Friday, October 11, 2013

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with Muslims

Religions are composed of best intentions to create law and order, knowledge and enlightenment, peace and unity.  History shows us that they have also been the banner under which wars were fought, ignorance was enthroned, and corruption institutionalized from Europe to Asia and everywhere in between.

The video above shows a lady named Malala Yousafzai who speaks up for the right of women to be educated in her Taliban-infested/infected country.  She is only sixteen years old and is a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize since she was targeted and shot for continuing with the simple message "let us girls go to school."

It is in the name of Islam that some are saying don't let women drive, keep them inside the house, they must not read.  But is that what Islam, the religion of peace, is for?  Did you know that 'Talib' as in 'Taliban' means 'student' in Arabic.  This makes it all the more surprising that they are opposed to education. 

In parts of Nigeria, some claim to be in a group called 'Boko Haram' which translates to (Western-style) education is haram (forbidden by Islam.)  But clearly, it is Boko Haram that is haram, as their activities are wicked

From August 2011 to May 2013, I kept a little blog titled Boko Halal that covered facets of the argument that education is halal (permitted in Islam) and needed in our society.  For instance, quoting V.S. Naipaul, Modern Society needs more than just Islamic knowledge.  In fact, some Muslims will tell you that the first word revealed in the Qur'an is this: READ, and therefore Islam can not be a religion of ignorance, but one in which study is highly valued. See Suratu-al-Alaq, verse 1: Read! In the name of your Lord who created...
اقرأ iqra.  Read. 
The Islamic leaning of the Boko Haram terrorists is questionable; you would be surprised that they wear T-shirts and western clothing and don't have the time or interest to read or memorize their Koran/Qur'an.  Ordinary Nigerians have seen through them and now co-operate with the civil and military authorities to root out the terrorists.  Many would say that Boko Haram leaders are Islamically-confused, especially since even Muslim leaders and Imams embrace and break bread with Christians in Nigeria.

In BokoHalal, we ask the tough question, could it be that Muslims, their very name being 'people of peace' are called by God to kill unbelievers?  
Wafa Sultan is angry with Islam because people killed those dear to her in a frenzy of what would seem like madness, shouting Allahu Akbar all the while.  This experience is something many have seen or heard of, and people ask why such should happen. Does it not mean that Islam is a violent religion?

Wafa Sultan believes that Islam is not only a religion, [but also] a political ideology that preaches violence and applies its agenda by force.
If that is so, then how come premier Muslim institutions such as Al Azhar have protested against such acts?
If it isn't so, then how come when someone draws a cartoon of The Prophet Mohammed PBUH, or makes a video somewhere, violence is unleashed all over the world?  How come we all know what a fatwa death sentence means?  Who sent all these Muslims to fight for Islam?  A Muslim who reads widely might find that the answer is: No One.  Leave God to fight for God. 

Paolo Coelho was quoted as saying that rather than fight for God, we should be busy wrestling with God.  Says Coelho:
Fighting for God we see now: Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism… They give their lives because the message is a powerful one: you are martyr. I’m a Catholic so I know what I’m talking about, because my Church was founded on the blood of the martyrs.
People start justifying their lives because they need raison d’etre – they need a reason to live. They are trying to convince themselves about their faith.
Fighting against God: it is everywhere in the Bible. Even Jesus – fought against God. When He says, ‘God, why did you forsake me?’ on the cross, or when He asks “Take this cup away from me”.
 I agree that there is enough room for us to improve our own lives with religion, and to sympathize with others who are facing the same life struggle, rather than feel superior to them or use religion to torment them.  When you really think about our prayer formulas in Islam and Christianity, one person says In The Name of Allah the other says Heavenly Father.  Both pray lead us in the path that of righteousness, keep us from sin, same story, really not worth fighting over the difference or converting from one path to the other. In Must Religions Be In Competition, this point is made clearly with a fable involving four travellers fighting over whether to buy inab, angur, uzum, or isitafil; only to find out that all these words mean grape, only in their different languages.

It is not God that is causing the clash between the civilizations, but what Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk (of Turkey and the US) calls a "fear of counting for nothing."  Pamuk says that literature has a responsibility to enlighten those who may feel self-satisfied and those who may feel humiliated and left-out in the western culture's ascendancy.

But perhaps we all really need, particularly in the poorest Muslim communities, first of all, before cultural pride, is our daily bread.  In fact, as B.R. Fashola, the governor of Lagos State prayed for peace at Ramadan, he emphasized how peace and prosperity go together.  It seems there is some disagreement between modern thinkers and Islamic culturalists about the primacy of life and such mundane things as food and water, and maybe there ought to be some debate on this.  What is a life worth?  Should wretchedly poor people accept it as their destiny?  Is it better to die than be humiliated?  Are there really forty virgins on the other side? 

You can tell from the title of my blog "Life Liberty Happiness" what I think is at the core of existence and inexistence.  As a woman I believe I am a human being as you are.  Let the women participate in bringing us our daily bread, our laws, and our greatness.  Let us use religion positively, not let it explode in our hands.  As a teenager, Malala already understands this.  This is why I can  not call her a child, but a sage, a wise person. 


rajon said...

Fundamentalism in many shades specially in religion - is now the root cause of all evil in the world! The greatest fight now is between Moderate and Extreme Islam in the predominantly muslim countries. With the fading of Socialism as a torch-bearer for the oppressed and down-trodden, the extremist Islamists are hijacking the anger of the deprived youth and jobless. Education - and the emancipation of women in society is the only way out ! Malala is very articulate, and inspiring. The transformation of her beautiful picturesque Swat Valley into a couldron of Taliban fundamentalism must have been really painful for her to watch. These extremists cannot prevail, society will not turn back the clock .
Nice blog T - one correction though : it is Seventy virgins, not forty - talk about pressure :) .....

t said...

It's not easy to be have to close your eyes and ears to all other forms of belief except the one you like.
Thanks for ccommenting, Rajon :)

t said...

I'm taking an extraordinary online course on Constitutional Struggles in the Muslim World.
Highly recommend!