Religious Leaders Can be Peace Agents in Kaduna – Idowu Fearon
By Femi Adi
Chairman of Kaduna State Peace Commission( KAPECOM) ,Archbishop Idowu Fearon has identified the qualities required for religious Leaders to be Peace Agents in the State
Speaking during the Leadership and Capacity Development Training Session with Religious Leaders in Kaduna State, Archbishop Idowu Fearon in his paper titled : ” Choosing Peace Together (CPT) in Kaduna State: The Role of Religious Leaders” , said there is much that religious leaders can do to create and protect peace and harmony in the State.
He further said, religious leaders can and must “lead from the front,” or in other words, set the example for the citizens of Kaduna to follow, adding,” Leading from the front is critical because the speed of the leader is the speed of the team. And by setting a positive example, fellow Muslims and Christians under your guided leadership can find inspiration in you.
He equally stated: ” Developing other leaders in your own religious communities is the next natural step. By developing other leaders who are equally willing and ready to step up and raise their voices in the name of interfaith cooperation, our communities will begin to reweave the torn fabric of our society. And by rebuilding communities, we can rebuild our state, and ultimately our nation.
” Religious leaders can begin to preach messages of peace that implore the congregations to love and to forgive. Declare from the pulpits and minbars that we are all brothers and sisters in faith. Proclaim that we are all daughters and sons of Abraham, our common ancestor. Find what we have in common. Reach into the depths of the Bible and the Quran to find those verses like Mark 12:30-31 and Leviticus 19:18 that tell us we must love our neighbors just as much as we love ourselves. Or like 4:36 of the Quran tells us to do good to neighbors that are far and near. Or similarly in the hadiths which remind us that none of us has faith until we love for our neighbors what we love for ourselves. “
On the qualities of an effective religious leader , Fearon said ,”To promote peace and reconciliation religious leaders must have the following attributes: ” Maintain integrity and accountability as trusted and respected leaders of our communities, be humble , loving and compassionate to members of his j faith and to those outside his faith.
He spoke further on need for religious leaders to be courageous and confident without letting ego get in their way .
While noting that humility often makes a leader more approachable, lead with kindness and gentleness as well as his teachings of love, peace, unity and forgiveness respected and well received.
He maintained that all religious leaders must have the perseverance to keep going even though difficulties may arise and be vocal advocates for dialogue and peace .
He admonished them to remain willing to understand the other faiths and ask questions, wish them well during their religious holidays, and show that they care to know more and keep open mindedness at the forefront of their minds .
In what he described as the paradoxical nature of religion, Fearon said religion is both a force of good and evil: be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, or many more.
He however ,urged all religious leaders to spread messages of peace and harmony, love and forgiveness as well as that of compassion and gratitude.