God made this world for all of us to be happy and then share His glory in heaven. Therefore no religion has a right to make life difficult for others whatever their belief or dogma. We must write and discuss about violence openly so that we live in a peaceful world, free from religious violence. Let us not hide behind what we call “terrorism” like what happened in Egypt recently.
Recently, Pope Francis, during his visit to Bangladesh addressed an interreligious group comprising of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian communities as well as civil authorities. He said this meeting was a “clear sign of the efforts of leaders and adherents to live together in mutual respect and good will”. The Pontiff invited them to live, “religious solicitude for the good of our neighbor which runs a vast river, watering the arid lands and deserts of hatred, of corruption, of poverty and violence, which so degraded human lives, divide families and disfigure the gift of Creation”.
We cannot call each other brothers and sisters when we don’t have a common Father – God who is Love. Human rights rest on human dignity, people come before profits, and this right to life is an ancient measure of humanity. St Paul said in Ephesians 2.16 that Jesus ‘destroyed enmity in himself’; he destroyed enmity, not the enemy, he destroyed it in himself, not in others. Lincoln Abraham said, “Do I not, perhaps, destroy my enemies when I make them friends?” Pope Francis said, “Killing in the name of God ‘is an aberration’”. There is no God in violence. In Africa, there are two major religions that compete for followers: Christianity and Islam. Both religions claim to believe in one God though their major doctrinal and ethical issues are widely divergent and in some cases contradictory. The principal source of Islamic belief is the Quran while the Christian source of belief is the Bible.
Because of pathetic situations in the Middle East, summits have been held to foster interreligious and intercultural relationships. One such a summit was held in Rome in 2014. In spite these meetings and interactions, religious violence continues in many parts of the world, especially in Moslem world. ZENT staff reported that in May 2015 a single diocese in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram killed more than 5,000 Catholics, at least 100 people displaced and 350 Churches destroyed.
In Islam, Muhammad instructed Muslims to reject friendships with non-Muslims (al-‘Imran 3: 28; al-Ma’idah 5: 51; al-Mumtahanah 60: 1), and to participate in holy war (jihad) and kill unbelievers if necessary in order to force them to submit to Islam (al-Tawbah 9: 5, 29; al-Baqarah 2: 193; etc.). Muhammad said: “I have been ordered to fight with the people till they say, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah …” (Bukhari 4.52.196, 496; 1.2.25; 1.8.392; etc. “…the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him'” (Bukhari 4.52.260; 5.59.632; 9.83.17; 9.84.57). Islam does not tolerate freedom of religion (al-Tawbah 9: 5, 11, 12, 29; al-Baqarah 2: 217; an-Nisa’ 4: 89; al-Ma’idah 5: 33). Sharia Law prescribes a complete way of life for the Muslim. In Islamic states, religion is not separated from state matters and many organized groups that oppose the presence of minority religious groups in their country intimidate or attack them. The situation is worse when these hostilities and government restrictions are combined. Minority religions cannot talk their religion outside their premises. There is a big contract in freedom of expression in Countries where Christian are the majority. Christians, love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. Muslim brothers and sisters integrate well with Christians and are voted in various political and social offices. They preach Islam publically without intimidation. Many times the Pope has invited them in the Vatican and he has visited mosques. This planet belongs to all of us and we should all be happy and peaceful. In this global village, evangelization must change its strategy, we cannot remain violent the world will hate us and our religion.
I blame the teachers of Islam: they have presented the religion negatively leaving out what would unite Christians and Islam. Even Prophet Muhammad confessed his own inability to know the end of his work or the fate of his followers when he said in Sum 46:9 (Al-Ahqaf)
"Say, I am no prodigy (marvel or special one) among the apostles; nor do I know what will he done with me or you. I follow only what is revealed to me, and my only duty is to give plain warning." This contrasts with Sura 3:55 (Al-Imran) - "Allah said, Isa (Jesus), I am about to cause your term on earth to end and lift you up to Me. I shall take you away from those who disbelieve and exalt your followers above them till the Day of Resurrection."
The Quran allows Muslims to read the Bible. Moslems do not read and study the Quran, they recite the Quran; just like most Christians don’t read and understand the Bible. If the Muslims read the Bible, which Prophet Mohammed commanded they should do, the hostility between the two religions would stop. Sura 4:136 (Al-Nisa),
"0 believers, have faith in Allah and His Apostle, in the Book He has revealed to His Apostle, and in the Book He formerly revealed (Bible). He that denies Allah, His angels, His Scriptures, His apostles, and the Last Day, has strayed far from the truth." Sura 5:48 (Al-Maida) - "And to you We have revealed the Book with the truth confirming what was revealed before it in the other Books, and standing as a guardian over it."
The Quran says in Sura 2:62 (Al- Baqara),
"Believers, Jews, Christians and Sabaeans - whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does what is right - shall be rewarded by their Lord; they have nothing to fear or regret." Jesus as Messiah is in the Quran. Sura 3:45 (Al-Imran) - "The angels said to Mariam (Mary): 'Allah bids you rejoice in a Word from Him. His name is al-Masih (Messiah), Isa the son of Mariam. He shall be noble in this world and in the next, and shall be favored by Allah.'"
In the Annunciation of Jesus’s birth Sura 19:19 (Mariam) the Angel said,
"'I am the messenger of your Lord,' he replied, 'and have come to give you a holy son.'" The Quran calls Jesus a holy son, which means without sin. Jesus can give life: Sura 3:49 (AI-Imran) - (Jesus is speaking) "….. By Allah's leave, I shall give sight to the blind man, heal the leper and raise the dead to life." Quran recognizes the Old and New Testaments in Sura 5:68 (Al-Maida) - "Say: 'People of the Book (Christians and Jews), you stand for nothing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which is revealed to you from your Lord."
These quotations from the Holy Quran touching on Christianity would help improve Islam-Christian relationship more than the often quoted common ancestor of Abraham.
Dr. Okoth is a Concerned Citizen