by Demola Rewaju
Historically, Christianity has its own dark era where wars were fought and people killed simply because they refused to accept the gospel of the Christ. As recently as a century ago, people were burned at stakes simply because they refused to confess Jesus as their saviour. Truth be told, if bombs and modern killing devices existed during the periods of christian warfare influenced by politics and money, the world as we know it today may not exist.
As part of the latter parts of my childhood, I was privileged to attend a public secondary school where we had two assembly prefects, one a christian, the other a muslim. From Monday to Wednesday, we offered morning prayers the Christian way while we took Muslim prayers on Thursday and Friday. I am proud to say I can flawlessly recite a chapter of the Holy Koran in Arabic (Al-Fatiha)…even though I don’t remember the interpretation.
In judging Islam and comparing it to Christianity, many analysts make two major mistakes: historical and comparative. Historically, Islam is more than five hundred years behind Christianity as a religion and so it has not yet become as organised a unit as Christianity can claim today. Historically, Christianity has its own dark era where wars were fought and people killed simply because they refused to accept the gospel of the Christ. As recently as a century ago, people were burned at stakes simply because they refused to confess Jesus as their saviour. Truth be told, if bombs and modern killing devices existed during the periods of christian warfare influenced by politics and money, the world as we know it today may not exist.
It was not until some Christians rose and condemned violence by Christians that many began to question the rationale of fighting on God’s behalf. This is the same challenge we present to Muslims of this age.
I remember attending Islamic Religious Knowledge classes under Mr Adesanya in secondary school. He liked me because I was one of the few Christian who opted to sit in his class rather than the Christian Religious Knowledge class of one teacher I won’t mention. My CRK teacher was a confirmed hemp smoker so I boycotted his classes and attended IRK instead but I always wrote CRK exams and passed even without writing continuous assessment tests.
Mr Adesanya always defined Islam as the ‘religion of peace’. In this age, one is at pains to explain this to any observer; what with the killing of Christians, Muslims and Traditionalists in many parts of Northern Nigeria. Which brings us to the second analytical mistake of some analysts: comparative.
When one compares the enlightenment of Southern Muslims and Northern Muslims, one finds that the former are generally speaking more enlightened than the latter. Countries like Saudi-Arabia, Qatar, U.A.E. etc are relatively more peaceful than Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Libya and Egypt. When you look at what makes the difference, enlightenment is usually the answer. When a person is unenlightened, it affects his worldview, whether he is a Christian or Muslim. About two decades ago, some Christians proclaimed the television was the ‘devil’s box’. In this modern day Lagos, some bus preachers still preach the gospel of fire and brimstone on females who wear earrings and trousers.
A violent man is a violent man, either he proclaims to be a Christian or a Muslim. His actions though, reveal who he is. Anyone who takes the life of another except in times of war cannot claim to be a Muslim. The Holy Koran commands Muslims to respect Christians (Al-Kitab – people of the book it calls them) and the Prophet even gave protection to Christians in his lifetime.
Many of us have been hurt by Christians before and by Muslims. We have also been loved by Christians before and by Muslims. Do we then say religion makes good or bad people? No…not ever! There are only good and bad people.
If you still see Islam as a religion that asks people to kill, let me blow your mind: when Muslims took over the city of Jerusalem, not one person (man, woman, elderly or young) was killed because he was a Christian. When Christian knights took Jerusalem in the year 1099, not one muslim person (man, woman, elderly or young) was spared. Enlightenment makes the difference.
This post is published with permission from Demola Rewaju
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.