Sunday 23 November 2008

An interpretation of Islam lost in the embrace of a house slave

I never taught you

A good friend of mine about 12 years ago asked me for an academic reference to complete an application for a university course. I was at first surprised that I was asked for such a reference indicating I needed to manufacture a story of how I observed and assessed him academically.

I had in some ways been a mentor but that did not make me his teacher or lecturer, I could however give him a character reference which in all honestly and for all intents and purposes would be glowing and commendable that readers would be interested in him.

An argument ensued that ended up in my being called a coconut to which I retorted, it was the not the exclusive preserve of the white man to be objective – I almost had my head torn off.

Owning the house and the field

As the conversation cooled down, I had an interesting question thrown at me, it went – Are you a field slave or a house slave? [1]

It did not take me long to answer back that I was neither and if I did have anything to do with that sort of thing, I would probably be someone to own a field and house slave.

That was my first real exposure to the fact that the black race is not one homogenous identity and one collection of people, we all differ in our heritage, societies, communities, upbringing and outlook.

More interestingly, it showed how blacks from different cultures have tried to identify with blacks of other cultures and subsumed themselves to histories and cultures that have no semblance to their heritage.

Skin colour is only a visual identity it does not offer anything close to a shared heritage and we should be careful not to be caught up in such false identities in the quest for assumed brotherliness.

Understanding my own heritage

I had to check myself the other day in Amsterdam when someone thought he was racially abusing me by calling me a nigger – without catching a breath, I replied, I do not understand that term, I am free-born African.

In other words, even though I was born in the UK and have a British passport, I also have a Nigerian heritage where when I was growing up my blackness was always part of me that I feel so comfortable in my skin any abuse simply presents an opportunity for any education [2] rather than fall into a fit of uncontrollable anger and more abuse which many expect.

So, it was interesting to read that Ayman al-Zawahiri of Al-Qaeda had the most derogatory stuff to say [3] about President-elect Obama when he called him a house-negro. It exposed more of the ignorance of Al-Qaeda than the little understood heritage of Barack Obama.

Fatherly duties matter for impartation

Being born of a Kenyan father and a white American mother, there is no way Barack Obama would have been that acquainted with the realities of those who really did descend from slaves who were yanked out of Africa hundreds of years ago into so hostile a society that made animals of human beings.

He might have had an identity crisis but the worthy contributions of the maternal line of his heritage made him what he has become and we can all be grateful for that. President-elect Obama ran as an American who just happens to be black, NOT as a black man who happens to be an American – we need to get that distinction very, very clear.

Much as the Al-Qaeda stooge tried to play on Barack Obama’s supposed Muslim heritage, he seemed to forget that bequeathing a religion to a child includes the father being around to nurture the child.

Obama’s father was an absent father, a negligent father and someone who contributed very little to helping shape the identity and outlook of his son – I would suppose there is nothing that requires a father take responsibility in those matters of child development in the mind of Al-Qaeda and that it is best for the child to show the utmost ingratitude to those who poured themselves into the child to make him the success that he has become – they being Christian.

Muslim crimes and kafir exploits

Furthermore, I am concerned about that the other development that portrays Islam in even worse light, Somali Islamists are pursuing the pirates that took the Saudi-owned super-tanker on the premise that hijacking a Muslim owned ship is a major crime [4]. Bunkum!

A crime is a crime regardless of the religion or the victim, to consider that offending non-Muslims is a lesser crime than offending Muslims might be a matter of conscience but in has no place in modern-day civilisation.

If such hair-splitting analyses of heinous crimes are becoming the brand of Islam that has the louder voice, I would contend that Islam has nothing good to offer humanity and it should come under the siege of tolerant and reasonable sanction till it begins to see its greater function in the wider world.

The concept of Muslim crimes and kafir [5] exploits is abhorrent to the extreme, it is unimaginably callous and it must be completely unIslamic until I am told otherwise, it is out of kilter with civilised expression.

I know Muslims too

I also have a Muslim heritage [6], my paternal grandfather was a Muslim and he was the most reasonable and tolerant man I have met in the matters of religion; he married a Christian wife and of the 6 children he had, their religious inclinations came down to three on either side.

We celebrated both religious festivals with goodwill, good humour and reverence on all sides and there was never a time when we the Christians were treated with any contempt or lesser consideration with respect to our other relations that were Muslim.

I expect the well-meaning Islamic intelligentsia and elders around the world to condemn in the most severe terms this endorsement of lawlessness against non-Muslims – a crime should be a crime regardless of inclination or adherence, this kind of view must not gain traction.

All religion must be in aid and service of humanity or it has no place amongst us; I hope that message becomes the cornerstone of every creed, gospel, faith, affirmation or religion practiced anywhere in this whole wide world.


[1] House slave - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Do Africans still live on trees? []

[3] BBC NEWS | Middle East | Al-Qaeda vows to hurt Obama's US

[4] BBC NEWS | Africa | Somali Islamists 'hunt pirates'

[5] Kafir - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[6] The people are high on opium - III []

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are accepted if in context are polite and hopefully without expletives and should show a name, anonymous, would not do. Thanks.