By Ishola Balogun
During the time of Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) there was a man who lived in the household of Ibrahim. (a.s) Ibrahim loved him, fed and clothed him, took care of him as one of the members of his own family. But he never knew he was a pagan. He returned home one day to discover to his chagrin that this man was not only a pagan but was a chief priest of the pagans. He was angry and threw him out of his house.
The man wandered about hopelessly. Almighty Allah in his infinite mercy watched how Ibrahim dealt with the man. Few days after, Ibrahim was reproached by Allah in a dream for throwing out the man and rendering him homeless, without food.
Allah told him in that state of subconsciousness that He was the one who created the man and who had kept him for 70years of his paganism; providing means of sustenance to him without. He was ready to even preserve his life more with adequate sustenance irrespective of not believin in Allah. There Prophet Ibrahim realised it was not right for him to have thrown the man out and subjecting him to excruciating living conditions just because he was a pagan.
Ibrahim, realising his grave error went out in search for the pagan. He found him after several efforts and beseeched him to return home even promising to give him more for his daily needs. He went as far as narrating the revelation that led to his action to the pagan. What struck the man (pagan) was the revelation that God had kept him for 70years.
He was shocked since he had never told anyone his age. He wondered that only the true God would know everything about him and would continue to provide his sustenance despite the enormity of sins he had committed against HIM, he thought. He did not only return home with Prophet Ibrahim, he became a believer and a servant of God immediately.
The Quran says call people to the way of God with wisdom and not with violent. “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.
“ (Q16:125) That is why we say Islam is a way of life that gives us the best guidance on how to invite people to Islam in the most effective way. The above verse serves as the approach or methodology recommended by the Qur’an, which is also the Sunnah of the Prophet. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said, “A believer is friendly, and there is no good in one who is neither friendly nor is treated in a friendly way.” (Tirmidhi 4995; and Ahmad)
This shows that Islam is not based on a deep hostility to pagans or non-Muslims or the socio-political institutions. Every Muslim who knows his faith knows that there is a world of difference in his faith and other religion, but for the fact that we have to co-exist, for the fact that those who reject the faith today might embrace the faith tomorrow by the leave of Allah, and for the fact that we do not create them, Almighty Allah did, just like in the story of Ibrahim and the pagan narrated above. Therefore, we have to co-exist and live Islam the way we preach it.
Contemporary multi religious society
In a contemporary Multi Religious society like ours, it is imperative that we are friendly and kind in inviting non-Muslims to Islam. Our characters and manners as Muslims will affect people’s attitude towards Islam more than what we say. If we behave nicely, as we ought to do, the non-Muslims will see the impact of Islam in us and it will be easy for them to embrace.
Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong.” (60:8-9)
If non-Muslims, or at least a sufficient number of those who now link the happenings in the country to Islam, were to understand the ideology of Islam and its effect on the minds of its adherents, then they would recognize that no matter the spate of bombings here and there, Islam inculcates the right ideals. This is the way Islam should be viewed and not the pseudo character given to him by those who know little or nothing about the religion.
Another argument by some sects of people is that since we claim Islam is monolithic, whatever a sect of Muslims does is a representation of all. In fact, it is not uncommon to always hear people say that the Southern Muslims are not really practicing the religion, some would say the Northern Muslims do not recognise the Southern Muslims as practicing the real Islam. My take is that Islam is the same all over the world.
The Quran is one and the hadiths or the practice of the prophet are clear, showing no divisions in the Ummah. What may not be monolithic is the character or attitude of Muslims themselves. This of course has to do with the level of understanding of Islam and also the effect of infiltration of cultural practises which affect the way they exhibit the tenets of Islam.
I wish to also say at this point that there is a school of thought that also believe that some people are hiding under the cloak of the name Boko Haram to unleash terror on the land in order to realise their ulterior motive. So, if that is to be believed, we might not have seen the end of all of these as amazing revelations are yet to come on those who are really behind it.
Muslim leaders in this country including the Sultan of Sokoto, the head of Muslims in the country have spoken in line with the thought that the spate of bombings, killings and violence by a group of people is not representative of Islam and have vehemently condemned it. They have also showed reasons why we all have to live together as one irrespective of our religious differences.
It is the hope of every concerned Muslim that Islam is properly understood in line with its teachings and tenets; and that Muslims and non-Muslims live peacefully and practice their religions without fear.
To link Islam with the the spate of terrorism in the country is part of the rash, designed to confuse the situation and also to weaken the minds of those ready to embrace Islam. But Islam will endure.