Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Lidasan: History repeats itself: Christian and Muslim alliance for peace

A NEW Bangsamoro youth group emerged few weeks ago. This group is called Bangsamoro Youth Leaders Caucus (BYLC). This group was convened by the Salaam Movement and the Al Qalam Institute of the Ateneo de Davao University. One of the highlights of this Caucus was their Manifesto of support to the Bangsamoro peace process.

Various reactions, online and offline, about the BYLC were discussed within the Bangsamoro communities. The leadership of the Moro fronts were happy to hear the voice of the youth in this manifesto. But sympathizers of the violent extremists did not like the emergence of BYLC.

Groups like Maute, BIFF, and other Isis-inspired groups in Mindanao do not like the Bangsamoro youth to voice out their views and support to the Bangsamoro peace process. These groups even accuse BYLC as a smear campaign against them. They also do not believe with the importance of BYLC's campaign for active non-violence as a methodology to address the Bangsamoro problem.

BYLC was also criticized by the violent extremists as to why their first meeting was held within the campus of Ateneo de Davao University, a Catholic, Jesuit, Filipino university. The convenors and founding members of BYLC did not react. They instead explained on their posts on Facebook and with their families the history of the strong alliance of the Christian King of Abyssinia and the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

According to Abu Tariq Hijazi, a Muslim scholar of the history of Islam, "Najashi, the Christian King of Abyssinia, was the leader who helped the Muslim emigrants" during the early years of Islam.

Hijazi narrated in his book the important event this emigration in his book in this manner:

"It was a very critical moment. Jafaribn Abi Taleb, the elder brother of Ali ibn Abi Taleb, who after embracing Islam escaped the prosecution of Makkans and led a delegation of over 80 emigrants to Habesha, was standing in the court of Christian King Najashi to defend Islam. He had full faith in Almighty Allah and so he spoke fearlessly.

"After the second emigration of Muslims to Habesha (Abyssinia), Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan, the two warlords of pagans of Makkah, sent a delegation to Najashi asking him to expel the Muslims. The delegation brought many precious gifts for the king and his courtiers. They presented their claim in the court saying:

"O king, there is a group of evil persons from among our youth who have escaped to your kingdom. They practice a religion, which neither we, nor you know. They have forsaken our religion and have not embraced your religion. The respected leaders of their people - from among their own parents and uncles and from their own clans - have sent us to you to request you to return them.

"The king looked toward his bishops, who had already been bribed, they said: 'O king, they speak the truth. Their own people know them better and are better acquainted with what they have done. Send them back so that they themselves might judge them.'

"The king was angry with this response and said: 'No, by God, I won't surrender them to anyone until I myself call them and question them about what they have been accused of.'

"Najashi invited the Muslims at the court and asked their leader Jafar: 'What is this religion which you have introduced for yourself and which has served to cut you off from the religion of your people? You also did not enter my religion nor the religion of any other community.'

"Jafar stood and replied with full confidence: 'O king, we were a people in a state of ignorance and immorality, worshipping idols and eating the flesh of dead animals, committing all sorts of abomination and shameful deeds, breaking the ties of kinship, treating guests badly and the strong among us exploited the weak.'

"We remained in this state until Allah sent us a Prophet (peace be upon him), one of our own people whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness and integrity were well-known to us. He called us to worship Allah alone and to renounce the stones and the idols, which we and our ancestors used to worship besides Allah.

"He commanded us to speak the truth, to honor our promises, to be kind to our relations, to be helpful to our neighbors, to cease all forbidden acts, to abstain from bloodshed, to avoid obscenities and false witness, not to appropriate an orphan's property nor slander chaste women.

"He ordered us to worship Allah alone and not to associate anything with him, to uphold Salat, to give Zakat and fast in the month of Ramadan. We believed in him and what he brought to us from Allah and we follow him in what he has asked us to do and we keep away from what he forbade us from doing.

"Thereupon, O king, our people attacked us, visited the severest punishment on us to make us renounce our religion and take us back to the old immorality and the worship of idols.

"They oppressed us, made life intolerable for us and obstructed us from observing our religion. So we left for your country, choosing you before anyone else, desiring your protection and hoping to live in justice and in peace in your midst.

"Najashi was impressed and was eager to hear more. He asked Jafar: 'Do you have with you something of what your Prophet brought from God? Please read to me:' Jafar, in his rich, melodious voice recited for him a portion of Surah Maryam from Verses 19 to 32.

"Najashi stood up for Allah's words and said: Certainly this and what Jesus had brought come out of one source. He turned to the Makkan delegates and said angrily: I won't hand them to you and I'll defend them. Then he ordered his courtier to dismiss the delegation and to return their gifts to them. He then turned to Jafar and his group and said: 'You're welcome; Your Prophet is welcome. I admit that he is the Apostle about whom Jesus had given good news. Live wherever you like in my country. The pagan delegation returned to Makkah with their gifts in despair."

This part of history in Islam shows how our Christian brothers and sisters helped the Muslims. The same event is happening today. We have a Catholic, Jesuit, Filipino university who is providing a safe space for the Filipino Muslims and the Bangsamoro people to rise up and practice the true meaning of Islam of love, peace, tolerance, a service to humanity.
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