In our world of today, the human race is so mixed that it has become very important to know and understand how to deal with people of different religions and cultures. However, we have, in the records, people who have become strangers in their lands, marginalized, oppressed, victimized and brutalized for many reasons that include insensitivity and an improper application of tolerance.
An adage that says, “once bitten, twice shy” is the story of Muslims in the Yorubaland who have experienced or read about the plight of the Muslims in the missionary era. During this era, Muslim children could not go to school except that they become Christianized, which starts from taking up Hebrew names. Those who were able to find their way out of changing their names have to sing hymns, chant the Lord’s prayer; their faith was not respected. Consequently, Christians had access to education than the Muslims, thus, occupying government and other top positions than the Muslims.
The scenario above called for the need to be very careful, attentive, cautious and vigilant in dealing with the Christians. In fact, when Christians come up with ideas and information, we need to approach it meticulously and think about them methodically and strategically. This is not fanaticism or intolerance but, a response to what was experienced many years ago and there is no sign of change.
The reaction of some Muslims had sprouted writing of this clarification. These Muslims think that some Muslims who are very careful of what to accept from the Christians ae fanatics and/or extreme but this is not the case. Do you know that in many schools in the South-East, Muslim children cannot wear the Hijab to school? In the South-West, the Hijab struggle is on. At the time of this writing, there is a court case between the Muslim Community and International School, Ibadan, Oyo State over Hijab for Muslim kids.
I remember a very funny scenario during the Hijab struggle in Osun State. When we protested against the ban on Hijab for Muslim Children, some Christians, in Ede (who should not be concerned) made a fool of themselves when the Christian students also wore Choir gowns and Celestial robes (Sutana) to the school. It was a very funny period. Today, the Muslim Children are still wearing the Hijab to school but the troublemakers have stopped.
As a Community, we cannot be insensitive and misplace our definition of tolerance. We cannot be tolerant to the extent of being marginalized. Amotekun (the recently launched security outfit for the South-Western States) has in its requirements, a birth certificate from the Church. Even if it would be so, we have to check it meticulously. We need to ask questions. So, Muslims who have raised alarm are not extremists after all, rather a response to a form of marginalization that was experienced. Imagine, you ask why a Birth Certificate from the Church is included in an initiative meant for the public and the answer you get is, “You re intolerant, you are a religious fanatic, you are an extremist, don’t bring religion into this” and other asdfghjkl!
Muslims are very tolerant people and at the same time, advocates of Justice. Allah says in Surah Kaafiroon,
“La-kum dee-nu-koom wa lee-ya deen
For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”
In line with this verse, Muslims are conscious of people’s religion and their rights. Allah also says,
“Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly
Allah only forbids you from those who fight you because of religion and expel you from your homes and aid in your expulsion – [forbids] that you make allies of them. And whoever makes allies of them, then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an 60:8-9).
This is our religion and verses like these guide our relationship with people of other religions and cultures. I hope Liberal Muslims and non-Muslims learn and understand our position.
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman