By Charles Okecha
Due to the militancy and brutal acts of terrorism, there is increased animosity towards Islam globally. This of course is a great reproach to the many Muslims who are kind, generous, honest and benevolent who are neither violent nor shed innocent blood.
The peace-loving and industrious categories seek for God with all their hearts to live acceptably before Him and find His favour and blessings. They assert that Islam is peaceful and terrorists misinterpret verses and sections in the Qur’an to defend their selfish acts. In the Middle East, for example, apart from acrimony towards Israelis, Sunnis and Shiites are perpetually at loggerheads. Bombing, assassinations and sporadic gun fights continue to devastate Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia and the Sahel Belt.
In the midst of all this, however, no Islamic scholar has come up to challenge this misinterpretation of the Qur’ran perhaps for fear of facing retribution from the Jihadists. My attempt to search for explanations from my Muslim friends often fetches the reply that wars and conflicts are human and occur all over the world. I’m at times mistaken for an enemy who promotes imperialist interests.
What is perturbing is that preachers of Islam take more time in finding faults in the Holy Bible than teaching noble Islamic practices. There are the errors in the Bible that arose from translation from one language to another or forgetfulness on part of those who received the oracles. Many books were eliminated from the Bible as being non-canonical and contradictory to the rest of the scriptures. These include the Old Testament Apocrypha like Maccabees, Esadras, Tobit and the New Testament Apocrypha like the Letter of Barnabas among others. The Islamic scholars ought to borrow a leaf from this and sort out sections of the Qur’an that provide loopholes to terrorism.
In fact Muammar Gadaffi did just exactly this and provided room for female body guards.
The world is waiting to hear messages that promote peace and reconciliation and that dissuade the youth from joining terrorists!
Religious books just like constitutions are equivocal and can be interpreted in ways that can justify evil. Several weeks ago there was a viral situation in Nigeria where one Senator married an underage Egyptian girl in 2010 and used a religious creed that a wife is a wife at whatever age and escaped unscathed. It is high time the current generation stood against fanatical beliefs that perpetuate violence and distort peace under the pretext of a life of bliss after death. In Uganda we have lived for decades as a nation with diversity of ethnicity and culture. After the departure of colonialists the conflicts in our land have been majorly political with few hassles over land and inheritances. We have freedom of worship in a law abiding manner that does not distort our constitution and would not wish that the chaos in other lands be exported over here.
I appeal to the Muslim community and residents of the horn of Africa descent, who have sought safe refuge in the country, to team up with the rest of the population and to assist the security operatives to curb terrorism. The wounds of the July 11, 2010 Kampala bombings which claimed 74 lives and injuries several scores have not yet healed. Any recurrence of the same could tempt the citizens to take the law in their hands and harass foreigners. I also appeal to those tempted into terrorism to consider that their deeds hurt their innocent fellow believers and countrymen who are ultimately alienated and mistreated and must, therefore, renounce such acts. Are you sure that you are really going to paradise after shedding innocent blood?
The writer works with St. Paul’s College, Mbale