Boko Haram: The mosque, the faithful and the Suicide Bomber 


By Blogger

Since Boko Haram's debut in our land, about a decade ago, it's attendant humanitarian crisis may have affected people in many different ways untold.
Everyone has his or her share of tale to tell about death, decapitation, injury bereavement, pretimed widowhood, impoverishment, displacement and all kinds of geographical as well as psycological unsettlements.

The narratives, from every shade of inflicted casualty, may be related, but differently spiced in terms of depth of attendant agony.

But one thing that unites us all is #Fear. This fear is not even of the unknown...but a fear of one certainty...Boko Haram will attack again.
It is not that kind of momentary fears that usually come when an occurrence of danger is foretold.... This fear is the one which is constant...one that has become a norm. And because it is now a norm,  people carry on with their lives and having their fears strapped on their backs like a baby that must be nortured as long as it refuses to grow.

Normally the markets, the bus park, schools, the public event centres, and worship centres are likely places for Boko Haram attacks.. Hundreds have died in bomb attacks in these places, because no one sees or knows who a Boko Haram suicide bomber is or what he or she looks like. 

All they know and could remember is the banging explosions, the thick dust of flames and dismembered human parts dripping with steaming blood pasted on walls, hanging on trees, and roof tops.

Despite this, people still throng the market places , the schools, the churches and mosques. 

When you ask why is it so, the answers are always not far-fetched: man must feed, the kids must go to school, and man must worship His God.

Yes. These are the  indispensable socioeconomic and spiritual expediences that make folks in hostile environments like Borno to adapt to the fears that they now live with. 

That sense of knowing it will or can happen but yet try to live a normal life.

It was with that mindset that I woke up at 5.20 am on That Saturday, made my ablution, and braved the chilly weather to the mosque. On the way I kept asking God to shine His light on my soul, in my vision and my audition; to lighten my surroundings and eternally keep me in His light and illuminate my darkness.

As I opened the door of the mosque to join others already lined up behind the priest in prayers, a thought came to my mind. 'Hope we finish this without any suicide bomber creeping upon us.'

In all honesty, that line of thought comes to my mind with a default every time I set  out in dark wee hours to pray. It comes every time I drive or ride through the post office, a crowded  area of Maiduguri, or each time I find myself in any public gathering. 

On that fateful Saturday morning, the same routine thought flashed across my mind, but I simply shrugged it off as joined other worshippers. 

The moment I raised my hands and softly said 'Allahu Akbar' (God is great) which signs me into prayer mode, I left every other human precaution and worry or fear to God. In our genuflection, we asked Him for, mercies, for forgiveness of sins and for His blessing here on earth and in the hereafter.
 
We ended the prayer peacefully and everyone dispersed.

But that was not the case for the Muslim worshippers in Gwozari suburb of Polo general area of Maiduguri.

As I was told, they could not conclude their congregational prayers because it was cut short by an attack from Boko Haram suicide bombers who invaded their community.

While in prayer mood, the deafening sounds of gun shooting forced them to abandon their worship and fled. But two of them were not lucky. A gunman, who saw them escaping, opened fire and killed two. Others, about 15 of them, escaped with serious injuries.
Three suicide bombers detonated themselves and at the end killed 7 persons including a child.

Eleven lives had been wasted. 

I got this news as I got home from the mosque. And 
I said  God when will this end.
Maiduguri was again imbued with sorrow.

But when it was time for afternoon prayer, people still went to the  mosque to seek God's face.

"We cannot abandon God because we are afflicted by Boko Haram," one resident of Maiduguri, Modu Alkassim said.

"The Boko Haram or whatever name they call themselves, pick on the vulnerable people to show they are strong. But that in itself is a sign of cowardice. And we staying away from the mosque will be tantamount to giving in to their antics.

"We will continue to seek God's face in prayers until they are completely defeated," he said.

He said the five daily prayers is the lubricant that keeps man's wheels of faith rolling. 

What a sense of bravery.

"Courage," according to Albert Redmoon, "isn't the abscence of fear. But rather the jugdement that something else is more important than fear."

Perhaps the above thought process  is what drives Mr Alkassim and thousands of other folks in Borno and other parts of the northeast to hold unto their faith; looking at the insurgency in its very eyes and telling it that you may have changed my livelihood, but you won't reduce my worth. 

So as the conflict continues unabated without any sign of its end in sight, people have decided to stop
running, stop fleeing their communities, stop hiding in caves and mountain tops,  men have even stopped disguising as women to evade being killed.

They can't be running forever because they now believe their need for food, need for education of their children, need to engage in commmerce and above all the need to worship their God, are more important than the fear of death itself.

So as the Boko Haram plots yet another attack, the people can only look forward to the next prayer time in the mosque because it is the right  place man goes to seek God's mercy. 

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