By Adamu Adamu
8 December, 2014
THE article: Islam, radicalism and threat to peace in The Guardian on Thursday, November 20 and 21 by Dr. Patrick Dele Cole makes very tortuous reading. Almost everything Cole said about Islam in his write-up is wrong or inaccurate, and some of these inaccuracies are just inexcusable even for an Islamophobe.
While Christians are not under obligation to read or understand Islam, any Christian like Cole who wishes to publicly comment on Islam or any subject for that matter must try to know it well - at least at a better level than his displayed ignorance of it; because from this diatribe he has written about Islam, it is quite clear that Cole doesn't know, and even clearer that he has made no attempt to understand, Islam at all, not even at a respectable, passable level of popular misconception. For instance, what he has said about the attitude of the Holy Prophet [SAW] to blacks, women and the underprivileged is so inaccurate and out of court. He couldn't have got that misinformation wherever it was that he read of the life of the Holy Prophet [SAW].
Because of the centrality and unprecedented nature of some epochal events he wrought, there is no treatment of the life of the Holy Prophet [SAW] - popular, scholarly or even in an Oriental deprecatory diatribe -that could possibly have glossed over the closeness and affection between him and Bilal, his black Companion and muezzin; or the gender revolution he initiated which, in its essence, has still not been caught up with by the West. And within an oppressiveness that is inevitable in the world's universal patriarchy, the modern Western woman is not in any way free or more liberated than the Muslim woman - she is just richer, insecure - and more naked.
Contrary to what he said, Islam does not condemn to death any Muslim for marrying outside the religion. This actually shouldn't have merited response but for the fact that some non-Muslim readers of the piece may think it is true. The truth is that the Holy Qur'an in fact expressly encourages it. And on the question of justice, neither historical Christianity nor Cole's West can come anywhere near the Holy Prophet [SAW]'s conduct or Islam's absolute and uncompromising stand on it.
He said, "Islam is not the only religion that has practiced untold inhumanity against its own people and strangers...," without providing any instance of when Islam in fact did this. The reality, however, is that Islam has never done, supported or agreed to any such atrocity whoever by, because the religion of Islam is not what slave-raiding Arab conquerors did; but, on the other hand, Cole's assertion can be taken as an admission on behalf of his own faith. And when in another place, after wrongly accusing Islam, he admitted that early Christians were of the same mould, you began to wonder what it was then, even according to his own wrong standard that he could have had against Islam.
Even in the geography of the Islamic Middle East, the ambassador seemed to have some difficulties. First, there is no Sultan in Saudi Arabia; and, in fact, officially there is no country in the Muslim World that goes with such a name. If he wanted to mean Saudi Arabia, he had better go ahead and say so; and what they have there is a king and not a sultan, which is what they have in nearby Oman, for instance; but despite their proximity, the confusion is still unpardonable.
And in Islam, Muslims do not worship a Man God, as Cole so authoritatively declared, whatever that is supposed to mean; for, unlike in Christianity, in Islam there is no greater blasphemy than the idea of God Incarnate. This in fact is what separates Islam from Christianity with such an unbridgeable gulf. And for us Muslims, Muhammad [SAW] - and may our souls be sacrificed for him - though he be the most perfect of God's creation, is not God. It is enough for us and for him that he is God's most perfect bondsman and the deliverer of his uncorrupted, final message.
Elsewhere, his logic defeated his own thesis. In an attempt to prove discrimination against women in Islam, he unfortunately found more Muslim women president in the world than Christian ones; and here in Nigeria, he found more Muslim judges, ministers and permanent secretaries. If that hasn't done violence to his view of Islam, it is not perhaps because he is wrong or this religion doesn't really discriminate; it is "for reasons too complex to go into."
And he let slip where his sympathies lay. "Nevertheless the Arab Moslems seem to be united in their suspicion of Westernization. This is ironic because it was the West that created most of the countries of the Middle East: the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Iraq as recent ago as the 1930s. Is this then the explanation for their hatred of the West?" he asked.
But, really, what Cole sees is not hatred of the West - even though to be sure, during the last century alone, the West has done enough to merit hatred of much of the world - what he interprets as hatred is legitimate opposition to the foreign policies of some Western countries and the disruptive security and cultural implications of these with respect to the Muslim World.
According to the logic of Dr. Cole, because Middle Eastern countries were created by Western powers in Paris in 1919, or because our own countries in Africa were created by the same Western powers in Berlin in 1884, we should all go down on our knees in eternal gratitude - and remain there in unquestioning acceptance of every harmful Western policy concerning our world they formulate and implement. In other words, Cole is really saying that because Britain created Nigeria, Nigerians must, after having endured colonialism, uncritically love Britain and endorse all its neo-colonial policies.
And just as he didn't understand the recent past, he is having problem understanding the present. To think Boko Haram or the murderers of ISIS as free agents consciously engaged in the process of dismantling the old Western order and creating a new one is the height of absurdity. It was as if Cole was on Mars when Condoleezza Rice was talking of the New Middle East that America was going to create; and when he returned from the extraterrestrial trip, he couldn't differentiate between the sleeve and the gunman's hand hiding within it.
If he doesn't know, history is just repeating itself. The ISIS that is helping the West to dissolve today's borders is the modern cousin of the Wahhabi hordes that helped dissolve the borders of the Ottoman Empire. The only difference is that in place of the sword, you have the Kalashnikov, and in place of the camel, you have the Toyota Hilux; otherwise, it is the same ideology, the same tactic and the same pitiless brutality. And it is this that Cole conflated with Islam. It was instructive that he in fact regarded this type of meddlesomeness of the Western powers in the Middle East following the Paris Conference of 1919 as "the solutions the West imposed on the regions between 1914 and 1936." Thus, to him, colonialism is a solution.
But even right at home, Cole pointedly ignored the lead that could have explained his perplexity about the Boko Haram insurgency and related misfortunes, especially where he said: "Boko Haram poses an existential threat to Nigeria. The response of Governments to this threat is at best lukewarm, at worst, co-operative. Politicians, who have their head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, will find that they have no country to govern."
In this, we entirely agree with him; but we invite him to answer his own question: "When Ojukwu declared Biafra or secession of country, the rest of Nigeria was mobilized to keep Nigeria one," he said. "After these many years we see a fissiparous tendency towards cessation.[sic] ... We have not seen a massive mobilization effort to keep Nigeria one in the present secession moves of Boko Haram. Why?"
A part of the answer can be found in an official failure he noted where he said, "When similar unorthodox religion arose in Waco, Texas, USA, and in Guyana the first line of attack was to infiltrate them by the security forces and in a botched attempt to bring down Waco a mini war ensued killing several dozen. But if the first line of attack was the infiltration of the groups by American security forces and the ATF, why is Cole not accusing Nigeria's security forces for failing to infiltrate Boko Haram? Indeed, if and when the government finally comes round to doing just that, many Muslims will be interested to see how a phenomenon infiltrates itself.
- To be continued tomorrow
Adamu wrote from Abuja