The narrative of Inter-Faith; beyond the stereotype

A few years ago some airports in Nigeria were undergoing rehabilitation; this resulted in manual security check on the luggage of passengers. In one of my trips during the security check, a group of nuns were searched as well as their luggage; a young man said something really remarkable and I quote him “how can you search nuns like that, I would be scared to even touch them or their luggage”. He made the statement because he respects what they stand for but I wonder what he would have said if he witnessed the humiliation a pastor in his full regalia experienced at the airport when everything on him was searched even his BIBLE. He didn’t go through the ordeal for the reason he’s a pastor rather the country he represents. Nigeria was/has been on the news for stories like ‘419’, drug trafficking; hence any carrier of the green passport was a potential suspect. This stigma followed Nigerians everywhere they went and somehow Nigerians are trying to prove to the world that a minority doesn’t define the entire country.

We are experiencing a similar stereotype that isn’t just regional rather worldwide. I found myself introducing my friends or neighbours as Muslims but didn’t introduce others as Christians. While this may mean nothing on the surface but it has a deep implication. In a report written by the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies they found out that “Muslims are often identified simply as Muslims rather than as individuals or particular groups with distinct identities” (Moore et al., 2008). The world is experiencing a lot of radicalism and extremism; from Boko Haram, ISIS to the disappearance of teenage girls from the UK to Syria. There’s heightened tension and fear at the same time, Muslim parents are praying their kids don’t get radicalised, non-Muslims are becoming Islamophobic and Muslims are trying to prove to the world that their religion is peaceful and is against radicalism.

Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them during a protest against the elimination of a popular fuel subsidy that has doubled the price of petrol in Nigeria's capital Abuja, January 10, 2012. Nigerians took to the streets on Tuesday in growing numbers on the second day of protests against a sharp increase in petrol prices, piling pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan to reverse his removal of fuel subsidies.
Muslims pray while Christians form a protective human chain around them during a protest against the elimination of the fuel subsidy that had doubled the price of petrol in Nigeria January 10, 2012.

I attended a lecture yesterday organised by the Bradford Churches for Dialogue and Diversity on the theme ‘The Shaykh and Bishop: Faith and Creativity Bradford’. It was an enlightening session with a mixed crowd of Faith and Non-Faith participants with the Bishop and Shaykh chairing it. I took home a few points but the highlight was seeing the Bishop and the Shaykh coming together to discuss ways of promoting Inter-faith dialogue using creativity. The Bishop highlighted the following : –

  • We need to speak about justice regardless of religion, gender, sexual preference or skin colour. We shouldn’t be picky about it. The question is Who is justice?
  • When we choose who we speak up for as a result of the God we serve, we make Him (God) a ‘Local Tribal Deity’.

And the Shaykh who I found really interesting and funny highlighted the following : –

  • Most of the young people are not found in the mosque; hence he wonders where they get radicalised from? (In my Religion and Peacemaking class, I found out most young people can’t relate the teaching in the Mosque to contemporary issues hence they turn to the internet for answers which is popularly called Shaykh Google. Recent survey shows most of the young people get radicalised through the Internet). He cited the non-engagement of the younger generation in the Mosque as a challenge but said they are working on that but he doesn’t know when they will overcome it.
  • We need to speak about Religion not as victims or as perpetrators.

I think we all should be concerned about this situation. How can we have productive Inter-faith discussions? The truth is, we are all affected one way or the other. You are either at the sending (Non-Muslim) or receiving end (Muslim). Our various modes of worship, the way we communicate with God, the way we dress may be different but we all have the same colour of Blood. May this unite us even as we seek ways to resolve this issue.

 Loads of Love

JMAD

 Reference Titles

 Moore, K., P. Mason, and J. Lewis, 2008, Images of Islam in the UK: The Representation of British Muslims in the National Print News Media 2000-2008. Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies.

Photo Credit : Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

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Tomorrow may never come.

He was on her laps all day while she stroked his hair; he got lost in the cozy atmosphere. That was the position he took and he kind of got used to it, forgetting you can’t take coals in your laps and not get burned.” She said, The Philistines are upon you, Samson! And he awoke out of his sleep and said, I will go out as I have time after time and shake myself free. For Samson did not know that the Lord had departed from him” Judges 16 vs 20 AMV

This is a scene shot between 1050BC – 1000BC; I’ll give you two contemporary scenes shot in 2013AD. I’m sure you can relate to it.

SCENE 1

For some funny reason I’ve been experiencing some favour while travelling. On two occasions, I got to the airport 10 – 20 minutes before boarding and a little smile got me a seat. Well I tried that this year, got to the airport at about 9.10 a.m. for a 9.30 a.m. flight and got the shock of my life; The counter had been closed for boarding. Did I mention people were still boarding? You know it’s easier to take the news if the plane had taken off but to see it right in front of you, Oh Dear! I turned to a professional beggar, brought all my smiling tactics to the table, you know how ladies can instantly transform their faces to that of a baby, I did all that and it didn’t work on the guy. I needed to report to the office that day and that was the only flight available. By now you already know I missed the flight.

IMG_9150
How can this smile be resisted? lol

SCENE 2

I serve in the Youth Church and we’ve an intercessory prayer every Sunday from 6.30 – 6.45 a.m. and it’s compulsory. I’ve never made it to church by 6.30 but I usually get there by 6.40 a.m. and I start to run like someone practising for the next Olympics (Even on my heels). Thankfully I always get there a few minutes before 6.45 a.m. Well I kind of got used to that and it was working for me, until last Sunday I did the same routine and by the time I got there the prayers had ended and this is the love talk I got from my asst. co-ordinator “Chijioke, you know I love you, but you can’t serve today, every other person that was sent home last week was truly sorry too”. You don’t want to know how I felt.

In the scenes above, you’ll notice something. I had been doing the same things over and over again and it had been working but it didn’t make it right. You may just be like me but the difference is, your rope may be shorter and the consequences may be worse than mine. For as much as I took another flight the next day and I’ve another opportunity to get to church early, you may not have the same experience. Yours could just be the last opportunity and there won’t be time to change. Samson thought it was same ole same ole and we know what happened to him. Have we taken the Grace we’ve for granted?

We can relate this to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. He shall come like a “thief in the night”. This simply means at a time you’re not expecting Him. We may never know the exact time the thief will break into our home but we can secure our homes, same applies to our walk here on earth. We shouldn’t just get used to Mercy and Grace; therefore choose to live our lives anyhow.

Tomorrow

I may never know what you’ve been doing and getting away with but there’s an All Seeing God who knows it all and He’s asking you, how long will you continue? Take out time today, do a self-evaluation, and like I always say have a “Me” time. Be honest with yourself, come to think of it, you’ve lived a lie to the whole world; the least you owe yourself is the truth. Today if you read this post do not harden your heart. Tomorrow may just be too late.

Life

If you need to drop some habits, then go ahead and get rid of it. If you need to let go of your old way of life, then we could say this prayer together.

“Dear Lord I thank You for today. I’ve finally realised I’ve been on the wrong path and I’m sorry for shutting You out of my life all this while. I receive forgiveness through the Blood of Jesus. I am new in You and my life is meaningful. I thank You for Your Dear Son Jesus Christ and the price He paid on the cross for me”.

Enjoy your new life and build yourself up through the studying of the Word and join a good Bible – based church. See you on the other side.

Loads of Love.

JMAD.