“…Looking at your profile and search you around, I am left with little or no regards for you on the public domain…”
This is what Mr. Olumide Adeyinka, an admin of the Facebook group; Nigerians Against Religious Divide have to say about me. While I understood why my Facebook profile will upset debased people like him, I was however swept with an urgent inclination to do a little search of my own to massage my battered ego. Let me start from the beginning.
How it started….
It all started when I was added to the Facebook group, NIGERIANS AGAINST RELIGIOUS DIVIDE. This happened sometime after the unfortunate post election crisis in some areas of the country. We greeted the initiative as laudable and welcoming. The platform presented itself as a place where issues that affected the various religious concerns, anxiety and distrust can be fearlessly discussed in a tolerant atmosphere. Nigerians needed a dais that is unedited and uncensored so we can freely and truly express our worries to one another.
How it went…..
It turn out that my assumptions about the group was wrong. Few days ago, I posted a link to the group site on “Why Muslims Don’t Greet Merry Christmas” written by a friend and brother in Islam, Nazeer Nuhu Mohammad. It was intended to provoke an intellectual discussion.
Initially readers were slow in responding, but when they did, it was mainly Muslims that politely disagree with the ‘opinion’ contained in the article. The debate was a bit heated, it was however polite and devoid of insults and name calling.
The point which I fairly and reasonably deposited with due respect to Christians was:
- The origin of Christmas is idolatry and un-Christian.
- The day is set aside to celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe to be God.
- That point 1 and 2 makes Christmas celebration not permissible in Islam because it contradicts the fundamentals of Islamic faith and moreover Muslims don’t even celebrate birthdays.
I highlighted during the course of the discus that the intention is not to cast aspersions on Christians or undermine Christianity, but to promote understanding between us, which the group was supposedly meant for. I even argued that, as Muslims, we should always be kind and good to Christians irrespective of the time of the year.
While I was at no point insolent or disrespectful to Christians, two of the ‘tolerant’ admin switch to a damning mode and started spiting affronts at me and others joined in. Let me alight some of the ‘tolerant’ words visited upon me by these tolerant Nigerians:
One Steve Raymond Ohakwe referred to me as a sponsored extremist trying to infiltrate their rank. I was left to ask myself ‘which rank?’ and hoping somebody would pay me for airing my religious opinion.
Khamisa Sara Dike, who happened to be an admin, agreed that Christmas has a pagan origin, but referred to my comments as ‘rantings’ bent on causing harm, full of mischief and acrimony. At that instance, I had to go back, read all my comments looking for something I had said and done wrongly, I found none. My explanation that I was merely sharing the Islamic position and I have not in any way been disrespectful or insulting to Christians fell on deaf ears.
Unable to quote any of my comment that was so designed to cause mischief and acrimony, she responded that ‘she thinks’ my approach was bad. In her bid to be dim-witted, she then added that ‘religious tolerance does not mean accepting and ‘permitting SACRILEGIOUS and irrelevant utterance’.
At this point, I felt like a man who shuts his eyes, but opened it a second later to find himself in the middle of a market square, stake naked and not knowing how he got there. What in heaven sake was she talking about? Nigerians against religious divide indeed! Bunch of jokers obviously!
Is it that a Muslim cannot express his religious views in a platform that is supposed to encourage understanding between various religious views? I was accused of committing sacrilege because I stated my religious views which are contrary to Christianity. NOTE, not once was I insulting or disrespectful to Christians or Christianity. The only thing I did wrong was to hold a religious opinion endorsed by all Muslim Scholars I know and heard off.
And when I asked her to tell me what I have said that is sacrilegious, probably so I can apologies, she became muted and sometime later I was deleted from the group.
It became clear to me that the group is only there to massage the ego of the creator and those that administer it. The only views acceptable to them are those that conform to their myopic conception of Islam.
This is what Olumide Adeyinka, another admin of the group, had to say:
“…If your problem is that Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Islam disagrees with that, then you have a big problem beyond what I initially thought. That information in itself is known and published in the sky, and so for you to come here and claim you will not wish us well because of this unintelligible and irrational averse which stems from a very vivid sense of hatred and irresponsibility on your part. I am angry that you not only refuse to listen to voice of reason but you persisted in the folly of your anger against Christian belief….”
Mr. Olumide can freely propagate his believe that Jesus is God and that ‘fact’ is publish in the skies, but I cannot say Christmas is against my belief as a Muslim. I wasn’t given the opportunity to respond to the mad man. I actually made a comment, but myself and my comment were deleted by an admin. My respond to this pathetic imbecile is this:
- Every Muslim has a problem believing Jesus is God, not only me, why would you have thought otherwise Mr Admin? Moreover, whether Jesus was the son of God or not did not came up in our earlier discussion.
- The position you refer to as IRRATIONAL and UNINTELLIGIBLE is the ISLAMIC position and thank you for insulting my believe Mr. Tolerant Admin.
- Is the voice of reasoning you referred to, your voice of reasoning? Mr. Admin, I thought we were supposed to accommodate diverse opinions? I guess I was wrong Mr. Tolerant Christian.
- I never said Muslims should not greet Christians well, I said greeting Merry Christmas goes against Islamic teachings. And I am on record urging Muslims to be tolerant, charitable and kind to Christians year round and not only in December.
I was deleted because they could not bully or talk me into being liberal or into Christianity. I am a Muslim and I would not apologise for upholding the fundamentals of my religion. Those who claim to be tolerant only understand the word to the limit in which it benefits them. The whole essence of the group is to gather Muslims who are liberal, remove the Islam in them with sweet words and anybody that opposes them is thrown out. As Olumide Adeyinka said to another Muslim brother “You are still a member of the group until you proved we do not need you”.
I have no problem with Christians or followers of any other religion for that matter. As I said there and now, I was a Christian most part of my life, I have more Christians in my family than Muslims. I grew up playing football with friends and neighbours who were all Christians, lived and schooled with Christians and now work with Christians. I have no reason to be intolerant and aggressive toward Christians because I am not Evangelist Isang Udo-Akagha who has taken up a profession of insulting Islam and Muslims on Facebook.
Religious tolerance is about allowing others to hold believes that goes contrary to yours. This does not mean that you should change or amend your belief to align with an opposing one, it just require that competing beliefs be allowed to exist. The charlatans removed me from the group not because I was insulting, aggressive or intolerant, but because they don’t like what I believed in.
So by definition, at least two of the Admin of the group that claims to be bridging gap between Muslims and Christians are in fact intolerant. And a conscious Muslim have no business being in a group that is administered by persons who display outright disregard and disrespect to Islam and Muslims.
According to the last available statistics I saw, the total number of Facebook users in Nigeria is about 4.4 million, which is about 2.87% of the total population of the country. This figure is expected to rise further as the 9.94% of internet users is expected to increase. And remember, Nigeria is the only country in the world to have a President that takes advice from his Facebook page. Facebook is being exploited by anti Islam elements to rape Islam. If you doubt this, visit Vanguard News Facebook page and view comments on news title that relates to Northern Nigeria or Islam. Or better still just visit Evangelist Isang Udo-Akagha Facebook page. A visit will convince you.
If there must be genuine reconciliation in Nigeria, a country that has suffered from several religious crises, any effort made should be sincere and not run by charlatans who are themselves swimming in an ocean of ignorance and intolerance.
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