Me, Muslim (III) – By:. .
By Huzaifa Jega
If it looks like I raged for 2000 words, it’s because I did. But for a reason. Firstly, to express myself constructively, because as a Sudanese Muslim living in the new millennium, I have more to complain than many. Second, to make a reverse point by getting topics raised, the âother sideâ might read in this âtantrumâ. But please reason with me: why should I continue to accommodate myself, as it seems I have done a lot, even refusing to reciprocate? Why should I not only tolerate, but also accept the abject and systematic depreciation of so many things that define me, when the slightest provocation in the opposite direction will be met with all the wrath of the 21st century.
Personally, I completely agree with the status quo, however biased it may be. I happen to foresee a big dark cloud over the world’s position in the near and distant future, as this dynamic is clearly unsustainable – the witnesses are in the air. This is a call to action.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ, son of Mary, was born in Bethlehem to a virgin Israelite. He was the messiah, the comforter, sent to wipe away the tears from every wet eye, to calm the storm and give every weary spirit rest, to be the light that leads weary souls where they will find peace.
He has two groups of followers: those who believe that he was the begotten essence of the Most High, and those who believe that he was another loop in the unbroken chain of divine prophecy. When the Europeans conquered Sudan, they brought with them the old belief system, obviously as a smokescreen to appease the conscience of their own people and legitimize their trampled imperial appetite. This is a fact because their own people rightly believe that the Christian belief system was the only source of salvation that would finally bring light to the dark continent. But then, Muslims also firmly believe in the exclusivity of their own path to salvation.
This was the first point of contact between the two in Sudan, even though Christianity and Islam have been in real contact since the early days of Islam. As a religion, which began after the time of Christ, and therefore after the completion of the New Testament, Islam has always presented a theological challenge to Christianity. The history of the meeting between Christians and Muslims is very complex. Christians have seen Islam in various ways. For example, the attitudes of Christians in what is considered the traditional basis of Christianity by most Muslims: Europe and North America, until recently living at a distance from Muslims, have differed from those of Christians. who historically lived among or near Muslims.
The experience in particular of Christians living in the Muslim world has varied considerably from time to time and from place to place. There are examples of harmonious and fruitful exchanges as well as conflicts. The first includes situations where Christians and Muslims collaborated to fight towards common political goals – for example in the cause of early Arab nationalism and, to a symbolic extent, during Nigeria’s struggle for independence from the British. In many cases, however, the political, economic and theological aspects of social life have combined to polarize Muslims and Christians into mutually antagonistic communities.
False images of each other developed in both communities, leading to fear and misunderstanding. As a result, Christians and Muslims often inherited ideas, images and stereotypes, mostly negative, which marked their mutual perceptions.
Christians often (but not always) saw Islam as a political, economic and theological threat, and painted Islam in a negative tint, contrary to their own positive image of themselves. Muslims, likewise, are inclined to view Christianity and Christianity – identified most of the time with each other and with the West – as engaged in an ongoing crusade against the Muslim world.
Until recently, in the last two decades, dialogue between Christians and Muslims, such as that initiated by the World Council of Churches and the Vatican, as well as Muslim organizations at the international and national levels, has seen the beginning of a new understanding. based on a mutual willingness to listen and learn. But dialogue is not only a conversation (or a dialogue of ideas) but it is also a meeting between people (as in the dialogue of life). It depends so much on mutual trust, reciprocity, demands respect for the identity and integrity of the other, and requires a willingness to question one’s own understanding as well as an openness to understand others according to their own terms.
Yes, dialogue is above all a meeting of commitments. The World Conference on World Mission and Evangelism expressed Christian commitment as such: âDialogue has its place and its integrity and is neither opposed nor incompatible with witness and proclamation. We do not water down our engagement if we engage in dialogue; in fact, the dialogue between people of different faiths is fallacious if it does not proceed from the acceptance and the expression of a commitment of faith … In the dialogue, we are invited to listen with openness to the possibility that the God whom we know in Jesus Christ can also meet us in the life of our neighbors of other faiths.
Muslims sometimes express reservations about the dialogue, seeing it as a converted form of Christian neo-imperialism or as intellectual colonialism. In addition, there are Christians who view dialogue with Muslims as naive romanticism, which fails to cope with the perceived threat of Islamic fanaticism. While such critiques may be understandable, viewed from particular current or historical situations, they are not justifiable as generalizations.
But, am I really right – to think what I think, to say everything that I have said? How much of the blame should fall on my own shoulders? How do I know that I am actually right and that the imaginary antagonists in this story are absolutely wrong? Who will be the judge?
Jega, management consultant, lives in Abuja