Over the past couple of weeks I have been reading stories about violent attacks on people, mainly perpetuated by individuals who hold to the Islamic faith. This got me thinking about Islam as a religion and whether it is indeed counter-productive to allow this religion to flourish in a society or nation that is looking to modernise, progress and develop. In other words I began to ask myself the simple question: is Islam as a religion detrimental to the quest for human progress?
I am aware that this is a question that is highly controversial as it singles out one particular religion for special attention and that I could be accused of trying to demonise a religion that is the core belief of so many millions if not billions of people around the world. Yet this is an important question to ask, especially for us as Africans as Islam is reputed to be the fastest growing religion in Africa and is bound to become increasingly influential as the century progresses.
In Pakistan, a top politician was murdered over the past week for daring to propose that they change legislation which allows the death sentence to be passed upon anyone who speaks out offensively against the Prophet Mohammed. The killer is being lauded as a hero by Muslims of all sorts in Pakistan and the murdered politician has been called a traitor and all sorts of derogatory names. In Egypt we have had Coptic Christians being persecuted and Coptic churches being burnt by Muslim militants, betraying the kind of intolerance and fanaticism which seems to characterise every society where Muslims are in the majority. In Somalia we have Islamic militants who are waging a brutal war against the people of that country and seeking to implement Sharia law, even when it affects those who don’t necessarily hold to the Islamic faith.
We saw the same phenomenon in Afghanistan when the brutal Taliban regime was in power, applying the strictest code of Sharia law and oppressing women in a manner befitting a people still stuck in the Dark Ages. Many years ago we saw a religious Fatwa (death edict) being issued by Iran’s late spiritual leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini against author Salman Rushdie for daring to write a book, The Satanic Verses, which was highly offensive to Muslims. We have seen Islamic militants mercilessly detonating bombs in different African cities and murdering innocent civilians, all under the guise of fighting against the west, even though this came at the expense of innocent African lives. We know how the Muslim population often responds with threats of violence and death whenever their religion is criticised or something offensive is said or written about their beloved Prophet Mohammed.
We know that wherever Islam is a minority religion, Muslims are freely allowed to practice their religion without any oppression, but in countries where Islam is a majority religion we often find deep intolerance for people who hold to other beliefs and world views, with people being prohibited from practising their own religious beliefs and instead being forced to submit unwillingly to Islamic Sharia law, customs and traditions. Should a religion which promotes violence, intolerance and oppression of women be allowed to flourish in a continent that is seeking to modernise and develop? In an era where we celebrate the great French Revolution values of, “liberty, fraternity and equality” should we allow a religion which allows no room for dissent to flourish? Should we allow a religion which is not open to criticism, whose followers threaten violence whenever anything is said against their belief system, to flourish when it is clear that this is destructive and against the very values that we are trying to promote and inculcate amongst African peoples?
I am aware that some people will attribute all these excesses to Islamic extremists and claim that Islam itself is a peaceful religion which has many moderates who don’t betray some of the characteristics I have highlighted above, but a careful examination of the evidence in any part of the world where Islam predominates will reveal that all of the things I have highlighted above tend to characterise Islam as a religion. The evidence shows Islam to be a violent, intolerant, oppressive, counter-progressive religion which has cost many innocent lives and as such any society that is seeking to progress and develop cannot allow this religion to flourish in its midst. I am willing to even bet that the response of the Islamic community to this article will be of a violent, intolerant aggressive nature, thereby proving my point to be right. How many people do you know who have had death threats issued against them for writing or speaking out against other religions and their leaders? By the same token how many times have you seen someone who has dared to speak out against Islam being subjected to death threats and all forms of violent, intolerant behaviour? This goes to show how dangerous a religion Islam actually is at its core and for us as Africans we need to be aware of this danger and not allow Islam to flourish in our midst.
Islam is a danger to African society at every level. Its growth needs to be curbed if the people of Africa are ever going to experience peace, prosperity, transparency, openness and progress in this century. Too many innocent African lives have been lost at the hands of people who hold to this religion. Too many women have been oppressed by people who hold to this religion. Too many societies have been of a closed nature and dominated by fear, intolerance and violence wherever this religion has been found. It is time that we as Africans stood up and said no more!