Islam: "Authentic" or "Fanatical"
Joseph Kenny, O.P.
In the mid 20th century Catholics in the United States were under suspicion that they did not really respect religious freedom, and that as soon as they could take over they would bring the Pope to the White House and make Catholicism the established religion. It took a lot of theologizing and Vatican II for the Church to formulate a clear position on religious freedom for all the world to hear. That and the presidency of J.F. Kennedy largely dispelled this anti-Catholic sentiment.
The attacks by Muslims on New York and Washington D.C. were the culmination of waves of violence around the world that have tagged Muslims as perpetrators of violence. In Indonesia Muslims go on the rampage against East Timor and other islands. In Mindanao guerilla groups take hostages. Suicide bombers strike in the Middle East and against American embassies and ships. So some conclude that after the fall of the Soviet Union Islam is the last remaining menace to civilization.
It helps little that countless Muslims live peaceful lives and many Muslim leaders denounce terrorist attacks and declare that these are against the religion of Islam. Thousands of other Muslim preachers defend terror and trampling on the religious rights of others by imposing Sharî`a. At the news of the New York bombings, Muslims danced in the streets in Palestine and in Gusau, Nigeria. In Kano and Jos (also in Nigeria) they came out of the mosque on Friday shouting "Allahu akbar" and proceeded to burn churches and attack Christians, leaving hundreds dead. In Bahawalpur, Pakistan, gunmen fired on worshippers in St. Dominic's church. Is this the work of a fanatical fringe? There is a history of ambiguity about violence in Islam. Intolerant views can be found in the 9th century traditions about Muhammad with regard war, as well as in later, medieval and modern treatises on Islamic government and treatment of non-Muslims.
One often gets the impression that Muslim "moderates" are a beleaguered minority. Yet they are there, and many of them are courageously vocal.
This raises two fundamental questions: (1) What is the meaning of violence for Muslims in Girardian terms, and (2) "What is authentic Islam; what does it really stand for?"
The meaning violence has for the Muslim community
The Qur'ân has an image of God that is more transcendent and purified of anthropomorphisms than the Bible. There is no provision for ritual sacrifice. True, animals are slaughtered at Îd al-adhâ, at the time of the pilgrimage, but this is done without any connotation of offering them to God or of the animal in any way bearing the guilt and sins of the people. The words rabbana qabbal min-nâ (Receive from us) can only refer to the reception of the intention and obedience of those carrying out this ritual.
Similarly, the Islamic community has rejected the Khârijite view that a non-practicing Muslim is not a Muslim. This restricts the death penalty or scapegoating to cases of apostasy and proven adultery or murder. As for the status of unbelievers within reach of Muslim power, Islam does not go for the kill but, like the animal world, for a position of dominance. Once the unbelieving Jews or Christians submit to Muslim supremacy, they are left in peace.
Muslims today generally explain fighting the outsider as the reaction against victimization by the Western world. But the classical constitutional theorists regard the whole world as rightfully belonging to Islam and advocate its conquest to the extent that this is possible . Whether as an act of defence or an act of aggression against a recalcitrant West, the bombing of the twin towers was the destruction of an icon of the enemy, similar to the destruction of the firstborn of the Egyptians in Exodus. The suicide bombers also were willing sacrifice victims and heroes.
What is "authentic Islam"?
In trying to ascertain what is authentic Islam, we have Ben Ladan on the one hand, and Muhammad Sa`îd al-`Ashmâwî on the extreme opposite, with a whole range of intermediate positions, all of them claiming with absolute conviction to represent correct, authentic Islam.
Both "moderates" and "fanatics" use the same Qur'ân and tradition and try to present their views as the correct Islam. The fanatics are not irrational. They are very rational and very logical. Only their premises and mode of interpretation are selective and closed to any accommodation with what lies outside Islam. Moderates also are selective, but in a different direction. How can we determine what Islam really is?
The first place any Muslim of whatever tendency will turn to, in order to justify his stance, is the Qur'ân. Unfortunately, the Qur'ân can lend itself to quite divergent interpretations. Brilliant exegetical studies, for example, those of Sayyid Qutb and Muhammad Talbi, make a good case for diametrically opposing views on the question of religious freedom. We can say the same of the New Testament, where Catholics and Protestants give widely divergent interpretations on many questions. But the Catholic Church has a magisterium to decide what is Catholic and what is not.
The problem is that Islam has no magisterium. Apart from Shî`ism, where the imâm can issue an infallible fatwâ, the Sunnite majority of Muslims are one with Protestants in having nothing more than private interpretation of Scripture. The views of some scholars may be respected, and in Islamic society the views of one school of thought can exert a considerable moral pressure, but fundamentally every Muslim is free to follow any interpretation he likes.
The problem is complicated by the theory of naskh (abrogation). The classical commentaries on the Qur'ân usually say that Meccan verses advocating religious toleration are abrogated by âya al-qitâl (the verse of the sword, 9:35), which advocates fighting unbelievers. Some contemporary Muslims want to get beyond the theory of abrogation and consider more carefully the historical context of Qur'ânic verses, but scholarship in this area is far from approaching what we have seen of Jewish and Christian higher criticism.
By tradition we can mean Hadîth, the written collections of sayings attributed to Muhammad, which are commonly accorded the status of revelation on the basis that everything that Muhammad said or did was guided by God and constitutes a model for all to follow.
The great collections of legal Hadîth, as well as the historical Hadîth, including the biography of Muhammad, were written down about two centuries after the death of Muhammad. Not only is the historical authenticity of much Hadith questioned, but it is clear that it represents the development of Islam in a certain direction conditioned by historical circumstances. By the 9th or 10th century Sunni Islam had developed a legal and theological profile that, with divergences of opinion on points of detail, was well defined and consistent and would last as the mainstream view for centuries, until it was challenged by various modernizing as well as fundmentalizing tendencies from the end of the 19th century. The result is Islam in a variety of forms:
- Mainstream Sunni Islam-tolerant of Christians in many ways, but highly restrictive, as can dramatically be seen in the writings of at-Turtűshî and ash-Shaybânî. It is incompatible with democracy and several stipulations of the U.N. Charter on Human Rights. This is what most Sharî`a proponents in Nigeria want to establish.
- Various dissident movements of early Islam-Khârijism is the most noteworthy, but there are many more, some of which inspire contemporary movements.
- Modernism-a movement mostly of the 20th century. Much of it was an attempt simply to put modern (Western) technology and educational methods at the disposition of traditional mainstream Islam, but some thinkers attempted to revise mainstream Islam itself, going behind its 9th century "freezing" (juműd) to read the Qur'ân anew in view of the exigencies of the present time. There have been many such innovating thinkers, and most of them have suffered backlash from representatives of the traditional mainstream.
- Neo-fundamentalism-Harking back to Ahmad ibn-Hanbal and Ibn-Taymiyya, the current movement has its guru in the late Sayyid Qutb (d. 1966). He not only was more intolerant of Christians than mainstream Islam, but also condemned most present-day Muslim leaders as apostates for diluting Sharî`a with Western secular norms of government. Ben Ladan is only the latest in a series of people who develop and put into practice the teachings of Sayyid Qutb.
How to deal with Muslim fanaticism
No doubt, aggression must be resisted, and military operations may sometimes be necessary. More orderly countries, such as Egypt, contain extremists within their borders, while others, like Algeria, have not been able to assure basic security.
Yet, ultimately, military repression will not change the minds of fanatics. The battle for minds has to be fought on the level of the mind. That is why Muslims who are opposed to terror and social repression in the name of religion need to engage in a doctrinal ijtihâd (theological aggiornamento), the form of jihad that is most urgent today. A systematic campaign must be carried on by Muslims among Muslims to come to a position that has a place for reasonable self-defence, but condemns the type of terror we have been witnessing and the trampling on the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike where politically ambitious Muslim clerics gain control.
The U.S. and other concerned countries would gain more by promoting this jihad, than by military operations. But western governments can only indirectly be involved in a Muslim doctrinal exercise, since it is not their competency. Nevertheless, they are politically compelled to make certain statements that have a bearing on relations with the Muslim community and how non-Muslims should or should not react to provocation.
President Bush and "authentic Islam"
Bush and many of his officials have declared (1) that authentic Islam is fully compatible with the American way of life enshrined in the Constitution, and (2) that the followers of Ben Ladan do not represent true Islam. The Organization of Islamic Conference, representing 52 countries, has backed up the second point.
Bush's statements are aimed first against hate-crimes against Muslims in the United States. Most of these would reject Ben Ladan's violence. American freedoms and democracy are something they want to enjoy or even exploit in the U.S., but it is questionable if they would support the same for non-Muslims in Islamic countries. Bush is secondly trying to enlist the support or at least neutralize the opposition of Muslim countries in his present war.
In any case, if the views of the majority of Muslims or the views preached in the mosques represent "authentic Islam", Bush and leaders of his coalition countries may be engaged in wishful thinking- especially in the face of millions of Muslims in Indonesia, Pakistan and Nigeria who are out in the streets waving the flag of Ben Ladan.
Pope John-Paul II and "authentic Islam"
In Astana, Kazakhstan, on 24 Sept 2001 the Pope declared, "I wish to reaffirm the Catholic Church's respect for Islam, for authentic Islam: the Islam that prays, that is concerned for those in need. Recalling the errors of the past, including the most recent past, all believers ought to unite their efforts to ensure that God is never made the hostage of human ambitions. Hatred, fanaticism and terrorism profane the name of God and disfigure the true image of man."
This statement should be taken in the context of his previous remarks: "Consequently-even in the context of a soundly secular state, which is obliged in any event to guarantee to each citizen, without distinction of sex, race and nationality, the fundamental right to freedom of conscience-there is a need to acknowledge and defend the right of believers to bear public witness to their faith. Authentic religious practice cannot be reduced to the private sphere or narrowly restricted to the edges of society. The beauty of the new houses of worship which are beginning to rise up almost everywhere in the new Kazakhstan is a precious sign of spiritual rebirth and a sign of promise for the future."
The Pope is here asking Muslims to focus on certain fundamental principles in the Qur'ân and Islamic tradition which the Catholic Church, and hence Christ and God himself, respects. Clearly, he is appealing to Muslims to carry these principles in a direction different from much of historical Islam, one that recognizes full freedom of conscience. While praising the "multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society of Kazakhstan", and warning against "slavish conformity to Western culture", he is advocating an Islam that is profoundly religious, both privately and publicly, and at the same time one that is fully in tune with internationally recognized norms of human rights and religious freedom.
The Pope's "authentic Islam", unlike that of Bush and the politicians, is not the school of thought of the majority or of a particular minority of Muslims, but the Islam of thosewho profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day. —Lumen Gentium, 16who worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has also spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God's plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, his virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting." —Nostra aetate, 3
This Vatican II summary of the fundamentals of Islamic Faith (usűl ad-dîn), based on the Qur'ân, has not been disputed by Muslims. Building on these texts, the Pope goes on to declare that hatred, fanaticism, terrorism are incompatible with "authentic" Islam. Here he is clearly differing with many Muslims in the past and in the present who use the Qur'ân to justify violence.
Yet, in stating what Islam is, and in practice should not be, he is not speaking from the standpoint of a historian of what Islam, mainstream or otherwise, has been or is in the present. Nor is he speaking from the standpoint of a jurist, who would survey the mass of Qur'ânic exegesis, Hadîth, and fiqh literature and then issue a fatwâ. His words are definitely inspired by the Gospel, yet he is not speaking simply as a Christian theologian.
Rather, as successor of Peter, with his mind grounded in the Gospel and Catholic tradition, he is speaking the mind of Christ. He is addressing Muslims who, like Protestants, have sacred texts, but no magisterium. He is speaking like Christ who talked to the crowds not like the Scribes and Pharisees, but with authority. Just as Christ, without saying who he was or by what authority he spoke, addressed the crowds with words of obvious truth that touched their hearts, likewise the Pope's vision of authentic Islam has found a ready welcome in many Muslim listeners.
Enough has been said about dialogue and its various kinds in documents coming from Rome. I want focus on three approaches to dialogue which have come into prominence in the past year or two:
1. A positive outreach
Catholics have an advantage over other Christians in relation to Muslims because of the respect for Muslims expressed in Vatican II in so many gestures shown by the Pope, the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and by leaders of local churches. For instance, for the `Îd al-fitr at the end of the last Ramadan, Archbishop Okogie sent greetings to the Muslims in Lagos. Catholic institutions in Nigeria also have a record of respecting Muslim consciences in providing them opportunity to pray and not imposing Christian worship or instruction on them. Muslims have generally noted this Catholic attitude and responded positively.
In contrast, most non-Catholic Christians (at least in Nigeria) believe that Muslims have no chance of salvation unless they become Christians, and they have little or no regard for the value of their faith and trust in God, their prayer and fasting, and the goodness of their lives in the sight of God.
The dialogical pastoral visits of Pope John Paul II to Cairo, Damascus, Kazakhtan etc. are a marvel of meetings with Muslims on a profound, positive, evangelical and theological level. The method and manner of these meetings needs careful study and imitation elsewhere. In Kazakhtan, having previously greeted Muslim leaders, at the Mass of 23 Sept. he talked immediately of the one God acknowledged by Christians and Muslims. Then he talked about the one Mediator, whose kenotic love—becoming poor for our sake—brings together Christians and Muslims, who are united as citizens of this world and the next. Finally he commended Christians and non-Christians alike to Mary. At Mass the next day he declared:
The Church has no wish to impose her own faith on others. It is clear, however, that this does not exempt the Lord's disciples from communicating to others the great gift which they have received: life in Christ. "We should not fear that it will be considered an offence to the identity of others what is rather is the joyful proclamation of a gift meant for all, and to be offered to all with the greatest respect for the freedom of each one: the gift of the revelation of the God who is love" (Novo millennio ineunte, n. 56). The more we bear witness to the love of God the more that love grows in our hearts.
The Pope's call to fast for peace in solidarity with the Muslims at the beginning of the Ramadân fast on 14 December 2001 was a powerful gesture that was noted on the front page of the Cairo newspaper, al-Ahrâm. The same may be said of his series of Assisi meetings with leaders of the world religions.
2. Personal relations
The approach of the Focolare and of the Sant Egidio group is another marvelous way of meeting Muslims which needs study and imitation. Chiara Lubich, the founder of Focolare, came into contact with non-Christian religions only recently. Her simple basic approach is to put God first, loving him and then everyone else as brothers and sisters, being the first to take a step to show practical love to others, and doing so at self-cost or sacrifice (= the cross). She looks for and finds these values in all religions. This approach found a ready welcome among Muslims. We have her statement:I was also in Harlem; I spoke in the mosque of Harlem. Such a brotherhood was created. I felt as if I had always known them - many of you were present - Imams, dignitaries, some with their wives - what a deep impression they made on me! What dignity, what intelligence, what superiority, what wisdom! It was beautiful. That meeting marked the beginning of our friendship with this Movement. But it's more than a friendship; we're really brothers and sisters.
We also have the statement of Warith Deen Mohammed, leader of the Muslim American Society:I have admired the more recent Popes for a long time. I never saw Christianity as I am beginning to see it now, seeing the Popes having an interest in humanity and showing it. I'm sure that interest has always been there in the Church, in the Catholic leadership, but then to see them in the press, on TV, going to different parts of the world, speaking to Catholics, but not just for Catholicism but for the betterment of human beings, for better human conditions all over the world.... And that's what I believe God wants, and that's what I believe all religions should be about: serving human life, spiritual life, so that people will be in a better condition, a better situation to manage this heavy responsibility to relieve misery.I am very proud of this, and it's not just me. For some reason, I believe other members of other religions who see the Catholic Church in this new vigorous activity going on all over the world—and the Pope is leading it—I think those people too have to be drawn into this spirit. It's powerful! He represents nations, not just one nation.So when I met him, I met that great man. What did I experience personally? I thanked God because I know where I came from and it was almost like a blessing from heaven for me to be received in the Vatican by the Pope. That was a very, very special experience.To be truthful, the first time I saw him there was the feeling: "I don't know if he knows me. I don't know if he is comfortable with me." But the second time when I was invited with other religious leaders to be there, I didn't feel that at all. He looked me right in my eyes and I saw love. I saw love and I wanted to kiss his hand, but we don't do that. I did embrace him. I greeted him as I would greet a Muslim leader of high order, of high respect and high esteem, a highly revered person, and I also greeted him with love and affection. And that is what I got from Chiara Lubich and the Focolare Movement. I love him because of you all. I respect him because of my knowledge; I love him because of you.
3. Dialogue of protest
A less obvious, but necessary form of dialogue is imposed on Christians in areas where they suffer restrictions of their human and religious rights at the hands of Muslims. Here a "dialogue of complaint" or protest is required. The Pope himself has complained about the tragic situation in Sudan and on events in the North of Nigeria. The most recent example is his reaction to the massacre of Christians in Pakistan on 28 Oct 2001.His Holiness Pope John Paul II has learned with the deepest sadness about the terrible violence in a Catholic Church at Bahawalpur in the diocese of Multan when a group of armed men fired on Christians gathered there in prayer. Expressing his absolute condemnation of this further tragic act of intolerance, His Holiness asks Your Excellency to convey his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims whom he commends to the Lord. He expresses his prayerful closeness to all affected by this evil act and as a pledge of comfort and strength he invokes upon the entire community the Blessings of Almighty God.Cardinal ANGELO SODANO Secretary of State
This is a pioneer area of dialogue, for which Rome has provided few guidelines, but nevertheless needs to be developed, so that it will yield positive results.
In Nigeria we have experienced numerous Muslim attacks on Christians, particularly in the North. These were organized, often with fighters bused in beforehand. We can note also the widespread applause for the bombing of the New York Trade Center, which was taken as a Muslim victory over Christians. And post-natal clinics in Kano a few months later reported that 9 of every 10 babies were named after Osama Ben Ladan. Even in Ibadan, the prevalent idea among the Muslim intelligentsia is that Ben Ladan is a hero against the United States which is waging war against Islam. Those who organized attacks on Christians in Nigeria, like those who organized the many political assassinations, are sacred cows, powerful enough to block any probe that would convict them.
The slaughter and destruction might have been much worse if the Christians in those areas were not prepared to put up some resistance. The Catholic youth in Jos prevented the cathedral from being torched, although the fathers' house was burned. In Ibadan the idea of preparing for such an eventuality was under consideration when what was "unthinkable" in the South occurred at Osogbo.
Here we have to be aware of the replay of an old strategy: To assure Islamic rule in the North is to assure its imposition on the whole Federation. Gowon's division into states seemed to shatter this dream. But the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria have not surrendered the Middle Belt, without which they cannot control the Federation. The attacks on Christians, particularly the driving of the Tiv out of Nasarawa and Taraba states, are a means of reducing opposition to the introduction of Sharî`a in those states.
Other factors in religious tension: the Nigerian example
Many volumes could be written about Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria, particularly historical and area studies, and I do not intend to repeat the whole history here. The focus of the paper is the pastoral approach to the contemporary situation, that of the 4th Republic. This is fairly complicated and is constantly developing. Some of what I say will necessarily recapitulate some earlier studies I did on the same topic, but most of it will be new.
The Obasanjo regime thus far
After an Abacha period of relative peace, like Yugoslavia under Tito, when there was an absence of religious riots and positive cooperation between Muslims and Christians over the Abiola case, the Obasanjo regime has seen an exacerbation and repeated explosions of inter-religious tensions.
Obasanjo made a good beginning by purging the upper ranks of the army of dangerous representatives of caliphate hegemony who had dominated the army since the time of Murtala Muhammad. But, just as these interests prevailed during Obasanjo's first tenure as military successor of Murtala Muhammad (with 'Yar Addu'a calling the shots), so during his civilian tenure he has not been able to contain them.
The first test was the familiar call for Sharî`a law, with the new strategy of instituting on the state level what failed on the national level. Zamfara loudly and buffoonly started it, daring the Federal Government to intervene. It did not. The farce spread throughout the North.
Then came a series of religious, ethnic or ethno-religious riots:
- Itsekiri versus Urhobo, June 1999; 200 killed.
- Ojo, Ibadan, June 1999, Yoruba versus Hausa; 20 killed.
- Sagamu, 18 July 1999 between Yoruba and Hausa over transgression of Oro festival taboos; over 120 killed.
- Owo, September 1999, conflict of parties over Olowo's stool; over 10 killed.
- Ajegunle, October 1999, Yoruba OPC versus Ijaw Egbesu Boys over robbery case; many killed.
- Ketu Mile 12 market, 25 November 1999, Yoruba versus Shukura yam sellers over market royalties; 114 killed.
- Burutu and Odi, November 1999, soldiers' invasion; hundreds killed.
- Kaduna, February 2000, Sharî`a riot; over 1600 killed.
- Aba etc., February 2000, Bakassi Boys against Hausa in reprisal attacks; 150 killed.
- Alaba International Market, 13 July 2000, OPC versus Igbo traders over control of the market.
- Lagos, July 2000, OPC versus police; 50 killed.
- Ajegunle, 15 October 2000, OPC versus Hausa over case of stealing; over 100 killed.
- Jos, September 2001, indigenous versus Hausa; 500 killed.
- Kano, October 2001, Hausa versus others, over Ben Ladan; over 300 killed.
- Benue/Taraba/Nasarawa, October 2001, Tiv versus Jukun and soldiers; 300 killed.
- Osogbo, January 2002, Muslims burn three churches and kill one man, protesting a Bonnke rally.
- Idi-Araba, Lagos in the first week of February 2002 (seemingly Yoruba-Hausa, it started with a Yoruba boy defecating near a Hausa mosque).
- Mambilla Plateau, second week of February 2002, local people against Fulani, killing 96.
Religious tension compounded by other problems
The deep crisis now gripping Nigeria involves such a breadth of problems that religious tension seems to fade into the background.
There is the disgraceful conduct of elected officials, who loot the national, state and local government wealth and engage in armed conflict with their rivals, issuing in numerous assassinations, the latest being that of Bola Ige. While armed bandits operate with impunity, there is the total lack of popular confidence in the police. These were off the road for a few months after Obasanjo came in, but are now back to intimidating the public and cooperating with criminals, forcing the formation of alternate vigilante organizations with their own potential for tyranny. As a result of corrupt military and civilian leadership, with the crushing of the moral resistance of Christian education by the take-over of the schools in the 1970s, an ethics of get-rich by any means has taken over the general public. For example, exam malpractice has become so serious that in a university it is a herculean task to invigilate an exam. Even in seminary exams cheating is now regularly discovered. Pentecostal churches cater to this mentality and feed on it by their prosperity gospel. The Catholic Church itself, the strongest moral bastion in Nigeria (and the world), is punctured when it comes to the conscience of many of its members.
Intolerance of religious differences is a reality in itself, apart from any other factor in the equation. It presupposes a conviction that one is right and the others are wrong, but this in itself does not equate intolerance. Intolerance adds to this conviction a compulsion to exclude all dissent from society by means of various penal measures, with the idea that conformity eventually engenders conviction.
Apart from religious intolerance in the strict sense, we are all well aware that people of scant real religious conviction manipulate religion for other ends. Thus Archbishop Onayekan has stated that political jostling is the dominant factor in the push for government establishment of Sharî`a.
The ethnic factor is closely linked to the struggle between the north and the south of Kaduna State. As for the economic factor, the caliphate interest in federal power is largely connected with its interest in the nation's oil wealth. If it were not for the presence of this attraction, earlier threats of secession may have had more real intent.
Commentators on the crisis in relations between the Muslim and the non-Muslim world tend to focus on either of two factors:
- The injustices that Muslims, particularly the Palestinians, have suffered: It is assumed, once wrongs are righted and Muslims are treated with respect, that cordial relations will ensue.
My reply to this is to point out that whatever political solution is agreed upon by the majority of Muslims, there will be some among the objectors who are prepared to sabotage the settlement by action such as suicide bombing.
- There are many Muslims who:
- easily resort to violence to settle their grievances,
- see any enemy interest, such as the lives of civilians, as a legitimate target, often justifying this by accusing the enemy of having done the same to them,
- still adhere to the view of classical constitutional theorists that Muslim powers (dâr al-islâm) should attack non-Muslim territories (dâr al-harb) in order to impose Islamic rule on them.
So many commentators conclude that Islam is intrinsically violent.
My reply is that, although the facts on the ground are not reassuring, the position of these Muslims, even though grounded in Hadîth, is not necessary to Islam. Many other Muslims are opposed to it, and the mind of the Muslim world is in a state of ferment and ijtihâd. We have to give Muslims a chance to evolve and redefine their position in the contemporary world. Although this task is theirs, we can assist them by our respect, patience and dialogue.
My conclusion is that we should try to meet the legitimate aspirations of Muslims in society. At the same time we have to resist Muslim aggression, whether in the form of suicide bombing or the imposition of Sharî`a on non-Muslims. Such resistance has to be restrained and selective, so as to belie the accusation that we are waging war against the Muslim community. Furthermore, we have to reach out to Muslims not merely on the level of economics, politics and culture, but also on the religious level, which is paramount to them. Here competent religious leaders have an important role to play. We have to go beyond the situation on the web, where most of the material is either pro-Islamic or anti-Islamic propaganda, and develop dialogue fora along the lines proposed and actualized by the Vatican, the World Council of Churches and some Muslim-Jewish-Christian associations.
See my Views on Christian-Muslim relations (Lagos: Dominican Publications, 1999).
Islam and the political order (Washington D.C.: C.R.V.P., 1994); Against Islamic extremism: the writings of M. S. al-`Ashmâwî (U. Press of Florida, 1998); Usűl ash-sharî`a (Cairo, 1996); al-Khilâfa al-islâmiyya (Cairo, 1996).
Qur’ân commentary: `Alâ-dill al-Qur’ân (Cairo).
“Religious liberty: a Muslim perspective,” in my Views on Christian-Muslim relations (Lagos: Dominican Publications, 1999).
Sirâj al-mulűk, written c. 1120 (Cairo, 1935).
Kitâb as-siyar al-kabîr (804 AD) with commentary of as-Sarakhsî (1090 AD), 3 vols. (Cairo, 1958-1960.
See a commentary by Peter Musa in Vanguard, 18 February 2002.
I have written much on the subject. Most of what is in this and the following footnotes is accessible on my website: http://nig.op.org/kenny: with E.O. Oyelade, “Changes in Christian-Muslim relations since Independence,” Nigerian Dialogue, n.2 (1977), 6-10. “Christian-Muslim relations in Nigeria,” Islamochristiana (Rome), N.5(1979), 171-192. “Nigeria: three significant events for Muslim-Christian relations,” Islamochristiana, N. 6 (1980), 238 ff.. “Christians and Muslims in Nigeria. A case of competitive sharing,” Nigerian Dialogue, n.4 (1982), 5-8. “Religious movements in Nigeria, divisive or cohesive? Some interpretative models,” Orita, 16:2 (1984), 111-128. “Shari’a in Nigeria,” Bulletin on Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (Birmingham), 4:1 (1986), 1-21, and the French: “La Shari’a au Nigeria: Aperçu historique,” Bulletin - L’Islam et les relations islamo-chretiennes en Afrique, 4:1 (1986), 1-22. “The Shari’a question in Nigeria: A historical survey,” Ch. 11 in E. Ikenga Metuh (ed.), The gods in retreat: Continuity and change in African religion (Enugu. Fourth Dimension Publishers, 1986), 245-256; Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa, Christianity and Islam in dialogue (Cape Coast, 1987), pp. 30-37 (followed by my “Sharî`a: Implications for the Church in West Africa”, pp. 37-50; in C.S. Momoh (ed.), Religions & their doctrines, vol. 1 of Nigerian Studies in Religious Tolerance (Lagos: Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization, & National Association for Religious Tolerance, 1989), 337-345. The O.I.C. in Nigeria: the press debate. Shalom (Oraifite), 4:3 (1986), 130-150. “The economic dimension of Islam in West African history,” in Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa, Christianity and Islam in dialogue (Cape Coast, 1987), 84-90; later revised for Orita 27 (1995), 90-98. “Arab aid and influence in tropical Africa,” in Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa, Christianity and Islam in dialogue (Cape Coast, 1987), 77-83. The spread of Islam through North to West Africa 7th to 19th centuries, a historical survey with relevant Arab documents (Lagos: Dominican Publications, 2000). “The Shari’a question in Nigeria: A historical survey,” in C.S. Momoh (ed.), Religions & their doctrines, vol. 1 of Nigerian Studies in Religious Tolerance (Lagos, Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization, & National Association for Religious Tolerance, 1989), 337-345.
Islam-Christian dialog ─ a conversation. Listening, Current Studies in Dialog, 2:3 (1967), 214-221. Reassessment of apostolate among Muslims. International Review of Mission, Vol. 39 (1970), 32-38. Towards better understanding of Muslims and Christians. Nigerian Journal of Islam, Vol. 2 (1971-72), N. 1, 51-54. with S.B. Mala, “Designing courses on dialogue,” Orita, 18:2 (1986), 103-106. “Pastoral aspects of relations with Muslims” ─ Written for Consultation of the Christian Councils in West Africa on Christian-Muslim Relations, Monrovia, 25-28 November 1984 ─ Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa, Christianity and Islam in dialogue (Cape Coast, 1987), pp. 185-8. L’Eglise et l’Islam en Afrique de l’ouest au XXe siecle (avec une reference particuličre au Nigeria), in G. Ruggieri (ed.), Eglise et Histoire de l’Eglise en Afrique (Paris: Beauchesne, 1988), 189-215. “La foi chretienne en dialogue avec l’Islam,” Quelle Eglise pour l’Afrique du troisičme millenaire? Actes du XVIIIe Semaine Théologique de Kinshasa (Kinshasa. Les Facultés Catholiques, 1991), 165-184. “Chrétiens en dialogue avec les musulmans,” Colombe (Kinshasa, exact issue, 1992?). “Religious freedom: the basis of dialogue,” Encounter, Documents for Muslim-Christian understanding (Rome) (1992), n.181-182 (January-February). ─ first given at a Conference at O.A.U. in Dec. 1989. “The challenge of Islam in Nigeria,” West African Journal of Ecclesial Studies, 4 (1992), 46-58 ─ incorporates “The dynamism of Islam in West Africa” (for AECAWA, 1986) with an earlier talk to the Ibadan North deanery. Programme for studies of Islam by Christians at different levels, for AECAWA & PROCMURA ─ published in Procmura, 5:? (199?). “The Islamic solution to the problem of Nigeria in distress, a critique of the Islamic perspective,” Glory Magazine, 10:1 (1997), 13 (the editor messed up the title). West Africa & Islam: a little encyclopaedia of history, beliefs, practices & Christian attitudes (Association of Episcopal Conferences of West Africa, 1996). A French version (with a different historical section) is also to come out: Les musulmans nos voisins: leur histoire, croyances et pratiques & comment se comporter avec eux. Kinshasa. Les Facultés Catholiques de Kinshasa.
Some unpublished papers are: “Formation of Dominicans in a Muslim environment: Ibadan,” for Journées Romaines Dominicaines, 1977; “The Church and Islam in Nigeria,” November 1977; “Islam, a social and political force in Nigeria today,” 1985; “Dominicans and Muslims in Nigeria,” Report for Journées Romaines Dominicaines, September 1989; “Islam and politics in Nigeria: the aborted Third Republic,” 1994.
See Vanguard, 8 Feb. 2002.