This Interview was conducted and published in hardcover of NEWISSUES magazine before his arrest, arraignment and kangaroo jailing in DECEMBER 2019 Edition.
MUBARAK BALA made headline and it soon went global in 2014 when he tweeted that God does not exist in a predominantly Muslim State of KANO. His family quickly took him to a psychiatric hospital against his wishes because of fear that he would be lynched. Mubarak remain adamant afterwards. He became an activist who educate and support people who don’t believe in religion. His criticism of religion on social media would outrage many Muslims in his Northern Nigeria. GEORGE ONMONYA DANIEL in this short interview asked MUBARAK BALA some questions and he gave some fascinating answers.
NEWISSUES: I first saw your story on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) help up in a hospital as a psychiatric patient for tweeting you do not believe in God or better put, God does not exist. What actually happened?
MUBARAK: I realised I was an atheist back in 2009 at school, but kept it to myself for obvious reasons. But then in 2011, Boko Haram and post election violence took over Northern Nigeria. I saw it as a duty to tell people that killing for Allah is a futile mission as Allah does not exist. I told my family and close friends, when they knew, I decided to write it on social media. But my family thought I went mad and that to deny there was Adam and Eve is a delusion.
NEWISSUES: Being born to a Muslim family, I know how strict Muslim families are with religion in the North of Nigeria and how powerful religion is, when did you realise there is no God?
MUBARAK: I realised there is no God between 2001 and 2009, I was a conservative Muslim Islamist student by my upbringing. I then became educated and liberal in my world view, both politically and religious wise. From then I became secular, then agnostic and finally and atheist.
NEWISSUES: Knowing how dangerous it can be to criticise Islam, which can even lead to you being killed, why do you keep doing so on social media?
MUBARAK: I realised that since they could do this to me and try to silence me, many may be in the same situation, so the message because dual; Say it so the terrorists may stop the killings, and just so if they are man like me out there, they would know they are not crazy, nor are they alone. Both tactics paid off.
NEWISSUES: There is a rise of disbelief in religion all over Nigeria, especially among Muslims like you in the North nowadays, why is that?
MUBARAK: It is our efforts combined with the effects terrorism has had in the psyche of he populace. Many are tired of Islamism if not Islam itself.
NEWISSUES: Do you think society without religion is better off for mankind?
MUBARAK: Of course, yes, especially religions that forbid education. Religions have been there for millennia, yet no penicillin nor Paracetamol was provided by them, but they killed and killed, enslaved and plundered. We need a secular society at the very least.
NEWISSUES: What questions do religious people mostly ask you when you discuss religion?
MUBARAK: They behave like programmed robots. The main question is that, “do you believe in death?”, which shows you the fear of death is what gave birth to religions when clueless goat herders claimed there was life after death.
NEWISSUES: I don’t want to make this personal but somewhere along the line I just needed to ask this question. How are your parents and siblings taking this? You know your dad, Dr. Bala Mohammed, taught me Mass Communication in Bayero University Kano in the late 90s, and since then I follow his column on Weekly Trust newspaper.
MUBARAK: We have never had any problems with my family, only few uncles and brothers, as well as my father. they thought they are doing the right thing and have the best interest for me. But they did not know they are just being puppeteer by Islam. Islam decides that you die when you renounce religion. They were advocates of the Sharia, so they carried out the preconditions the Sharia stipulated, check the apostate mentally if his head is correct.
Sadly, none of them ever engaged with me on any religious debate. They only sent clerics a few times, who report back to them that I am determined and convinced. a few days after the whole incidence, we reconciled and I forgave them. we are still good. I visit home every time I could.
NEWISSUES: Can you still walk freely in places like Kano where some people have been sentences to death bu Sharia court for blasphemy?
MUBARAK: You would be surprised how people receive me. We tested the waters and it is safe to not be religious. The Sharia is mostly for the poor and the illiterate. They know we know our rights so no Fatwas, no one bothers us. However, we try to avoid confrontation or the mob.
On few occasions I even visit mosques for weddings and greeting my friends and teachers, some of whom are still clerics. I have no threats or fear whatsoever.
NEWISSUES: Thank you Mr. Mubarak for talking to NEWISSUES magazine.