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A SALAH MESSAGE FROM PROPHET MOHAMMED TO ALL

This, is No Bullshitting,” by Harry Agina.

Greetings, folks!

I woke up this Salah Day with a compelling urge to add my little voice to the call by all the good people of the world for peace and harmony between Christians and Moslems of the world. My contribution is simple, and it is targeted at radical or extremist Christians and Moslems, and my premise is this—ALL GODLY RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD ARE LEGITIMATE IN THE SIGHT OF GOD, period!!!
          Unfortunately, many religious groups of the world disagree with this position, and it is worse amongst Christians and Moslems! The extremist Christians insist that Moslems and all the other religions are not worshiping the same Almighty God of the Christians; and the extremist Moslems insist that Christians and all the other non-Islam faithful are “infidels.” My specific message for this Salah Day is on peace and harmony between Christians and Moslems, because the disunity or wrangling between these two major groups is destroying Nigeria. But, I will make one or two general statements before I get to Prophet Mohammed’s letter of unity and harmony, upon which I anchor my treatise. In addressing the entire complex phenomenon of the legitimacy of various religions, my INVASION OF THE FUNKY PASTORS book focuses more on the interest and role of TRADITIONAL AFRICAN REILIGIONS in the entire hoopla. My basic theme is partially captured in a couple of statements by a couple of respondents to my thematic question—Does any religion have monopoly to the RIGHT OF WAY TO THE ALMIGHTY GOD!
          “There are evil traditionalists in parts of Africa, otherwise called witchdoctors, who use their powers to kill and hurt their fellow human beings,” said Professor Oladimeji, then a Professor of African Studies at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. “And, of course, there are many fraudsters that pretend to be what they are not. But all that does not in any way mean that African traditional religions are categorically bad. It only means that you have good people as well as evildoers in the traditional religions, just as we have them in Christianity and other religions. You find a lot of killers who profess to be Christians, but we don’t go around accusing all Christians of murder.”

Across the world, a Methodist pastor in Texas, USA, Pastor Dr. Childress, readily concurred with Professor Oladimeji’s view on this and many other issues on the matter of the legitimacy of the African traditional religions and the efficacy of their gods. Naturally, I did speak with more than Dr. Childress in the United States of America, but Childress (PhD in Theology) is my family pastor, and, his summation is a good representation of the views of the intellectual pastors (black and white) that I spoke with in the USA, making it unnecessary to repeat every individual comment. In my research, I noted the irony that westerners are now the ones fighting to stop the demonization of the African Culture (in this case religion) by Africans. The white man is now the one trying to save the African Culture from the African. Overwhelming majority of Nigerian Christians, especially pastors, disagrees with the views of their American counterparts that African religions are legitimate.

Unlike the American pastors, the Nigerian pastors that I engaged in discussions categorically maintained that the African religions are evil. Indeed, a majority of them also insisted that the only right way to the Almighty God is through Jesus Christ. I always posed my favorite follow-up questions and summation: “Are you saying then, that you actually believe that only Christians, who constitute less than a quarter of the world population will eventually enter the heavenly kingdom of God when The Judgment Day finally arrives? And, bearing in mind that only a minuscule portion of the Christians are righteous enough to make the heaven, what you are really saying is that maybe less than one thousand out of the seven billion humans will make heaven! Does God really want heaven to be so thinly populated? ”

Contrary to the view of their American counterparts, a majority of my African Christian pastors answered categorical ‘yes’ to those questions. They insisted that all the other religions are not worshipping God. Some of them simply referred me to various passages in the holy bible, which, variously, present Jesus Christ as the Savior, the Way, the Truth and the Light. “That is typical,” said a Christian critic of the less tolerant Christians, “Nigerians will always go overboard in anything that we do. The westerners who brought Christianity to this part of the world are willing to consider the possibility that our traditional religions, Islam and the other religions are also legitimate, but not Nigerians. They want to be more Catholic than the Pope who is the father of the Catholic Faith.”

I am a Christian, and I understand and believe in those passages in the holy bible that present Jesus Christ as The Way. I have no doubt about my position that I am saved through Christ, and, for me, Christ is truly the only way. Let’s say, therefore, that I am only playing the devil’s advocate as a Communications Scholar, as well as exercising my God-given mind. I am only wondering if there are no other acceptable ways. Remember, that is only when I put on my liberal professional and philosophical cap. When I take the cap off, Christ is the only way for me. My emphasis is on me, Harry Agina. I do strongly believe with great joy that through Christ I am saved, as long as I do the right things and have faith in Christ and the Almighty God. I have virtually seen Angels at work on my behalf from time to time through my faith in Christ. It does not happen every day or anything like that, but I have had the grace of God to actually harness my faith in God through Christ to practical applications, and I mean precisely at the time that I prayed for it. Instantly, my faith yielded the desired results, which, I must confess, actually surprised me to kingdom come the first time that it happened. That is about me, and about harnessing my faith in Christ as my mediator, but most importantly, my faith in God Almighty the ultimate recipient of my prayer, to perform my own little miracles for myself.

However, I am willing to consider the belief and claim of non-Christians as possibly legitimate, too. I am willing to concede that another person may be able to perform spiritual feats with his or her faith in Mohammed’s teachings, and again, most importantly, with faith in the same Almighty Allah (God) of the Christian faith. Essentially, I do believe that everybody has the right to whatever they want to believe in, as long as they do not harm anybody else. In my defense of Islam against my extremist Christian brethren, I have to point out something; that whereas an average Christian prays only two times a day, once in the morning when he/she wakes up, and once at night before bed, an average Moslem actually prays up to seven times every day.

If you ask me, such devotion has to count for something when anybody wants to compare notes on methods of worship. It implies that Moslems are probably more steadfast in the worship of Allah, than the Christians. And if we talk about flaws, I believe that it has been established enough that there are flaws in every religion. The universal premise is that we are all human, and anything human is flawed in various ways. It is very difficult for me, therefore, to swallow the notion that all Moslems, and all Buddhists and all African Traditionalists are going to hell when they die. “The Moslems can pray a million times if they like, but not to God,” said a Christian in response to my argument. “They don’t worship God, because they do not know Christ.” Some guy actually said to me that Moslems worship Allah, and not God. I nearly laughed my head off at his ignorance, considering the fact that Allah means the same as God in another language. Whereas such extremely non-tolerant Christians in Nigeria reject Mohammed as a prophet and Islam as a legitimate religion, more tolerant Christians are willing to accept that Islam is legitimate.

Similarly, there are even more extremely non-tolerant Moslems who believe that Christ is not legitimate and Christians are unbelievers. But I see nothing in the position of the scholarly Moslems that I have engaged on the topic that challenges the authority or authenticity of Jesus. They do recognize Jesus Christ among all ancient prophets who came to the world before their prophet, Mohammad; and they see Christianity to be legitimate. As for me, what I do see is human flaws in Islam, which exists in Christianity and every religion of the world. And, I have written evidence that Mohammed did not teach his followers some of those flaws, just as I know that Jesus Christ did not teach Christians all the evil things that we do today. Indeed, Prophet Mohammed himself celebrated Christianity and his “Christian friends,” as indicated in the following excerpt of his written covenant in the 5 th century, which were also contained in various letters that he personally wrote to Christian authorities. He strongly enjoined his followers to abide by that covenant, thus:

“This is a message from Mohammad ibn Abdullah as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily, I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displease them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs, nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to Moslems’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate…No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Moslems are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”

The original copy of this covenant of Prophet Muhammad (Mohammed) is currently housed in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. My observation in Nigeria is that Moslems in the Yoruba tribe seem to be closer to Prophet Mohammed’s doctrine than the Hausa Moslems. Whereas MANY (definitely not all) Hausa Moslems see all Christians as infidels, their Yoruba counterparts actually have many families where papa is Moslem, mama is Christian; some of the offspring are Moslem and others are Christian—all in the same nucleus family! Now, that’s exactly what Prophet Mohammed preached…No Bullshitting!!!

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