Converts to Islam don't have to take an Arabic name
Stabroek News
December 9, 2001

Dear Editor,

Victim of the very same nationalist bigotry of which he deceitfully accuses muslims, Accabre Nkofi mistakenly informs our fellow African Guyanese (Stabroek News, December 5, 2001) that a convert to Islam "has to change his name to an Arab one, has to pray in the Arabic language, his dress and diet must change to conform to the Arab norms and he must ignore or reject his history etc, etc."

"Bigotry" - because Mr Nkofi is appealing to African nationalism to deter Africans reverting to the religion of their ancestors, Islam. Muslims have long ago at a stroke left such narrow-mindedness and irrelevancies behind. "Mankind is a single nation!" and "We, (Arab, African, Guyanese and all) are all children of Adam," trumpeted the Almighty God in his Quran fourteen hundred years ago.

"Deceitfully" - because all it takes to become a muslim is a simple confession of the Unity (not Duality, Trinity or more) of God and the prophethood of Muhammad, On Whom Be Peace (OWBP). Were Mr Nkofi right, Guyanese muslims most of whom manifestly do not qualify as Mr Nkofi requires above, are few indeed and nearly all need to be converted.

In Islam, it is the message that matters. Names, even the names of the Prophets matter little. Hence a believer is a "muslim" (literally one who practises Islam) not "Muhammadan". But the Quran elaborates 99 attributes of the Almighty God e.g. Rahman (the Gracious One), Rahim (the Merciful One) or Alim (the Knowledgable One). To induce God-consciousness/adherence to these attributes, muslims take these attributes to make beautiful and meaningful names. Thus were I called "Schwarzenegger" or "Whitehead", I may prefer to be called "Wahaab" (the Liberal Giver) or "Hafeez." (Preserver (of the word of God)) instead. But if I don't, I am still a muslim.

Arabic was the language of Muhammad OWBP. Hence the language of the Quran revealed to him was (and remains to this day), Arabic. Jesus OWBP spoke Aramaic. Does Mr Nkofi expect the Almighty God to have revealed the Gospel to Jesus OWBP in English? Muslims pray in Arabic to preserve Islam from the vagaries and interpolations of translations. Thousands of African muslims can recite all 6,000 plus verses of the Quran in Arabic by heart without looking at the Book. This miracle which anyone can witness daily from the young African Guyanese imam at Kitty Mosque, is not Arab bigotry. It is to prove and preserve the authenticity of the gospel for all mankind.

Brother Nkofi of the "single nation" accuses Islam of "total colonialism and imperialism of the soul and personality". Actually, Islam is worse than that. It demands total slavery. Muslims submit to one slavery because that one slavery frees them from all other slaveries. Slavery to God (denoted by the name Abdool, Abdul, Abdullah) frees muslims from slavery to colonials, imperialists, Marxists, Kings, Presidents, Dictators, base instincts, propaganda, ignorance, greed, fornication etc. I call Mr Nkofi to this one slavery should he wish really to be free.

Mr Nkofi apparently loathes protests against injustice external to his country and is enamoured of Salman Rushdie whose "Satanic Verses" (which I have read) is liberally spiced with the "f..." word, likens Prophet Muhammad's wives (May God be pleased with them) to whores, pornographically described the sex act of one wife and names the whore-house "Hijab". I doubt that many Guyanese would, like Mr Nkofi, agree with such desecration of what is dear to so many, even if it may not be dear to them.

I recall some time ago reading from the Internet in the UK another of Mr Nkofi's essays wherein he with like motive and candour, accused muslims of slavery. Europeans sailing down the Western coast of Africa south to the Cape, "discovered" Africans and "converted" their brothers and sisters of the "Single Nation" to plantation slavery. Plantation slavery was never known to muslims. Muslim slaves were mainly prisoners of war and in the absence of POW camps etc. it takes little thought to realise that such slavery was inevitable if the prisoners' lives were to be spared.

Muhammad OWBP set free all his slaves. He treated them so well that even after "manumission", they preferred to remain in his house (and did so) rather than return to their relatives. Islam expressly required that slaves be given the same food and clothes as their masters. In Islam, one of the express purposes of the "Zakaat" (the one-fortieth share of wealth due the poor which is even now in the month of Ramadan being distributed throughout Guyana) was to purchase the freedom of a slave. And so indeed was purchased the freedom of the first black muslim, Bilal.

Mr Nkofi accuses Islam of "reducing Africa to an appendage of Islamic Asia." I inform my proud African Guyanese brothers and sisters that according to an estimate only two months ago from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, there are 380 million muslims in Africa, more than all the people in the entire Middle East. Which is the real "appendage", Asia or Africa?

I inform my proud African Guyanese brothers and sisters that Islam is not an Indian religion.

I inform my proud African Guyanese brothers and sisters that celebrated freedom fighter President Jomo Kenyatta (whom they called the Mau Mau terrorist) said: "When the British came to Kenya, they told us to shut our eyes when the Bible was read. We shut our eyes. When we reopened them, they had taken all our lands and left us the Bible."

The European purveyors of plantation slavery did similarly when they deprived their slaves of communication. No reading, no writing, no association. Had this unspeakable heinousness failed, West Africa being predominantly muslim, Guyana and the Caribbean would have been predominantly muslim.

In the tradition of Elijah Muhammad, Muhammad Ali, Louis Farrakhan etc, etc. I beckon my proud African brothers and sisters Guyanese back to Islam.

Yours faithfully,

Shahabudin McDoom