Recently, many incidents have occurred that makes it necessary for me to speak about them. From Sydney siege, Peshawar school massacre and the war Boko Haram is continuously raging on my country Nigeria particularly in my region (North). As a Muslim, I don’t understand what part of Islam these people are following because Islam is totally different religion from what these people are practicing.
In Peshawar, Last week Tuesday began with the promise of a sunny winter day. Several hundred students between the ages of ten and eighteen arrived at the Army public school. They wore their uniforms—green sweaters for girls, green blazers for boys—and tin badges printed with the school motto: “I shall rise and shine.” That morning, some of the students were in class, some were taking their examinations, and some were in the school auditorium, where a visiting group of soldiers were training them in first aid. Nine Talibans entered the school and killed over more than 140 students and left many students with various degrees of injuries.
In another clime, Haron Monis held 17 people hostage for more than 12 hours in a coffee shop which culminated in the death of two hostages as well as Monis in Sydney, Australia. Both during and after the hostage standoff, considerable attention focused on Monis’ Islamic ties and purported religious extremism. In other places like Iraq and Syria, Islamic state fighters have killed and are still killing many innocent lives and same thing applies to Al-shabab in Kenya and Somalia.
Back home here in Nigeria, the news is not different. Boko haram has turned the North into a graveyard with killings, suicide bombings and abduction of girls in schools and villages. They have declared a war against the Nigeria state. I’ve seen the pains of families who had lost their loved ones due to insurgency. After two bombs exploded in Jos two weeks ago, I immediately rushed down to the hospital to help the casualties. The next day, I was at the mortuary where some corpses were kept. A mother who couldn’t reach her son since after the blast saw his lifeless body lying at the mortuary. His name was Ibrahim. I saw tears rolling down her face and I felt her pain. She kept on repeating “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayli raji’un” which translates to “Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return”.
All these do have unfortunate consequences on how followers of others religions would view and define our religion. It provides the world with yet another bat to bash our religion. Islamophobes will use these as to examples as to why Islam is the “the mother-code of bad ideas”. To be clear, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Taliban in Aghanistan and Pakistan, Al-Shabab in Kenya and Somalia, Alqaeeda and Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria are not representing Islam and Muslims. Islam has been hijacked by some minority elements that are using the name of the religion to achieve their selfish and extremist agenda. Islam is an easy religion made complicated and simple religion turned simpleton by some elements who have deliberately and knowingly using it in order to bring unrest in the world.
In the Glorious Qur’an, Allah condemned the killing of innocent lives when He said “If you kill one life, it’s like you kill the whole of humanity. When you save one life, it’s like you save the whole of humanity”. So if killing of innocent person is equal to killing all humanity, so what does that mean in the case of children? What does that meaning in the case of helpless women? So what does that mean in the case of the elderly (the old)? Islam is an entirely different religion and as a Muslim, I want to join other Muslims around the globe to disassociate myself from all these extreme groups. The Prophet prohibited the killing or harming of innocent lives especially killing of children, women and the elderly. He even prohibited the destruction of infrastructure or the ecosystem. So anyone engages in any of these acts is not a Muslim.
Abduction of school girls in Chibok, Borno villages and in the killing of over 100 school children in Peshawar, Pakistan is not the teaching of Islam. Of all God’s creatures, it is children who warrant the greatest protection due to their helplessness and innocence, which is why the punishment for violating them is severe. The Prophet (PBUH) loved children and honoured them on many occasions, such as calling them honorific epithets or patting young ones on the head, leaving the scent of musk them for the rest of the day. In fact, the Prophet, God bless and grant him peace, visited one child whose pet had died in order to offer condolences and cheer him up. It shows how compassionate the Prophet was towards children. Savage killing of children, who are the epitome of finest human values, in a temple of learning was an assault against the entire humanity and against the teachings of Islam.
Islam and Muslims are today blamed for all the religious extremism going around the world by these minority extreme groups. After the Sydney siege, there had been questions on the backlash against Australian Muslims and immigrants. A woman named Rachael Jacobs recounted on Twitter watching as someone on the train next to her “Silently removes her hijab” presumably out of fear. Jacobs continued: “I ran after her at the train station. I said ‘put it back on’. She started to cry and hugged me for about a minute –then walked off alone”.
A local television editor, Tessa Kum, was apparent the one who proposed a hashtag, #illridewithyou and social media proceeded to work the way one always hopes it will, inspiring a mini-movement in Sydney’s public transportation system and reflections on how Australians can move forward, though it might not be simple. Australian Muslims resoundingly condemned the attack on the café.
Just like Hamza Egal, I am a Muslim first and foremost, I understand my religion and I adhere to its teaching s of peace. Nevertheless, naturally I am not a passive human being by any means. I find it repulsive that my faith is being used as a scapegoat by every Tom, Dick and Harry on side and Abu this Abu that on the other side. I will not allow my religion or my community to be tarnished by equally extremist groups who oppose peace and communal civility. We have to reclaim our religion from these carnages and redefine it according to the true tenets of our religion Islam.