By ESEOGHENE OHWOJEHER
“The Sheikh Uthaymin and “Saudi Salafi” that you are attacking and claiming they promote extremism are the same scholars that denounced Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. So why are you confused? Or maybe your target is Islam itself…If it is not enough that the Quran expressly says “there is no compulsion in (the acceptance) of religion” (Qur’an 2:256) and you still want to force yourself to believe that Islam says to kill the non-Muslims because they didn’t accept Islam then there is nothing we can do for you…”
To say people are blackmailing Isa Ali Pantami because he is going to be President is to reduce the issue.
They are blackmailing him because he is a Muslim Cleric that is a Minister. Some people can’t just stand this because for too long Muslims have been put on the defensive and we have allowed it. Muslims on the other hand can stand [Vice President Yemi] Osinbajo, a Pastor, even if he quotes from the Bible, no issue.
Now this is for SOME people. Does this mean there are no issues to clarify? No. There are issues to clarify and this has nothing to do with politics.
1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the Afghanistan Taliban. They don’t carry out suicide bombings, they don’t target innocent people, they are only fighting for a country they use to govern before they were kicked out. Matter of fact the Americans are presently in negotiation with them. And we pray the issues are resolved. So if Pantami praised the Afghanistan Taliban, there is nothing wrong there. The UN praised them for eradicating opium, I mean total eradication. The US use to praise them before they had issues, so why can’t Pantami praise them?
2. His praise of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda came years ago, before certain things became clearer. He never praised Bin Laden for bombing World Trade Centre. It was the general notion among Muslims (and many non-Muslims) at the time that Bin Laden was framed hence he was seen as a hero. As Muslims began to get convinced (rightly or wrongly) that Bin Laden did carry out the attacks, everyone started criticizing him and taking his pictures off their profile and denouncing his ideology. I am not going to go into if Bin Laden actually did what he is accused of as I honestly don’t know as of today. But regular Muslims, including Pantami denounce killing innocent people. I am an Admin of a Muslim Facebook group with over 20k members and it was only one person ever that supported suicide bombings. Not only did everyone attack him, people hated me and fought me for not removing him from the group, but I argued that we can use argument to change him, my beloved brothers said Islam does not even allow you to be associated with such person. Today we don’t know where he is and nobody cares.
3. The other extraneous quote they have dragged in saying Sheikh Uthaymin says Jihad is until Islam is the system all over is just normal. If you have a good system you will want to spread it. Why should Muslims be satisfied with other religion when we believe they are wrong? No, we will continue to propagate Islam. And in places where we are more and most powerful we will operate our system (as some have done to a small extent in some Northern States and as the Christians are doing in the Vatican), but will we force someone else to be Muslim? No, ISLAM forbids it. So what is the problem here? That we feel our faith is best? When has that become a crime? The Sheikh Uthaymin and “Saudi Salafi” that you are attacking and claiming they promote extremism are the same scholars that denounced Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. So why are you confused? Or maybe your target is Islam itself.
4. The worse thing they quoted him as saying is that “we all like it when the unbelievers are being killed….” But I had someone who understand Hausa listen to the lecture and he didn’t say that. So we are still searching for where he said that. But even by the translation he went ahead to say “unbelievers cannot be killed for no reason”, so what was he trying to say exactly? This point is very important. It is how people misunderstand the Quran. The few verses that talk about war gave the believers PERMISSION to fight in that instance of war because ordinarily they were instructed to be peaceful. If there was no instruction to fight it would mean sit there and be slaughtered. And that is suicide which is also forbidden in Islam.
First, had Islam been based on violence, there would be no need for verses that specifically give permission to fight in the event of a war.
Secondly, in giving this specific permission the Qur’an says unbelievers. Does it mean fight any unbeliever you see on the road? No, there were unbelievers living with the Prophet while he was fighting other unbelievers that came to attack him in Medina. So when the Quran says unbelievers it already explained which unbelievers it was talking about when it says “fight THOSE WHO FIGHT YOU” so it didn’t need to be repeating “unbelievers who fight you” no scripture and nobody speaks like that. Of course if “the unbelievers” invade a Muslim land and start killing them for nothing, it will make us happy when the Muslim Army have an upper hand and kill these “unbelievers”. Does that include killing Mr. Mathew in Nigeria who did not invade a Muslim land and slaughter Muslims and rape our women? Of course not. This is common sense.
If it is not enough that every Muslim you know person to person is peaceful and does not even have a weapon not to talk of being violent, then there is nothing we can do for you.
If it is not enough that the Quran expressly says “there is no compulsion in (the acceptance) of religion” (Qur’an 2:256) and you still want to force yourself to believe that Islam says to kill the non-Muslims because they didn’t accept Islam then there is nothing we can do for you.
If it is not enough that your Bible says in clear terms that the Amalekites should be slaughtered including “women, children and INFANTS” (1 Samuel 15:3) and YET Muslim don’t see you in that light because we understand that at least it was not you that did it, then there is nothing we can do for you.
So no, let us not reduce it to the usual politics. Let us instead use this opportunity to educate our Christian neighbours about the concept of Jihad and ask them to stop blackmailing us with it.
*Eseoghene Al-Faruq Ohwojeheri is the CEO at Minhaj Publicity based in Benin City.