By Huzaifa Jega
Like many Muslims, I find myself wondering about the whys and wherefores of this part of my identity in the backdrop of a multicultural global society. Increasingly, it looks more and more like, by the virtue of my faith, I am only being ‘tolerated’ in the name of idealistic political correctness and affirmative action, not because the material substance of this identity deserves a seat at the roundtable of coequal human communion. I stand to be corrected, but this is what I think sometimes given all that is happening.
I wonder sometimes if the trending narrative about a subterranean Islamisation agenda sponsored by Nigerian Muslims, or the Islamisation of Europe by Muslim migrants has not already happened in inverse bearing. Just how Christianised is the world today? Just how Christianised am I as someone born and bred in a heavily Westernised, Eurocentric world? Plenty. But I do not see this as a terrible violation – either because I have lived that life and did not see anything so wrong in it, or because I have been so hypnotised by this Christianisation that I have lost the ability for dispassionate judgment. But what if Nigeria and the world, are indeed undergoing an Islamisation phase? Needless to say, I do not advocate this or the idea of political Islam as a whole – but Nigeria is a democracy and half of its citizens are Muslims and deserve to see themselves and their identities in the national scheme of things. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?
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Now, I do not believe that there is a formal and premeditated Islamisation agenda but to me that would not be so terrible even if there was. It is only that when you look at Islam as an abhorrent scourge that should be eradicated not propagated, but the funny thing is that those most likely to agree with this notion are those who do not see anything wrong with how Christianised the world is. For the record, I am not out to merely speak out for my people and speak out against the other side – no, my intention is to lay bare the conscious schematics of my people, in the hope of fostering the type of mutual understanding and awareness needed to build a united nation bound by common purpose and vision.
The traditional Muslim mindset sees the world in two geopolitical partitions – the Muslim world centred in the Middle East and the Christian world headquartered in Europe. The struggle between these two power centres goes back to the days of the Crusades when Christian armies marched all the way from Western and Central Europe to the Levant to liberate the Holy Land from the Muslims. For the most part, that did not work. The Europeans had to leave without Jerusalem.
Fast forward to Sykes-Picot. The average Muslim conceives this armed geostrategic coup orchestrated by European (Christian) powers against the Muslim political order the same way people like Femi Fani Kayode or even Brenton Tarrant, for instance, conceive the threat of Islamisation.
What they are so extremely terrified of is what has already happened to the Muslim world. When the Europeans returned to the Middle East first during the Napoleonic Wars and then after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WW I, the Muslim world had declined and was no match for the military might of the West. In that aftermath, the Middle East was carved up by the French and British, who proceeded to manipulate it, strangulate it in pursuit of certain motives I must admit it has less to do with religion and more to do with imperial political objectives. The rest, as they say, is history. By the beginning of the 20th Century, the world was a global social mass, under the undisputed hegemony of the West.
The 21st Century is decisively Euro-Centric, with Western Civilization practically assuming the role of a global auxiliary culture which everyone must adopt or become a cultural pariah. It is the established normal of contemporary popular culture everyone is expected to conform to by default. Yes, that is why it is such a big deal when Muslims assert a part of their identity that is against this default, or why the Arabic script on the naira bill must go because that ‘is what the Qur’an is written in’, that is why Islamic finance is an obnoxious bait that has to be resisted, that is why letting Muslims into Europe is a bad idea because they will soon build the numbers to exert effective influence on political decisions, that is why every Muslim is expected to profusely apologise for the crimes of another Muslim.
Religion, says Karl Marx, is the opium of the masses, the heart of a heartless world. Because of their pitiable place in the world order, Muslims find themselves with no other option but to fall back onto their faith for solace and for orientation. As a collective community, the Muslim world does not wield the wherewithal to exact its interests politically like the Western superpowers can for example. Coupled with the dearth of clear leadership, this fact encourages the individualization of response or retaliation – both kinetic and non-kinetic. It doesn’t matter that I am a Nigerian just like Mr. Kayode, I, and other Nigerian Muslims, draw our inspiration and symbolic nativity from the heart of the Muslim which is the Middle East while Mr. Kayode, by the virtue of his own identity, derives his from the West when it comes to spiritual matters. There is no country or group of countries in the Muslim world with the strategic leverage to stand up for the interests of Muslims, but there are so many countries in the Christian world with such latitude so for the most part, a Christian person may get the feeling that their interests are being taken care of well and so does not need to resort to self-help or direct action because they have a strong hand and a firm voice behind them. One weakness of Abrahamic faiths is the fact that you can find a justification for anything you want under the sun and that is perhaps due to the leadership failures from the clergies. That is why many terror outfits base their causes on Islamic pretexts, complete with canonical citations – not because Islam is a naturally violent spiritual philosophy.
Jega, a Management Consultant, wrote from Abuja