Ayanda: Still on Cole’s perception of Islam – 1

It is very interesting to read a new edition of serialised articles by Dr. Patrick Dele Cole (OFR), a former Nigerian Ambassador to Brazil, in The Guardian of January 19 and 20, 2015 under the caption: “Still on Islam and Threat to Peace.” Moreso is the fact that the accomplished diplomat has read the Glorious Quran on several occasions. However, the philosophy of his recent views on Islam and its quest for political understanding around the globe do not speak logically to his understanding of Quran. There is need to re-construct these views in order to evolve a new discourse towards engaging the writer in his perception of Islam.

The Glorious Quran recognises Prophet Adam (Peace be upon him) as the first human creature with his offspring as generation of mankind. Muslims believe in Prophet Adam and Eve (Hawau) as the first Muslims on earth and their offspring inherit Islam and its evolving culture from them as a divine way of life from the creator – Almighty Allah. This view explains the mindset and belief of Muslims that Islam cannot be separated from law, politics, education, economy among others as an evolving way of life and vice-versa. And it is a philosophy upon which world politics can be viewed as Islamic culture as well as doctrine in Islamic ideology. It is therefore out of place that world politics is different from Islamic ideology and doctrinaire commitment to one religion should be separated from other ways of life.

A more fundamental understanding of philosophy of Islam as a complete way of life can be found in the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a template for humanity. Classical western scholars as well as contemporary historians have delved into the religious, sociological, legal, diplomatic character as well as several other facets of human endeavour in the life of an individual who control over one billion followers across the globe.

An Irish playwright and Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Sir George Bernard Shaw expressed his view in one of his numerous works The Genuine Islam, on Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) after he had carefully examined the personality of the messenger of Islam on a broad perspective of life thus: “He (Muhammad) was by far the most remarkable man that ever set foot on this earth. He preached a religion, founded a state, built a nation, laid down a moral code, initiated numerous social and political reforms, established a powerful and dynamic society to practice and represent his teachings and completely revolutionized the worlds of human thought and behavior for all times to come.” He stated further: “I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness.” This shows that the philosophical perception exhibited in Dr. Cole’s narratives is not applicable to Islam as a complete code of human evolution.

Contrary to misconception in Dr. Cole’s narratives linking the growth of Islam to birth rate and wealth, the Guinness Book of Records recognised Islam as the fastest growing religion by number of conversion. This explains why London Metropolitan Police and other security institutions in United Kingdom have adjusted their doctrine on dress-code to accommodate Britons who converted to Islam. The same could be said of other Western countries including Norway and Canada in accommodating Islamic culture among their growing converted workers in line with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This feat – that is the hijab – is yet to be accommodated in Lagos State public schools. What a paradox!!!

The seasoned diplomat claimed that more than 90% of wars in the world today are, or concern Islam where one group of Moslems are trying to wipe out another group. Does one become a citizen of a country by making claims or by meeting some conditions? One is not a Muslim by bearing a name or hailing from a particular area but by fulfilling the tenets of Islam. This attempt by Dr. Cole in tainting the unique image of Islam without considering the remote and immediate causes of the conflict is in sharp contrast to his call for trial of aggressive nations who invaded Islamic countries and other developing nations. A critical study into the recent upheaval in Syria would suffice to drive home this argument.

This is, of course, to say that radical Islamism does in part owe its existence to the West. Firstly, there is no question that the troubled state of the Muslim world, which gave it birth, is in part the consequence of colonial policy, such as the artificial borders that were imposed on the region by the great powers after the First World War, the history of Anglo-French imperialism in the region, West support for autocratic Arab oil monarchies and dictatorships, and the international community’s ongoing failure to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute.

Also, the West’s attitude to radical Islamists are schizophrenic and contradictory: the West supported jihadist Mujahidin fighters in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and backed Islamist militants in Chechnya in the 1990s and 2000s, as well as in Libya in 2011 and in Syria for much of the ongoing civil war. In April 2013, the Iranian FARS news agency reported that Syrian envoy to Iran, Adnan Mahmoud, disclosed that as far back as March 2011 – when the conflict was kicking off in Syria – that the then U.S. Secretary of Defense (Robert Gates) had starkly told the Damascus government that it faced “a choice”. The Syrian envoy to Iran was quoted by FARS as saying, “Of course, in the very first weeks of the conflict in Syria, the U.S. Secretary of Defense sent a message to the Syrian government, and said we should have cut our ties with the Islamic Republic of Iran if we wanted to stop the war, and stressed that if we did so, they (the U.S.) would provide us with whatever we want”.

The U.S. sought to wage war against Syria in September 2013 over the chemical weapons attack that was carried out by yet to be identified group but was stopped by Russian diplomatic effort based on conviction that it was yet another false flag (just like Iraq’s invasion) from the radical opposition in order to overthrow President Bashar Al-Assad. Ninety one per cent of Americans at the time were against war in Syria with the belief that manipulative approach of this nature to a very violent phenomenon has proved continuously counter-productive.

Russia and China in turn strongly veto UN resolution in the process against military incursion by U.S. and Western partners with the exclusion of the UK. The House of Commons of the United Kingdom had defeated a motion regarding UK’s involvement in any strike on August 30, 2013 as reported in BBC. During eighth meeting of G-20 Russia summit in September 2013 at St. Petersburg, Russia and a great majority of the world leaders (including China, India, Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Italy) who attended the summit opposed a unilateral military offensive against Syria.

Yet, Pope Francis wrote G-20 leaders on behalf of Vatican for a peaceful resolution and declared a day of fasting in Vatican in support of Syrian civilians. Regardless, through supporting the militant insurgents, the U.S. and its partners have ruined the country and brought about untold destruction. The pertinent questions any curious observer would seek to ask are: Why did the U.S. seek to invade a sovereign nation? Could it be for oil deposit since Syria is among the largest producers of oil in the world? Could it be for economic dominance at the expense of rival Russia and China through IMF and World Bank as against the emerging BRICS? If it is all about Islam as Dr. Cole would want us to believe, why was Pope Francis taking interest towards peaceful resolution with fasting and other means available to Vatican? This only brings to fore that in peace and conflict resolution, the experts always seek for remote and immediate causes before jumping to conclusion as Dr. Cole narratives portray.