By Femi Abbas
It may not be strange to say that the similitude of Islam and Muslims is like that of a snail and its shell. They share a common destiny and remain as inseparable as the sun and its beaming rays. None of them can afford to part with the other without dire consequences for mankind.
Today, as the world’s fastest growing religion, Islam has a population of about 1.8 billion adherents. This means that one in every five human beings on earth is a Muslim. But in concrete terms, where are those Muslims?
Islam totally personifies the divine legal substance that sustains the magnificent grandeur of the universe. That substance is fully embodied in the sacred Book called Qur’an which took 22 years (610-632) to be divinely revealed. Muslims, on the other hand, stand as the earthly agents that are supposed to showcase the norms of Islam through their intentions, utterances and conducts. Without Islam, there would have been no Muslims. And, without Muslims, Islam would have been consigned to permanent abstraction randomly tapping the imagination of mankind. But in the absence of playing their role as expected, can the Muslims be classified as worthy agents of that divine Message? This curious question has a tendency to provoke another vital question thus: Where are the Muslims?
Long before the Almighty Allah informed the Angels of His intention to create man and put him in charge of a terrestrial planet to be called the earth, Islam had been in existence.
Thus, contrary to the misconception of many uninformed people, Islam (meaning peace) had been in place before the creation of all elements that came to form the components of that planet. As a matter of fact, Islam was the harmony that held all the pre-Adam creatures together in a perfectly harmonious existence. Without that harmony, the primogenitor of mankind (Adam) would not have found a peaceful partnership, with his spouse (Hawa’u), in their worldly journey of destiny. Thus, it was with that harmony that made the unification of peace and man a promise for the continuity of the universe.
The Irony of Events
It is an irony that the world of Islam, especially in contemporary times, has turned a new phase at the instance of its adherents called Muslims. And, with that new phase, the falconer seems to have become estranged by the falcons. Muslims, like the shell of a snail are found everywhere but without Islam while the latter, as once prophesied by the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (SAW), is rapidly becoming a stranded orphan.
Now, Islam is like a snail without its protective shell. If that nonsuch religion is vividly and effectively present in any part of the world today, it is in the West. And, that confirms the fact that, in any situation, effective quality rather than idle quantity is what Islam needs to thrive as a divine religion.
Muslims in the West are not merely facing a day to day war from the antagonists of Islam, they are actually living with the furnace of that war on a permanent battle ground. All the raging wars against Islam today, as in the past few centuries, are from the West and their colonial dormies in Africa.
And, the provision of the arsenal used by the West to execute those wars is funded directly or indirectly by the so-called Muslim countries, especially those of the Middle East. And the bearers of the brunt of those wars are the non-Arab Muslims. In that case, where are the real Muslims?
The Muslim/Arab Countries
There are about 23 Muslim Arab countries in the world with a population of about 400 million people.
Most of those countries are situated in the Middle East and North Africa. Together, those countries control one fifth of the entire wealth in the world because of the enormous natural resources with which they are endowed. But in the quest for security other than that of Allah, the leaders of those countries prefer to entrust the security of virtually all the human and material resources in that region to the Western countries where the furnace with which to wage war against Allah is incessantly prepared.
Today, more than 90% of the Muslim Arab wealth is insured by the West in the name of foreign reserves. A major chunk of those resources is not only used to fight Muslims in various parts of the world, it is also dished out deceptively as loans to poor African countries at throat-cutting interest rates in the name of London and Paris Clubs.
When the Western oppressors who keep custody of the Muslim/Arab wealth, want to manipulate African mentality to their own advantage, they bring to Africa some pittance as grants, foundations and scholarship out of the robust profits they are making from Muslim Arab money kept in their banks.
This is to create the impression that they are friends of Africans. Yet, when the beneficiaries of such largess, who are mostly non-Muslims, try to show gratitude, they (the oppressors) come out in their true colours by dictating certain terms and conditions which may fetter those beneficiaries to the stake of perpetual indebtedness.
It should be noticed that Western largess flows to Africa only when military attacks on Muslims in some other parts of the world are raging or about to rage.
The largess is a sort of Greek gift with which to gag the innocent Africans and thereby prevent them from joining the other parts of the world in condemning such attacks. Thus, the Westerners clandestinely serve as proxy agents of the Middle East Muslim philanthropy to the detriment of Islam and the Muslims. In such a situation where most non-Arab Muslims are wallowing in abject poverty while the Arab wealth is used to tighten the noose of penury on their necks, where are the Muslims?
Causes of Disunity
Today, Muslim Arabs are so disunited, disorganized and Islamically disorientated that they cannot even cooperate among themselves to confront a common problem and jointly find solution for it. Rather than solving a common problem with unity, some of them prefer to team up with the antagonists of Islam to fight their fellow Muslim brothers.
That is what happened during the Iranian revolution in 1979 when the people of that country were seeking to liberate themselves from the claw of Western imperialism which was mamified in the personality of a maximum ruler called Shah Pahlavi on behalf of the United States.
Rather than cooperating with Iran to rid the region of Western imperialism, what the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf did was to take advantage of the then prevailing situation to support Iraq in attacking Iran, on behalf of America.
The devastating war which ensued from that attack lasted for eight sorrowful years before the aggressor was forced to call for peace having realized the impossibility of winning that precipitate war.
Not long after that, the same Iraq was instigated by America to invade Kuwait as a compensation for her military losses in the war with Iran, an incident that caused the 1991 Gulf war which was waged by some American led Western allied forces with the full cooperation of many Middle East Muslim/Arab countries against Iraq.
If Muslims should face fellow Muslims in an unwarranted war of attrition, where are the Muslims?
The Role of Egypt
In the 1991 Gulf war, Egypt, a so-called Muslim Arab country, was found on the side of the imperialist Western allies that descended on Iraq and killed thousands of armless Muslim women and children.
Egypt’s gain in that war was a debt relief from America to the tune of $20 billion. What else is called blood money at macro level? And, where is anything called Muslim brotherhood in that?
Arabs against Arabs
For a long time, there was no love lost between Egypt and Libya while Presidents Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi held sway as Heads of State in those two North African countries respectivelly.
Also, the neighbourhood of Algeria and Morocco has, for decades, been unnecessarily hotter than a battle ground between two sworn enemies.
Same is the case with the perennial cold war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen, following the establishment of Saudi Arabia as a country in the early 1933s. That silent but dangerous war continues with implacable intensity, unabatedly till date.
Not only that, in their own axis of the Gulf Region, Syria and Iraq continue a see-saw game that has, for long, prevented them to see eye to eye, realistically, despite their so-called ‘Baathist’ ideological common ground to which they both belong.
When six oil producing States of the Arab Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirate, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar) formed a union in in the 1970s, the rest of the Muslim world thougt it was another strategy for strengthening Islam.
But with time, it became apparent that the motive was far from strengthening Islam. The understanding gap among them became so wide that it would have been better for them not to form such a Union.
All the countries in that Union were predominantly Muslim. They all speak only one language:Arabic. All their rulers were monarchs. And the proximity among them was a great advantage for the Union. Yet, they ended up becoming antagonists. And, last year (2019), three of them, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain decided to strangulate Qatar economically by ostrsizing her. And just last week, two of those ostrasizing countries, (United Arab Emirates and Bahrain) sealed the extinction destiny of their fellow Arab nation (Palestine) by reestablishing diplomatic relation with Israel and by recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of that Zionist country. In such a brutal relationship among sister Arab countries that claim to belong to Islam, where are the Muslims?
Iran as a Lone Ranger
Iran, the only Persian (non-Arab) country, in the Gulf sub-region of the Middle East, is constantly suspicious of her neighbouring Arab countries because those neighbouring countries have tacitly ostracized her on the basis of racial discrimination and ‘Shiite’ denominational ideology. Yet, they all subscribe to Islam and claim to be Muslim countries. In all these, where are the Muslims?
Turkey for Instance
In her own bid to imbibe the so-called Western civilization, Turkey, an Armenian Islamic but non-Arab country, decided to voluntarily enslave herself to secularism, a notion imposed on her in the 1920s by her one time maximum ruler, Mustapha Kamal Ataturk, who entrenched that newly imbibed orientation in the country’s constitution and tagged it ‘Modern Civilization’.
It must be recalled that Turkey, with over 89% Muslim population, was the last seat of Islamic Caliphate which ended in 1924 at the instance of Ataturk who ordered his countrymen and women to discard their Turkish culture completely and adopt Western culture as a sign of ‘Modern Civilization’. It was Ataturk’s indelible damage to Islam in Turky that ended the Caliphate leadership of Islam in the modern world. In all these, where are the Muslims?
Here in Nigeria
Here in Nigeria, the situation is by far worse than analysed above. Mosques, which Prophet Muhammad (SAW) established as the permanent axis around which all Muslim activities should rotate, have been totally reduced to the level of meeting for Salat alone. Only very few Mosques have the necessary facilities useful for the Ummah. Even bank accounts are hardly considered necessary as the Imams and some members of the Mission Boards of most Mosques act as unofficial treasurers in which capacity they pocket any money collected daily or weekly for for the development of the Mosque.
Against the Prophet’s prescription, most of our Mosques are without libraries or study rooms where the young ones can take advantage of spiritual serenity to be thoroughly educated. It does not bother those Imams that only few Muslim youths come to worship in the Mosques. What bothers them is the absence of moneybags among the Muslims who can donate remarkable sums of money to the Mosques for them to pocket.
Also, against Islamic prescription, those Imams are the collectors, the distributors and the recipients of Zakah to the detriment of the Ummah even when most of them lack the knowledge with which to educate their congregations about that pillar of Islam. Yet, what is by far worse about most of those charlatans who call themselves Imams is the partition of Islam for the purpose of possible local or foreign largess. Today, Most Nigerian Muslims do not think of any progress for Islam any more. Rather, they think of the pecuniary benefits that will accrue to the fringe denominations to which they belong. Thus, you can only hear of names like ‘Tariqah’, ‘Izalah’ ‘Ahlus-Sunnah’, Ansar-Ud-Deen, Nawairud-Deen, Ahmadiyyah, NASFAT, Fathu Quareeb and many others with emphasis instead of ISLAM which is the main unifying factor among Muslims. Thus, with that kind of method of partitioning Islam, where are the Muslims?
On the way back to Nigeria from Hajj in 2007, yours sincerely was asked to pray for a Nigerian Christian who spent a lot of money to renovate the Mosque at the Hajj camp of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja. The man felt irritated by the nonchalant attitude of Muslim moneybags to the ramshackle state of that Mosque and decided to spend his personal money to renovate it. Shortly thereafter, in the same year, I also observed Jum’at prayer at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, where the Imam told the congregation that the renovation of that Mosque had just been completed by a concerned Christian. Yes, it is true that some Muslims also build or renovate Churches but the fact remains that there is no much negligence on the part of Christians towards their Churches as there is on the part of Muslims towards their Mosques. Where then are the Muslims?
Islam preceded Christianity in reaching the shores of Nigeria by about 400 years. The one came in the 11th century. The other came in the 15th century. Yet the gap between them , in terms of education and development today, is as wide as that between the rise and the set of the sun. If this is blamed on colonial rule, on what should failure of Islamic education be blamed?
The Qur’an which embodies the language of Islamic worship is known to have been translated into only three or four Nigerian languages, and this is the best that has been done so far, in about 1000 years, to make that sacred book understandable to millions of Nigerian Muslims.
Neither Arabic nor English is a Nigerian language. Most Muslims do memorize some contents of the Qur’an and recite them when observing Salat without comprehending what they are reciting. If majority of the adherents of a religion are tied to illiteracy and ignorance, how can such a religion be understood? The Bible which came to Nigeria almost 500 years after the arrival of the Qur’an has been translated into more than 25 Nigerian languages if not more and, further efforts are being made to do more. Where are the Muslims?
In the 1960s and 1970s, most of the praise-singing records especially in the Southwest of Nigeria were produced by Yoruba Musicians for wealthy Muslims who hardly saw any need in training their children. And, that was the time when non-Muslims would rather starve and wear rags than see their children out of schools. Today, the result speaks clearly for itself.
Currently, it is said that over 13 million Nigerian children of school age are out of school. There are no readily available figures to delineate their percentages on the basis of religion. But one can be sure that over 80% of them will be Muslims. If this is the case in the age of internet, why won’t Muslims form majority of the touts in motor parks as well as hooligans working for politicians? And there is a glaring evidence for this especially in Ibadan, the political Headquarters of Yoruba nation, where hooliganism was taken for a profession until recently when the grand-godfather of those touts their parted with the world. In all these, where are the Muslims?
Power of the Media
After many years of struggle to get economic and political rights for their people failed, the leaders of the South-south of Nigeria discovered the enormous power of the media to win wars without weapons. They quickly invested heavily in it (the media). And, today, they are not only getting their rights on demand, they are also compelling the entire world to listen to them as they now control the Nigerian media which they use to command the attention of all and sundry.
Where are the Muslim media after the demise of Bashorun MKO Abiola and Aare Arisekola Alao, the dysfunction of Concord and the Monitor newspapers? Rather than investing in the future, an average Nigerian Muslim moneybag prefers to eat his cake now with the hope of having it again later. Rather than fighting a just course, an average Nigerian Muslim pitches his tent with the wrong camp just to gain a momentary benefit. Or how does one place a situation like that of Abiola who, as a matter of right, contested Presidential election and won only for his fellow Muslims to gang up and annul the election unjustifiably and thereafter clamped him into prison as a transit towards the final termination of his life? That ugly episode was the seed of the bitter political fruit that Nigerians are now being forced to eat and swallow.
If there is any hope for the future of Islam in the contempoaray world, the focus must be on the West. And, that is in confirmation of Prophet Muhammad’s prophecy of over 1,400 years ago when he said that one of the signs of the ‘Last Day’ was for the sun to start rising from the West where it normally used to set. The sun which the Prophet meant was not the physical one.
That sun is ISLAM. And we have started to see its rays coming from the West where the divine religion is growing geometrically and recognized as the fastest growing religion in the world today. It could not have been otherwise. Islam is a religion of knowledge. It takes only the knowledgeable ones to recognize it as such. The West today is the home of knowledge and not a mere region of literacy. That is why it takes a religion of knowledge to be fast spreading among knowledgeable people.
However, for those of us who are so much concerned about the situation of Islam vis a vis the Muslims especially in Nigeria today, there is consolation. That consolation is from Allah who says in Qur’an 15 Verse 9 thus: “It was ‘We’ (Allah) who revealed the Qur’an and, it is ‘We’ (Allah), who will certainly preserve it”. We pray the Almighty pray Allah to wake up Nigerian Muslims from their slumber so that in the near and far future, our grand children will have no cause to repeat the question: “Where are the Muslims?