Islam is a religion of peace and those who believe in the eternal message of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) must learn to co-exist harmoniously with their neighbours, especially those of different faith. 

This was the central message of a public lecture organised by the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in conjunction with the University of Abuja, delivered at the university main campus, Gwagwalada, by Sheikh (Dr.) Saad Al-Shathary, Adviser to the Royal Cabinet and Member, Commission of Scholars, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

 The public lecture with the theme: Islam and Peace’ drew participants from across the country including the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Nigeria, Fahad Abdullah Sefyan and the Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu. 

In his welcome address, Chairman of the organising committee, Professor Effiok Uwatt thanked participants for honouring the invitation, noting that the need to sensitise the public about the true tenets of Islam informed the decision to convene the lecture.

According to him, the university is a home to people of diverse faith, stressing that of different beliefs would go a long way in deepening religious tolerance amongst students and staff of the citadel of learning. 

“There is a need for us to get first-hand information of the relationship between Islam and peace and we believe our highly respected lecturer is eminently qualified to do justice to the topic. As a university, we are not unmindful of the importance of peace not only within the premises of an institution like ours but the society at large,” he said, urging all and sundry to learn as much as they could from the eminent lecturer. 

Dr. Al-Shathary in his opening remarks warned against listening to scholars with questionable knowledge of the Holy Quran, arguing that such are largely to blame for the fallacious beliefs non-Muslims erroneously associate with Islam. 

On the place of peace in Islam, the cleric quoted copiously from the Holy Quran, Surat 21 verse 69, noting that Muslims are enjoined to live harmoniously even with those who do not share their faith. 

“Do not consider yourself a good Muslim if you cannot tolerate others, regardless of their beliefs,” he warned, adding that Prophet Muhammad was revered and respected for his generosity and tolerance of others. 

“Until you love everyone you come across, you are not a true worshiper of Allah,” he added. 

The Sheikh also used the occasion to speak excessively on the virtues of honesty, cooperation, kindness and knowledge seeking, warning that grave danger awaits those who enrich themselves through corrupt means.

 In a separate interview with the Vanguard, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) of the university, Professor Sani Abubakar Mashi said the University of Abuja is renowned for its peaceful ambience, saying the lecture content would be made available to students in readable format to enable them benefit from its incredible value. 

“We promote peaceful relationship here and what we are trying to do is to sustain the peace within the university. Knowledge is power and without it, development is virtually impossible. So, we want them (staff and students) to be adequately informed about the teachings of the holy books because as far as I am aware, both Islam and Christianity teach peace and good neighbourliness,” he stated. 

An elated Dr. Al-Shathary took time to field questions from the audience, answering same with combinations of references from the glorious Quran and the sayings (Hadiths) of Prophet Muhammad.

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