Should we pay for the crimes of our ancestors? Can we marry from the perceived enemies of our family? What exactly happened that we cannot forgive?
The hate we give is a development of the injustice we feel. Oftentimes, when we feel wronged there is the urge to take justice into our hands. Unresolved remorse leads to acrimony, as we continue to bear our pain in silence. When we cannot avenge ourselves then we expect the next generation to seek justice on our behalf. This leads to generations of unresolved grievances, many times we forget how to forgive and move on.
Hate has a historical precedence that is stemmed from Historical injustice. Historical Injustice is past moral wrong committed by previously living people that have a lasting impact on the well-being of currently living people. Claims to material compensations for past crimes are typically based on the nature of the lasting impression, and claims to symbolic restitution are often grounded on the moral quality of the wrongs committed. So we look at historical injustice as it relates to present social relationships. There are many facets of historical injustice; they are slavery, bad marriages, taboos and xenophobic precedence. Let us discuss each as it
Is one of the ancient crimes against humanity has continued to plague our society. The aftermath which has born white supremacy (racism) and under paid labours.
“People, We created you all from a single man and a single woman, and made you into races and tribes so that you should recognize one another. In God’s eyes, the most honoured of you are the ones most mindful of Him: God is all knowing, all aware” (49:13).
So at what time in history did the descendants of Adam commence slavery?
From the time in memorial slavery existed in Africa as it existed in other parts of the world. Slavery can be defined as the imprisonment of people for commercial or other economic gains. It is the process of denying other human beings their fundamental human rights. It is a process in which man is bounded in chains and denied freedom.
societies participated in this inhumane trade. The brutality of the business
varied. In Africa, most slaves were recruited to work in farms and served as
security to the nobles. The treatment of slaves in Africa was less severe
compared to other parts of the world. In the Middle East, for example, male slaves were castrated,
and in the Caribbean and Europe many slaves were put in chains, raped and other
forms of inhumane torture.
*”O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” – [49:13]
In today’s world after slavery has been eradicated for centuries. Many still bear the stigma of the slave trade. For example in Eastern Nigeria, the Osu (descendants of slaves) who are said to be outcaste are even prevented from marrying the so called freeborn. In Yorubaland, many communities prevent their daughters from marrying the Ijebu.
What is the crime of the Ijebu? The Ijebu are sub Yoruba ethnic groups, who were successful slave traders. For centuries, the Ijebu did not allow strangers into their land. The excuse was to prevent other Yoruba sub groups from learning their secret of trade. For this singular act and the traditional powers they possessed made them be feared by other Yoruba groups. Many would think that such fear and hatred for the Ijebu would have subsided.
In Lagos, for example, where all groups in Nigeria interact and live together to foster posterity. The Ijebu who are the closest to Lagos geographically is found in large numbers. They have integrated into Lagos life that one would think the memory of the slave trade era is gone. Like all perceived historical injustice, such vivid tales mostly exaggerated are recounted to children who did not witness this era. When they bring home an Ijebu spouse for marriage, the proposal is usually met with rejections because of tales of the deeds of their ancestors. For how long do will deny young adults their pursuit for happiness because of the sins of their forefathers?
“When prisoners are taken in war, they should either be released as an act of benevolence or released on ransom. There is no commandment to kill them.’”[Qadi Abu Yusuf Ya‘qub bin Ibrahim, Kitabul-Kharaj, (Baulaq, 1302 A.H.), 212.]
War is a violent conflict with massive casualties (deaths). It is a normal phenomenon that in war winners takes all. There is no war without gain. Up until 1945, the winners of wars became conquerors that is they amassed the lands and resources that belonged to their opponent. This idea in warfare was later countered by the International Communities that formed the UNITED NATIONS. Despites, this declaration to end the occupation by conquering, the world super powers turn away from the atrocities committed by the Israelis in the Gaza Strips and other Palestinian territories. This has led to the rise of armed nationalists which the United Nations named Terrorists. When Israel attacks, it is perceived as a defence of their territorial integrity, but when Palestine defend or attack, it is seen as a terrorist act. Israel is considered a state and Palestine is not. All these horrors have continued to be featured by international news media. The visualization of crime makes it more brutal. Since images are hard to erase from memory.
It is true that both parties have committed crimes against humanities. In the past decades, Israel has continued to release more bombs killing women and children. The hate we give will emerge when a Palestinian who grew up in the United States of America meets an Israelite and wishes to formalise their relationship. We should note that these two individuals met on a neutral ground far away from the terror in the Middle East. Since Memory is a reliable tool, both came from a family that have witnessed the horrors of decade’s hatred and bloodshed. It is not surprising that such marriages will meet strong objections from the parents of the couples who were direct victims of the war. Even though there are
“ The Quran also says, “…if anyone kills a person – unless in retribution for murder or spreading corruption in the land – it is as if he kills all mankind while if any saves a life it is as if he saves the lives of all mankind” (5:32). “None shall take life –which Allah has made sacred – except for just cause” (17:33).
Allah has commanded: “O believers, be you securers of justice, witness for God. Let not detestation for a people move you not to be equitable; be equitable – that is nearer to God-fearing.” (Quran 5:8)
Xenophobia, simply put, is the fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers; it is embodied in discriminatory attitudes and behaviours, and often culminates in violence, abuses of all types, and exhibitions of hatred. For millennia the group that bore the brunt of xenophobic attacks were the Jews. The Jews are a very active set of people who find the dividend of trade round the world. They were the money lenders of Europe. William Shakespeare refers to them as the Shylock of Europe because of their ability to generate wealth. It is also not new that while many nations were fighting battles, the Jews were busy gathering intelligence and knowledge. This intelligence they often sell to the highest bidder or the government that promises them asylum. It is this same act that often resulted in the hatred bore towards them. For example, when the parties they did not support acquire power, they bear the heavy penalty of their espionage.
The massive massacre was carried out on Jew in England during what is called the SILENT NIGHT, the Russians did the same during the GREAT PURGE and Adolf Hitler did the last during the HOLOCAUST. These brutalities carried out against the Jews which led to millions losing their lives made the Jews to promise themselves that they must reach the Promised Land. It was not surprising that after the Second World War they demanded a nation of their own. Due to their level of intelligence, the Europeans would not keep them in Europe, but the other Alternatives was to move them to either Ethiopia or Palestine.
The Palestinians resisted, but the Jews backed by the United Nations carried out a pre-emptive attack on the region. The Jews won and so carried out expansionist policy in Palestine beyond what the United Nations has given them. Today, Israel can easily acquire weapons because they are recognised as a state. Palestine, on the other hand, cannot defend itself because the United Nations refuses to grant them the status of a state. Since it is only a recognized state that is allowed to defend itself, any other procurement of arms is regarded as Terrorism. The hatred has continued to develop between the Jews and Islamic nations. This hatred has manifested into Islamophobia (a xenophobic act against Muslims). Many Muslims in non-Muslim states such as Europe and America’s are victims of attacks based on their identity. Many Muslims have been labelled Terrorists without evidence. Many Muslims have continued to die from this xenophobic attacks.
Another aspect of xenophobic attack occurs when a group of foreigners becomes a threat to its host either politically or economically. Africa has its share of xenophobic attacks as seen in South Africa (the attack against Nigerians). The xenophobic attack has continued to generate international conflicts such as the famous Ghana must go. In the local history of Nigeria xenophobic attacks plague the political atmosphere in many ethnic dispensations.
The spread of hates across the world is bearing heavy brunt on the Muslims since the September 11 attack on World Trade Centre in the United. It did not end with the capturing of Osama bin laden nor the death of Saddam Hussein. Many Muslim states have become disarray of their formal, beautiful status. We have witnessed the collapse of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and the continuous occurrence of civil wars. While it is difficult for victims of wars to forgive we must remember that Allah has enjoined us to do right by our neighbours.
“Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good—to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, and the companion by your side, the way-farer (ye meet), and what your right hands possess: for God loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious.” (Quran 4:36)
Although, the solution to historical injustice is transitional justice. Transitional justice demands from history to revisit the evidence of past events and make amends to victims. However, the individual’s ability to interpret and rediscover the past falls into context (that is we have to evaluate who is remembering and the purpose of their grievances), the purpose of remembering. The victims of war bring out memory to challenge history and demand that the new challenge on the previous memory incorporated into history be objective. However, we do not have it on record that History forgive, but we know that community can choose to forget a specific aspect of their past to further peace and comfortable coexistence among neighbours so far as old wounds are not reopened.
We should, however, remember that our admission to Jannah will be based on the love we give and not on the hate we spread. Every man shall be judged accordingly and the sins of the father will not be counted for the son.