Connect with us

Fact Check

“God is Allah in Arabic bible…a christian introduced Arabic to Naira notes…” – Are these claims by MURIC true? (1)

7 mins read

In January 2020, a Lagos based lawyer, Malcome Omirhobo, filed a suit before the Federal High Court against the Federal Government, Central  Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and others over Arabic inscription on Naira notes.

The lawyer asked the court to absolve the CBN of the mandate to print and circulate Naira notes bearing Arabic inscriptions as a legal tender for a secular state that has English as its official language. 

Omirhobo is of the view that the presence of the Arabic inscriptions on the Naira notes contravened the provisions of section 10 and 55 of the Nigerian constitution and is in a bid to Islamize the Nigerian state. 

It is against this backdrop that a Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a group which claims to position itself as a human rights organization promoting,  protecting, and projecting the rights of Muslims, made a couple of claims regarding the claims about the Bible and Arabic inscription on Naira currency.

MURIC’s claims, projecting ‘facts’, mostly counters arguments of the lawyers and other people against the said Arabic inscription on Nigeria’s Naira.

Claim 1: The numerical system (1, 2, 3, 4, etc) were invented by a Muslim mathematician by name Alkhawarizmi (died 850) in the 9th century.

Mostly true 

Verification: According to Encyclopedia Britannica Al-Khwārizmī, whose full name was Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, (born c. 780 —died c. 850), is a Muslim mathematician and astronomer whose major works introduced Hindu-Arabic numerals and the concepts of algebra into European mathematics. It also states that the hindu-Arabic numerals consisting of a set of 10 symbols – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0 – originated in India in the 6th or 7th century and were introduced to Europe through the writings of Middle Eastern mathematicians, especially al-Khwarizmi and al-Kindi, about the 12th century.

Also, G J Toomer, in the Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990)  stated that – it is likely enough that the decimal place-value system was a fairly recent arrival from India and that al-Khwārizmīs’ work was the first to expound it systematically. 

A quote attributed to Mohammad Kahn cited in the book – The Muslim contribution to mathematics by A A al’Daffa (London, 1978) states inter alia – In the foremost rank of mathematicians of all time stands Al-Khwarizmi. He composed the oldest works on arithmetic and algebra…..The work on arithmetic first introduced the Hindu numbers to Europe….

A report from the 14th Institute of Electrical  and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) Conference held in Uzbekistan in October 2020 also attributed the introduction of Arabic numerals to the West to Al-Khwarizmi.

Conclusion: All the publications that attributed the Arabic numerals to Al-Khwarizmi stated that he introduced the numerals to the West and the European countries. None of them established the fact that it was invented by him. 

Claim 2: God is called Allah in the Arabic Bible

“Interestingly enough, God is called Allah in the Arabic Bible,” as quoted in the statement.

True 

Verification: Encyclopedia Britannica states that Allah is the standard Arabic word for God and is used by Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews as well as by Muslims. According to the Encyclopedia – it is believed that God described himself in the Arabic language as Allāh.

A website christiananswers.net in a post answering to why Arab Christians referred to God as Allah stated – And what about the 10 to 12 million Arab Christians today? They have been calling God ‘Allah’ in their Bibles, hymns, poems, writings, and worship for over nineteen centuries

Also an Arabic Bible Outreach Ministry on its website clarified that the first-known translation of the Bible into Arabic, which took place in the 9th century, uses the word Allah for God and that Arab Christians were using the word Allah for God prior to the dawn of Islam….

Similarly a post on Medium by Fatima Karim explaining the similarities between the Muslim and Christian “Allah” posited that – If you pick up an Arabic Bible, you will see the word “Allah” being used where “God” is used in English. This is because “Allah” is a word in the Arabic language equivalent to the English word “God” with a capital “G”. 

Fatima used the visualisation below to support her assertion.

Dubawa went ahead to download an Arabic Bible with English translation to verify further. In verse 11 of Mark Chapter 3, we see that “You are the son of God!” written in the English version is in quotes with an exclamation.  

Dubawa traced the exact quote with an exclamation to the Arabic version and saw that the Arabic writing for God is similar to what is seen in the visualisation made by FatimaKarim. 

Also in an audio Bible on YouTube, the reader is heard mentioning the word Allah while reading out loud the book of John. 

Conclusion: Several search results supported the claim that the Arabic Bible refers to God as “Allah” 

Claim 3: A christian introduced Arabic inscription to Naira notes.

“It was not even Nigerian Muslim leaders who brought the idea of Arabic in the Nigerian currency in post-independence Nigeria. The man who initiated it was a Christian, an Urhobo officer, by name General David Akpode Ejoor (rtd). He was the one who introduced the Arabic inscription and the Star emblem into the Nigeria Army crest,” as quoted in the statement.

Partially True 

Verification: A blog post on Urhobo Voice attributed the designing of the Army cap badge to David Ejoor while rendering him a tribute after his death in 2019 – it read – The officer who designed the Army Cap Badge and Rank insignias in 1962.

Also, David Ejoor in page 16 of his book Reminiscences  stated that the idea behind the Arabic inscription and star emblem introduced into the Nigerian cap badge was for Defence and Unity, which are part of what the Nigerian Army stands for – to defend the unity and integrity of Nigeria. 

In page 16 of the book, Ejoor wrote, “In seeking a new design, I was anxious that the symbol should reflect the duty of the army and should be capable of inspiring officers and men. As I searched, I remembered the battle between the British and the Sokoto forces in 1903. At that battle, the Sokoto forces had carried the Sultan’s flag with an Arabic inscription on it. That Arabic inscription I learnt meant, “VICTORY IS FROM GOD ALONE”.

However, submission by the CBN in response to the suit by the Lagos-based lawyer did not support the claim that David Ejoor initiated the Arabic inscription on the Naira. CBN noted that the inscriptions on the naira notes dates back to the colonial era.

The CBN explained that “the naira notes retained the inscriptions with Ajami since 1973 when the name of the Nigerian currency was changed to naira from pounds.

“The Ajami was inscribed on the country’s currency by the colonialists to aid those without Western education in certain parts of the country, who, back then, constituted a larger part of the populace.”

Also, a New Yorker report reiterates this assertion. In the report by Caelainn Hogan, the reporter interviews an archivist who says the “Arabic script, had been printed on nearly every note since the naira was introduced, in 1973, and on previous currency as well.” The archivist was able to show this reporter a piece minted in 1945 as evidence that the British pounds used in Nigeria during the colonial era prior to the advent of the Naira had Arabic inscriptions on them. 

To further verify this claim, Dubawa reached out to a PhD student of African History at the Michigan State University, Ozibo Ozibo. He could not confirm that it was General David Akpode Ejoor (Rtd) that brought the idea of the Arabic in the Nigerian currency in post-independence Nigeria but he, however, provided pictorial evidence that showed the Arabic inscription was on the British Pound used in Nigeria during the colonial era.

Conclusion: Apart from his book where he tried to document history, no other strong indications point to that fact that it was Ejoor who introduced the Arabic writing into the Army cap badge. However, while there was some evidence to show that David Ejoor introduced the Arabic inscription on the Nigeria cap badge, several searches did not return results that show he was the one that introduced it into the Nigerian currency. 

Claim 4: Ex-President Jonathan removed Arabic from the Naira 

“Many of those saddled with the task of uniting us have become instruments of division. Ex-President Jonathan is an example. He removed Arabic from the naira because he listened to hate preachers whom he took along on his futile but numerous trips to Jerusalem,” as quoted in the statement.

Misleading 

Verification: An observation of the Nigerian Naira notes show that the Arabic inscriptions are only absent in the 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Naira denominations of the Naira while the 200, 500 and 1000 Naira notes still have the Arabic inscriptions.

Also, reports show that it was only the Arabic inscription  on the 100 Naira note that was removed under Goodluck Jonathan ‘s administration when the note was redesigned by the CBN to commemorate 100 years of Nigeria’s amalgamation. 

However, the Arabic inscriptions in the 5, 10, 20, 50 Naira notes were removed during the regime of President Olusegun Obasanjo  and not under President Goodluck Jonathan. 

Meanwhile, the Naira is regarded as Nigeria’s monetary unit; it is the official currency for the Federal Republic of Nigeria and is divided into 100 Kobos. It was introduced in 1973 to replace the British pound which was in use during the  colonial era. The CBN has the sole authority to issue banknotes and coins. Coin  denominations range from 50 kobo to 2 naira while Banknotes are denominated in values from five to 1000 Naira.

If the Naira is an official legal tender that encompasses all denominations of the Nigerian currency, it cannot be said that Goodluck Jonathan removed Arabic inscriptions from the Naira because the 100 Naira banknote is not the only Nigerian Naira. 

Conclusion: It cannot be said that ex-president Goodluck Jonathan removed Arabic from the Naira when there are still Nigerian currencies bearing the Arabic inscription. This claim is therefore misleading. 

The researcher produced this article per the Dubawa 2020 Fellowship partnership with Sparkling 92.3 FM to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

1 Comment

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

More in Fact Check