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 photo boko_haramjpgsizexxlargeletterbox_zps32c093d0.jpgNigerian woman at protest. Photocredit: SUNDAY ALAMBA - AP

I recommend this impassioned op-ed by Ahmed Sahi, a devout Muslim, who denounces the violence of Boco Haram and reminds us that Boko Haram does not represent Islam, which is published in The Toronto Star. Sahi suggests Boko Haram has not just kidnapped the several hundred Nigerian girls but also has "hijacked a whole faith."

Islam is the third largest religion in the United States. 0.8% of our population are Muslims.  

Sahi condemns Boko Haram's "rampage of indiscriminate violence and tyranny which has been going on for over three years now in Nigeria."

It’s frustrating because here you have this massive group of about 1.8 billion Muslims on earth today, and a handful of twisted extremists have hijacked the whole faith, steering the public discourse on Islam. Every inhumane and ghastly crime they perpetrate leaves a mark on the face of Islam, spread across the international stage in global headlines for all to see. “Boko Haram — Islamic Militants.” That’s how they’re described and viewed. The “militant” part is true. The “Islamic” part? Not so much.

Sahi uses an example of asking a member of the RCMP, which I'm guessing is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, about corruption among the force. An officer responds that a few bad apples have given the almost 70,000 honorable and courageous officers  of the RCMP a bad name, apparently referring to some recent scandal in Canada. Sahi suggest this analogy applies to Boco Haram and the world's 1.8 billion good, peaceful, law abiding Muslims.


For the many people who have cried in frustration for the “silent 99 per cent” of Muslims to make themselves heard and to make a clear separation between themselves and the extremists, I want to enumerate just how anti-Islamic Boko Haram really is.
Firstly, their very name, which translates as “Western education is a sin,” is totally opposed to the fundamentals of Islamic philosophy. The Prophet Muhammad once stated, “it is incumbent on every Muslim man and woman to seek knowledge.” He even exhorted his followers to “seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”

Ahmed Sahi also detests Boko Haram's misogynistic abuse of women, saying
the "Prophet Muhammad had the utmost respect for women. 'Paradise lies at the feet of your mothers,' he once said. 'That’s how much dignity and respect Islam has accorded to women.]"

Ahmed also informs us the true definition of Jihad, which means "struggle in the way of Allah," is an inner struggle with ones moral failings. Sahi asks rhetorically, "isn't Boco Haram conducting "Jihad" in the "traditional way?" No, not at all, Sahi asserts the:

Prophet Muhammad taught true Jihad was the one a person waged against his own evil inclinations and moral failings ... the Holy Quran, which states that “whosoever killed a person … it shall be as if he had killed all mankind” (Chapter 5, Verse 33).

Ahmed Sahi closes this inspiring missive with an optimistic message of interface peace and cooperation with a story I had not heard saying that 1,400 years ago (the) "Prophet Muhammad, ... once vacated a mosque so that Christians could worship in it, and enjoy their prayers in peace and with convenience."

In a modern world of diverse peoples and religions, as well as lack of religions, we all benefit from hearing wise and compassionate calls for peace, respect for one another, and inter-faith cooperation.

And, during this terrible crisis while Boco Haram grabs headlines daily with kidnappings and massacres in the name of "Allah" we all need to remind ourselves and others that Abubakar Shekau is an opportunistic terrorist and criminal, as are the other members of Boko Haram.

 photo ramadan-canada_zps8c5d4dc5.jpgIslamic Prayer Lantern

Boco Haram does not speak for all Muslims and shows no sign of following Islamic principles. Ahmed Sahi deserves our praise and appreciation for this public condemnation of Boco Haram and their violent ways which are not consistent with the majority views of the world's 1.8 billion Muslims. Other leaders of Islamic communities should speak out against violence and make their views known. Some Muslims do believe in violent Jihad so it would seem to be a useful clarification for leaders to make.  

Also, may I wish all of our Muslim readers a peaceful and most blessed Ramadan which starts in late June this year.  

1:32 PM PT: I should point out that I am not a Muslim but a scientific humanist who tries to respect and learn wisdom from all religions.

Also a few comment challenge the notion that any religions can be peaceful. I will leave the response to those who wish to respond, My primary point is that Boco Haram does not speak for most Muslim any more than the bomber who blew up that Federal Building spoke for Christians. We shouldn't tar groups with labels based on the behavior the worst members of their group.

I would also agree with those who challenge neither can we people of faith a "free pass" just because they are believers. So it seem fair to challenge groups with behaviors they may be collectively responsible for.

1:39 PM PT: In response to a few comments I added an acknowledgement that some Muslims do believe in violent Jihad making it even more important for those that do not to come out to denounce violence. I guess I should have said, it is my belief that most do not, as I also believe most Christians don't support a lot of gratuitous "illegal violence." (Well except in wars, retaliations, and against murderers, .... ) Damn. let's just say I appreciated Sahi denouncing the violence of Boco Haram and leave it at that.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you... (4+ / 0-)

    ...and I understand and agree with all of the points you made here, at least as much as a non-Muslim can.

  •  Pot and kettle (5+ / 0-)

    It's pretty sad that many of the people complaining about Boku Haram being what Islam represents are themselves Christian extremists trying force their perverted version of the Bible on our country. Anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-corporatist stances that only exist in their fevered imaginations are not what Christianity is supposed to be about.

    GOP 2014 strategy -- Hire clowns, elephants, and a ringmaster and say "a media circus" has emerged and blame Democrats for lack of progress. Have pundits agree that "both sides are to blame" and hope the public will stay home on election day.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed May 07, 2014 at 01:02:24 PM PDT

    •  these Christians such as Lively are also active (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ExpatGirl, HoundDog

      in Africa, framing various anti-LGBT statutes among other things.  The terrible thing is that American Fundamentalism and this Fourth Great Awakening has led to a fusion of African animism with Western Fundamentalism to produce aberrations such as the belief in witches, demons and resurrections which has led to practices such as witch hunters, exorcisms and attempts to raise the dead.

      This has been returned to the US as we see an increase in the number of Americans who believe in literal demons, possession, witches and resurrection as more and more African missionaries come to the US to spread this "New Gospel"

      In Africa, we see such tragedies as the banishment of "witch children" and witch stonings, beatings and burnings.  

      •  How tremendously sad and tragic. Our capacity (0+ / 0-)

        as human being to be cruel to our fellow humans is frightening and incomprehensible.

        Thanks for bringing this agonizing news entlord. What you are saying is that we can not say that all religions value peace. The ones you describe here appear to be inherently evil, and sound more like cults lead by sociopaths like the Bob Jones group in Central America that he induced to commit mass suicide.  

        "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

        by HoundDog on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:56:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The only person we've had recently... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      auapplemac

      ...from the Christianist Right who was at all comparable to Boko Haram was Timothy McVeigh, and the government killed him with admirable efficiency.  

      It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

      by Rich in PA on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:33:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The meaning of Islam is in the book. (6+ / 0-)

    And the book contains plenty of nastiness and terrible views of women and "infidels".  I'll say the same thing to Islamists who say Islam is a religion of peace and groups like this don't represent the "true" religion as I do to Christians who say their fundamentalists don't represent their religion.  Until you both drop those texts as "holy" guides to life, you are tied to the violence and the whole can of worms that is supported by those texts and acted out by followers of your own religion.

    •  to be fair, the Bible in its original version (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical, GreenMother, auapplemac

      is a book of its time and place the same as the Q'ran.  Therefore, to take them as immutable laws for our lives is a mistake.  This is the problem of literalism which we find existing in current Muslim and Christian fundamentalism.  It assumes that we read the books without context so the rules are applied unthinkingly to today's life.  I think militant religion, regardless of its flavor, offers the modern world little beyond fanaticism    

      •  What do all Christians and Muslims (0+ / 0-)

        do when teaching their kids about their religion? The hand them the book and tell them that it is the source of their beliefs.  Do they also tell their kids not to take the book literally? Or only take the good stuff literally?  Why are non-militant believers so shocked when the militants say and do the things they do?  You can't have it both ways. This is a never ending cycle within both Christianity and Islam (and in Judaism too).  The only way to break it is to disavow the texts... or rewrite them.... or walk away from the whole thing.

    •  I understand your points Fishtroller01. I have not (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Be Skeptical, Fishtroller01

      read the Quran, nor am I a Muslim so I will have to let other respond.

      I guess I do not actually know exactly to what percentage followers of any of the world's religions, or agostics, and atheists believe in, or oppose violence.

      I stand behind my praise of Sahi's op-ed as praiseworthy, but did not mean to imply Muslims, Christians or followers of any religion should get a "free pass" on abuses to human rights committed in their names, and which I would agree are widely prevalent in many of the established religions.

      Thanks for helping me clarify this message.  

      "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

      by HoundDog on Wed May 07, 2014 at 01:45:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And there are probably people who still insist ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gsenski

      that Charles James Stuart - son of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley - was No True Scotsman!

      "Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius." -- Arnaud Amaury

      by terremoto on Wed May 07, 2014 at 05:00:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh well, like they say, the (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, terremoto

    "proof is in the pudding"

    And several thousand years of history . . ..

    •  Fair points Roadbed Guy. (0+ / 0-)

      "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

      by HoundDog on Wed May 07, 2014 at 01:27:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ? If you mean that there are plenty of events (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peacestpete, HoundDog

      that show how bad Islam is, the same can be said of most religions (maybe Buddhists and the Baha'i are the exception -- I'm not knowledgeable enough to be sure).
      Judaism certainly has committed its share of massacres and bad treatment of others and right now, the extremist ultra-religious Jews in Israel are looking pretty terrible (stoning women, saying they have to sit at the back of the bus...)
      The history of Christianity is full of violence and persecution of others (stake-burnings during the Spanish inquisition anyone? or how about the horrible massacres during the Crusades, or the more recent behavior by Catholic clergy?).
      I know less about the history of eastern religions but have heard stories of violence by Hindu extremists in India (as well as awful things that happen to people who cross caste lines because of love and the killing of wives by their in-laws).
      In general, extremists of any religion are twisted ugly people and should not be used to judge the entire religion.

      While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

      by Tamar on Wed May 07, 2014 at 01:29:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bravo for this! I was getting tired of this (4+ / 0-)

    vicious group being used to condemn a whole religion.

    While Democrats work to get more people to vote, Republicans work to ensure those votes won't count.

    by Tamar on Wed May 07, 2014 at 01:30:38 PM PDT

  •  Granted that these guys do not speak for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, Joy of Fishes

    all Islam by any stretch of the imagination no more than the Saudi Wahhabists do.  These radical organizations reflect the true nature of Islam the same way Hagee and Robertson reflect Christianity.  Sadly, since 9/11, Islamophobia has become fashionable among some groups in the US, even among Progressives.

    That being said, mainstream Islam does give pause to Western minds at times.  For example, Indonesia has one of the largest Muslim populations in the world and is generally regarded as one of the more moderate Muslim nations.  However the current case of Sharia law in Indonesia is troubling as a woman who was gang raped for adultery now faces caning under Sharia Law:
    http://girlsjustwannahaveguns.com/...

    In the meantime, Boco Haram has attacked another village, kidnapping more girls and killing between 200-300 people.
    http://www.cnn.com/...

    These radical groups do not speak for Islam though they claim to.  At the same time, it appears that Islam itself may be experiencing growing pains with various manisfestations      

    •  Agreed entlord. You articulate this so well, I (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes

      encourage you to post this.

      My intent was merely to highlight Ahmed Sahi for being among the first self-identified Muslims to jump up and denounce Boco Haram.

      I've read criticism of Islamic leaders in the past from critics in other religions that more have not denounced violent Jihad so when I was doing google searches for more information of Boco Haram, I was encouraged o see Sahi's op-ed.

      In retrospect, I am humbled, and more than a little discouraged that I did not anticipate this debate, especially because on other occasions as a scientific humanist I've been critical and perhaps even extra, if not overly sensitive to hypocrisy by religious leaders for not being more aggressive in calling out their the behavior of their own followers when their fall short of their own goals.

      So much so, it seems clear I'm projecting some unresolved issues of my own psyche.

      So, the fact that I could have walked blindly right into this issue without anticipating it ... is discouraging an substantially lowers my self esteem.

      Like a self-impressed chess player who struggles to see several moves "behind." I may be past my "freshness date."  

      "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

      by HoundDog on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:01:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  As if we don't have troubles with this here (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joy of Fishes

      For those Christian extremists who call for a theocracy, constantly harping on "legitimate Rape" and promoting state sanctioned rape by instrumentation when trying to force women to remain pregnant and deny them birth control--well our culture simply hasn't codified their hate yet.

      But give them some time.

      "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

      by GreenMother on Wed May 07, 2014 at 03:33:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Book larnin' is a sin? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreenMother, Be Skeptical

    What would the great Muslim scholars of Abbasid times have thought about that?

    Bello ne credite, Americani; quidquid id est, timeo Republicanos et securitatem ferentes.

    by Sura 109 on Wed May 07, 2014 at 02:24:29 PM PDT

  •  most of my students are muslim, and i guarantee (0+ / 0-)

    you they are horrified by these bandits

  •  I'm of two minds about this. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Be Skeptical

    I think Islam is inherently misogynist and antipluralist--yes, more than Christianity and Judaism.  But I don't think any Muslim should feel any obligation to disassociate him or herself from a bunch of deranged people that they're obiously not associated with, any more than I feel an obligation to disassociate myself from Stalin or the Symbionese Liberation Army.  I'd rather see decent people of that faith, or any faith, reform their core "mainstream" beliefs, than wasting their time explaining that they're not crazy murderers.  

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Wed May 07, 2014 at 04:31:21 PM PDT

  •  Boko Haram just uses Islam as an excuse (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sura 109

    for their crimes. Of course they don't represent the religion; they don't need to when what they do represent is worse:

    The meaning of their name, "Western education is forbidden," represents anti-intellectualism, chauvinism, and willful ignorance.

    Their abduction of human beings means they're pro-slavery. That the recent abductions are of girls and young women adds misogyny to their list of crimes.

    Their demand for sharia even on those who don't want it represents authoritarianism and bigotry.

    The use of terrorism to achieve their ends is nothing but entitlement. It is a scaled-up version of a bunch of whiny brats demanding their parent (Nigeria) drop everything to cater to their every whim, then wrecking the house and attacking their siblings when the parent doesn't immediately comply.

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