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Live and let live

Work on road to paradise

The following text is attributed to the late Sudanese parliamentarian Mohammad Ibrahim, “If a Muslim governs me, he will not help me go to Paradise, if an atheist governs me he will not get me out of Paradise, and if I am governed by those who secure work, freedom, dignity and self-respect for me and my children, I will bow in front of him for his respect and reverence.

My faith and work are the road to Paradise, so stop your dispute with the authority in the name of religion believing it will lead you to Paradise. A government  job is not the way to Paradise, but to providing them Paradise on earth (which may) help them enter the heavenly Paradise.”

When I read the above text, I remembered the great African poet and President Leopold Senghor, who was President of the Republic of Senegal for twenty years from October 1960 after independence until 1980.

When he freely  relinquished power  in favor of his successor President Abdou Diouf many saw Senghor as a world leader and one of the most important African thinkers of the 20th century.

Although 94 percent of the Senegalese population is Muslim and only 5 percent Christian, Leopold Senghor, who was born in 1906 and is Christian by faith, was elected president and re-elected again and again before he voluntarily gave up and died in France in 2001.

Meanwhile, in Africa, too, Ethiopia elected Abe Ahmed as the new prime minister. Ahmed is affiliated to Oromo, the country’s largest ethnic group that led the three-year anti-government protests. He is a Muslim and proud of his Islam in a country where 66 percent of the citizens are Orthodox Christians.

The proportion of Muslims among Ethiopians is only 30 percent, but the efficiency here also overcame religious or sectarian backwardness or intolerance.

These two examples and many others show that religious and sectarian fanaticism often exist only among us, while others are, as they see these trends as their last concern. If we go to Europe and America where Christianity is vastly embraced and consider it as complementary to Judaism, we will find dozens of important and sensitive positions are occupied by Muslims in spite of the growing hostility against Muslim immigrants into their countries.

We actually need to change our view towards others, and allow all minorities among us whether they are Muslim or Christian , Hindu, Bohra or Buddhists to practice their worship in a manner that suits them as long as they do not offend others.

But this change in view cannot happen overnight, but a decision is needed so that the discourse of the mosque, the state television and the curriculum of the school are involved in the process of change.

e-mail: habibi.enta1@gmail.com

By Ahmad Al Sarraf

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