Mission as prophetic dialogue in Christian-Muslim encounters in Northern Nigeria

Hassan, John Nalami (2016-03-14)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Since receiving its independence in 1960, Nigeria has struggled to unite its many people, ethnic and religious groups under one national identity. In recent decades, religiously motivated encounters between Christians and Muslims have gained a new social and political presence and significance in the Northern Nigerian region. The impact of this kind of religiously motivated conflict has provided fresh stimulus and focus for the need to engage in inter-religious dialogue and to critically analyse the immediate problem(s). The consequences and outcomes of these encounters are reflected in the rate of killings, maiming and wanton destruction of lives and property over the years, therefore violating human rights and dignity, which come from God and are rooted in the concept of the Imago Dei. Against this background, the call to do mission as prophetic dialogue in Christian-Muslim encounters is an important attempt to address these problem(s). Arguing for the use of prophetic dialogue suggests that our limited understanding be acknowledged and that we live open to learning more about God and the activity of God’s Spirit in the world. The researcher maintains that prophetic dialogue is part of our very witness to listen, to learn, to boldly yet humbly share, as well as to explore faith in a spirit of mutuality with believers of other religions in a conflict situation, such as the case of Christian-Muslim religious encounters in Northern Nigeria. As this was qualitative and interpretive research, the researcher argues conceptually for the use of Kritzinger’s (2008) seven-praxis cycle to enable mission as prophetic dialogue in and through the documents of the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) and in order to address the challenges of inter-religious encounters and coexistence between Christians and Muslims in Northern Nigeria. Hence “thoughtfulness,” “theoretical interpretation” and “wise judgement” are required (Osmer, 2008:83), and Osmer’s hermeneutic therefore is closely followed throughout the dissertation as a guide for the research, which follows the four tasks of Osmer’s (2008:4) hermeneutical spiral. In theory, Osmer calls these models four tasks: ‘descriptive-empirical’, ‘interpretive’, ‘normative’, and ‘pragmatic’ tasks. The researcher argues that inter-religious conflict not only brings political and economic instability, but also impacts on the social and cultural life of a country’s citizens. Therefore, the study established that religiously motivated conflicts have also threatened the Nigerian economy, rule of law, fundamental human rights and dignity. As a result, the researcher introduces the equation of encounter, tolerating “others” in humility, building the concept of religious trust, and takes to task the religious communities and scholars of religion to do more in the area of addressing the value of human lives, as well as to carry out further studies on inter-religious relations in Northern Nigeria. Consequently, the research findings show that the understanding of mission as prophetic dialogue in PROCMURA’s activities, and mission as encounterology as proposed by Kritzinger, provide the following results: humility, respect for humanity, reconciliation, religious coexistence, and human and physical development.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sedert Nigerië se onafhanklikheidswording in 1960 sukkel die land om sy vele mense, etniese groepe en godsdienstige groepe onder een nasionale identiteit te verenig. In onlangse dekades het godsdienstig gemotiveerde botsings tussen Christene en Moslems ’n nuwe sosiale en politiese teenwoordigheid en betekenis in Noord-Nigerië verkry. Die impak van hierdie soort godsdienstig gemotiveerde konflik het ’n vars stimulus en fokus verskaf vir die behoefte om inter-godsdienstige dialoog te voer en die probleem/probleme krities te analiseer. Die gevolg en uitkoms van hierdie botsings word weerspieël in die tempo van doodmaak, verminking en moedswillige verwoesting van lewens en eiendom oor die jare, wat dus die menseregte en menswaardigheid skend wat afkomstig is van God en gewortel is in die konsep van die Imago Dei. Teen hierdie agtergrond is die roeping om sending te doen as profetiese dialoog in Christen-Moslem ontmoetings ’n belangrike poging om hierdie probleem/probleme aan te spreek. Om te redeneer vir die gebruik van profetiese dialoog suggereer dat ons beperkte begrip erken moet word en dat ons leef deur oop te wees om meer oor God en die aktiwiteit van God se Gees in die wêreld te leer. Hierdie navorser hou voor dat profetiese dialoog deel vorm van ons opregte getuienis om te luister, te leer, moedig maar nederig te deel, asook om geloof te verken in ’n gees van wederkerigheid met gelowiges van ander godsdienste in ’n konfliksituasie, soos in die geval van Christen-Moslem godsdienstige ontmoetings in Noord-Nigerië.In hierdie kwalitatiewe en intrepretatiewe navorsing argumenteer die navorser konseptueel vir die gebruik van Kritzinger (2008) se sewe-praksis siklus om sending as profetiese dialoog in en deur die dokumente van die Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA) moontlik te maak om sodoende die uitdagings van inter-godsdienstige ontmoetings en saambestaan tussen Christene en Moslems in Noord-Nigerië aan te spreek. Daarbenewens het die navorser ook gebruik gemaak van Osmer (2008) se vier take vir ’n praktiese teologiese ontwerp omdat dit interdissiplinêr van aard is. In die teorie noem Osmer hierdie modelle vier take: ‘deskriptief-empiries’, ‘interpretatief’, ‘normatief’ en ‘pragmatiese’ take, wat hierdie navorser as ontwerp vir die navorsing gebruik het. Die navorser hou voor dat inter-godsdienstige konflik nie net politiese en ekonomiese onstabiliteit veroorsaak nie, maar ook ’n impak het op die sosiale en kulturele lewe van burgers. Die studie het dus bepaal dat godsdienstig gemotiveerde konflikte ook die Nigeriese ekonomie, regsoewereiniteit, fundamentele menseregte asook menswaardigheid bedreig. Die navorser stel dus die vergelyking van begrip, die verdra van “ander” in nederigheid, and die bou van ’n konsep van wedersydse en godsdienstige vertroue voor en berispe die godsdienstige gemeenskappe en kenners van godsdiens om meer te doen met betrekking tot die aanspreek van die waarde van menselewens, asook om verdere studies oor inter-godsdienstige verhoudings in Noord-Nigerië te onderneem. Gevolglik toon die navorsingsbevindings dat ’n begrip van sending as profetiese dialoog in en deur die aktiwiteite van PROCMURA, en sending as encounterology, soos voorgestel deur Kritzinger, die volgende resultate sal lewer: nederigheid, respek vir menslikheid, versoening, godsdienstige en wedersydse samebestaan, en menslike en fisiese ontwikkeling.

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