Opinion: I am Muslim but…

by Mohammed Abdullahi

A far greater problem still is when someone seeking to “win souls for Christ” or embark on “Jihad” fails to expose the beauty of his convictions and ideologies, but instead begins to insinuate that what the other person believes is wrong and stupid; when in fact he knows next to nothing about the religion of the other person.

Recently, I have had to put up with the unpleasant question: why are you Muslims so violent? And each time I get this question, it often amazes me how little we know about each other’s faith, and how Boko Haram has come to be equated with Islam.

Sometime last year, I shared a room with a Christian friend on Bedford Street, England. One particular morning, as usual, we both woke up almost at the same time. While I went to perform ablution to say my morning prayer (the Muslim way of course), I came back to meet my friend singing, “we give Lord the glory…. Good morning father…”. He was saying his Christian devotion, while I was preparing to say Allahu Akbar – in the same room.

Immediately I was done with my prayers and getting ready to hit the shower, it flashed through my mind that back home in Nigeria; some of our countrymen kill one another almost on a daily basis in the name of religion. And here I was, praying in the same room with a person whose religious conviction is not the same as mine, and neither is he my tribesman. He is Sunny Omugbe, an Igbo and Christian, while I am Muhammed, the Yoruba/Hausa and a Muslim. But we live in peace and respect one another and whatever we believe in. We sleep on the same mattress, and while one says the Lord’s Prayer, the other recites Ayatul- Kursiyyu.

But if you ask some of my fellow Muslim brothers, they will probably tell you that I am not particularly a good Muslim. They may even be willing to quote extensively from the Quran to support their argument that a Muslim who cohabits with a Christian is not helping the cause of Islam. To them, to help the continuation of Jihad and increase the circle of the Muslim Ummah, a Muslim must strive by all means possible to win over “unbelievers” to the ways and teachings of the noble Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W).

Before I am misquoted, my understanding of Islam stipulates that you do not force whatever you believe on others. Even the Quran said this much when it states that “….Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship…”(Quran 109 Vs 1-6).Your religion is for you, mine is for me. I can only impress you with the beautiful way of my religion, and probably make you fall in love with the God I worship, but not forcing ‘Allahu Akbar’ into your mouth. That would be very much un-Islamic and a violation of the teachings of the Prophet (S.A.W).

Among the Christians also, it is not unusual to come across Christian brothers, who, having convinced themselves that theirs is the “only righteous way”, would do everything to make you accept Jesus as “your Lord and personal saviour”. I had the misfortune of dealing with one of these extremists last year. I will share with the reader what my Christian brother said to me.

He had arrived Manchester in January to pursue a Masters degree in Financial Management, in the same Department where I was then rounding off my Postgraduate studies in Marketing Management. We first met at the Developing Professional Practice (DPP) class, which is a compulsory unit regardless of your subject of study.

After getting acquainted, and having introduced himself as a Nigerian, there was an instant feeling of brotherhood and friendship. We became friends and even got closer when we had to work together as members of a Self Development Group. After the unit, we continued to keep in touch, mostly via phone and emails. But one lovely Sunday afternoon, I received a call from my friend.

He sounded so unusually serious on phone. He was genuinely bothered and concerned about something. And when I asked, he said he was worried about me. According to him, he had been thinking of when he would have the chance to share the message of Christ with me, but due to our academic commitments, an opportunity had not presented itself.

He said Jesus would not forgive him if he failed to tell me that I was on the wrong path spiritually. He asked how I would feel if, after all the “trouble” of praying five times a day, I discovered that I had merely wasted my time. He said on the day of salvation, it would be too late for me to make amends. He, therefore, advised me to as a matter of urgency, accept Jesus.

In response, I told him that one of my sisters, born of the same parents, is already a Christian; and that there is nothing strange about embracing another religion. I also asked my Christian brother to provide a justification that Christianity is the right path for me to travel spiritually, he could not.

He only muttered some incoherent gibberish about the Biblical teaching which says Jesus would return to the earth to take with him those who follow His ways. I said the Quran also says that Prophet Isah (Jesus) would come back, although for a different reason.

I have given the instances above just to prove that there is nothing inherently wrong about having a different faith and religion. The problem arises when someone wakes from the spiritual angle of his bed, attired himself in the image of the righteous all-knowing believer and begins to embark on the task of proving that what he believes is superior to that of others.

A far greater problem still is when someone seeking to “win souls for Christ” or embark on “Jihad” fails to expose the beauty of his convictions and ideologies, but instead begins to insinuate that what the other person believes is wrong and stupid; when in fact he knows next to nothing about the religion of the other person.

This is what often serves as a catalyst to a religious unrest and violence. The religious bigots among us are those setting Nigeria ablaze in the name of Islam, not those fine gentlemen Muslims and Christians who worship their God peacefully and quietly.

A Jehovah Witness once gave me a pamphlet. In it, I read things that I think I needed a Christian friend to explain to me. In the book, questions were raised concerning the owner of the earth. The writer argues that God would not have owned the earth and still allows it to be ravaged by so much troubles and unrighteousness.

Citing John 12:31, the writer described Satan as the “god of this world”. The book the Jehovah witness gave me also advanced the logic that it was because Satan owns the world that he asked Jesus to bow before him.  Yet, 1 Corinthians 10: 26 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.”

It was this confusion that I seek explanation to, but the only Christian friend who volunteered to help first asked me to tell him why I was asking the questions. He was suspicious of my motives, thinking that I was not in any way interested in the bible and its teachings; but only out to expose what he presumed I may have considered inconsistencies in the teachings of the Holy Scripture. He was very defensive, even while I was not questioning Christianity or its tenets.

Another instance: I had gone to work for a newspaper based in the East. On this faithful day, a senior editorial person and I were going around to scout for news when he began a probing conversation.

He concluded that many of us Muslims embraced Islam because we were born into the religion and found our parents worshiping Allah, not because we were convinced about what we were doing. I tried to correct some of his wrong impressions. He was not ready to listen to any opposing views. I knew he was not well informed about what he was talking about.

It is clear from experiences that what normally causes religious violence in most cities and states in Nigeria is not because Christians hate Muslims or vice-versa.

Rather, the reality is that all of us always want to defend our faith and show to the other person that what we believe is the one and only truth. We argue and debate and quarrel, forgetting that none of us can fight God’s battle.

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Muhammed  Abdullahi  a Marketing Communications practitioner wrote in from Lagos

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (7)

  1. Kindly assist me to locate a friend – Mohammed Sonny Abdulahi. We schooled together at St Gabriel's Sec. Comm. Sch. Mokola, Ibadan between 1987 and 1993. Anyone with info about him should please contact me on 07043051193 or [email protected].

  2. All of you touting religious harmony are ignorant. I have done the "born again" thing 25yrs ago and I know the bible fairly well. I'm a student of history and I know how the world has been evolving through recorded history. Your Bible and Koran in is true sense do not preach any happy co-existence. In the bible, there's a quote: "I am the way, the truth and the life; NO ONE cometh to the father except by me" attributed to Jesus. What do you make of that if you have the slightest sense of objectivity.

    I know what all religions are predicated on. Religions operate by dogma: accept what I tell you by faith and do not question or try to reason it out. Well, turns out I'm a scientist and that is anathema to a true scientist worth his salt. If you hold religion to the test of reason, it fails. No wonder they all incubated during the period of man's ignorance and passed on from parents to child. Nearly 100% of all people on earth were handed their religious "conviction" by their parents; that says a lot about the "conviction".

    That does not mean there might not be an intelligent force behind all we see in nature, but to reduce it to organised religion is indeed laughable. The truth is that we do not know but we scientists who never take things at face value, are still working on it. Religion is one of the worst problems in the world today and a major reason why the world is still mired in many of the problems it is in.

    So you think you can not do good in and of itself except you subscribe to a religion? That is the most foolhardy thing I ever heard in my life; and I hear it a lot in Nigeria. It means you're intellectually invalid. Look, I subscribe to no religion and the standard by which I have conducted myself in Nigeria has exposed me to being cheated unconscionably by those who have a religion. Especially in Nigeria, religion is HYPOCRISY and IGNORANCE. If there were a God that answers prayers of nations, there's no way Nigeria would be in the state it is in. In case you don't know, the state Nigeria is in is a miracle in itself, albeit a negative miracle. There's no major oil exporter in the world that has such a wretched percentage of people in its population. None. But then we have people who are extremely rich even by world standard and they have a religion! We're 7th in world oil production, sometimes we go to sixth. In Africa, we're no 1. Yet, even by African standards, we're below average in the economic fortunes of ordinary people.

    DO NOT COME HERE AND TELL ME ABOUT RELIGION AGAIN, IGNORANT PH.D HOLDERS!

    @OIbhagui

  3. All of you touting religious harmony are ignorant. I have done the "born again" thing 25yrs ago and I know the bible fairly well. I'm a student of history and I know how the world has been evolving through recorded history. Your Bible and Koran in is true sense do not preach any happy co-existence. In the bible, there's a quote: "I am the way, the truth and the life; NO ONE cometh to the father except by me" attributed to Jesus. What do you make of that if you have the slightest sense of objectivity.

    I know what all religions are predicated on. Religions operate by dogma: accept what I tell you by faith and do not question or try to reason it out. Well, turns out I'm a scientist and that is anathema to a true scientist worth his salt. If you hold religion to the test of reason, it fails. No wonder they all incubated during the period of man's ignorance and passed on from parents to child. Nearly 100% of all people on earth were handed their religious "conviction" by their parents; that says a lot about the "conviction".

    That does not mean there might not be an intelligent force behind all we see in nature, but to reduce it to organised religion is indeed laughable. The truth is that we do not know but we scientists who never take things at face value, are still working on it. Religion is one of the worst problems in the world today and a major reason why the world is still mired in many of the problems it is in.

    So you think you can not do good in and of itself except you subscribe to a religion? That is the most foolhardy thing I ever heard in my life; and I hear it a lot in Nigeria. It means you're intellectually invalid. Look, I subscribe to no religion and the standard by which I have conducted myself in Nigeria has exposed me to being cheated unconscionably by those who have a religion. Especially in Nigeria, religion is HYPOCRISY and IGNORANCE. If there were a God that answers prayers of nations, there's no way Nigeria would be in the state it is in. In case you don't know, the state Nigeria is in is a miracle in itself, albeit a negative miracle. There's no major oil exporter in the world that has such a wretched percentage of people in its population. None. But then we have people who are extremely rich even by world standard and they have a religion! We're 7th in world oil production, sometimes we go to sixth. In Africa, we're no 1. Yet, even by African standards, we're below average in the economic fortunes of ordinary people.

    DO NOT COME HERE AND TELL ME ABOUT RELIGION AGAIN, IGNORANT PH.D HOLDERS!

  4. That was a beautiful one. This has been the position of Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat worldwide that Islam recognizes diversity and requires no compulsion in the matter of faith. In fact Holy Quran says in Ch. 10, verse 100 that if Allah had enforced His will, all men would have believed the same way. On account of that among others we are branded as non-believers in Jihad. Thanks be to Allah for your piece which shows that some of our Muslim brethren have appreciated Ahmadiyya point of view, albeit the real Islamic position on religious freedom. On the second coming of Jesus we believe he has indeed come.

  5. Yes brother, there is no harm in sharing what u truly believe in, and the best way is to let ur religion reflect in ur character. People will inquire why you are pleasantly unique, then u tell them that is "what my religion preaches". In other words, preach the religion by practising it.

  6. Good write up but don't u think you too biase on this matter bcos u seems to condem traditional religion. We ar just deceivin oursefs wit dis religion of a thing.the doctrine of all religion is doing good and don't do bad regardless of ur mode of worship. Rest my case

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail