Although 83% of Americans identify as Christians, many people have seemingly forgotten the true meaning of the Christmas holiday. The current political climate has largely been fueled by hatred, fear, and dangerous misconceptions. Recent studies have shown that anti-Muslim assaults reached 9/11-era levels nationwide last year and have only continued to increase since this year’s election. But while Muslims in the U.S. are fearing for their safety, one Muslim woman in Nigeria is bringing peace — and much-needed charity — to those in need.
Known locally as a Muslim peace ambassador, Hajiya Ramatu Tijjani is making a large-scale effort to create peaceful and fruitful relationships between different faiths in Nigeria. She recently donated food staples to at least 50 widowed Christian women at the Christ Evangelical Church Ministry in the Kaduna state. Not only does she hope to promote better relations between religions, but she wanted to make a donation that would help to alleviate the hardships these widows face during the Christmas season.
Tijjani was inspired after seeing the pastor of the Christ Evangelical Church Ministry, Yahanna Buru, distribute food and drink to the poor, displaced, and imprisoned during Ramadan. She says Buru’s generosity towards the Muslim people made her want to help Christians during their holiest of seasons.
Efforts like Tijjani’s are particularly necessary in Nigeria. While Christians in the U.S. have virtually no fear of violence due to religious affiliation, the same cannot be said for members of the Christian faith in Nigeria. Open Doors USA currently ranks Nigeria as the 22nd worst country in terms of Christian persecutions. Local Christian communities have been the victim of countless deadly attacks stemming from Islamic extremist groups. And in October, at least 40 Christians were murdered by Fulani herdsmen.
Now, Tijjani is calling on fellow Muslim residents to donate to Christians in need and stressing the importance of showing goodwill during the holiday season. She is also imploring the government of Nigeria to create solutions to the country’s interfaith conflicts. She says that if the government were able to design institutions specifically for these issues, it would help promote religious tolerance and education throughout Nigeria.
Tijjani has also done her part to aid in better religious dialogue. She worked with a group of Muslim women to donate Bibles, written in the African language called Hausa, to Christian leaders during Interfaith Harmony Week last February. After attending a service at the Christ Evangelical Church Ministry, Tijjani wanted to give this donation “to encourage religious understanding and tolerance between Christians and Muslims for peaceful coexistence in the country and the world at large.”