Re-why do Muslims celebrate the last prophet?: Answering Prof Ignatius
In the Name of the Almighty, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Muhammad is not the father of any male among you, but the messenger of the Almighty and the seal of prophets… (Q33:40)
Brethren, writing this sermon every week demands that we listen for feedbacks from Muslims and non-Muslim alike particularly those who have genuine interest in the promotion of interreligious harmony in this country. Brethren, I am sufficiently learned enough, not in the legalistic manner, to know that there are some compatriots of ours out there whose training, orientation and outlook in life are patently global. These are Nigerians who have succeeded in rising above narrow parochial, sectional, tribal and indeed religious interests. These are Nigerians who are sufficiently informed that poverty has no race and that insecurity has no creed. Wherever truth nests and incubates, they lust after it in the manner of the honey bee whose pursuit of beautiful flowers knows no end.
I thought the above appertains to Professor Ignatius’s text message to me after the publication of last week’s edition of Friday Sermon. He wrote: “I like your article in today’s Guardian Newspaper. However, I can’t reconcile your beautiful painting of Islam with what is happening in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan and predominantly Muslim countries. Can you enlighten the public on that through the same medium?” Immediately I received the above message, I sent a response back to him with the promise that today’s sermon would explore, once again, the question he raised. I said once again because this question had been explored in the past. But exactly what is the past other than that today which hacks back to yesterday.
Professor Ignatius’s text message touched on an aspect of the many ironies which scholars of religion have always had to grapple with. Is religion responsible for the evil actions of those who identify with it? In other words, is it true that all these infractions, corruptions and atrocious activities of “men” of religion are actually validated by the Almighty? Is Islam the issue or reason for the on-going conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ukraine and the Crimea among others?
Perceptive readers of currents all around the world would realize that at least over fifty percent of the factors for the crises and conflicts in the Muslim lie outside its shores. The conflict in Syria was internal to Damascus before it became a regional one which has continued to imperil global peace and security. Imagine a situation where America and Russia had stayed out of the conflict in the country. At least, Damascus and Aleppo would not have become wastelands that they are now. Aleppo would not have become a theatre for transaction in identity politics between America and Russia; Iran would not have stood, on the side and bided its opportunity like that of the vulture, in order to expand its regional leverage and advantage. Without the conflict in Syria, the global weapon industry would not have witnessed such a spike in sale and patronage by, in the main, Arab-Muslim countries in the Middle East and Asia. When weapons are manufactured in the global, it is at the local that they find usage.
Brethren, I thought a response to Professor Ignatius’s enquiry equally nests in Libya. The North African country was at peace with itself under Muammar Qadhafi before France and other powers from outside Africa decided that his tenure and sovereignty had run its full cycle and that he needed to vacate power or die in ignominy. In other words, today Libya has become inhabitable mainly because the West provided strategic and military fillip to the now unconscionable forceful removal from power of that benevolent dictator. Libya equally calls attention the Middle East where the only weapon of defense of the homeland and for the homeless has been death as a suicide bomber. Put differently, the Middle East remains a crucible of inferno and conflict partly because “land was violently taken away from those with land and given to those without land”. Today, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has remained intractable simply because those with power have become unable to wield same in defense of the defenseless. While the whole world watches the daily despoliation of human lives in Nablus and Shatila, the power granted by the West to Israel continues to corrupt. Lord Acton it was who said power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
But it must equally be conceded that certain tragedies currently been seen in parts of the Muslim world are self-inflicted. Or how else might we justify the war and the state of attrition between Saudi Arabia and Yemen and the consequent senseless killing of the Shiites and the Sunni in the two countries? How do we make sense of the nonsense in the “mutually-assured-destruction” postures of the Shiites and the Sunnis in Iraq? How might we explain the egregious activities of al-Shabaab in Somalia and the Boko Haram in Nigeria? Could he be a Muslim? He who reads Quran chapter 5 verse 32 at least once every month and still commits murder with impunity in the manner we have seen in some groups which claim allegiance to Islam.
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Oladosu A. Afis