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Monday, September 21, 2020

Gambian-born top US professor who converted to Christianity says Islam is not a violent religion

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“The prevailing perception of Islam as a religion of violence is untrue and undeserved, and the historical record is eloquent testimony of that fact. Unfortunately many Muslims are unfamiliar with the sources to offer a persuasive and a non-defensive riposte to the reigning stereotype. The qualified opinion of one legal authority is worth invoking here. If there is one quality distinguishing above all others the legislative work of the Prophet of Islam it is the quality of moderation. Truth lies in the middle (khayr al-umúr aw┼čatiha). Muslims are assured: Thus have We made you a middle community of moderation (kadhálika ja’alnákum ummatan wasatan) (2: 137). Believers are summoned to proclaim the faith with wisdom and fair exhortation and to reason…in the better way (Q 16: 126), so that they can be securers of justice, witnesses for God. Let not detestation for a people move you not to be equitable. (Q 2: 11.) It is a much tougher job to be a judicious promoter of peace and reasonableness than to wage war for religion. Muhammad is enjoined in situations of disagreement to give the assurance that ‘between us and you let there be no strife: God shall make us all one’. (Q 42: 14.) God’s witness is not to compel but to commend the message, and if people ‘turn their backs, thine it is only to deliver the Message’. (Q 3: 19; also 22: 66-67.)…”

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He added: “This peaceful theme strikes close to home, for it inspired a remarkable movement in Muslim West Africa when in the thirteenth century al-Hajj Salim Suware emerged to lead his peaceful community from Diakha-Masina to Diakha-Bambukhu, making the pacifist vocation a necessary and required commitment of religion. These people of Diakha, hence the appellation “Diakhanke,” or Jakhanke, infused their pacifist teaching into the fabric of Muslim society from the time of ancient Mali to the present day – the Suware qabilah established in Jarra-Barrow Kunda are descended from the original clerical communities of Diakha-Bambukhu. In the Gambia the Jakhanke established a major center at Wuli Sutukho as described by Diogo Gomes who was the first European to visit the town in the 1450s. He says that Wuli at the time had ascendancy over Kantora, and that the whole area was under the suzerainty of the king of Mali. Ahmad Baba (d. 1627), a leading scholar of Timbuktu, testifies to the religious influence of the Jakhanke, commending them and their communities for the moral power of their witness…”

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