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Together as one : interfaith relationships between Christianity, Islam, and African traditional religion in Nigeria (with particular reference to the South-East geopolitical zone)

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Author

Kalu, Hyacinth

Date

2010

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies

Committee

Locke, Kenneth A.
Long, J. Bruce
Long, Darui

Abstract

Over the years, interfaith relationships Nigeria have been approached and treated from a dialogical point of view limited only to Christian-Muslim relationship or Christian-African Traditional Religious relationships. Unfortunately, this approach has not yielded the much needed tolerance, relationships, and collaborations among the three religious in Nigeria (African Traditional Religion (ATR), Islam and Christianity) because a major religion is always left out in these dialogues.
Given the amazing interest in interfaith relationships among the religious in Nigeria, and the desire to proffer a better approach to these relationships, this dissertation proposes a trialogical approach as a partial solution to the religious conflicts and crises that have become the order of the day among the three religious in Nigeria. In this approach no religions is left out; all (ATR, Islam, and Christianity) are treated as equal partners in seeking and offering solutions towards better relationships among religious followers and the Nigerian people.

With this in mind, this dissertation studies the relationships, positive and negative, between the three religious in Nigeria. It examines what has been done in the past and what can still be done to create a partnership between these religious communities in order to face the numerous challenges of the 21st century on a peaceful basis of cooperation and friendship. In this examination, this dissertation will raise and respond to five basic questions: 1. What are the aspects of these religions that are likely to create division in the Nigerian society? 2. What are the ways in which these religions may be used to enflame conflicts which perhaps have other root causes? 3. What are the ways in which people of faith can help to reduce conflict by preventative measures? 4. How can these religions contribute to peace building and how might they help to mollify actual conflict? 5. What are the ways in which these religions can contribute positively to shaping a new Nigeria, and new world order?

Looking at the things that divide us and those that unite us, the dissertation calls on followers of the different religions to move beyond their differences and work together in the spirit of interfaith relationships to make Nigeria better. It is pertinent at this point to emphasize that the focus of interfaith relationships among the religions in Nigeria is not aimed at proselytization, evangelization and apologetics. Rather, it is aimed at promoting mutual understanding and respect among the faith communities; an understanding and respect that will reduce religious bigotry, intolerance, violence and conflict, while promoting harmony, cooperation, friendship, tolerance and a peaceful society. This is exactly what Amir Hussain meant when he implied that interfaith relationships are not conversion, but an understanding and appreciation of the beauty and richness of the traditions of each other’s faith, in which “we begin to understand our common heritage that can lead us to work together on common future.”

The desire that interfaith relationships will contribute to a better understanding of the three religions and the positive role they play in the society is the burning passion behind this research.

Degree Granter

University of the West

Library Holding