Nigerians are very religious people often seek help from their pastors and Imams whom they believe are spiritually superior to them, and in a country where the so-called ‘men of God’ are revered, words from these men are often taken seriously and religiously.
Those who are blessed with the gift of prophecy literally get their followers eating from their palms. Now that the hard times are here, many seek spiritual help here and there and do anything they are told all in effort to find answers to some questions. But in desperation for solutions, many have fallen victims to fake spiritualists. It is very important therefore to detect the true ones from the take
“Pastors with unkempt, dreadful appearances, who love to wear odd coloured clothes should be watched out for. I am not saying anything is wrong with the colours of clothes one puts on, but when it is believed that colours have to do with miracles and powers, beware. Also prove their preachings because the words of God never fails,” said Pastor Archilles Edwards, just as a Muslim cleric, Alhaji Zakari Y. Akintayo, warns that no cleric should be judged from his appearance.
“The Bible and Quran urge us to watch out for the fruits of clerics. This, one can’t do from afar until one gets close to the cleric. Humans will always be humans. We cover our faults well, but not from the creator who sees all hearts. To immediately spot a fake Muslim cleric, I still insist that Nigerians should find out about such clerics from their neighbours or others who have been witnesses to the cleric’s lifestyle. If you are looking at his outward appearance, you will miss it because that is not the right way to spot them.”
A man of God who doesn’t preach against sin, but only preaches propserity and miracles, those who tell 419ers or Yahoo Boys that all is well just as long as they bring their tithes to the church, and even pray for them for doing what we know is wrong, are fake pastors. People should be wary of such persons.
However, Alhaji Akintayo believes in Tirah. You can spot such if he asks you for money before he can pray for you. “Quran does not approve of that. I have issues with politicians or businessmen who pay Imams and lock them up in a place just to be praying for them. You see them driving big cars, living in mansions, etc. Any Imam or Alfa that gets involved in fraudulent activities is a fake cleric. I am not saying it is wrong to collect money, but it should not be the Imam that will make the demand. That is Haram to me. It is not what one puts in his mouth that is Haram. Someone regularly visits you, but you won’t deem it fit to pay at least a visit. That also is Haram because if we see ourselves as equal before Allah, we would respect one another,” he said.
What they preach is a direct mirror of who is real or fake, says Pastor Edwards. An Imam is nothing but the words he believes in as spoken by the Quran. You shouldn’t add to, or deduct from it. Any Imam or Alfa that goes beyond the Quran, or dilutes it with his own, is fake. To spot a fake Alfa, however, one needs to understand the Quran so he won’t fall into the hands of fake clerics.
Both Edwards and Zakari agree that every human being has conscience, therefore, the Imam or Pastor that’s telling lies knows he is telling a lie. He will need another lie to cover the first and subsequent lies and with time, the truth will come out
“Nigerians should compare the lifestyle of Christians who claim to be men of God to those of the Peters and Johns of the Bible. They never tell you to bring clay, candle,coffin,etc. Jesus is the standard, not any preacher. White dress works for some people, but it does not mean that it is backed by the scripture. That’s why what’s in the old testament does not apply to what’s in the new. This is the new dispensation as God himself came in Jesus. In the old testament, the church was the temple. Now, we are the temple because Jesus has come. For all you know, the churches can be used as football pitches because we are now the church.
“By and large, people miss it when they attach miraculous power to things—scarves, handkerchieves, rods, white garments, clay, water, etc. Any man of God who uses any of these items should be feared because God does not live in things, He lives in us, but can use things. Because we don’t listen to what God says, and because we always want to do things our own ways, we quickly belive in things that some men use to perform miracles,” said Pastor Edwards.
Zakari, however, told newsmen that Alfas don’t believe in objects and true Imams don’t use it for spiritual purposes. “That is one easy way of recognising a fake Imam or Alfa. We don’t use objects. All we do is pray. I am a liberal Imam and four of my daughters are married to Christians. Many fault me for allowing this, but what is my problem with that? I have not seen God, but I believe He is the same God that we all call upon,” he said.