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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Columnist: Alhassan, Idris

Re-II-Religion, Politics and Ethnicity-1

Dear Yaw:

I’ll start the discourse from where I stopped in my first reply to this article. Again, like in my earlier reply, I’ll educate you step by step. Who knows probably by the time we finish this discourse, you may become part of the Perfected art of living – Islam, the Religion of Peace, The religion of submitting to the Almighty Allah as taught by The Holy Prophet Mohammad PBSUH . The religion that was revealed to Daud (David) Suleiman (Solomon), Yunus (Jonah), Ayoob (Job), Issah (Jesus), Musa (Moses), Ibrahim (Abraham) and all the Prophets of God. Peace and Blessings of Allah be on them all. You stated:

”It is very interesting to note that Muslim solidarity is only energized when the opposition is non-Muslim”.

There was solidarity with Kuwait when she was attacked by Iraq – The opposition in this case was not non-Muslim. To remind you, Iraq is a Muslim country, So where did you get that information from?.

You stated

“Did we hear any backlash from the Muslim world against the Islamic regime of Iran for all the post-election violence against its people?”

Even Obama was criticized for being too mild by the Republicans. But does a backlash (whatever you imply by that) solve any problem? When Bush made up his mind (probably as soon as he resumed office) to attack Iraq, did the backlash from the world stop him? When Blair decided to be a poodle for Bush by supporting and following his every move, did the backlash of the British people stop him?. You do not backlash for the sake of backlashing, just to be heard by people, sometimes silent diplomacy is what does the trick. Sometimes it goes on between leaders but people like you and me never get to hear it.

“What about atrocities being perpetrated by the Taliban against women all in the name of the Islam”? But there would be world-wide demonstrations by Muslims against a cartoon portraying the holy Prophet Muhammed”

As for Taliban I will not answer you until you give me specific examples. But do not give examples from BBC, CNN etc. My religion tells me “If a faasiq (immoral, self-indulgent) person comes to you with news, do check it out so that you do not harm people ignorantly and regret it”. I think you know what the media can do. The media give wings to some news items that sometimes when honestly investigated, does not deserve a meeting. If the Taliban, when they took over Afghanistan, danced to the tune of America, nobody would’ve ever known that Taliban existed.

About the infamous cartoons, we Muslims demonstrated, and will still demonstrate if any Prophet of God is treated without respect. Be it Mohammad, Jesus, Moses etc… we take our religion seriously. Those who make cartoons should have red lines! They should have no go areas, and making ridicule of God and his Prophets is not a joking matter.

“ Nigeria would be denied the first ever Miss World pageant on African soil because an article in a newspaper was perceived to be ‘insulting’ to the holy Prophet Muhammed and for that Christians were attacked all over Northern Nigeria. Supporters of Hon. Muntaka Mubarak go on rampage and destroy property belonging to the NDC because they do not agree with the President’s decision to accept the minister’s resignation. I seriously do not understand any of this and I need some ‘education’ on these matters”.

Beauty Pageant:

Not being against the beauty pageant is just seeing things through the prism of the rich and powerful, who exploit our innocent daughters, sisters and mothers to fill their pockets.

Christianity has been messed up with, in the guise of personal liberties. Liberties yes, but not the way it is stretched in the Christian majority countries. If Christians think it is Ok, it is not surprising that we now have openly gay Bishops - those who should be in the vanguard of morality are openly immoral. Not secretly, but openly – that makes it scary.

And now today 03.08.2009 NPR had this item below in the news –“A Philadelphia LESBIAN MINISTER who had lost her credentials as a pastor by the United Methodist Church has won her first appeal. A CHURCH PANEL HAS REVERSED A RULING THAT BETH STROUD VIOLATED CHURCH LAW, SAYING THAT CHURCH RULES ON CLERGY IN HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS ARE NOT CLEAR”. Good Christians must be weeping blood. I weep for them too. Because ever since Jesus (A mighty Prophet of Allah) was raised up by Allah, Enemies of religion have, without let up, messed up with his message!. I ask Christians to wake up to salvage the little left of Christianity.

“We in Africa often wonder why reparations have not been paid by the West for slavery. When Africans talk of slavery they inevitably mean the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Is this a true representation of the practice in Africa? What about the Arab (Islamic) slave trade? Muslims were enslaving black Africans long before any slave ships sailed for the New World. Muslims were taking and making slaves all over the lands they had conquered. Wole Soyinka maintains that if we, as Africans, are going to demand reparations from Europeans then we should also claim same from the Arabs for their part. In fact, Black Africans were transported to the Islamic empire across the Sahara to Morocco and Tunisia from West Africa, from Chad to Libya, along the Nile from East Africa, and up the coast of East Africa to the Persian Gulf. This trade had been well entrenched for over 600 years before Europeans arrived, and had driven the rapid expansion of Islam across North Africa. By the time of the Ottoman Empire, the majority of slaves were obtained by raiding in Africa. Shamefully slavery has been documented to be still present in the African republics of Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and The Sudan. I am yet to hear the Chief Imam speak out strongly against the atrocities being perpetrated by the Islamic government of Al- Bashir against the people of the Darfur region of The Sudan. What about the Arab League? What has the Arab League done so far about the situation in Darfur?”

I could discuss this if you separated them. But at least I can tell you that like Judaism and Christianity, Slavery was long established before Islam was revealed. That said, it is important to point out that , Allah through the Prophet promised big rewards for freeing slaves. Islam gave the guidelines on how slaves were to be treated. As the Prophet said “ They eat of what you eat, they wear of what you wear and they sleep where you sleep” or words to that effect. To the dignity of Slaves The Holy Prophet says “Listen and obey if even an Ethiopian slave is given leadership over you” or words to that effect. For their respect they were called Mawaaly (guards) as opposed to abd (Slave). Some of them have been the greatest contributors to Islamic knowledge in history, far more than Arabs did. While Arabs were pre-occupied with getting positions of leadership, they were pre-occupied with learning. Slavery was in Arabia and the world before Islam. Islam came to prohibit it but gradually, just as it prohibited drinking alcohol gradually.

Mawali aquired knoeldge and in many places were so prominent that they were the references in matters of jurisprudence. As examples, In Makkah, we had Atta Ibn Abi Rabah, Mujahid Ibn Jarr, Saeed Ibn Zubair and Suleiman Ibn Yasaar. In Madina we had Zaid Ibn Aslam and Mohammad Ibn Mukandar. I could go on and on but I think that is enough for now.

Yes, Slaves were given the opportunity to learn, rise up and be respected and integrated into the society. Mawali even led Expeditions of war, and the 1st Khalifa – Abubakar Al-Siddique, after the Holy Prophet was put under the command of Osama bin Zaid – A Mawla. They could even buy their freedom, directly or through other Muslim brothers, as happened to Bilaal the Ethiopian. Slaves could marry other slaves or free women and it was incumbent on the owners to help them get married when they wanted to. Islam prescribed penalties for slave owners who maltreated or abused their slaves; penalties could be forced manumission of the slave with no compensation to the owner. Unlike in the West, slavery did not always mean low social status. The world is excited about Obama being the American President, but The Mamaluk (owned people,) who were former slaves rose to rule Egypt. Similarly slaves conscripted into the military in Ottoman Empire rose to very high ranks.

So please do not mix up Arab slave trade with Islam. Islam gave the Slave his dignity, his freedom and self determination, way before Judaism or Christianity thought about it. Arabs have always been Christians and Muslims since beginning of history, so please decouple Arabs from Islam when talking about slavery. Existance of Slavery in the Muslim world.

“Shamefully slavery has been documented to be still present in the African republics of Chad, Mauritania, Niger, Mali and The Sudan”.

That slavery – actual or virtual exists today in the Islamic World is true. But is it unique to the Islamic world?. It is an imperfect world; my friend. Slavery – actual or virtual is found all around the World today due to socio-economic and maybe political factors. IF EVERYDAY THERE ARE CASES OF PEDOPHILES PRIESTS, IT DOES NOT MEAN CHRISTIANS ARE PEDOPHILES. No. In a similar vein, do not link Islam with the sins of some few Muslims.

Dafur Crisis:

The Muslim World league, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have worked hard and are still working hard to solve this problem. The problem is difficult because as usual there are world powers who are benefiting from the crisis. The problem has been there way before Basheer came to power. The problem is like the many tribal conflicts in Africa. The rebels themselves are not united to confront the Sudanese government and to present in conferences meant to solve this problem. Another major reason why it is not being solved is simply because some people have ambitions of becoming heads of state in Uranium rich Darfour.


Idris alhassan