By Abdulrasheed Ibrahim
26 August 2013
AS a Muslim, one is always disturbed and disheartened whenever the news is broken that one atrocity or the other has been committed. These atrocities often involve destruction of innocent lives and properties. The most recent of such was the killing of 29 secondary school pupils and their teachers in Yobe State. Prior to this barbaric act series of such senseless killings attributed to the members of Boko Haram, a group which many often unfortunately refer to as an Islamic sect. One is often baffled by the activities of this group that knows nothing than perpetrating the act of terrorism and still associate itself or being associated with Islam which abhors such madness. The religion of Islam means peace and stands for peace. Any religious sect that premised its existence on killing and destruction of lives and properties can never claimed to be part of Islam as Islam is not set up for destruction.
The philosophy and ideology of Boko Haram is strange to Islam. Boko Haram’s activities are alien to the teachings of Islam as brought and thought by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the greatest teacher of Islam. How do we reconcile the ideologies of Boko Haram with that of Islam which are incompatible with each other? The first revelation (Chapter 96 of the Holy Quran) received by the prophet of Islam from the Almighty Allah through Angel Jibril (Gabriel) was all about reading and learning which the prophet in his teachings taught his followers to take very serious. The prophet emphasized the importance of education, be it Islamic education or western education, as an obligation on all Muslims which they must learn from the cradle to the grave.
Another ideology which Boko Haram is said to have stood for is to force the religion of Islam on everyone. This ideology is equally contrary to the basic teachings of Islam as preached by the prophet of Islam and the Holy Quran (Chapter 2 verse 256) wherein it is clearly stated that there is no compulsion in religion and that truth is clearly distinct from falsehood. If the philosophy of Boko Haram is to impose Islam on everyone, they must be made to understand that their mission is for something else and not that of Islam because Islam allows freedom of worship (Chapter 109 of the Holy Quran). Islam is not meant to be forced on anyone. Rather, those who take it upon themselves to call or invite people to Islam must done so by beautiful preaching with wisdom and their behaviour must be good one and exemplary to worth being emulated (Chapter 16 verse 125). Can the conduct of those who call themselves Boko Haram be said to be the kind expected of those who call and invite people to Islam? The answer is capital No! The members of Boko Haram are not qualified to be called and regarded as Muslims because their conduct of killing innocent people both young and old as well as destroying lives and properties of Muslims and Non- Muslims alike is contrary to what Islam stands for.
Islam is most misunderstood religion in the world today even among those who call themselves Muslims. For centuries Islam has been under serious attack by being distorted and presented in such form to most people who are not ready to investigate and do research on the distorted Islam presented to them. Many orientalists particularly the critics of Islam have been very unfair in their analysis of Islam because most of them have used the negative behaviour of some Muslims to judge Islam rather than using Islam to judge those Muslims.
Professor K.S. Ramakrishna Rao, a professing Hindu in his book titled: Muhammad: The Prophet of Islam vindicated Prophet Muhammad in the following words: “His own treatment of his better enemies was the noblest example for his followers. At the conquest of Mecca, he stood at the zenith of his power. The city which had tortured him and his followers ,which had driven him and his people into exile and which had unrelentingly persecuted and boycotted him even when he had taken refuge in a place more than 200 miles, that city now lay at his feet. By laws of war he could have justly avenged all the cruelties inflicted on him and his people. But what treatment did he meet out on them? Muhammad’s heart overflowed with milk of love and kindness as he declared. ‘This day, there is no reproof against you and you are all free. ”
Ibrahim, a Lawyer lives in Lagos