, Siminalayi Fubara, on Wednesday, said his administration has started the process of preparing the 2025 budget.

The governor also dismissed the threat by the Martin Amaewhule-led faction of the state House of Assembly that he should present the 2024 budget again, saying that having defected to the All Progressives Congress from the Peoples Democratic Party platform on which they got election, their seats remained vacant.

Fubara said this when he received on a solidarity visit, the leadership structure, critical stakeholders, opinion leaders, women and youths of Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas, led by Ogbakor Etche, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Etche Ethnic Nationality Worldwide, at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

In a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Nelson Chukwudi, and sent to newsmen, the governor described the recent ranting of the Amaewhule faction as noise-making from delusional folks.

He urged the “25 former lawmakers” to wake up from their slumber, adding that the ship of governance in the state was sailing smoothly.

The lawmakers loyal to the former governor and Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nyesom Wike, had been having issues with Fubara over the political control of the state.

After an unsuccessful attempt to oust the governor, resulting in the demolition of the Assembly quarters, the lawmakers announced their defection to the APC, a move the state PDP latched on to declare their seats vacant.

A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, the state capital, granted an interim injunction restraining the pro-Wike lawmakers from parading themselves as legislators in the state.

However, the Court of Appeal in Abuja, on July 4, affirmed Amaewhule and 24 other lawmakers as members of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

Holding a session at the state Legislative Quarters on Monday, the court-reinstated lawmakers asked Fubara to re-present the 2024 budget to the Assembly and gave him a one-week ultimatum.

The government, in a swift move, approached the court to restrain the state Chief Judge and others from recognising the Amaewhule-led Assembly, while it also appealed the judgment of the Appeal Court at the Supreme Court.

Foreclosing the idea of presenting the 2024 budget again, Fubara said his administration had commenced preparing details of the 2025 Appropriation Bill, with priority placed on education, healthcare and agriculture.

“Let me assure you that agriculture is an area that we have promised the very special and peace-loving people of Rivers State that our 2025 budget, which we have already started preparing, will address.

“Don’t bother about those people that are delusional. They think we are still sleeping. Let me tell you people so that they can hear anywhere they are.

“I wanted to help them, sincerely because I know them. And I have said it before, these are people that I have helped. I paid their children’s school fees. I paid their house rent. So, I wanted to help them.

“We all knew what happened when they crossed (defected), and how did they cross? Because of our God, for them to make that mistake, they crossed. They are gone, and they are gone. Now, let me tell you: when I wanted to help them, I accepted to help them because we are all one. We disagree to agree as it is said,” he said.

He added, “They thought they were smart. What is holding them is the declaration of their seats vacant as done on December 13, 2023. We are not doing any budget to nullify that decision. It is what will send them to their villages.

“As I am talking to you, I have started preparing my budget for 2025, which I am going to present very soon. And, in that budget, my key areas will be education, healthcare and agriculture.”

Fubara said the three priority areas would ensure that even if more roads were constructed, emphasis would be placed on quality healthcare services for the people of the state.

“Our children need to go to quality schools. Even if they can’t go to private schools, let them go to the public ones that have standards. We need to go to good health facilities owned by the government and get standard healthcare services.

“Even if we cannot afford those private hospitals, when you go to the public ones, you can get the same services with qualified professionals. That is our thinking.

“And when we get to the issue of agriculture, it will address the issue of unemployment. When we start engaging our youths, they won’t have time to be involved in crime. So, our thinking is to secure and protect our state,” he added.

He reiterated that he was fighting nobody as insinuated, adding that being loyal did not mean losing one’s liberty, sense of discretion and doing what was right.

“I want to assure you of one thing: we are not fighting anybody. We appreciate what God has used people to also do in our lives. But, we are not going to rule (govern) this state on our bent knees. We will rule standing this way I am standing.

“If it is only being on our knees to rule that is the way that they will see us as being loyal, then, I will pack my few things that I have here, and go and relax in my house comfortably, because it will be a disaster, not just to me but to everyone in the state and even my generation.

“So, I will continue to stand tall and stand on the side of the truth. Let me thank the President General (of Ogbakor Etche) for bringing your people, the great people of Etche and Omuma together to come and pay us a solidarity visit,” he said.

Fubara urged the people of Etche Nation to sustain their support for his administration because its vision was clear and encompassing to advance the well-being of all Rivers people.

He promised to work with the Nigeria Police to resolve the issue of herdsmen attacks on farmlands and farmers in the area, including the issue of illegal dredging activities.

The Punch

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Yoruba Elders Council Rejects Agitation for Yoruba Nation

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The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has voiced its opposition to idea of carving out Yoruba Nation from Nigeria.

The group, through a statement on Sunday, said it would rather commit to true federalism in Nigeria.

The statement read: “We have perused the document on the position of YSDM on the state of the Nation and their views for the Yoruba race to be separated from Nigeria. The Yoruba Council of Elders remains firm in its position that the entity called and known as Nigeria should remain as one Nigeria.

“Accordingly, the YCE has pooled-in all shades of thoughts, which show that majority of the Yoruba race feel cheated by the present lop-sided arrangement of the federating powers but they are solidly against going away from the Nigerian arrangement. They would rather go back to the agreement of our founding fathers when the Region administration was autonomous.

“YCE, therefore, stands firmly on the position of the founding fathers, who maintained togetherness but operated independently and contributed their quota to foster administration at the centre. To this extent, we would rather have a restructured Nigeria which will allow states to function independently as part of a whole.

“YCE wants Nigeria to remain one but, like the American arrangement, stay and function administratively devoid of interference by the centre. Let it be known that the strength of the unity lies in the socio-cultural inheritance of each section of the country and these can be deployed through education and efficiency of management. Our great country must rise again and we all will be in it together,” it added.

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