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Wednesday, 21 May 2014 07:43

Boko Haram’s Bid to Tarnish the Image of Islam

Boko Haram’s Bid to Tarnish the Image of Islam

The recent kidnapping of over two hundred high school girls by Boko Haraam, the self-styled Islamic group of Nigeria, has shocked the civilized world. Condemnations have been pouring in from all corners of the world at this inhuman act, including the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Hussain Sheikholeslam, who is adviser for international affairs to the Speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, deplored the recent abduction of the high school girls, and said the group's action runs counter to Islamic teachings. He said: “The behaviour of this group is very horrible and I categorically state that such behaviour isn’t related to Islam at all.” He held Britain responsible for creating such groups to prevent the spread of the genuine teachings of Islam, as part of the plan to tarnish the image of Islam and Muslims. His remarks came after the British daily, Independent, reported said that a British-born man suspected of masterminding the recent Boko Haram bomb attacks in Nigeria that left around 100 people dead, became radicalized during his years at a university.

The Iranian foreign ministry also condemned the kidnapping of the Nigerian school girls by Boko Haram. Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkhami told reporters in Tehran: "We categorically denounce this inhumane act and hope that appropriate action will be taken to eliminate these extremists and other terror groups in Nigeria and the world.”

Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country with Muslims accounting for 60 percent of its 130 million people, is rich in oil resources. The Muslims are mainly concentrated in the north, while presently the power is the hands of a government led by a Christian president. There is unequal distribution of wealth, with poverty, unemployment and illiteracy being rampant. Only 10 percent of the population is literate. Economic crisis and ethnic tensions among the scores of ethnicities, having languages of their own, has worsened the situation, and led to the rise of such terrorist outfits as Boko Haram. These groups style themselves as “Islamist”, but have no connection to Islam, merely following the violent and murderous doctrine of the al-Qaeda and the Takfiris.  Boko Haram was founded in 2002 by Mohammad Yusuf in Nigeria. He strongly opposed democracy, education of secularism and knowledge. He followed Wahhabism and drew deep inspiration from the controversial views of the medieval Syria scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah, to the extent that Mohammad Yusuf even denied that the earth is spherical.

In Hausa language Boko Haram means education based on the secular pattern of the West is a sin. Boko means a book or patterns of teaching of the secular West which has been prohibited by this group. The group thus forbids attending of schools modeled on the West, as well as the wearing of western garments and the adopting of western culture. This extreme outfit even bans the wearing of helmet for motorcycle riders, calling it as manifestations of western culture. After the killing of Mohammad Yusuf in 2009, Abu Bakr Shekau took over the leadership of this group and has since intensified terrorist attacks. After kidnapping school girls in April, 2014 from a boarding school, he appeared on a video tape to claim responsibility and unabashedly made a mockery of Islamic laws by calling the kidnapped girls “slaves”, who could be forced into marriage. He shamelessly said, he intends to marry two of these teenaged girls. Shekau's camouflaging of his evil act as “Islamic”, in accordance with the Shari’ah and on the commandment of God, has been soundly condemned by Muslims in Nigeria and all over the world. The new Secretary-General of the Jeddah-based 57-nation Islamic Cooperation Organization, Ayad Madani, denounced it as inhuman and savage. Madani called Boko Haram members as criminal law breakers and said that despite their claim to be Muslims, their acts have no connection with Islamic at all.

The acts and thoughts of Boko Haram are in complete contradiction to Islam, which 14 centuries ago granted the right of education to Muslim men and women. Islam considers knowledge as light and ignorance as darkness. In Surah Zumar, ayah 9, the holy Qur’an says:

"Say, ‘Are those who know equal to those who do not know?’ Only those who possess intellect take admonition."

A famous statement from Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) says: “Acquire knowledge, even if it is in China.” From this statement it is clear that there are no barriers for acquisition of knowledge, whether it is in the east or the west, and whether it is found in a non-Muslim country – like China. In the early days of Islam, only 17 Muslims were literate and one of them was a woman named Shafa, who was tasked by the Prophet to teach writing to women. As a result many women learned writing and reading and even Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) allocated part of his time for teaching religious issues to women. The Prophet thus brought about a huge cultural revolution that became widespread, and in due course, women became narrators of hadith and rose to prominence as masters in many fields.  

Unfortunately, today the Wahabbis, the Salafis, and the Takfiris, are masquerading as Muslims to violate the letter and spirit of Islam. They are acting against God’s Words in the holy Qur’an and the Hadith of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA). The Boko Haram, which receives massive funding from abroad, unabashedly style themselves Taliban of Nigeria. This is indicative of their intention to turn Nigeria into an Afghanistan, in order to distort tarnish the image of Islam at the behest of the US, as the Taliban did by adopting hostile posture against the genuine teachings of Islam, especially the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The US and the West, which backed such groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and now Nigeria, have begun to rue their decision, following the failure of their plot to overthrow Bashar al-Asad. As a result battle hardened terrorists are now infiltrating the US and West European states and will certainly destabilize western societies. In any case, the Takfiris, including the Boko Haram, in view of their barbaric acts including kidnapping and sale of girls and women, as terrorists to their very core, with no relation to Islam. These groups are actually serving the cause of the enemies of Islam, and thus it is the duty of all Muslims to defend the true Islam of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).

In Nigeria, the Muslim religious authorities have denounced Boko Haram. The Vice Chairman of the Ondo State chapter of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, al-Haji Ibrahim Kilani, urged the public, especially the media, to desist from referring to Boko Haram as an “Islamic sect” rather than a terrorist group, given the fact that the activities of its members are not grounded in Islam. He made the plea in Akure during a meeting of the NSCIA, and said the violent posture of the group had shown that its members were neither Muslims nor fighting the cause of Islam. Kilani, who also advised Muslims to come out in one voice to condemn the activities of the group, noted that a large number of Muslims had fallen victim since the group started its terror campaign. He cited the casualties of the recent Nyanya, Abuja bomb blast and the abducted female students from Borno State, many of whom, he said, were Muslims. According to him, Boko Haram was not prosecuting a religious war, “it is just a group of terrorists who do not want peace for the country.”

Also, the Chief Imam of Akure, al-Haji Yayi Akorede Alubarika, in his speech, urged Muslims to unite in condemning the violent group. In his speech, the chairman of NSCIA in the state, al-Haji Ibrahim Omolaja, called on Muslims to support the ongoing national conference in Abuja where, he said, solutions could be found to the problems bedeviling the country.

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