It may seem similar and it may not, but what we do know, is that they both believe that they are Muslims. The Islamic beliefs of the black American male and the males of the Middle East are the same. My argument lies in the question of whether or not Africans can call themselves true Muslims, believers and followers of the Islamic faith. To be considered a true Muslim you must follow the rules and regulations of the Islamic faith. What is Islam? Islam is defined as the complete acceptance of and obedience to the teachings of Allah (I. A. Ibrahim 45) As a Muslim you are to believe in Allah, who is incomparable. He has no son nor does he have a partner, he is unique and he is one.
You shall not worship, magnify, or pay tribute to any other, for all others are false. Yet we see otherwise in Africans who call themselves Muslims. In John S. Mbiti’s book, Introduction to African Religion he states traditional African beliefs mix those of Islam to suit the requirements of the people concerned so they get the best out of both religions (188-189). How can one say such a thing? To believe in something is to fight for it, is to die for it. You can not get the best of a religion if you do not fully believe in it.
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You should not adopt the way of dress and some other cultural forms (Mbiti 189), just to suit a community. Religion is something that is held dear to the heart of many people and to mix and mingle with them does not allow you to truly believe in one. When you convert to a religion it is not to convert halfway, it is not to convert three-fourths of the way, but to convert all the way. It is stated that even if Africans convert to another religion, they do not completely abandon the traditional religions (Mbiti 14) Here we see that the first real defiance has already occurred.
By mixing the two would not you be doing an injustice to the true believers of the Islamic faith and defying Allah the leader of the Islamic faith. in addition, are you not doing an injustice to the rites and rituals to the Gods, Spirits, and Divinities of the African religion? How can you please the leader/leaders of these separate religions if you are not even following them fully with your heart, mind, body and soul? I can not see how you can be a true religious follower or worshiper of any sort if you do not believe in all of you.
If we look at the Hausas of the Habe kingdom in northern Africa we can see despite their nominal adherence to Islam, they continue to practice spirit possession and animal sacrifice. They eat pork, let their women appear in public unveiled, engage in prohibited degrees of marriage, and practical matrilineal inheritance (Ray 179) Islamic practices set strict standards and regulations that Muslims must follow.
It is without a doubt that the Hausas have sinned. They knowingly and continuously practice what is Al-Haram. Al-Haram is something that is unlawful or prohibited. As we have witnessed it is without a doubt, a sin to worship any other, but Allah. Furthermore, they committed and engaged in five more sins against the Islamic creed. It is Haram (strictly prohibited) to eat the flesh of dead animals, that died of natural causes or had been strangled, beaten, or partly eaten by a wild beast (Elmastry 78). Animals must also be slaughtered by a sharp object so that the animals are able to bleed from their blood vessels. It is also Haram to eat any swine, pork of any sort. Before being slaughtered Allah’s name must be mention for giving such bounty (Elmastry 78).
It is Haram for a woman to wear clothes that are transparent and body tight, they are also to have their body covered, leaving only their hands and face to be seen (Elmastry 79). It is also Haram for men to take any of their wives ‘ money or property before they marry, during the marriage and after marriage. It is solely the man’s responsibility to care for the family regardless of their wife’s wealth (Elmastry 78). How can such people practice religion and pay it no nevermind? It is to no fault of the religion that they followed be for converting to the Islamic sect, but to what respect are they paying tribute? Are they paying tribute out of belief, out of enjoyment, out of respect, or out of selfishness? Can we or do we blame the Hausa scholars who did not draw the line between what is right and what is wrong, what was sinful and what was in the name of Allah? Do you blame the Hausa scholars for compromising the law of the Islamic faith to tailor the religion to the needs of wealthy Habe patrons? Another example of an Islamic group that fails to fully live up to The poorest of the Yorubas makes up the largest portion of the Islamic religion.
The Yorubian Muslims only, mostly follow the traditions of the Islamic sentiment. They live as do any true Muslim, except they take part in other festivals of other religions that are practiced within their families as well as the community, for they are merely acts of social custom (Trimingham 222). This can be seen as a means of keeping peace through the community, but again does it make it right? Is it acceptable, to partake in rituals that may be held in the pagan belief, or Christmas celebration of the Christian belief, or any other for that matter? Egypt on the other hand is the perfect example of a modern African nation that wholeheartedly follows the distinct beliefs and rules of the Islamic faith.
Even though they are the oldest African civilization and have much documentation on their old religion and belief, they do not combine the two. They have the pyramids which they use within their praying to point them in the right direction of Mecca. They do not worship or pay tribute to any other god or man. Only in Allah do they put their trust. Not to come down upon the African religion, I make arguments for both cases. As I stated in a past journal entry, the beliefs of African religion are remarkable in the sense that the religion leaves out no one. It unifies the community and tribes. Why mix something so traditional so, powerful, so peaceful? Regardless of what religion you choose to follow, it should be followed with the whole of you, not half of you. I would like to reiterate that each civilization whether it be the Gogo’s or the Yoruba’s, has their own meanings for its gods, spirits and divinities.
Whoever, each religion shares a general understanding of African religions and the African religious system. In African religion, though it is a vast religion that encompasses more than twenty-eight countries, there is still a general belief system. There is the belief that God is the creator of all things, he rules over the universe, sustains his creation and provides for what he has created. God is merciful, good, all-powerful, all-knowing, and He is everywhere. He is holy, never changes, unknowable, and is the first and last cause.
There is also a belief in spirits, there are many types of spirits. There are nature spirits, human spirits, sky spirits, earth spirits, and the spirits of the long-dead (ghost) and the recently dead (Mbiti 70). The belief in spirits helps to provided people with explanations of the many mysteries of the universe (Mbiti 81). Whether spirits are good or evil is questionable, since a majority of spirits can not be classified as either (Mbiti 79). Spirits do not have any kind of shape or form, since by definition they have no physical form (Mbiti 79). All of these beliefs should be believed in full.
If they not, then what is the purpose? The beauty of religion lies within the heart and the belief of whichever god and religion you choose to worship or follow. My religion is my god and I have no title for it; I may say I am Baptist or Episcopalian for reasons of labelling myself when asked. But through this paper I have realized that I need not label myself, I need not mix and mingle, because in my heart is where god lies. I worship and praise him in my own way.
Hans Kang gave one of the most eye-opening and satisfying statements I have read or ever been told. Religion is a beliving view of life, approach to life, way of life and therefore a fundamental patter embracing the individual and society, man and the world, through which a person (though only partially conscious of this) sees and experiences, thinks and feels, acts and suffers, everything. It is a transcendentally grounded and immanently operated system of coordinates by which man orients himself intellectually, emotionally, and existentially. (Kung xvii)
In closing, if religion is forced upon you would you not stand up for it? Would you not die for it? Many of these questions can be answered just by reading Chinua Achebe’s, Things Fall Apart. Okonkwo felt just like anyone else who is a strong believer in their religion, and he died for that in which he believed, for which he held the utmost respect. That was the religion of his people, the religion of his heart.
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