What Do You Know About Islam?

And as I explained things to him, he was almost ready to collapse. He was shocked at the many things he was hearing. After I was done, he looked at me and said:

“Eiii…then you people can also make it to heaven ooo, I never knew all this about you people.”.

It was about a year ago. I was walking towards the Bush Canteen (Legon Campus) when I heard someone call “Ssss… Hajia ! “. If not for the ‘Hajia’ he added (which of course was because of my headscarf), I would have thought he was stopping a Taxi. So well, “Taxi-Hajia” (ermnn…me…hehe) stopped and turned around. I saw a man slightly old enough to be my father walk briskly towards me. I was quite embarrassed I was the reason he was walking that fast, so I also walked briskly toward him.

He greeted me… and I responded with a smile. He asked how well I was doing and praised me for my modest outfit as a Muslim Lady. I thanked him for his compliment…but really, at this time, I was really wondering what this man was up to. “What’s with all this nice greetings and all?” was the thought that was running in my head.

Finally, he let it out.

He needed some help…monetary wise. And in as much as I hate beggars with passion (yeah…it’s that bad), I saw that his was a genuine need. I felt it deeply. When he spoke, I pictured my dad being in the same state. He asked for something very little, really. So I reached out for my purse and gave him a little of what he had asked for.

“Thank you very much, God bless you my sister. As for you Muslims, you are very generous people. I have stayed in Nima before…and as for giving, it is a serious trait of the Muslims from what I had seen.”

I smiled lightly as he spoke. As the chat continued, I got to know that he was a pastor who had come to meet a Reverend Lecturer on campus. As a sign of appreciation, he gave me a leaflet that contained messages on Salvation from the Christian perspective. I took it…and glanced through as he spoke. After I finished looking at it, I said to him:

“You know, a lot of the messages in here are in the Qur’an.”

The man with a lively face suddenly turned into a ‘shock-prised’ man.

“Really?” He exclaimed.

I nodded in the affirmative.

I spent close to 30 minutes explaining to him how the Qur’an spoke of Heaven and Hell, Jesus Christ and Mary (Blessings of God be upon them), the world of the unseen, the day of resurrection and the afterlife and the Concept of God and most importantly, where the difference of belief is about Christ between Muslims and Christians.

He was amazed. He said he never knew Muslims believed in all that. He admitted he had stayed with Muslims in Nima, but all he saw were misguided souls who were doomed for hell, despite their ‘Phd in giving’. He never knew Muslims that in depth. And the statement he made that struck me was:

“I will change the way I preach about Muslims. If we have most of this in common, then there is a much better way to talk about them.”

He was eager to keep in touch, as was I. We exchanged contacts. As to whether we did keep in touch, is a story for another day…hehe.

Anytime I reflect on this encounter, one thing that hits my mind is whether as a diverse community, we really understand each other’s beliefs in-depth and not just on the surface level. We shy away from trying to talk of the indepth differences in modest ways…and surprisingly, it is those in-depth ones that spark serious religious wars, not the things we have in similarity.

I have seen posts saying that Muslims who do not wish Christians a Merry Christmas are somewhat extremists. I really don’t see it that way. A Christian will only take offence until he/she understands why probably, a Muslim will not be comfortable wishing it or responding to it because a portion of it contradicts a core belief of Islam. What I will call extreme is when I decide to steal my good friend Eric Appiah Kubi ‘s goat that he has bought to celebrate a festival that he holds dear. Or to destroy a modest looking church that I know Christians in my vicinity will worship in on such a day.

Keeping mute under the parts where we differ breaks the opportunities for matured religious dialogue and the chance to understand each other better, even if we do not succeed in winning a soul for our various faiths.

True tolerance is when we understand each other’s deepest differences, but still want to take ‘gari soakings’ together.

That…is true tolerance…Smiles.

Khadijah Abdul-Samed

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