Theocracies are a backward form of government
Stabroek News
February 15, 2002

Dear Editor,

I welcome Mr Shahabudin McDoom's letter [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] of January 16, 2002 since it uncovers a lot that is usually glossed over in Islam. I shall touch on such points below:

(l) Mr McDoom writes "Prophet Muhammad (OWBP) instituted that a slave could earn his or her freedom by teaching others to read and write". What Muhammad should have done if he was against slavery was to abolish slavery in the Muslim Empire just as Queen Victoria abolished it in the much larger British Empire. Instead, Muhammad stopped at a mild "amelioration" which was in any case, a common characteristic of plantation slavery. He didn't abolish slavery like Queen Victoria though he had vaster powers than she since he was both absolute Head of State and Allah's prophet.

(2) Mr McDoom wrote that several of the Caliphs of the Abbasid Empire were sons of slaves. This is perfectly true since their mothers were harem concubines who were regarded as slaves of the Caliph. Actually, under the Ummayad line of rulers, the Sultans and Caliphs kept to strict Islamic Law and had only four wives. But the later Abbasids had harems with large numbers of slave women in addition to their four wives. It was some of the sons of these slave women who were the Caliphs to whom

Mr McDoom refers. In any case, none of these were Black since the Caliphs wanted only white skinned women for their harems and a good proportion of them came from Circassia and Georgia, countries in the Caucasus.

(3) Mr McDoom also boasts of the Muslim Arab states and empires as being Theocracies or faith based states. Theocracies are known to be a backward form of government which leads to persecution of minorities, violence and decline. Examples of the terrible effects of Theocracies envelop the entire Islamic world. For instance, the Taliban of Afghanistan ran their faith based theocracy with terrible results. Islamic states need to try Democracy rather than Theocracy if they are to progress.

(4) Mr McDoom writes, "Islam has begun to make significant numbers of converts in industrialized societies " Industrialized societies such as those of Europe and North America have been generous in allowing millions of Muslim' immigrants within their territories and have granted full religious freedom to Muslims to propagate their religion and to build their mosques and even to have their own special burial grounds. Islamic states, on the other hand, don't take in non Islamic immigrants and especially Black immigrants. And in the Islamic states, it is illegal for Christians and others to teach their religion and to propagate it. Islamic states do not allow Christians and others to publish or distribute their literature or to build churches and chapels. And even in those Muslim countries which have tiny Christian and other minorities, Islamic persecution is there for all to see.

(5) Mr McDoom claimed that the Quran is the single unique book containing Allah's revelations in their purest form, free from the vagaries and interpolations which are found in the scriptures of other religions. Such a statement is rash and historically inaccurate. In the time of the First Caliph, several versions of the Quran were in existence. The First Caliph had all other versions than the one he felt was the real thing, destroyed.

Further, within the Islamic tradition, it is strongly felt that lblis (Satan, the Devil), was able to quietly slip in a few verses into the Quran, since the Earth is Satan's domain. This tradition was mentioned in Salman Rushdie's famous book "Satanic Verses". There are therefore serious, unanswered questions.

(6) Mr McDoom questions: "In the absence of paper and other means of record, how could the Africans preserve their gospels?" I have mentioned time and again that all the scriptures of all the major religions were once in oral form before being written. Islamic scriptures, for example, were once in oral form since the prophet Muhammed who claimed an Angel had told him the verses of the Quran, could not have written them down since he was an illiterate. Muhammed had to depend on others to write down his revelations. And the Hadith was also derived from an oral tradition. African ethical and metaphysical teachings are still, likewise, in oral form but since the 20th century are being written down. The African religious teaching is preserved orally by reciters similar to the Muslim Hafizes who know the Quran by heart. Further, by not having one over arching book such as the Quran in the African tradition, it saves us from Book worship (bibliolatry) as in Islam where there is an excessive reverence and veneration paid to the Quran.

(7) Mr. McDoom claims that I said that Islam is too difficult for Africans. I said nothing of the kind. I said Islam considers itself a culture superior to all others and when it is imposed on any group, as for example Africans, it requires Africans to give up their history, their culture, their art, their law, their social customs and even their names. They have to adopt Arab Islamic culture and norms in place of our hallowed African traditions. I also said that this contrasted with Christianity where the Christian Churches in Africa are fast being Africanized and the customs and deities of old Africa live on.

Nor did I say that Islam is too easy for Africans. I pointed out that to merely utter the phrase "There is no God but Allah and Muhammed is his last prophet" which is all that is required to be converted to the Muslim religion is far too simplistic for the African mind. I pointed out that the African mind required greater depth and breadth of ethical and metaphysical teaching in religion and that our African religions, in contrast to Islam, are highly philosophic and require much training and commitment.

(8) Mr McDoom boasts of an Arab Islamic Empire which existed hundreds of years ago. The British and French who owned empires which were much bigger and richer than the Arab empires to which Mr McDoom alludes, try to play down their imperial past because they are embarrassed to be seen as conquerors of other peoples and nations.

(9) Mr McDoom claims that the religion of our African ancestors was Islam. The truth is different. Long before Islam or Muhammed existed, Africans had their ancient traditional religions together with Christianity, both of which we still have. Indeed, it was a Black Christian Ethiopian king who rescued the first Muslims when they were under attack and saved Islam from being destroyed. Islam is not the ancestral religion of Africans.

Yours faithfully

Accabre Nkofi