When Islam and Christianity clash, and when they don’t

112217islamMore than 50 years have passed since I first encountered Muslims. I was teaching English at a Catholic school in Akure, a provincial capital in southwestern Nigeria, when one of the Muslim students at the school took me into town for one of the two great festivals of the Muslim calendar. In Arabic that festival is called Eid al-Adha, the Feast of the Oblation. It occurs at the climax of the annual hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca.

The oblation referred to is the sacrifice that Abraham was willing to offer of his only son, a story told in the Qur’an as well as Genesis. The relevant verses in the Qur’an are from Sura 37:

[Abraham] said: “My son, I have seen in a dream that I must sacrifice you. Look, now, what do you think?” [The son] replied, “Do what you have been commanded. God willing, you will find me among the patient.” When they had both surrendered themselves [to God] and [Abraham] had laid his son face down, We [God] called out to him, “O Abraham, you have proved true to the vision.” Thus do We reward those who do good. (Qur’an 37:102–105)

A particularly important phrase in this passage is “when they had both surrendered themselves.” In Arabic that is only two and a half words: fa-lammā aslamā. Literally it says (in the dual form of the verb from which the verbal noun islamderives) “when [the two] submitted.” The submission or islam of both Abraham and his only son, thought to be a fully grown man in later Jewish tradition and in Islamic tradition as well, is the ideal of faith for all Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN CENTURY 

Advertisements

South Africa’s Untold Success Story: A Christian Nation’s Peaceful History With A Muslim Minority

 

01CAPETOWN-web2-master675Growing up in early 90s South Africa I was not exposed to many different races, in that stifling, artificially divided environment apartheid left us with. But I was immersed in a rich religious melange that formed my understanding of community. My neighbours on my right were Hindu, on my left were Christians and opposite me were Muslims. I heard stories about Ram’s love for Sita from Mrs Moodley, about Christmas from the Davids next door and about the Prophet (PBUH) at madressah. There were at least five temples, mosques and churches in my area alone (often right next to each other) and our parks were littered with white rocks that mark Shembe outdoor prayer sites. In town, outside the bustling African traditional healer’s market was the Catholic Emmanuel Cathedral and right next door was the largest mosque in Durban, the Juma Musjid Mosque dating back to 1880.

While we may have been segregated by race, there were no clear rules about religion and it is perhaps one of the reasons that faith bound us to one another so strongly. Religion was not only a source of strength and comfort during apartheid, it was also a means of resistance against a system designed to divide. And yet religion, the one thing that has divided the rest of the world so starkly, has not done so here. This has perhaps been one of the most remarkable stories of post-apartheid South Africa, but the least told.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HUFFINGTON POST (SOUTH AFRICA)

African prelate says answer to Muslim/Christian divide is democracy

Bishop-Matthew-Kukah-690x450Despite heading a diocese in a region of northern Nigeria known as a Boko Haram stronghold, Bishop Matthew Kukah insists that there is no real Muslim/Christian divide in his country, and that clashes perceived as religious are generally a ‘cover’ for the government’s failure to foster a genuine democracy in the country.

ROME – One of the Catholic world’s most experienced prelates in terms of living cheek-by-jowl with Muslims insists that there is no real divide between Christians and Muslims in Africa, above all in his home country of Nigeria, and that clashes perceived as religious are generally an index of the failure to build a genuinely democratic state.

“There isn’t really a Christian-Muslim conflict in Nigeria, that’s a cover for something else,” said Bishop Matthew Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, an overwhelmingly Muslim area in the country’s far north which has been a stronghold for the radical Boko Haram movement.

“What people call Christian-Muslim conflict, there’s nothing inevitable about it,” Kukah said. “I think the Western media has constructed it, and it’s very popular. And it’s also very popular in Nigeria, but I have said over a 30-year period, there’s no real conflict between Christians and Muslims.

“The same Muslims and Christians work together in the bureaucracy. They serve together in the army and in other arms of government. What we call violence between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria is really the failure of law and order,” he said.

Kukah spoke to Crux on March 24 during a summit on the African church sponsored by the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame, and held at the university’s Global Gateway center in Rome.

Despite heading a tiny diocese and being fairly diminutive in stature himself, Kukah has an outsized presence in Nigerian public life. Holding a Ph.D. from the University of London, he’s one of the most trusted and admired religious leaders in the country, having served on a national commission for political reform, and having led negotiations to end a conflict between the Shell corporation and the Ogoni ethnic group over oil operations in the Niger Delta.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CRUX NOW

The biggest divide between African Muslims and Christians isn’t their religion

rtx143iw-e1483956070345In many countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Muslim and Christian communities coexist side by side. But a huge gap exists between them when it comes to educational attainment, with African Christians more than twice as likely to have formal schooling than their Muslim counterparts, a Pew Research Center study shows.

The study, which looked at the number of years of schooling both groups received based on age and gender, showed that 65% of Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa had no formal education—the highest anywhere in the world. By contrast, 30% of Christians in the region had not enrolled or completed any form or level of schooling.

The Pew findings drew on census and survey data from 151 countries—36 from sub-Saharan Africa—and analyzed educational levels among believers of Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and the religiously unaffiliated. In 18 out of 27 countries with substantial Christian and Muslim populations in the region, Muslims trailed Christians by at least 10 percentage points. Nine countries had education data on Muslims only (Comoros, Gambia, Niger and Somalia) or Christians only (Cape Verde, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe).

Christianity and Islam are the two dominant religions in sub-Saharan Africa, together accounting for more than 93% of the population. Given the dropping child mortality and high fertility rates in the region, much of the worldwide growth of Islam and Christianity is expected to take place there in the coming decades. By 2050, for instance, four out of every 10 Christians in the world will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

FULL ARTICLE FROM QUARTZ 

Nigeria’s Subversive Love Stories

Nigeria Subversive Love Stories

In this photo taken Sunday, April 3, 2016, Suleiman Maharazu, centre, the owner of Maharazu Bookshop, sells books to young girls in his shop in Kano, Nigeria. In the local market, stalls are signs of a feminist revolution with piles of poorly printed books by women, as part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, that advocate against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorces. Dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels, many hand-written in the Hausa language, and the romances now run into thousands of titles. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

KANO, Nigeria — Nestled among vegetables, plastic kettles and hand-dyed fabric in market stalls are the signs of a feminist revolution: Piles of poorly printed books by women that advocate forcefully against conservative Muslim traditions such as child marriage and quick divorce.

They are part of a flourishing literary movement centered in the ancient city of Kano, in northern Nigeria, where dozens of young women are rebelling through romance novels. Hand-written in the Hausa language, the romances now run into thousands of titles. Many rail against a strict interpretation of Islam propagated in Nigeria by the extremist group Boko Haram, which on Sunday posted video showing dozens of the 218 girls militants abducted from a remote school in April 2014.

“We write to educate people, to be popular, to touch others’ lives, to touch on things that are happening in our society,” says author Hadiza Nuhu Gudaji, whose views have gained a recognition unusual for women in her society.

Gudaji’s novellas are so popular that she is invited to give advice on radio talk shows. She describes how she was able to influence the future of a 15-year-old who called in, begging the novelist to persuade her father not to force her into marriage.

“We said: ‘The father of this girl, you are listening to us, you hear what your girl is saying,” Gudaji recounts. “‘If you force her, maybe the marriage will not end so well, maybe the girl will run away and come to a bad end.'”

A few weeks later, the girl called to say thank you, and that she was back in school — a striking example of the kind of power the author wields.

The novellas are derogatorily called “littattafan soyayya, meaning “love literature,” Kano market literature or, more kindly, modern Hausa literature. Daily readings on about 20 radio stations make them accessible to the illiterate.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

The hospital that unites Christians and Muslims

19796746801471598210TANGUIETA: “The coexistence among Christians and Muslims, here in Benin, is serene: I often say that, if the relationship between the faithful of these two religions was like this everywhere, we would not see the dramas that cause so much bloodshed in many areas of the world today!” These are the words of Brother Fiorenzo Priuli, 70 years old, a surgeon, and a beacon for thousands of patients in Africa; a WHO (World Health Organization) consultant for AIDS and infectious diseases, who was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of the French Republic. Of himself, he says: “I am grateful to the Lord who has called me to collaborate with him in the wonderful work of treating those who suffer and protecting life.” For more than 40 years, he has lived in a small town in the north of the country, Tanguiéta, where he runs the St John of God Hospital, a centre of excellence in African medicine, founded in 1970 by the Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of St John of God, known as the Fatebenefratelli. At the time, it offered 82 beds; now there are 415.

The history of this great hospital, which has also become a university centre, speaks of the beautiful bond that is manifest between human beings of different religions when they share responsibility towards an injured human, and ally themselves, giving their best to lift up the lives that have been downtrodden by illness: strong ties that transcend the boundaries of states.

A common goal: Healthcare
The hospital physicians, including interns, number 25, while the paramedic and administrative staff consists of three hundred people. “Many are Muslim (such as my deputy in the operating room, who recently married a Catholic nurse) and the relationships between all of us are excellent,” says Bro Fiorenzo. “We work together day and night, driven by a common goal: to try to provide the best possible assistance to the thousands of patients who come here, often after facing long and exhausting journeys. Every year, we have 18,000-20,000 new patients (of which 5,000 are children) who come from neighbouring countries (Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria): 14,000 are hospitalized, while others receive outpatient care.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE HERALD, MALAYSIA ONLINE 

Kenya honour for Muslim hero who protected Christian bus passengers

kenyaA Muslim teacher in Kenya who protected Christians on a bus after it was attacked by Islamist militants has been posthumously honoured for his bravery.

Salah Farah was shot in the attack in north-eastern Kenya in December and later died from his bullet wound.

The insurgents told the Muslims and Christians to split up but he was among Muslim passengers who refused to do so.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said he was awarding the Order Of The Grand Warrior to Mr Farah “for his act of courage”.

It is one of the country’s top honours and is awarded by the president for exemplary service to the country.

In previous attacks in the area, Somalia-based al-Shabab militants have killed Christians and spared Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE BBC NEWS