My name is Ismail (my surname doesn’t matter here) and I am a Muslim, a proud Muslim who practices the requirements of his religion to the best of his ability. I am an employee of a leading financial institution in Nigeria and I enjoy what I do.
I have dreams like every young Nigerian (I have been an aspiring rapper for ages and I am currently an aspiring Islamic Scholar) and that dream doesn’t include being a terrorist who moves about slitting throats under the guise of Islam. Come to think of it, the only animal I have mustered the courage to slaughter since I was born ended up chasing me out of the kitchen because I didn’t slit the throat properly – in line with the dictates of my religion which require that one is merciful to the animals that you consume.
The Prophet (SAW) said in his hadith (a hadith is a documentation of the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the most authentic of all the hadiths is Sahih Bukhari): “Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, God will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment.” The listeners asked, “O Messenger of God, what is a just cause?” He replied, “That he will kill it to eat, not simply to chop off its head and then throw it away.”
One wonders how a religion that enjoins mercy to animals upon its adherents can encourage the killing of humans. In fact, to kill an innocent person when it isn’t a situation of self defence is regarded as a capital offence in Islam. I will encorage all my friends from other faiths to research on the implications of killing someone in error and how that is handled in Islam. Your first assignment!
“Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things. ( Quran, 2:256)”
“Say : O ye that reject Faith! I worship not that which ye worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worhip. And I will not worship that which ye have been wont to worship, Nor will ye worship that which I worship. To you be your Way, and to me mine. (Quran, 109:1-6)”
“Whoever kills a person [innocent person]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Qur’an, 5:32)
When my employer was going to recruit me into the organisation, the last thing they considered was my religion. When I make decisions or beat deadlines, no one even bothers about my faith. And when people of other faiths hear me speak, the response I get most times is, “you don’t sound or look like a muslim”. I have always asked such individuals the question bothering on how Muslims sound or look. I can confidently say that most of my friends are Muslims – some of them have got accents too – and they do not sleep on trees or wear white flowing jalamias with a riffle strapped to their backs.
In recent times, what I find disheartening is the narrative where people refer to my religion as a satanic religion. Shaitan! My religion teaches me to seek refuge from Almighty God against the theatrics and shenanigans of Satan, so what correlation does such religion have with Satan. When I see such conjectures, two things happen – a feeling of sadness envelopes me and thereafter I am consumed by laughter at such display of ignorance.
Sadness due to the submission that Africans do not bother to conduct research and search for knowledge (which is a compulsion in my religion), instead we like to jump on the bandwagon and swallow what we hear. We like to hear Donald Trump speak and cheer his narratives without sitting back and thinking it through.
Laughter because people who spend hours on gossip sites can’t use the same data to educate themselves about the way of life of other people. I love to read however, I also hold a critical view of everything I read. If you can’t provide me proof of your assertions, then I believe you are wasting my time. So next time someone is telling you Islam is a cult, why don’t you grab a copy of the English Quran and embark on this journey of knowledge yourself.
I will be intrigued as an individual (if I wasn’t a Muslim) if so much funds is pumped into discrediting a religion that has been painted as a cult, yet the same religion is adjudged the fastest growing religion in the world. I will conclude that either the adherents of the faith are fools or there is something that I am not seeing.
I have seen falsely subtitled videos created by charlatans in order to smear my religion – to achieve what? I have listened to audios of Islamic Scholars (like Dr. Yasir Qadhi) pieced together and circulated on the internet to tie them to extremism. Such actions are extremely shameful – to what end?
The Holy Quran says “Invite all to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and engage with them in ways that are best and most gracious” (16:125).
“ Say [O Mohammad]: O people of the book, come to a common understanding between us and you, that we shall worship no one except One God that we shall take no partners with Him and none of us shall take others for Lord beside One God” (Quran 3:64).
For the records, my religion refer to Christians and Jews as people of the book (what a beautiful and respectful way of addressing people of other faiths). I am yet to find any other faith that extends such respect to other beliefs (everyone is an unbeliever in other faiths once you do not practice the religion) – yet, I am the terrorist. There is nowhere in my Quran where I have been ordered to murder anyone for the sake of my religion.
While I won’t disagree with the fact that there are extremists in Islam, same also, there are extremists in other faiths. Or what do we say about the Joseph Kony led Lord Resistance Army in the Central African Republic that go about murdering Muslims in the name of religion. Or can you use your data to check on the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar. Wait! you are not aware of that because no one splashes such stories on the internet.
In the coming days, I will dedicate some pages to looking at the origin of terrorism and how the chicken has come home to roost in this conspiracy theory.
Did you know Osama Bin Laden was once an ally of the west? What will happen to Tony Blair after he shamelessly told the world that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake? Do you really agree that ISIS was created by the mistakes of the West? Is it logical to create a thousand terrorists because you wanted to kill Saddam Hussein? What will happen to the locals that are currently being equipped by the US in Syria if Bashar Al-Assad’s government is eventually toppled? Will this be the beginning of a new terrorist group?
In conclusion, I will enjoin us all to seek knowledge and stop calling other people names just because we do not understand their way of life. Move closer to them and ask questions that you are not sure of – or better still, make google your friend.
When a delegation of Christians from the Roman Empire visited Prophet Mohammad, he invited them to stay in his mosque and allowed them to pray there according to their traditions. In 628 AD he granted a charter of privilege to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt.Sinai to assure them of their rights as a Christian minority. The charter is very significant in demonstrating the respect and tolerance of other faith communities as exemplified by the Prophet (p):
“This is a letter from Mohammad ibn Abdallah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity. We are with them, they are my citizens, we will defend them.
No compulsion is to be on them.
Neither their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.
No one is to destroy their house of worship, or to damage it, or to take anything from it to a Muslim’s house.
No one is to force them to fight (for Muslims). Muslims are to fight for them.
If a Christian woman is married to a Muslim man, it should not take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from attending her church to pray.
No one from my nation is to disobey this covenant till the Last Day.”