As I was saying from the last article, if you have come to appreciate what is the true meaning of Islam as it applies to the whole of the human race, then you may have no cause to disagree with the notion that the ‘Islam’ we have on our hands today is cultural Islam. As an organized religion, with its creed dogma and ceremonies, it assumes a cultural dimension that makes it easily distinct from other religions in its mould. Christianity is not different from it. It has its cultural roots too, that doesn’t really make it really attractive especially with those who believe that it has imperialistic undertones.
The fact that Christianity as the organised religion that it has become could not be the brain child of what Jesus could be traced to one of the vital statements He made when He said that ‘the hour cometh when people will no longer say let us go to this mountain or to Jerusalem to go and worship the Father. The time cometh when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth for the faith in seeking such people to worship Him. God is a spirit and those that must worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth’. Jesus said this to the followers of Judaism, the recognised religion of His own people.
If Jesus could say that about the apparently credible religion of Judaism of His time, the point we want to bring out now is that this may not necessarily mean that there was something totally wrong about Judaism. It might just mean that as useful as the religion ought to have been, something apparently had crept into it that has made it somewhat defective. This very argument will equally explain what has gone wrong with both Christianity and the brand of Islam we have on our hands today. That the three of them are not healthy is evident in the conflicts they are all inflicting on mankind today. Their different cultural nature with their antagonistic undertones have been responsible for the debilitating tension that all of humanity today is enveloped in.
This is what you get when human beings allow the devil to creep in a serpentine manner into the religious affairs of man. If the devil cannot creep into the religious affairs of man, why must it be the Pharisees, the religious leaders of Judaism — the religion that claimed to be the custodian of the teachings of Abraham, Moses and the great prophets that would be responsible for engineering the death of Jesus Christ. Any wonder that Paul said in the bible that ministers of darkness are transforming themselves into angels of light and Jesus also said it is not everybody that is saying Lord! Lord! That will inherit the kingdom of Heaven. It is this satanic influence on the religious affairs of man that has distorted till date the effective understanding of the principle of Islam by everybody on earth.
When Mohammed said Islam is the only religion before God, I know how a lot of people who do not belong to the organised religion of Islam will feel. It will sound like an offensive statement. That is the nature of the damage of the satanic influence on the religious understanding of man or better still his spiritual development. Such people will not for once consider the significant statement of Mohammed before coming to parochial judgments that the man said that submission to the will of God is the principle on which Islam stands and that God Almighty told Him that there should be no division among mankind in the understanding of that principle because all the prophets of God before Him were united on that principle. Most of those who have already become parochially minded will not for once give it a thought that perhaps what the man was saying is that the understanding of Islam must transcend organised modes of worship.
Ayo-Vaughan, a psychologist, lives in Lagos