By Patrick Dele Cole
*This is the concluding instalment of this piece. The second part, published last week, stressed the view that Arabs might have influenced European renaissance
REPARATIONS: Islam/Arabism came to Africa via Berbers of North Africa, who moved through the Sahara and across it to Nigeria and other West Africa countries.
When Blacks ask the West for reparation, why do they not ask the Arabs for the same? The latter having a history of Black exploitation starting from 600AD; that is if the first slaves arrived in the US in 1619. Black slaves have been in Arab lands and empire and other Arab nations before 600AD.
Reconstructing Arab society on a democratic political basis and reconciling Islam and the modern world remain the greatest tasks confronting contemporary generation. To say Western education is haram is similar for the Pope to say Latin is haram, anathema – a language that suffices every pore of Catholicism.
Knowledge is universal and is studied as such. The study of Islam trends over all the information above and more; it includes medicine, mathematics and algorithms, etc. So is the study of chemistry. This is not to say that there is no ideological or spiritual difference between religions.
The positioning of Islam and Christianity is political, not spiritual. People use religion for political gains. But fundamentally religion inspires the spirit; reaches out to others because the journey to spiritual bliss is the same no matter which religion you espouse. More fundamentally, knowledge is one: the more you learn, the more you know.
Moslem leaders must appreciate the universality of knowledge. It is not a steak you can cut up and divide: this is good knowledge, this is bad knowledge. In fact, the very process of acquiring knowledge does overwhelm those unhelpful distractions of Western or Islamic knowledge. They are not polar opposites. They are inextricably intertwined. Our Moslem, Christian, atheist leaders know this.
To the purveyors of Islamic hate in Boko Haram, Moslem clerics must open their eyes to the contribution of Arabic knowledge in all its myriad forms to the body of human knowledge. No amount of hatred could possibly justify the seizing of school boys and girls from school – what is that supposed to prove? That Islam is an uneducated religion? Incidentally in Saudi Arabia no woman who is below 18 years can marry.
Islam Arabism is not a clog of progress and development as simply being demonstrated by fantastic strides made in Abu Dhabi, Qatar, even Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Indonesia. When Abu Dhabi started their incredible transformation they had nothing except the will to succeed and dig themselves out of poverty. Nigeria has many more resources but could, with benefit, borrow the will to succeed, coupled with a readable plan to do so – getting our people, all our people out from the trough of debilitating poverty and iconoclast analogous backwardness.
The economy of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Kuwait works. They are successful, they invite foreigners to invest in their countries, their economy is buoyant; Jews, Christians and Moslems flock there. Each of these groups work with the others to keep the economy buoyant. Switzerland is a Christian country, having one of the highest standards of living, the economy is booming. Religion has nothing to do with the economic power Switzerland has become.
Israel is a successful economic and military power; it is also the IT headquarters of the world producing more startup operation companies than any other. This was achieved without the admittedly fractious religious underbelly disrupting its meteoric impressive growth. Economically Nigeria has all the conditions to be economically successful but it is held back by religious primitivism. Some archbishop and some Islamic cleric will find some reason to stop a clear economic advantage. Religion must not be used to slow or impede Nigeria’s march towards its destiny.
Nigeria has a space agency. It cannot fly a drone from the international airport to local airport. United Arab Emirate, UAE, has a space agency and their rockets, piloted by a woman, has just flown round the planet Mars. Both countries are Islamic countries. Pakistan, Malaysia and India have put men in space. Pakistan has the nuclear weapons. All these countries have cows and camels, but somehow political discourse and progress and development move on as a fast chip, while we regress to cow head mentality. We are better than this. At least we ought to be.
Let’s surprise ourselves by choosing these countries as our models. If Nigeria had five or six cities like Dubai, then we would have left poverty behind and hopefully a nativist religiosity. But to get to be Switzerland, Dubai or Israel, we must really badly want to do this. That decision has consequences: it implies we are willing to change our ways.