The Arguments of Pro-Traditionalist Against Islam In Senegambia:
It is evident that, some proud black Africans are bitter about the prevalence of the Islamic religion in some part of Africa, especially the SeneGambia region. Their grievances are based on the argument that, the Muslim expansionist soldiers over-ran the peaceful and successful traditional rulers and force convert people to Islam.
Indeed Islam came to Senegambia and other parts of the world, but not mainly by the military means that is so blown out of proportion by critics. The Senegambia region witness what historians classified as peaceful preaching (Thomas Arnold 1896). Traders did the preaching, they were not in any position to force convert people. Accepting that argument is akin to ridiculing the social fabrics that existed with our ancestors. It is like saying that, our ancestors were so weak; a couple Arab with swords knocks on their doors and force them to accept Islam. This is a baseless argument.
The historian De Lacy O’leary quiet clearly expose the untruth against the religion of Islam by those who only condemn the religion as a fanatical and sword wielding faith.
De Lacy in his book ‘Islam at the cross Road’ page 8 states that “history makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myth that historians have ever repeated.”
The main teaching of Islam forbids the use of force to convert people. Allah the Almighty states about Prophet Muhammad that, “if you were harsh and hard hearted, all those who come around you will have abandon you”. The statement here convey multiple of messages, one being that if the Prophet Muhammad was mean and ruthless to his people, they would have ran away from him and join forces with those promoting idolatry.
Islam with all its tolerance and softness stand firm against the promotion and open committing of evil and sinful shameful actions. It’s enforced strict codes of ethic against social immorality and the decadence in society. That firmness also triggers claims of injustice and tyranny against the Muslims, yet the general query of civilise society today and that of politicians in particular is to bring in harsh laws against the many crimes and social ills.
Muslim did went into Spain and rule it for close to 700 years, the sword wasn’t use to convert people. In fact Jews came to Spain to be under the rule of Muslim, but when the Crusader King ordered the overthrow of the Muslims, no single Muslim was spared, you either leave or die.
In Egypt and other Arab countries were Islam is the major religion, there are over 14 Million Coptic Christians who inherited the religion from generation to generation bearing testimony to Islam not being a sword wielding religion. Those Coptics could have been forced to abandon their faith or die if that was the main reason of the Muslim rulers.
In India more than 80% of the population is non-Muslim, yet that country was ruled by Muslims for over 600 years. Why didn’t they killed or forced convert every one?
I keep citing Indonesia and Malaysia on many occasion, because it is the two countries were Arabs have little connection with. Yet Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country in the world. No single Muslim army went in those countries with or without a sword. The Japanese tries to subjugate them and kill their spirit but couldn’t, the British tries also to make them change their faith and life style but couldn’t succeed just like the early Missionaries did in the Gambia.
Many promising young Muslim pupils were coaxed to enter Christianity to gain scholarship and higher education. Some of this Muslim pupil accepted the offer, only to later recant Christianity. Among this people are David Jawara (DK), Andrew Camara (Hasan Musa), Paul Bah, and many others.
Thomas Carlyle, the historian and biographer who wrote the book, ‘Heroes and Hero worship’, made it clear that, the misconception about Islam is deliberate. He said:
The sword indeed, but where will you get your sword? Every new opinion, at its starting is precisely in a minority of one. In one man’s head alone. There it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world believe it, there is one man against all men. That he takes a sword and try to propagate with that, will do little for him. You must get your sword! On the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can.” Thomas Carlyle.
How can the sword be use by a minority against the majority? In Senegambia as well, the Islamic activist that ended up revolting against the traditional rulers did that because of the continuous injustices by the traditional rulers. People always when given the opportunity support uprising against tyrants.
The main reference book for Muslims, the Qur’an speaks against forcing people to accept Islam. In fact forced conversion is tantamount to no conversion in shariah. The Qur’an Chapter (2:256) states that “let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stand out clear from error.” Islam which means complete submission to will of God should not be done under duress.
The Qur’an extols muslims to engage in intelligent discussions in matters of religion with those who erroneously attack Islam on false pretext. It recommends dialogue in chapter 16:125 “invite all to the way of your lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.”
But since Islamaphobes aren’t interested in clear statements like the two verses above, they practiced what is now commonly referred to as ‘taking verses out of context and joining them with others verses’ to provide a wrongful meaning, thus deliberately creating misconception.
This is why Dr Adam Pearson made the statement that, “people worry that nuclear weaponry will one day fall in the hands of the Arabs, fails to realise that the Islamic bomb has been dropped already, it fell the day Muhammad (pbuh) was born”.
The key labels against a section of the Muslim community:
It is no secret that role the media plays in fanning the war of words against Muslims. Some experts states that, the global media power house is control by 8% of conglomerates across the world, mainly shadowy influential people. This people have an agenda which must not be underrated. The culture of twenty four hours news demands events of shocking magnitudes to liven the various news networks.
That word is very important statement in every profession. Dr Zakir Naik eloquently stated that, in every profession, practitioners must follow and adheres to the fundamentals of the “doctrine or theory” of that profession. A good doctor, lawyer, teacher, accountant, engineer etc all must follow, adhere to the fundamental principle and ethics of their chosen profession.
Now when the debate falls in religious arena, eyebrows are raised. Fundamentalism is categorised as the same in the media and security circles. This means fundamentalism in religion is straight forward bad and frowns upon. The debate usually swift back and forth in western circles to include phrases like, ‘they hate our freedom, they hate our democracy, they hate our life style, our development etc.’ who hate who and why? The labelling and discussion is sounded so loud, no one has the time to ask, who hates who and why?
Just like George Bush said in 2000, you are either in support of the definitions advanced from their angle or you don’t. No middle ground. Is this how prosecutions exist in civilise law courts? Harden criminals are accorded the liberty to defend themselves in front of a judge and the notion that ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is entitled to murderers, rapist, paedophiles, corporate bandits, drug dealers, etc. Yet people of religion are blanket-ly tagged extremist and fundamentalist on superficial grounds lacking clear definitions.
Definition of fundamentalist:
Oxford dictionary defines the words as ‘the strict maintenance of ancient or fundamental doctrines of any religion, especially Islam.’ This definition provided the impetus for all to see only Muslims as fundamentalist.
In fact, the Webster dictionary refers the word to 20th century protestant Christian movement in America, which occur due to the reaction to modernity. Their stance is based on the notion that the bible is infallible in all areas of life and that it is the literal word of God. Aren’t these types of Christian around today? Aren’t they the now ‘born again’ evangelist groups or more appropriately ‘televangelist’ performing miracles and redeeming souls, so they claim?
When it serves the media and politicians, they give different tags to the same actions. People using war to fight for liberations are either freedom fighters or rebel and now the terrorist bandwagon is more commonly used. The American war of independence was duped acts of terror by the British but the American populace refer to the fighters as ‘patriots’.
Similar statements applies to the Moa Moa movement in Kenya, the South African fight for equality. Mandela was branded a terrorist by both Reagan and Thatcher, yet we Africans called him a freedom fighter. The Indian struggle for independence also triggers the British to call the resistant fighters terrorist whilst the Indians duped them hero’s.
However, the contrast in the use of words demarcate at the reasoning behind each conflict situation. The fight on secular basis and with secular agenda is different fighting on a religious front and a religious slogan. Mandela is a secular politician, Washington was a secular leader, Ghandi was a religious figure but his doctrine discourages violence etc.
Is all the negative terms against Muslims the broader struggle of a secularisation of the worlds? Or is it what some writers referred to as the ‘Whiteman’s burden’.