Not in the name of Islam
In the name of the Almighty, the Beneficent, the Merciful
“And whenever they commit an evil, they say, ‘We found our fathers practicing it, and God has commanded us to do it.’ Say: ‘the Almighty does not command evil…” (Q7:28)
BRETHREN, last week’s sermon elicited so many reactions that a limited space such as this would not be enough to accommodate them. The reactions came from Muslims and Christians. It came from women already blessed with the fruit of the womb and those whose hope lies in their Creator. In fact I received a call from outside Nigeria from a Sister who wanted to know whether the story is indeed true. I quickly informed her that the incident referenced last week is not a fiction.
Friday Sermon would not engage in perverse indulgence in quackery and fakery. I wrote that piece not because the boy who ‘migrated’ into error is from my loins. I wrote that piece from my soul; I wrote it because the incident speaks to our humanity. It speaks to one of the greatest challenges confronting not only the world of Islam but everybody on terrestrial earth today. But last week sermon left a gap unfilled. The sermon was written based on the assumption that all my readers knew what the ISIS stand for. I thought the atrocious conduct of the ISIS whose reign and hegemony is a throw- back to the season of anomie of the medieval period is already known to all and sundry. ‘But what is ISIS?’ She enquired.
A brief excursus to Wikipedia shows that the ISIS, which means the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, is a self-proclaimed “Islamic state” and caliphate led by Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria. As of March 2015, it has control over a territory occupied by ten million people in Iraq and Syria. Of recent, it has established a basis in Libya. Remember, Libya descended into a jungle sequel to the forceful removal of Muammar Qadhafi from power. The ISIS is also seeking affiliation from other violent groups from other parts of Africa and Asia. It has become the locus classicus for extreme savagery and bestiality in the modern times.
On 29 June 2014, the group proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi being named its caliph. The group later renamed itself “Islamic State”. Brethren, each time you hear of or read about any product today with the label ‘Islamic’, you should remember it represents an attempt by Muslims to impinge their understanding of Islam on a particular socio-political, cultural or economic context. Thus such attempts cannot fully embody or become an alternative for the religion itself.
This is because no new State can become more “Islamic” than the polity founded by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.s) close to a thousand five hundred years ago. The Islamic |state founded by Prophet Muhammad was one in which Jews, Christians and Muslims found a home. It was one in which all cultural identities found a refuge. It was not established by the sword. It was not established by force. Prophet Muhammad did not force himself on the inhabitants of Madina. He became their choice simply because he was an exemplar in character; he possessed an instrument, a divine one for that matter, which all others thought and believed they could identify with.
Compare the above with the emergence of the ISIS hinted at above. Juxtapose the above with the gaps in Muslims’ practice of their religion today. In a report sent to the United Nations Security Council in April this year, Dr Scott Atran said that results of his interaction with young executioners for the ISIS shows that most of them do not possess more than primary school education. They knew little or nothing about
Islam and that everything they know about the religion is from the propaganda of ISIS. The latter taught them that Muslims are being targeted for elimination and unless they eliminate their enemies first (i.e Muslims who fail to cooperate with them, Christians and Shiites) they would be doomed.
But we must remember that before 2014, the Middle Eastern region had been in turmoil. Iraq had, across times and climes, always suffered invasion and deprivation. The modern history of the country is no less grim and bloody. Under Saddam Hussein, Baghdad was ruled with iron’. Under the pretext of looking for weapons of mass destruction, America invaded the country and turned it into an epicentre of ‘fire’ and bomb.
Young Arab children living in-between Syria and Iraq have since the 1990s known no peace. They have had to live on a land which is hungry for bread, hungry for water and hungry for light. As if in expectation of a saviour, Iraq and parts of Syria could not resist the ‘paradise on earth promised them by the propaganda machinery of the ISIS.
But it appears Iraq and Syria is not far away after all. It is there in the North-East where life is simply, except for the political class, impossible. The youth in that part of Nigeria, utterly deprived of hope for tomorrow, completely ignorant of what it takes and means to live the good-life found the Boko Haram’s promise of ‘paradise’ to be the best alternative to life on the rigid terrain of the northern landscape. Thus everybody becomes an enemy. In order for your blood to be spilled they begin by declaring you to be an infidel even if you a Muslim.
Once you have been so-cloaked, the next thing is for you to await your body-bag.
But dear Sister these events are nothing but signifiers. These insurgent groups all around the Muslim world are constant reminders of the fault-lines in the ‘house’ of Islam. They remind you of intra-Islam doctrinal trajectories featuring the Sunni and the Shia; they call attention to the ironies in the uncanny union of wealth and poverty on the same political landscape.
Is it not an irony that on the desertland which produces the richest man in Africa today equally lives one of the poorest men in the continent? Brother, whenever a Muslim commits an evil, such should remind you of the big gap between Islam and the Muslims. Sister, whenever a Christian commits an atrocity, be attentive to the fact that Jesus Christ would disown many things labeled as Christian today whenever he is raised up into life by his Creator. Everyday Islam says- ‘not in my name’.
Contemplated from another perspective, it is my proposition that Iraq and Syria is actually not far away. It is now there in parts of Lagos. The city has refused to deal decisively, like the refusal of past governments to quickly deal with the Boko Haram (BH), with occultic movements which have continued to unleash terror and mayhem on the city. Unlike the pseudo-doctrinal or ideological drives which fed the insurgency in the north, cultism in Lagos is fed by contests and contestations over money, power and authority. Like the BH, the stream that drives the ‘boys’ actually lies there among the political class.
It is our hope that Lagos would not become another jungle of Africa before reason prevails. In the jungle, it is either you eat or you are eaten.
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