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Nigeria: The Imam and the Pastor by Journeyman Pictures


Pastor James Wuye and Imam Al-Shafa

In the past year Nigeria has been the scene of much religious and sectarian violence. We have commented on this violence in the past, as well as the efforts to transcend the violence through inter-faith dialogue and action, Nigerians Want to Transcend Sectarian and Ethnic Violence.

Below is a heart-warming story of a Muslim scholar and a Christian priest who both headed militias that were involved in sectarian violence but transformed themselves into peacemakers. (H/T: AMTR)

In the 1990s, Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye led opposing militias in Northern Nigeria. Now the men work together bridging religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims that have killed thousands.
‘My hate for the Muslims then had no limits’ states Pastor Wuye, whose militia killed Imam Ashafa’s spiritual leader and two cousins. Ashafa spent 3 years planning revenge, until one day, a sermon on forgiveness changed his life. The men met and are now working on a peace accord. Imam Ashafa explains, ‘even though we differ in some theological issues, we will make the world a safer place’.

The Imam and the Pastor:

Both Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye are still working hard to try and combat violence and hate. Recently they sent out an appeal for help:

NIGERIA under siege – an appeal to the global community

Today, our beloved country Nigeria is passing through a turbulent period of insecurity and desecration of places of worship and human life is no more sacred.  People are living in a state of fear and uncertainty of what would happen next.

We need the support of people of good will to salvage our nation from bloodletting, wanton destruction of lives and properties and the consequent threat to our nascent and fragile democracy and the nation’s survival.

We appeal to global citizens on behalf of widows, orphans, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable people who are victims of this inhumanity to support us and other peace ambassadors with relevant resources, materials that would facilitate a process of sincere dialogue to restore sanity, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in our country, Nigeria.

Pastor Dr. James M. Wuye/Imam Dr. Muhammad N. Ashafa

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  • … “””{In Islam as far as I know, there is no compulsion in rliigeon. Its in the second chapter of Koran. The verse goes like “La Ikrah Fi Deen”.}”””Mark, I am from a so called moderate Islamic country, I gave you a sample of the most moderate answer I got ever since I am trying to galvaize support for a former muslim lady who is trying to convert to Christainity : here’s is a sample of the one of the most moderate fella’s comment; ===========================================”””To those who wondered why Islam forbid their believers from murtad. The answer is simple. Islam is unlike other rliigeon. To muslims, the one God Allah, is the only being they worship. Allah forbids His believers to betray Him. One question. If a king who has a betrayer beside him, what will he do. Surely the betrayer will be executed.The king knows, a betrayer will put the entire nation in danger. Thereby, must be executed to contain the act and serve as warning to others. There goes the idea with Allah and the murtads. The reason why He forbids murtad is because these murtad might influence others to murtad also. Maybe to those non-muslims, this idea is against human right, but as i mentioned before,the concept of worshipping god goes beyond human right, even beyond human rational. Forbiding murtads is God’s will, not muhammad, not muslims. Thereby we muslims must oblige as the worshippers. To muslim,God’s will is absolute. If not, then dont be a god. If u condemn Islam for forbidding murtads because it’s against human right, then we muslim can also condemn body piercing/torturing ritual of other rliigeon because it’s against human right. But we muslim chose not to, because we respect other rliigeons. We know their obligation to their god and that’s godly request which is BEYONG HUMAN RIGHTS.””””===========================================Mark also said ….;”””{But I as a person would like to live out my life in peace with my family and friends as a Muslim, and I wish the same for you.}”””mark, I too wished to live my life in peace with friends of various religious belief. I have no problem hanging out with many friend who are Buddhist, Catholics, Hindus, Bahais, Taoist, even Atheist but very few muslim friends, how come ? ? Initially I thought to myself is it my personality ?? But then all of us start to notice that most muslims starts to distance themselves from us (the non-muslim) more & more, ever since our Government start to send the young muslim scholars to countries like Saudi, Egypt & Pakistan to further thier religious studies more than 30yrs ago.Lastly Mark also mentioned …;”””{To think that Muslims are a disease that has spread far and wide is stealing a line from a speach of Hitler against jews.}”””No , I don’t think Muslims are a disease. But it is a problem when they openly said tehy will not tolerate Kafir (non-believers) & Murtad (Apostassy) when they are in majorities But deny otherwise when they are in small numebers (minorities). To me that is an underhand tactics. Furthermore just look at their breeding efficiency, as far as I know there is only one planet Earth within our space expedition capability. Unfortunately by looking at the numbers of their breeding, it will not be long when they will hit 4-5 billions without regards to the Earth limited resources & other religious group. But the problemmost of these Islamic countries cannot manage their economies well so most of the muslimim’s frustration will be aimed at the West & the non-muslims.Note : The muslim population in my country grew from just 3 millions in 1966 to almost 20 millions 2006. And that’s an increase of abt 700% within 4 short decades only. Think about it.

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  • Saladin

    I think what we should remember is that it took a lot for both of these to not only forgive each other but also to move beyond and help other communities heal when they could fight so if they can look past each others differences then there is a chance other communities can as well I think that was the intent of the movie, and that is what we should emphasize from the movie

  • Géji

    @Believing Atheist says: “I am not the ICC or Hague.”

    – I suspected that Believing A, and I never said you were. So no need to reply upset every time replying to me. Although of course we disagree on certain topics-(that’s normal), nonetheless both of us need to stay civilized to each other. And although you seem to think differently, I do like you, and think you’re honest even in your mistake statements sometimes, and I also do like reading your posts when I get time to visit, and may I add, since with you being not so “shy” of speaking out even against the wrongs of your own country, that says well as well.

    > “I can only persuade and take action within my means. I have tried with various human rights groups (such as Amnesty International) to do what you are asking but failed.”

    – That’s all I was asking BA, if you were making any efforts-(within your means of course) towards putting the criminals of your own country behind bars. And since you seemed so outrage-(and rightfully so as I’ve said) to the fact that Nigeria legal system was letting those two men walk freely without them “paying” for their crimes, I thought it was appropriate to ask if you yourself were making any effort-(as little as it is) towards putting behind bars criminals who happened to be the leaders of your own country, who while having slaughtered millions of innocent beings unlawfully, with impunity, are not not only nowhere close to be held accountable for their crimes, but are in fact even praised for it by most of your own countrymen, and are walking free as the wind, sheltered and safeguarded in billion dollar mansions, while in all matters they’ve done much much worse that those two Nigerians who seem to outrage you so much. At least this two Nigerians have acknowledged what they’ve done and are doing something to redress the errors by giving back to the communities they’ve hurt. —- But in any case, I never said you were wrong to be outraged, and I do appreciate as fellow human being that you’re not afraid to speak-up, and make an effort within your capacity to denounce in like manners the criminals of your country, and as I’ve said already, even if I don’t always agree with you on certain topics-(and I’m sure its vice-versa), nonetheless I truly do admire that you’re at least consistent in your condamnation in bravely condemning too the behaviour and actions of your nation and it’s leaders. Good for you to stand-up for justice for all, and not so blinded by irrational “patriotism” that seem to have befalling nowadays upon most of your American countrymen. And by the way, please don’t give up trying with those “human right” groups, we all know they’re far from being perfect, and we all know that while they are all to quick to denounce so-called “3rd world” countries criminals, they never seem to have the balls to utter the same denunciation with Western criminals, but if we are to change such behaviour one brick at time, we can’t afford to give-up the effort, cause every voice its needed and counts. —- Peace be with you

    @Juju Says: “I don’t like telling people to shut up. I find it to be rude. Believing Athiest, I have a suggestion: SHUTUP!”

    You’re right, it’s not a good idea to tell people to “shut up”, and you’re also right to say that it’s “rude” to do so… So then knowing all of that, why have you decided to do it? — By the way, not that I have to speak for Believing Atheist-(he has already done it himself), but he did not say anything on this thread that’s so unreasonable to merits someone yelling “SHUTUP”, and even if he did so, so what, don’t we all have right to express whatever views without anyone shouting “SHUTUP” ?

  • Believing Atheist

    I do wish to be consistent, and no I don’t support suspending the legal system in Nigeria, UNLESS it would save lives. That is actually why I said what I did. Saving lives comes before, booking a criminal if it means bookihg him would mean more lives lost. Maybe if he wasn’t a tribal leader and so influential, it would work.

    This is not a normal situation.

    I agree with you that they should be punsihed. But at this stage, due to the war, and due to the fact that more lives may be lost, I believe it is prudent to withold judgement until we can sure more lives wont’ be lost.

    It’s a messy situation, but my first priority would be to end bloodshed, bring civil order to ensure that they cannot begin massacring again if accused of crimes, once that is restored then we can bring the Pastor and others to justice.

  • @Truthseeker

    Like Muslim said, you need to seek truth a lot harder. You are not much of truth seeker. You are more of an ideologue who does not question anything. I hope you do open your eyes, I hope you do start question everything you have been told and do a lot more research on websites that are not Islamophobic or anti Muslim in the slightest. Because I can tell you this Truth Seeker, as an ex Islamophobe myself, someone who used to think a lot more like you do in many ways, the only way you can hold onto those beliefs is if you don’t question them, if you don’t look at all the evidence and if you don’t think critically.

  • @truth seeker

    You wrote,
    The only solution for Nigeria is to give the North with Muslim majority to the Muslims.They can run the country under Sharia laws if they so desire.The South should become a Christian country as a democractic state.Islam and Christianty are two opposing ideologies and can never co-exist.The living example is Sudan which had to be divided.Muslims can never live at peace with others even with themselves.

    Did you even watch this video or are so certain that Muslims living in peace under the same rule of law in a democracy as equals with non Muslims is impossible that you didn’t even bother? It completely disproves everything you wrote.

  • Muslim


    You obviously have to carry on seeking a lot harder!

    The dismemberment of Sudan is far more nuanced than the simplistic Christian vs. Muslim sectarian hate that you are trying to grow.

    With regard to “Southern Sudan”, I think you will find that many southern Muslims also stood with their regional compatriots.

    Ever heard of Darfur, where Muslims engaged in civil war with other Sudanese Muslims?

    Ever heard of pro-Arab Islamic cultural affinity of some elites in the southern resistance BUT who disliked what they considered oppressive Big Brother like behaviour? Civil war took time to poison the atmosphere & even now both nations have affection that may seem paradoxical to the lovers of hate & division.

    Hope you find the truth.

  • @Garibaldi

    I find this very hopeful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing this video with us. Their story could actually make a great movie. These two are heroes, and to think there are some people who think that Muslims can’t get along with anyone else.

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