Harmonious Religious Coexistence In The Barrack, A Model Approach For Humanity

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Harmonious Religious Coexistence In The Barrack, A Model Approach For Humanity


The barracks in Nigeria has become a source of disunity among people of the same religion and those of other religions. In this work, I will try to explore these problems of lack of harmonious coexistence among Christians and Muslims in the Barracks. The research was a study on harmonious religious coexistence in the barrack, a model approach to humanity. The researcher experienced as a kid and re-applied this to this present day situation and how this can serve as an approach to improve the level of co-existence among people in similar situations. The main thrust of this work is to find out the factors that cause disharmony among religious adherents and the role that military discipline can play in curbing this menace and also how the same modalities could be used to handle similar issues outside the barrackings. Hence some recommendations have to be made to bridge the lapse and to improve on the existing religious situations. This work has provided valuable insights into peaceful coexistence and curbing crisis in general.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

At the very heart of nature and human existence is religion. Not only does it give order to a just society, it also offers explanation to the ultimate meaning of life, and how to live accordingly in relation to other human beings. Thus Nottingham (2004) describes religion as;

A cultural tool by means of which man has been able to accommodate himself to his experience in his total environment including his fellow group members, the sacred and the world of nature

Therefore for the survival of any nation, religion must be seen as making an essential contribution. However, a cursory glance at religion today indicates that, it has become the source of disunity among people of the same religion and those of other religions. In many parts of the world, religion has become the source of unrest; Battles have been fought, won and lost, all in the name of religion due to the activities of religious extremists fanatics, politicians and trouble shooters.3 Thus the word of the psalmist thus comes to bear and is questioned here;

How wonderful it is, how pleasant for God’s people to live together in harmony it is, like the precious anointing oil, running down from Aaron’s head and beard.4

Islam and Christianity along with Judaism are the three world’s major monotheistic religions. That is the religions which believe in one God. All three religions were founded in the Middle East; all three of them make reference to the Torah, the revealed will of God as expressed in the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy5. The number of Muslims in the world is about eight to nine hundred million below the total number of Christians, but almost the same as the number of Catholics estimated at about nine hundred seventy six million(in 1996).6

The world of Islam stretches in a broad band by Senegal in the west coast of Africa to Indonesia in the eastern side of the Asian continent not far north of Australia. Apart from overwhelmingly Muslim countries of North Africa there are few countries south of the Sahara which does not have a sizeable Muslim population. Present day Europe and the United States of America in particular have a large followership of the Islamic religion too.

An increasing number of Catholics in Africa and Nigeria in particular have as neighbors or work colleagues, fellow Christians of other denomination as well as Muslims and even traditionalists. They pass by Protestant, Pentecostal churches and even Mosques to go to school, or to the market. They hear the early morning calling of the muezzin to Muslim prayers. But how much do we Christians know about our different faith beliefs and how much do we know about Islam? What prejudices do we harbor against Muslims and as Catholics, what prejudices do we have against other Christians and they against us?

Christianity did exist as one single unit following the injunctions of Christ for his followers “that all may be one”, “so that the world may believe” (Jn.l7:21,23); however there came two great divisions that shook the whole of Christendom. First, it was the Eastern Church which broke away from the western church, taking with her a stance of “autonomy” and “orthodoxy” in 1054; then came the second division, which occurred within the western church four centuries later because of the reformation.

In the midst of all these divisions came the advent of Islam and with religious tension, violence and intolerance among different religious adherents today. It is rather pathetic that co-existence among Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims is not cordial. There is total distrust and intolerance among them. Why is this so? Is this the world God created and is it how he had wanted it to be? Is it the unity Christ prayed for? In this work I will want to explore these problems of lack of peaceful co-existence among Christians and Muslims in the barracks. Because the experience which is happening in the secular society is gradually creeping into the barracks and the situation which is happening in Eastern Europe is in the offing.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The necessity of peaceful co-existence in the world is acknowledged by almost all the populace of the world. Very often though, this idea is not given the practical interpretation it deserves. Even though this dilemma is pathetic, the real problem is not so much in their differences of doctrines, faith, governance and theology, but rather the inability of people who claim the same creator, made in his own image and likeness and believe their final destiny lies with the same God, to stay together in peace and harmony.

Growing up in the barracks, the researcher experienced some of his best moments in life. A period when Christians, Catholics and Protestants alike and Muslims shared a lot in common without an iota of distrust. However, years after leaving the barracks, he returned to his roots again. The situation this time around has changed. Christians no longer live as one and there is constant tension between Christians and Muslims all waiting for the day of doom.

Why this sudden change? Is it because of outside influence or from within? Where has the military discipline gone to and how do we manage this impending danger before it gets out of hand? In this work, we will try to point out the causes of this problem and draw out modalities to stop them and return to the status quo ante.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The objective of this study is to see how possible the harmonious coexistence among people in the barracks the researcher experienced as a kid will be revisited and once again re-applied to this present day situation and how this can serve as a model approach to improve the level of co-existence among people in similar situations.

1.4 Significance of the Study

It is a well known and accepted fact that almost all places where people of different faiths and creeds stay, there might be some level of tension and clash of interests. In some cases these lead to full blown conflicts and open confrontations, while in others it is just a matter of time for violence to rear its ugly head.

The significance of this study in this regard, is in consonance with many other works already written, initiatives already taken and modalities already adopted. This work will seek to shed more light on coexistence in the barracks, the military way of life and how we can imbibe some of them for the larger society.

1.5 Sources and Methods of Data Collection

The sources and methods of data collection shall be made through documentary and library research, and interview method, in order to meet with present day challenges.

1.6 Clarification of Concepts

i. Religion:

Like human nature, religion is complex because what it may mean to one person may mean something else for another person based on cultural background and experience. “Everyone has some idea about religion and perhaps some mental pictures to go with it, but in trying to put that idea or picture into a comprehensive definition, the task becomes surprisingly difficult.”7 Religion according to the Oxford Dictionary is defined as a belief in the existence of God or gods.8 It also went further to explain it as a controlling influence on one’s life9. According to Bouguet,( 2009 ) a true religion since it acknowledges the existence of God or gods, should also value all of God’s creation. Therefore, religion, unless it is a contradiction in terms must promote unity and value the right to life.”10

At water ( 2007 ), on his part sees religion as “a system of beliefs and practices having reference to human relations with God. It is the sum total of beliefs, sentiments and practices, individual or social groups, which have their objective a power which man/ woman recognizes as supreme, on which he/or she depends and with which he/she can enter or has entered into relation.” It is obvious that religion means different things to different people. While in this the researcher does not intend to define religion since any attempt may not succeed in giving a unified definition of religion, his essential point in shedding light towards an appreciation, understanding and workings of religion in society has to do with a document of the Second Vatican Council “Nostra Aetate which points out religion as an avenue that man falls back to for “an answer to the unsolved riddles of human existence.”I2 It is thus important to note that whichever way religion is viewed, one cannot ignore its human dimension which has given rise to religion to meet certain human concerns and yearnings.

ii. Co-existence

According to the International Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary ( ) co-existence is the state of co-existingl3 that is peaceful coexistence. It is an act of existing at the same time, side by side by individuals, groups, communities, states with opposing political systems, social and religious systems and beliefs. However as this work implies, coexistence is “a meeting of hearts and minds across religious frontiers. It is a meeting of people with different backgrounds who are willing to tolerate and stay together. Their coexisting may involve a campaign against injustice, fanaticism, violence and contribution to the social wellbeing of the people. The end results of which will be cooperation in harmony, mutual respect, peace, unity and development. Coexistence thus, pre-supposes respect of one another and the other’s belief system. There is little room for tension or conflict when such exists rather what is obtainable is peace and tranquility.

iii. Harmonious

The Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary ( ) defines it as; a state characterized by harmony or agreement. The people or groups that constitute this state are in agreement in feelings, interests and opinions and regardless of their differences, they work in harmony.

iv. Humanity

Man has a nature, widespread and persistent that is obviously characteristic of his kind and notably different from other natures of other living things. Humanity is then taken to be a resultant of man’s characteristic experience in any and all societies so far every where man lives, man has lived with groups with similar basic necessities and activities. He has known intimate and personal relationships, he has recognized differences between people close to him and of his own kind and other people further away and off another kind. The Oxford Dictionary thus defines humanity as human beings thought of as a group or the entire human race.14

l.7 Scope and Delimitation

In this research work, we will try to look at how the three religious bodies in the barrack that is the Roman Catholic, Protestants and the Islamic bodies coexisted, and how things have taken a new dimension. We shall in this study take into cognizance the influence of civil bodies in the present situation in the barracks we shall use the Ribadu Cantonment Barracks Kaduna as a point of reference for this study and due to difficult military bureaucracies the researcher will resort to scanty information received from people willing to assist. This work intends to serve as a model for coexistence among people of the entire human race with the barracks as a case study.

1.8 Structural Organization of the Work

This essay is made up of five chapters. Chapter one starts by stating what problem it hopes to look into, what inspired the research, the significance of the essay and what strategy will be used to unravel the situation. The second chapter reviews literatures and their usefulness to the work. Chapter three makes the methodology of the research work. The fourth chapter is the presentation and analysis of data of the research work, while chapter five summarizes, concludes and provides recommendations towards harmonious co-existence in the work.

Chapter Five

Summary, Recommendations and Conclusion

5.1 Summary

As we approach the end of this work, it is pertinent to recall what has been said so far. Our aim in this research has been to find out the factors that cause disharmony among religious adherents in the barracks and the role that military discipline can play in curbing this menace and also how the same modalities could be used to handle similar issues outside the barracks. We have done this with particular reference to the barracks of Ribadu cantonment, 1.Mechanized Infantry Division, Kaduna.

The main thrust of this work tries to demonstrate in political terms how life is lived in the barracks and how this could be a model approach to humanity. We sought to highlight hindrances to peaceful and how these could be managed through dialogue and positive interactions. These and many other reasons prompted the interest of the researcher to investigate the causes of intolerance and religious sentiments among soldiers in the barracks and to see whether we could have a remedy to this impending danger. This study basically assumes that harmonious peaceful co-existence is indispensable for soldiers in the barracks. The researcher project approached the topic using four separate chapters.

In chapter one, which is the introductory chapter, the historical background and the statement of the problem were discussed. It was states the objectives of the study, the significance of the study, sources of data collection, the scope and limitations of the study, definition of some relevant concepts and the structural organization of the work. Chapter two was mainly the review of related literatures with emphasis on the subject of peaceful co-existence and dialogue. Chapter three deals with the methodology of the study . Chapter four is the presentation of data and analysis, The last chapter which is chapter five is the summary of the work, evaluation conclusion and recommendations on the work. this study has provided valuable insights into peaceful coexistence and curbing crisis in general. I have tried to outline he problems of religious intolerance and peaceful coexistence and gives suggestions for handling such issues.

5.2 Conclusion

Bringing Christians and Muslims together to live as one is not an easy task as even in the home there is usually tension between parents and even between children. Distrust and suspicion still characterize relations between Christians and Muslims in the barracks. However, it is also obvious that there are many good Christians and good Muslims in the barracks who stay in peace together and would like to see a healthier and harmonious relationship among adherents of the two religions. Lack of harmonious co-existence is taking the barracks and the outside world many years backwards. The dichotomy between Christian and Muslim is both uncharitable and unhealthy. Soldiers think only of their narrow religions interest before the common good of all.

The terminus as quem of this inter-faith co-existence is an apriori that cannot be compromised, or sacrificed on the alter of selfishness, or because of any political agenda/ideology. As a matter of necessity, Muslims and Christians soldier alike much be in constant “recognition of the dignity of everyone, of he identity of every human and religious group, and of their freedom to practice their religion forms part of the common values of peace and justice must be promoted for all in which leaders of civil and (military) societies have an important role to play”.

With a peculiar passion former president Olusegun Obasanjo one lamented and cautioned Nigerian saying:
We do not only citizen of one nation but also children of one God…through tribe and tongue may differ, though religious may differ, in brotherhood we stand…Christians are a indispensable to Moslem as Moslems are to Christians, there shall never be a time when our society shall never be a time when our society shall be totally free from differences…we must therefore resolve our differences without resolve to violence. Violence has never solved political, economics, social or religious differences. Violence can only lead to more violence.

It is tragedy when I hear Christians claiming that Muslims are not to be trusted as their reason for lack of co-existence. The living out of injunctions must not be blind. It should do with a keen sensitivity to thee feelings and needs of others.

Sometimes the loud church bells, tall minarets, exaggerated mode of Islamic of Christian dressing are only meant to draw attention to one’s religious identity and to assert a presence. When soldiers err or commit serious offences no one looks at their guilt, all we hear are a Muslim or a Christian brother has been persecuted. How sad it is when soldiers of the Nigerian army no longer want to live together and yet beautiful and yet how beautiful it is to live in peace with every one.

We soldiers, Christians and Muslims must accept their difference, we can work together to give increased hope to humanity. Yet we must first accept our differences; show other mutual respect and true love, under the eyes of God who shows mercy to all. We are called to make an alliance of brotherliness in which we renounce prejudice and extremism and embrace love.

Finally, all soldiers should embrace coexistence so that we shall be for humanity a further sign or hope in addition to those that exist already.

5.3 Evaluation

It is so discouraging o see many members of our faiths, whether Christian or Muslim in the barracks, who do not practice their religion while being identified as members of this faiths. They bring their faith into disrepute by the neglect of their dignity and duty. Christians who never go to church, who paray very little and only on a few occasions or for particular needs and whose life is more pagan than Christian. Muslim who neither perform the prayers nor the fats, who cheat and steal, especially in business, who marry and divorce wives as they like …… And who, from the Quaran and the Sunna, follow only what pleases them and ferment trouble.

The Military discipline may perhaps curb some of these evil acts preventing co-existence in public, but what Christian and Muslim soldiers really need is a change of heart. Man’s heart from birth is included to eil. Christians know this from the Bible; Muslims may see it even from history of Islam, from the fate of several of their saintly and heroic Caliphs who were victims of other Muslims and at the dawn of Islam. Thus as soldiers what should be our attitude to these evil trends trying to destabilize our unity? What are the influences of fundamentalist, the media propaganda and sentiments on these issues of coexistence? Are we the loosing our spiritual, moral and cultural values on living together in peace and harmony? What are the areas we share common values as Christians and Muslims and what are the areas calling for improvement?

5.4 Recommendations

This work would conclude by suggesting some points for emphasis and subsequent action based on the data presented and analyzed, and on the findings made. Hence some recommendations have to be made to bridge the lapse and to improve on the existing religious situations in the barracks. The following recommendations have been advanced to assist Christians and Muslims improve the quality of their relationship.

5.4.1. Formation on Counseling by Chaplains and Religious Leaders

Counseling sets out to care for the well-being of people on all levels: physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual. These days, more and more institutions among others are becoming conscious of the need for basic formation in those area best described as ”counseling situation:. Courses and awareness programmes should therefore be organized and conducted in the barracks for the soldiers and their household.

There should be counseling offices with counselors who should assist the chaplains to counsel their members who have been-washed about people of other religions and as well as a result all their life, they see others religious adherents as their enemies. Catechists and other chaplain Assistants should be formed not only to become more fully alive themselves, but also help others to become more so.

The counseling office should be located in solitary and quiet environment and it should be well furnished. Parents should be encouraged to bring their children for counseling when they observe such traits of moral decadence in child’s life.

5.4.2. The family

Parents should be educated to see the need to provide their children with the needs and to assist them. Not just their own children but they can assist the less privileged children by providing their needs. This will go a long way in preventing children and youths from receiving money to formant trouble or become way ward. They should make themselves available to see to the upbringing of their child as first teachers the ethics of life and coexistence should be their first lessons of their wards.

5.4.3. Enlightenment programmes

Organizing periodical seminars, workshop, symposium and educative programmes on the facts of life and the need for co-existence will better the lives of soldiers and their families. Through these programmes the people in the barracks will learn to cultivate good relationship between the Christians and the Muslim. Other spiritual matters and lessons especially on the sacraments for Catholics, prayers and the words of God should be taught at such gatherings. Soldier and their families should be made to see their bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:15; I Pet. 1:16) and so they should see the need to always renew the grace of God in them through the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. Through enlightenment programmes Muslims and Christians can reach out to each other in small ways that are capable of breaking the mountain of suspicions, distrust and hatred. During these enlightenment programmes light refreshments is recommended to enable refreshment is recommended to enable interactions. The religions (in the barracks) should come together as a forum to discuss about the holy books, so as to understand the ground for common agreement and respect for their beliefs.

5.4.4 Centers for Religious Dialogue

In different societies around the world where Christians and Muslim stay, authorities usually provide avenues where Christians and Muslims meet to discuss matters of faith and morals. They discuss issues to move the society ahead; they also discuss on modalities for peaceful co-existence and work out ways to curb religious and social upheavals. The Military barracks deserves not to be left out of these ventures as she too consist of adherents to both religions. The relevant military authorities should set up centers as such for dialogue and promotion of harmonious religious co-existence. These centers will tend to address the issue of religious extremisms, co-existence and provision of welfare incentives. It should never be aimed at conversion as this could defeat the purpose of the centre.

5.4.5 Code of Conduct for Religious Adherents in the Barracks

For some years now we will notice that the Armed forces, in general, and the Army in particular, have been embarking on transformation to meet up with the challenge of the contemporary problems of religion and loyalty. However, this has not been a total success as Officers and soldiers seem to be more loyal to religion and their superiors of the same religion than to the military hierarchy. Thus we recommend a code of conduct for religious adherents. The Army legal service should be further empowered to draw this up and deal with erring soldiers and officers. This will give military personnel a sense of responsibility and for those abused or persecuted for religion sake, room to seek for redress. The military hierarchy should encourage religious worship but not ay any time be seen as main actors in religious matters.

Finally here, in pursuance of the military policy of ‘return to the barracks’, the government of Nigeria should accelerate its speed of accommodation improvement for military personnel and services. Because many personnel still live outside the barracks as a result of this and through this some of these bad influences from outside infiltrate the barracks. The military is a united entity and thus ought to live together as one.

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