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December 4, 2007

 

Islam and Christianity are two great religions seeking more and more converts in Nigeria. The contact between the followers of these religions increases day by day. During the colonial days many Christian religious leaders were hostile to Islam and presented Islam as a religion of the barbarians and some Christians even prayed and left no stone unturned in order to replace Islam with Christianity. But today, the Muslims and the Christians are trying to understand each other’s religion more than at any time before and at the same time some vigorous efforts are being made by each of them to help each other understand their religion.         The humble writer believes that whatever the beliefs of any person may be, he respects them and he does not like them to be ridiculed. Therefore, let us think over our religious beliefs. Let the adherents of each come together with open minds and hearts and search for inner intentions of faith, and they should not be deterred and diverted by their over-enthusiasm to convert others, which inevitably provokes a closing of ranks and minds. While studying comparative religions the Christian is brought up to believe that his is the only true religion, with Judaism as a preparation for Christianity, and that all other religions are false. He thinks that God has chosen and set apart the children of Israel for the purpose of revealing His messages and sending His prophets. Hence, he believes only in the prophets and religious teachers of Israel and looks upon all other claimants to prophethood as impostors. The Christian missionaries have all along employed their energies to prove the holy founders of other religions to be charlatans and sinful men so that they might establish the unique claims of Jesus Christ. One has only to read their books about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) and his religion to find how their religious preconceptions and prejudices have made them incapable of seeing the truth of others. They have not even hesitated to mistranslate the Holy Qur'an and spread many misstatements about Prophet Muhammad -(peace be on him) to serve their own purpose.          The Muslims on the other hand, believe in the divine origin of all the greet religions of the world. The sacred book of Islam declares that God has raised prophets in every nation to guide human beings to the path of truth and righteousness. Being the loving Creator and Sustainer of all the World, He cannot become partial and choose one nation, to the exclusion of all others, for revealing His messages. A Muslim must believe in the founders of all the great religions. He may feel sorry to see how the Jews and Christians etc., have partly forsaken and altered the true teachings of Moses, Jesus and the other prophets, but he can never speak against the holy founders of these religions. For, he has been directed by the Holy Qur'an to believe in them as true and righteous apostles of God. He has the same respect and love for them as he has for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).         Whatever I may Write or have written about Christianity is directly related to my understanding of its Holy Book (the Bible) and I welcome any Christian criticism or clarification of some of these points that I have discussed in this book. I have dismissed the modern church doctrine on the authority of the Bible, and I invite any Christian to dismiss my argument or clarify some of the points I have discussed here also on the authority of the Bible and not through the Writings of any Christian scholar however eminent.         Christianity took its name from Jesus Christ. The religious books of the Christians which were revealed by God to Jesus Christ are part of the Bible known as the New Testament.         Jesus Christ was born in the small village of Bethlehem in Palestine, though his early life is not known to us, yet this much we know, that he studied Judaism in his early life. When Jesus Christ became thirty, revelations began to come upon him and he then started to criticize Judaism as it was practiced. He delivered many lectures. One of these is historically very important the Sermon on the Mount in which he declared:
 “Blessed are they who are poor, because We kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are they who are meek because they will inherit the earth. Blessed are they who are sorrowful because they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful upon whom mercy will be done. Blessed are the pure at heart because they will see God”
        When Jesus Christ reached Jerusalem to preach his teachings, the Jews became very glad but as soon as he preached his spiritual discourse, he was declared a rebel and according to Christian beliefs he was tried and crucified.         However, Jesus Christ, during his period of two to three years of preaching, emphasized the Unity of God, Brotherhood and Love as basis of human organization. He also stressed the importance of morality dud denounced greed and wea1tll accumulated unjustly.         Jesus Christ preached a system of ethics based on morality as We base of religion. Jesus confirmed the teachings of Moses: 
“Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not defraud. Honour thy father and mother.”
        The spirit of the teachings of Jesus has been very beautifully summed up in the following passage:  “The mutual attacks of state on state, the mutual usurpations of family upon family, the mutual robberies of man on man, the want of kindness on the part of the sovereign and of loyalty on the part of the minister, the want of tenderness and filial duty between father and son-these and such as these are the injuries to the empire. And this has arisen from want of mutual love. If but that one virtue could be made universal, the princes loving one another would have no battlefields, the chief of families would attempt no usurpations; man would commit no robberies, rulers and ministers would be gracious and loyal; brothers would be harmonious and easily reconciled, men in general loving one another, the strong would not make prey of the weak; the many would not plunder the few; the rich would not insult We poor; and the noble would not be insolent to the mean and the deceitful would not impose upon the simple.”         Jesus gave the message of love and universal brotherhood to mankind.         Christianity, In its beginning was based upon the teachings of Jesus Christ but after he had gone, there were many additions and alterations in this faith.         Many Christian scholars in writing about Christianity. hardly refer to the Bible but refer to the opinions or Christian scholars. I was recently discussing with an expatriate Christian Missionary friend of mine, who said that there are two types of Christianity, namely:        1.         christianity with an ordinary "c" which has been rejected in Europe by the renaissance of the 15th Century. This is the christianity that can be found in the Bible, and        2.         Christianity with a capital "C". This is the Christianity developed by the philosophers and moralists to meet the challenging problems of our time.         This to me is very strange, as the only source of authority is the Bible.         I shall, therefore, base my arguments solely on the Bible while refuting the Pauline doctrine of vicarious sacrifice, the Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus Christ and Divine-sonship of Jesus which distinguishes Islam from Christianity. The religion of Islam has no place in it for any of these dogmas. Islam believes in the Oneness of God as against the Trinity in Christianity. It considers the Christian deification of Jesus to be a reversion to paganism. According to the Holy Qur'an, Jesus was not an incarnation of God, but a prophet and messenger of God and like all other prophets (including Prophet Muhammad), he was every bit a human being. Islam also rejects the doctrine of Divine-sonship. Jesus may be called a son of God in the sense in which all righteous human beings may be called the children of God, but not in any literal or special sense. In the same way, Islam rejects the dogmas of Original sin, the Vicarious sacrifice and the Atonement.         Islam preaches the pure and simple Unity of God, the Almighty, All-Loving, All-Knowing, All-Wise, All-Holy, Unique, the Creator and Sustainer of the Worlds:
“Your God is One God; there is none save Him, the All-Loving, the All-Merciful.” [Qur’an 2:163]
 “Say, 'He is God, the One:
God, the eternally Besought of all. He begetteth not, Nor was He begotten And there is none Comparable unto Him.'”   [Qur’an 112:1-4]
         The Muslims argue that Jesus is not the founder of modern Christianity. The present dogmas of modern Christianity took shape after Jesus, as a result of pagan influence. They show that Christianity has departed considerably from the religion as preached by Jesus.         The Muslims, until lately, did not become involved in education development early enough in Nigeria; but, Christian Missionaries who came from secular states of Europe with public funds, introduced education on the Western pattern which soon spread all over the country. Admission to these Christian schools was conditioned on accepting Christianity. Thus, the Christian missionaries used educational institutions to force the Muslim youths to follow their faith. I, myself have been subjected to this. For instance, Jubilee School-Ikare and Victory College-Ikare were built by the Ikare Communities of which the Muslims are in the majority, but up until 1946, when the writer was in Standard Six, no person was allowed to take Primary Six Examinations except one who became a member of the Church Missionary Society. The writer broke the tradition with a series of petitions to the then Education Officer at Akare and in 1947, the writer as a Class I student at Victory College was forced to go to church and as a result, he left for his Secondary Education.         Even today, the Victory College has merely changed its tactics. In fact, it is pursuing a more ruthless policy of perversion of Muslim children into Christianity. As a normal rule, the Victory College-Ikare Authorities admit only Christian children, but, occasionally admit a few Muslim children as a pretence that there is no discrimination in the admission of students. Such Muslim children are subjected to vigorous propaganda to accept Christianity. They are forcefully baptized at the Victory College Chapel. Moreover, all the Muslim children are forced to attend Christian Services every morning and any failure of students to attend Chapel may lead to their dismissal.         This has led to the conversion of some Muslim intellectuals to Christianity. I do not consider it appropriate here to analyze the cause of this conversion, but I would rather discuss the means of bringing these Muslim children who have gone or are likely to go astray, back to the fold of Islam.         If this book can help Muslim children and Christians even in the least bit, to further understanding the fundamental doctrines of modern Christianity not based on the Bible, then I would claim that my humble attempt is justified.         I would like to urge upon all Muslims to try and read this book themselves and circulate it among their friends so that they may educate their communities about the superior teachings of Islam as compared with Christianity. I want to address this appeal especially to parents whose children are studying in Christian schools where they are likely to fall victims of Christian influence, in the cause of their secular education.         I am sure this book will be of great use to the Western educated Nigerian Muslims and the Nigerian Muslim Missionaries who may come in contact with Christian scholars or laity.         Christians have recently come out with a number of publications which are purported to explain Islam to the Christians. Since the end of the Civil War in Nigeria, Christians have redoubled their efforts to convert Muslims to Christianity. To moot this challenge, I have decided to write this book titled "THE MYTH OF THE CROSS", basing my arguments strictly on the authority of the Bible and not on any far-fetched arguments of Christian scholars however eminent.       Many friends of mine have asked me from time to time what I consider to be the basic doctrines of Christianity. I have come to feel the need of a book which examines Christianity from the Biblical point of view, and thus seek to find the truth and errors of the modern doctrines of Christianity in Nigeria.         This book is a humble effort to explain Christianity to the Christians and Muslims. I hope my Christian friends will find this book useful in clearing the mist that covers some of the grossly misunderstood aspects of their religion like the trinity; the Divinity of Jesus and the Divine Son-ship of Jesus. I hope my readers will take note of the difference between Christianity as practiced by followers of Jesus and Christianity as practiced by Nigerian Christians. I also hope this book will go a long way to satisfy the intellectual cravings of Nigerian youths in this post-war Nigerian era of anxiety and restlessness.         No great originality is claimed, indeed, all the ideas expressed here owe their origin to one or other of the great thinkers of our time, whose labors have made theology and secular ideologies such an exciting business. In order to avoid lengthy quotations and numerous footnotes; arguments and points of view under discussion are presented in general terms without specific attribution or acknowledgement. This is a dangerous precedent, but under the circumstances it seems justified. Of course I take full responsibility for everything that is said here.         I have so far as possible consulted the literature put out by Christian Scholars.         In Part I of this book, I analyze the present doctrines of Christianity. In Part II, I examine some other aspects of Christianity from the Biblical point of view as well as making a brief reference to the Old Testament.         I am grateful to all the people who went through the manuscript and offered me very useful suggestions and those friends who have kindly helped me in the preparation of this book.         I am particularly grateful to Professor A. Bab Fafunwa, Dean of Faculty of Education and Deputy vice Chancellor of the University of Ife, Ife, Nigeria; who read through this book. I am also grateful to Professor A. Bab Fafunwa for introducing me to his colleagues at the University of Ife, for their comments, suggestions and advice on reading the manuscript and also Dr. A. Salami formerly of the University of Ife who corrected the language of this manuscript as part of my work entitled “An Introduction to Comparative Religion and Modern-Isms".         I am particularly indebted to Doctor Musa Abdul, B.A. (London), M.A., Ph.D. (McGill), Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Ibadan, Ibadan for reading through the manuscript and making valuable suggestions.         My thanks are also due to Mrs. N. Abdus.Salaam, my Secretary, who ungrudgingly typed from my badly written manuscripts again and again and took several dictations and retyped many paragraphs.         I am really indebted to Mr. Akhlaq Husain, Director, Islamic publications Ltd., Lahore, who took a keen interest in the publishing of this book. He took much pains in going through the manuscript thoroughly. In fact, the last two chapters of this book were added upon his suggestion and the manuscript was improved a lot on his advises. Really I would not have presented this book in the present improved condition but due to his personal attention and interest.         I am also grateful to M/s. Malik Ghulam Ali and Abdul Waheed Khan who tirelessly worked to revise, correct and improve the manuscript and finally shaped it for publishing.         I must here record my sincere thanks to my father Alhaj Jimoh Ajijola who instilled in me the basic concept of Islamic Religion while I was young.          May it please Allah to accept this humble service.

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