Kaduna — From across Kaduna metropolis, Muslim faithful on Tuesday converged on Sabon Tasha to celebrate this year's Christmas at the instance of a group, the Peace Reconciliation Movement of Nigeria (PRMN). The event was attended by many Muslim clerics.
Sabon Tasha, like many parts of Kaduna south, is regarded as a-no-go area for Muslims, while some northern parts of the city like Tudun Wada, Rigasa, among others, are thought of by Christians in like manner.
The recurring ethno-religious crisis, especially the year 2000 Shariah crisis that bedevilled the state has polarised the people along religious line. The crisis has snatched away the age-long tradition of food sharing during festival in the state. On Tuesday, it was made up at the event convened by Pastor Yohanna Y. D. Buru of the PRMN.
Speaking during the get-together, Mallam Lawal Yusuf Maduru, popularly known as Mallam Nigga, said he decided to celebrate the festival with Christians in order to restore the tradition where Muslims and Christians celebrate their festive periods together.
Malam Nigga who resides in Rigasa, Igabi local government area, stressed the need for Nigerians to understand the teachings of their religion well, saying Christianity and Islam preach peace.
"Unless we restore our long held tradition of living together irrespective of any differences, we may continue to have crisis in the country. Christians and Muslims must live together if we are to develop in this country," he said.
Head of Department of Human Anatomy unit of the faculty of medicine, Kaduna State University, Dr. Yusuf Na-Dabo, who was also at the event said Nigerians must learn to tolerate one another.
According to him, the event was expected to create bridges for the restoration of peaceful co-existence among Muslim and Christian faithful in the volatile city.
He said if this spirit is sustained, it would also restore peace to the north and the entire country.
"I feel very elated when I was invited to celebrate this occasion with a pastor. This event shows that God has started to answer our prayers. Islam preaches peace and Christianity says we should love our neighbours the way we love ourselves. Our difference should not keep us apart, rather it should bind us the more," he said.
In an interview at the event, a Kaduna based women leader, Hajiya Gambo Mamman Gusau, described the get-together as a welcome development.
"We did similar event for our Christian brothers and sisters at the end of the last Ramadan. They came to Sultan Bello mosque to celebrate the Sallah with us. So when pastor extend this invitation to me, I quickly grabbed it because peace is priceless.
"We need more of this for us to regain our age-long tradition of living together irrespective of any differences. Without this there will be no peace, no development. We need to embrace ourselves and live together peacefully," she added.
Convener of the Pastor Yohanna Y. D. Buru of the Christ Evangelical and Intercessory Fellowship Ministries said he invited Muslims for the celebration as part of efforts to promote peace in the state.
"I was born in Badarawa; we lived together peacefully; we shared food, cloths, and other things with our Muslim brothers and sisters. There was no segregation at that time but now the reverse is the case. I invited you here in order revive the tradition. We are brothers and sisters and as such we must live together peacefully," he said.
He urged clerics in the country to desist from fanning the embers of discord between Christians Muslims.
"We must all strive to understand our religion. Islam and Christianity preach peace. As such, every Nigerian, whether you are a Christian or Muslim we must work together to preach peace our strength is in peaceful co-existence. A Muslim is not my enemy. The bible preaches that we should take care of our neighbours. We want peace by all means in Kaduna," he said.
At the end of the event, prayers were offered for peaceful co-existence in the state and the country as a whole.