Kaduna, Nigeria

Outside the International Center For Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony in Kaduna, Nigeria.




Background and mission

The ICIPH was founded against the backdrop of Kadunas turbulent history, marked by recurrent clashes between Christian and Muslim communities. Rev. Dr Ibrahim Wushishi Yusuf, World Council of Churches programme executive for peacebuilding in Africa, was the general secretary of the Christian Council of Churches of Nigeria (CCN) at the time. He recalls the WCC Living Letters team visit to the country in 2010 and the challenge of visiting such a diverse country with an exclusively Christian delegation. Recognizing the urgent need for reconciliation and peaceful coexistence, the followup visit in 2012 included a group of visionary leaders from the Christian and Muslim faiths, coordinated by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. Together with local partners Jamaatu Nasril Islam, the Society for the Support of Islam, and the Christian Council of Nigeria, they established an institution that would catalyse change. 

The centres primary mission has always been to promote interfaith dialogue, understanding, and collaboration as essential tools for building lasting peace in the region.

Activities and initiatives

From the initial consultants doing the needs analysis to the board, staff, and participants, a 50/50 representation of Christians and Muslims has always been core in the centres planning and activities. The centre was developed and managed in a collaboration between Jamaatu Nasril Islam and the Christian Council of Nigeria. At the heart of ICIPHs efforts lies a commitment to engaging communities in constructive dialogue and promoting a culture of peace and tolerance. The centre organizes various activities and initiatives to achieve these objectives, including interfaith dialogues, training and capacity building, peace education for youth, and community outreach. 

Recognition and challenges

The centres efforts earned recognition both nationally and internationally. 

The impact of ICIPH extends beyond Nigerias borders. The centre has established partnerships with international organizations and participated in various global forums to advance interfaith dialogue and cooperation on a broader scale.

Despite its successes, ICIPH faced numerous challenges in its quest for peace and harmony. Deep-seated prejudices, socio-economic disparities, and political tensions continue to pose significant obstacles to interfaith cooperation in the 19 northern states of Nigeria and beyond. Additionally, the rise of extremist ideologies threatens to undermine the progress made in promoting tolerance and understanding.

The challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown period and funding restrictions have also significantly affected the centres work. Still, the staff and leadership of ICIPH remain committed to promoting peace and harmony in Kaduna and beyond. They dream of continuing to foster dialogue, build relationships, empower communities, and create a future where people of all faiths can live together in peace and mutual respect. 

Reflecting and dreaming

Recently, a group of staff and board members reflected on the past and dreamed about the centres future.

Ezekiel Babagario, co-director of the programme, shared how his journey from the Nigerian Air Force to his studies of Christian and Islam theology brought him to work for peace. Spirituality brings out the humanity in us,” he said. If my salvation does not make me see the humanity in the other person, then I dont think my salvation is even helpful to me. I am a peacemaker. I want to live my life following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.”

Babagario has a particular interest in the involvement of youth and the integration of peacekeeping into education. He explained that it was common in all African cultures that being children of our own parents, our parents want us to be good ambassadors of the family outside and carry the dignity of the family out there.” For young people to be good ambassadors of their families and their faiths, the centre has also focused on youth engagement, training 500 young individuals in peaceful coexistence through the “Hands Across the Divide” project.

Communication officer Abdulazeez Biodun shared this perspective:Islam is peace. Islam is about tolerance,” he said, We can cohabit peacefully and well with those who are not Muslim, so why are we not doing so? We can eat from the same source—why are we not doing so?”

The ICIPH does not only cross boundaries of faith. Rev. Dr Uzoaku Williams, one of the two women on the board, highlighted that two male board members stepped back to ensure greater gender diversity. My church leader called me and said, I am stepping down so that you will come in,’ and one of the Muslim leaders did the same.”

Participants shared key principles they would like to guide the next steps in the journey: collaboration, faithfulness, and being intentional. 

Admin and finance officer Ruth Duniya shared her dream of the two religions truly holding hands.

Very Rev. Dr Evans Onyemara, general secretary of the Christian Council of Nigeria, shared their plans to build cohesion through a documentation centre to address the lack of trusted information and analysis: I would like to see ICIPH bloom into a centre which we as Nigerians can make a reference point for interfaith engagement.”

In a world too often divided by religious differences, International Center for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony offers a glimmer of hope—a testament to the power of dialogue, understanding, and cooperation in building a more peaceful and harmonious society.

International Centre for Inter-Faith Peace and Harmony celebrates five years and a growing vanguard for peace (WCC news release, 24 August 2021)

Learn more about the WCC's work on the Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation