By Hussaina Ishaya Audu
In June 2014, the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) speaking through its Secretary-General, Eyad Ameen Madani, distanced Islam from Boko Haram. Madani stated emphatically and categorically that Boko Haram ‘has absolutely nothing to do with Islam, Islamic teachings, the religion of Islam, the history, the culture, the civilisation of Islam, and we should identify them for what they are as a terrorist group.’
In response to this, officials of CAN insisted that the OIC could not so conveniently distance itself from Boko Haram. Both the CAN Secretary General, Rev. Musa Ayake and the CAN Director of Planning, Research and Development, Sunday Oibe stated in an interview with This Day (4 June, 2014) that because Boko Haram’s intention is to convert Nigeria to an Islamic State, and because Boko Haram carries out its business in the name of Allah, Boko Haram cannot be said to be un-Islamic or anti-Islamic.
I find this line of logic to be disappointingly defective and these statements by CAN officials to be unnecessarily contrary. It is a fundamental Christian principle that “You shall know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:16) Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, ‘”Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” In other words, I can claim to be a Christian all I like, but if my utterances and my actions do not validate my profession of faith then I am a liar, a hypocrite, a heretic, or all three. Or, I am deceived – hitch is why it is entirely possible to declare that Jesus is Lord and still not enter the kingdom of heaven.
If this is true of Christianity, why not of Islam? The OIC may not have declared the haramists to be infidels per se, but they have, at least, taken a stand, and have taken steps to define the true nature and character of Islam and to say that Boko Haram’s actions and utterances are inconsistent with Islam as presented in the Qur’an and Hadiths. Because the character of Islam is being severely maligned by terrorist groups acting in the name of Allah, Muslims are having to defend their faith and speak out against terrorist activities that tarnish the Muslim Faith. Just recently, Saudi Arabia has distanced itself from ISIS. The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud Al-Faisal said: “We have unequivocally condemned the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) as a terrorist group.” It is disappointing that the OIC did not endorse this sentiment unambiguously although it did call on all Islamic nations to reject ‘sectarian politics’.
On Tuesday, Femi Aribisala writing in the Vanguard explained ‘Why Christians must stop supporting Israel against the Palestinians.’ While, on an ordinary day, I most certainly do not agree with Aribisala’s theology, I do agree that Christians ought not to defend the indefensible. Or keep silent in the face of glaring injustice. That is why I believe it is time for CAN to speak out against atrocities being committed by Israel. Rather than being rankled that the OIC distanced itself from Boko Haram, we ought to borrow a leaf from them and from those in the Muslim world who have the courage to denounce actions which are anti-Islamic.
Christianity does have a biblical affinity with Judaism and with Israel. Jesus was a Jew, after all, and the Jews gave us our Old Testament. Perhaps there is also some guilt within Christendom for the resounding silence of the Church during the massacre of six million Jews accused of being ‘Christ killers’ during the Holocaust. However, these should not cloud our objectivity as Christians to stand up for what is right and denounce what is wrong. We must stop looking at the world through a defective lens that skews perspectives and distorts reality. It is time to speak out against Israel’s slaughter of innocent civilians. It is also time to condemn Hamas’ tactic of using civilians as human shields. We must speak out against the persecution of Iraqi Christians by ISIS and the murder of over 500 Iraqi Christians in just one week. We must look at the big picture – the whole picture, and not just the portion that supports our prejudices.
Ms. Ishaya Audu, a lawyer and a school administrator, resides in Abuja