Friday, 6 February 2015

Deconstructing Cole's Perception of Islam (1)

Published in Guardian Newspaper, December 16, 2014

ON September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a lecture at the University of Regensburg on the subject of faith and reason. The lecture focused mainly on Christianity and the tendency in the modern world to "exclude the question of God" from reason. Islam featured in a part of the lecture where Pope quoted a Byzantine Emperor's strong criticism of Prophet Muhammed's teachings that "Show me just what Muhammed brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached".

Muslim scholars around the globe responded with superior argument and Pope Benedict quickly withdrew his statement with apology within 72 hours. This led to an open letter on October 13, 2007 by Global Muslim Scholars titled "A Common Word between Us and You" where articles explaining the fundamentals of Islam were sent to all Christian leaders globally.

The inability of Dr. Patrick Dele Cole, a former Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil, in assessing this document largely informed his articles of November 19 and 20, 2014 in The Guardian Newspaper under the caption: Islam, Radicalism and Threat to Peace. The seasoned diplomat displayed abject misrepresentation of Islamic theology and tended to explain Islam away from perceived activities of enemies of Islam who adorn the garment of Muslims despite the fact that extremism cuts across all religions.

In the first instance, Islam places its doctrines on Muslims to honour mankind and does not compel anyone to embrace its faith by force. The Glorious Quran declared: O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you people and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed Allah is All Knowing and Acquainted (Q49:13). This verse obviously negated the worldview that Islam has no place for non-Moslems except to die by the sword.

Again, Islamic Jurisprudence makes lawful the food of non-Moslems to be taken by Muslims. The Glorious Quran declared: They ask you (O Muhammed) what is made lawful for them. Say: (all) good things are made lawful for you. And those beasts and birds of prey which you have trained as hounds are trained, you teach them that which God taught you, so eat of that which they catch for you and mention Allah's name upon it, and fear Allah. Lo! Allah is swift to take account. This day are (all) good things made lawful for you. The food of those who have received the Scripture (Christians and Jews) is lawful for you, and your food is lawful for them. And so are the virtuous women of the believers and the virtuous women of those who received the Scripture before you (lawful for you) when you give them their marriage portions and live with them in honor, not in fornication, or taking them as secret concubines. Whoever denies faith, his work is in vain and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter (Q5:4-5). This verse expressly established the place of Christians and Jews in the Quran as "People of Book". There is nowhere in the Quran and Hadiths (Tradition of Prophet Muhammed, SAW) where People of the Book are addressed as Kafirs as Dr. Cole wants us to believe. Probably, he should bring out his proof to substantiate his assumption.

Again, the above verses nailed the coffin the assumption that Islam, like other religions, does not encourage inter-social and inter-ethnic marriages. Dr. Cole should know that Islam is uniquely different from other religions, which he assumed they are all guilty of inter-social and inter ethnic marriages (including Christianity!) Islam is institutional and a complete code of life that caters for social, economic, learning and spiritual life of Muslims among others. For instance, Islam stipulates exclusively for nursing mother and child breastfeeding up to the age of two years.

Almighty Allah commands mankind that "And the mothers should suckle their children for two whole years for him who desires to make complete the time of suckling; and their maintenance and their clothing must be borne by the father according to usage; no soul shall have imposed upon it a duty but to the extent of its capacity; neither shall a mother be made to suffer harm on account of her child, nor a father on account of his child, and a similar duty (devolves) on the (father's) heir, but if both desire weaning by mutual consent and counsel, there is no blame on them, and if you wish to engage a wet-nurse for your children, there is no blame on you so long as you pay what you promised for according to usage; and be careful of (your duty to) Allah and know that Allah sees what you do." (Q2:233).

Scientists discovered recently that the child’s complete nutrition is from her mother’s breast milk, as it is not completed unless the mother suckled her child for two complete years! Yet, World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life, after which “infants should receive nutritionally adequate and safe complementary foods while breastfeeding continues up to two years of age or beyond ” as reported in WHO (2003) Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, Geneva.
A new medical conference came with a conclusion that the ideal period of sucking is two years, because in this age the child is in urgent need of immunity; elements to develop immunity systems which are only found in mother’s milk. The question now is: Why did it take the turn of millennium before WHO, Academy of Pediatrics, US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, etc to align their scientific reasoning with what Almighty Allah has revealed to Prophet Muhammed (through Angel Gabriel) 14 hundred centuries ago? Obviously, this is a “puzzle” (non-theocratic culture!) that Dr. Cole can only unravel by carefully and sincerely examining the Glorious Quran and Hadiths.

Furthermore, the foundation of human rights, love, freedom, equality and justice is well established in the Glorious Quran. In fact, the meeting point between sacred and secular in Islam is the principle of Justice. Justice is both the attribute of Allah and theological base for true Muslims (see Q6:115, Q3:18, Q49:9 etc). Islam encourages its adherence to justice and applies justice in their social life toward whoever did wrongdoing against you and in dealing with non-Muslims. This verse of the Quran clearly orders the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) to judge according to justice in case of non-Muslims: So, if they (who hurry to fall into disbelief) come to you (O Muhammed), either judge between them, or turn away from them. If you turn away from them, they cannot hurt you in the least. And if you judge, judge with justice between them, Verily, Allah loves those who act justly (Q5:42). This verse addresses the Muslims to deal justly with non-Muslims emphasizing on kindliness, insists on good behaviours and exhorts staying away from any negative interpretation of the justice.

Again, the Glorious Quran states that: Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves the fair-minded (Q 60:8). This probably explained why Harvard Law School, one of the most prestigious institutions of its kind in the world, posted a verse of the Holy Quran at the entrance of its faculty library in early 2013, describing the verse as one of the greatest expressions of justice in history.Unarguably, the religious attitude to blacks, women and the underprivileged in Islam is unique and a perfect code of law from the Supreme Being, Almighty Allah. The Glorious Quran indicates again that one of the most honored positions of human is that Allah created mankind (means both sexes) as His trustee and representative on earth. Even though Quran speaks about Prophet Adam (AS) and Hawa’u (Eve), and the forbidden trees, both of them were told that they disobeyed Allah, both of them discovered the consequences of their disobedience, both of them sought repentance and both of them were forgiven (Q7:19-27).

Moreso, when Quran speaks about the suffering of women during the period of pregnancy and childbirth, nowhere does it connect it with the concept of original sin, because there is no concept of original sin in Islam. The suffering is presented not as a reason to remind woman of the fall of man, but as a reason to adore and love woman or the mother. The mother has the right to receive the best treatment than accorded to any other person. In addition, the mother has the right of custody of the child in general circumstances, at least until she remarries.

Narrated Abu Huraira: A man came to Allah’s Apostle (Prophet Muhammed, SAW) and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man said. “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man further said, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked for the fourth time, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your father.” (Hadith Sahih al-Bukhari).This shows that the claim of a mother is greater than a father over the care that you endow upon them in their old age. Serving and obeying parents is a matter of give and take. Those who treat and obey their parents can rest assured that their children will also show kindness and compassion to them. Respecting and caring for the parents is a virtue of the highest order that continues to transcend generation after generation in Islamic law.

• To be continued tomorrow.
• Engr. Ayanda (MNSE), wrote from Ibadan. 


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