Barka de Sallah to all faithful, loyal, and honest Muslims all over the world!
Oh yes, I’ve just said something that many other Christians find very difficult to say during this Muslim festive period of Eid el Kabir. They are reluctant to join in the celebrations because of the big gap we have created between us in terms of religion.
Would I blame the Christians for distancing themselves from their Muslim brothers and sisters? Well, if one considers the many atrocities of Boko Haram boys, al-Qaeda terrorists, and al-Shabbab militants, one may be tempted to condemn the Muslims altogether since those bad boys always shout “Allahu Akbar!” whenever they strike.
The truth however remains that Islam is a religion of peace and it would be wrong to label all Muslims as terrorists. I have many Muslim friends and they are not terrorists.
I have also read the Holy Quran several times and cannot find where it is written that a devoted Muslim should kill innocent people. Neither can I find anything in the book preaching discord or hatred. The unfortunate thing is that some (un)believers have (ignorantly) taken their faith beyond the boundaries set by God (Allah).
The same thing goes for Christians. My Bible does not tell me that I must burn the Holy Quran because those who believe what it says are not Christians. The same Holy Bible does not tell me that a Pastor must declare war on his Muslim brothers and sisters. Instead, the book preaches love!
In fact, I strongly believe that Christians and Muslims agree on so many things.
We both agree that God/Allah exists.
We both believe there are rewards and punishments after this present life.
We both believe in the Day of Judgment.
As far as Eid el Kabir is concerned, we both know that a certain patriarch was to sacrifice his beloved son in total obedience and submission to God. Christians may call him Abraham, and Muslims may call him Ibrahim. We both agree that he submitted to God’s will.
We may also call the son to be sacrificed different names of Ismail or Isaac, the fact, again, remains that this son also submitted himself to his father’s decision.
We can continue to list so many things on which we both agree as Christians and Muslims; those common things that united us, and made us live together in peace, love, and harmony in the past.
I remember my childhood days and how we used to celebrate the almighty Ileya (Eid el Kabir) festival with our Muslim neighbours and friends. Hardly would you know the difference between us.
For us as kids, the celebration started with the purchase of the Ileya ram. We would go with our friends/neighbours to the ram market, buy it together, and pull the ram through the streets to show the whole world that “we” were also killing a ram in our compound.
We would go to the mosque together, kill and skin the ram together, and also eat the meat together. The celebrations, as I recall, used to last for three good days – three days of enjoyment.
At Christmas time, our Muslim friends and neighbours knew it was their turn to rejoice with us.
But what do we have today?
It is now a case of don’t go near them. It has become a situation where Christians are afraid of the Muslims on the suspicion of being attacked. And it has also become a case of Muslims being scared that their Christian brothers will label them as terrorists.
Where is the love of old?
Eid el Kabir has suddenly become a period when government must tighten security for fear of bomb attacks by those misguided beings who claim to be fighting for Allah. Of course, every true Muslim knows that Islam does not support violence.
The Christian and Muslim religious leaders are not helping matters either. Why preaching religious supremacy? Why claiming that one religion is superior to the other? When did religion suddenly become a do or die affair? Why condemning each other?
Religion should be a personal thing; a matter for each person’s heart. What you believe, or the religion you practice should not be any of my business; neither should mine be to you.
Is it not strange that Muslims of different sects also condemn one another? The same thing applies to Christians. I cannot count the number of times I have heard one church condemning the other church. Yet they each claim to read the same Bible!
This world will definitely be a sweeter place if we could restrict religion to what it rightly is: each person’s personal affair. With this, we will respect one another the more; the unnecessary war of control and supremacy will stop; and God/Allah would probably be happier.
If anyone is in doubt, let him or her take a short trip to Sierra Leone to confirm what it means to live together peacefully as Christians and Muslims. This is a country where you cannot determine faith by name. A place where Christians bear Muslim names such as Ibrahim, Abdul etc, and Muslims bear Esther, John etc. Over there, Christians go to Mosques and Muslims attend church services as and when necessary. I got so enthused by their practice that I wrote about it in “The Muslims who Recited the Lord’s Prayer.”
Three things are quite certain.
One. If we both agree that our two religions preach submission to God, then we must practice it wholeheartedly and truthfully.
Two. If we both agree on the issue of mutual respect, we must equally be ready to sacrifice a number of things, most especially our religious ego and bigotry that often pitch us against each other.
Three. If we both agree that Christianity or Islam is about love and peace, then we must do everything humanly possible to live together in harmony as this will make the world a better place for all of us.
Mind you, if we fail to do these three things, I’m afraid we might have a big case to answer on the Day of Judgment; and we may actually miss the Kingdom of Heaven which we both agree exists.
Happy Eid el Kabir as I await my Sallah meat.