Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Other Side of the Coin

Post 16—

Dr. Aliyu Tilde is formidable Nigerian Muslim journalist whose columns can be found on < www.Gamji.com >, a Nigerian news website. He is fiercely critical of corruption and oppression wherever he sees it in Nigeria, whether perpetrated by Muslims or Christians or those who merely claim such epithets for themselves. Some of my Christian friends in Nigeria dislike him, for they strongly disagree with his stance on the violence that has racked Nigeria’s Plateau State and its capital Jos, a city I have lived in for two decades. Yes, they strongly disagree with him, for you can only react strongly to his equally strongly worded columns, whether you agree or disagree. In the case of Plateau State, he is squarely on the Muslim side. Having come to know him a bit more personally through recent correspondence, I should re-read his articles on the Plateau situation. Sometimes knowing a person personally can bring a change in interpreting him.

Recently Tilde published a column under the title “Poor Northerners!(2), referring to Nigerian Northerners, mostly Muslims. He unhesitatingly admitted that “countries in the Muslim world are not democratic and they represent perhaps some of the worst living specimen of tyranny and oppression.” But then he goes on to explain how this situation arose. While most Westerners are convinced that the reasons are internal to Islam, Tilde shows the other side of the coin and locates the cause in the hypocritical and oppressive behaviour of Western nations. Listen to him:

“However, that is neither the tenet of Islam nor the choice of its Muslim citizens. It is the practice of their puppet leaders in strong collaboration with the western powers that support them with aid, intelligence, equipments of torture, guns, etc. Take Saudi Arabia for example. That kingdom is a monarchy which, in the first place, could not have come into existence without the support of the British or survived this long without deploying American might. In fact this is the root cause of the terrorism that America so much complains about these days. The same thing applies to Egypt and other tyrannical regimes in the Muslim world. Let America and the Western world support the democratization of the Muslim world by withdrawing its support for those oppressive regimes and you will see them collapse in less than five years. But the West cannot risk that because of its entrenched strategic and economic interests.”

I largely agree with Tilde that this Western behaviour is a major cause of the situation we all bemoan. A major cause; not the only one. Forty years ago I might have disagreed with him, but since then I wrote a doctoral dissertation on colonialism and was forced by the facts to recognize the nefarious and oppressive nature of Western colonialism. It was an eye opener for me. The facts that I unearthed had been carefully hidden from me by a domesticated educational process right through undergraduate university as well as post-graduate theological seminary. What I leaned was not pretty. If you turn to volumes 2, 4, 6 and 8 of my Studies in Christian Muslim Relations, you can find it all there as well. (You can access these free of charge by typing < Jan H Boer> in the opening page of < www.lulu.com >.)

Yes, the pre-Renaissance/Enlightenment internal Muslim factors play the other major part. Note that I said “Muslim” factor, not necessarily Islamic factor. They are no more the same as are “Christian” and “nominal Christian.” Both these internal and external factors need to be recognized and admitted by both sides. Writing as a Christian, we must heed the word of Jesus Christ who warned us to first take out the beam in our own eyes, before we reach for the splinter in the eye of the other.

(ForTilde’s article turn to his columns on www.Gamji.com and check Discourse 308, November 2010.)

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