The Brotherhood of Islam and Christianity By Raphael Ogar Oko



A facebook friend and brother, Eghes Eyieyien was worried by my response to some issues on Islam and Christianity. He wrote back and said:  Raphael, you wrote: “My position is not to advance Islam and destroy Christianity or to advance Christianity and destroy Islam. I am passionate about moving them together and expanding the Kingdom of God in our nation. I prefer the Commandments of God over the constitutions of men but these commandments must be interreligious, focusing more on what binds Islam and Christianity and not what divide us. We may begin with Christian laws and grow there or with Islamic laws and grow there. From this context, a true sharia is more godly than our constitution of today.” I know you mean well. But, please, there is an English word for your beliefs: SYNCRETISM.

Christians and Muslims can co-habit peacefully as is the case in the south west of Nigeria. But their doctrines are IRRECONCILIABLE. The issue is really who is Jesus Christ? Is he merely one of God’s Prophets (Isa) as Muslims believe? Or is He God Almighty come in the flesh to redeem man by shedding His Blood? Is he a nice, good man or is He the Mighty Father, Prince of Peace, King of kings and Lord of lords as true Christians know Him to be?

I am aware that many people are thinking like this. For this reason, I am sharing my further response to him with all my friends, brothers and sisters.

Eghes: Thank you for your sincere opinion on this. It is not true that the doctrines of both Christians and Muslims are irreconcilable. Rather, it is the followers that are doing things that seem to be irreconcilable. Jesus Christ is even the point that brings Islam and Christianity together as both believe in his first and second coming. The word Jesus and Christ are mere English words. In my little community, Jesus is called Orede and many cultures have different ways of calling Jesus. In my home place, Adam is called Ada and Eve is called Ene. The expressions may differ but the intention are the same. God is more interested in our inner intentions than our outer expression and for this reason Jesus said that not all who are shouting lord, lord will enter the kingdom.

The person you call Jesus is what Muslims call Isa. If you pray sincerely from your heart and conclude by saying that I have offered this prayers in the names of our Lord and Savior Isa, do you think that God will reject the prayers? Try it out and see and you will realize that you worry over a non-issue. Christians refer to Jesus as Son of God and NOT God the Creator please, but Muslims refer to Jesus as Servant of God. What is the problem with these? Are Pastors who believe that they are born again of God not called Servants of God? Does that take away the sonship of Christians? If someone describes you as servant, does that make you a servant if really you are a son? If Christians who are mistaken about Jesus’ identity conclude that Jesus is Son of God, Jesus is God the Father and Jesus is the Holy Spirit, will that change the reality of Jesus? No, we are the people who are mistaken.

If you understand the deep content of the Bible and the Quran, you will never think negatively about Islam. Forget about what many people who were born in the North do under the pretext of Islam just as what some people are doing in the name of Jesus. In 1998, I was in Calabar and someone told me that Olumba Obu is God and that he will never die. I told him that he does not know what he is saying and I assured him that he will die one day. Where is Father Olumba today? His followers called him all sorts of names but they mean nothing if he is not.

I have proposed that a Committee on Interreligious Affairs be created at the National Assembly and a Federal Ministry of Interreligious Affairs be established to create harmony between religious groups in Nigeria if we must remain as one nation. This was the main failure of Lugard when he ignored the religions of Islam and Christianity but focused on the regions and resources of North and South. We can develop an interreligious education for Nigerians that shows the commonality of Islam and Christianity and not what divide us.

Muslims are from Ishmael and Christians are from Isaac, both are children born by father Abraham. If Abraham is alive today, do you think he will support the fighting between his first and second sons? So, what will God who is alive and the father of Abraham do to this his great grandchildren fighting in Nigeria? God wants to see us working together, praying together and living together as one. The real problem is that we are brothers rather fighting each other and not striving to live together? Today, Muslims and Christians in Nigeria are behaving like Cain and Abel of Adam’s family. We have forgotten that the fighting between Cain and Abel was not God’s original plan. God wanted them to work and live together. However, when parents are failing in their duties, children are unable to learn and realize that they are brothers. The people in the position of parents to Muslims and Christians in Nigeria seem to be failing in their responsibilities and for this reason, the brotherhood of Islam and Christianity seem to be turning into enemyhood. Muslim and Christian leaders in the position of our parents are not doing enough to create a family of God’s people in Nigeria. They are rather at war against each other and when such giants fight, surely the grasses will suffer.

As it is now, it is becoming clear that the divided Muslims and divided Christians cannot save Nigeria and we are rather looking out to the politicians to save our nation. Can President Jonathan transform Nigeria with a political party ideology? Unfortunately, the parties in Nigeria do not even have any ideology and therefore even if our President announces transformation one million times, he will end his tenure with Nigeria worse than what it is. We may end up deformed even though we seek transformation. This is why the religious leaders need to come together and guide and support the political leaders to arrive at a common destination of spiritual and political transformation of Nigeria. If we cannot achieve spiritual/religious transformation, we can never attain sustainable political/economic transformation, no matter how intelligent the Coordinating Minister of the Economy of the Prime Minister may be. We must wake up now and strengthen the brotherhood of Islam and Christianity in Nigeria, so that even though our denominations and tribe may differ, in the brotherhood of Islam and Christianity will Nigerians stand.

If I have my way, I will encourage interreligious pilgrimage where we can begin from Nigeria to visit all Holy Places of Worship together. On Fridays, we can all gather and pray together in the mosque and God will answer our prayers. On Sundays, we can all gather together in churches, and pray together and God will answer our prayers. There is no need for division among people who believe in God, no matter how negatively they understand God. We are better than those asking men to marry men and women to marry women. Many have misunderstood the statements credited to both Jesus and the Prophet Muhammed about entering heaven, which tend to divide us against each other, with Christians feeling that the only way to heaven is through being a Christian and Muslims feel that the only way to heaven is to become a Muslim. Yes, both statements are correct but the context should be understood. The first question is how many gates are there to heaven? Only one gate or many gates? The next question is how many people does God want in heaven? A few persons or many people? If we all know what God wants and how many gates are there, we may not have an issue over how to enter and who will enter.

 

I will explain how we can only go to heaven through being a Christian and a Muslim. A true Christian is not the person who shouts the name of Jesus as Savior but whoever does the will of God. So, a true Christian is actually the best Muslim. A true Muslim is not the person shouting about Allah in open places but whoever does the will of Allah. So, a true Muslim is actually the best Christian. It was God’s hope that his presence and kingdom began with Adam and Eve and should grow to reach out to everyone ever to be born. If you ask God today, how many people he would love to see in heaven, he will shout that all 7 billion people should come in. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve failed to build the kingdom of goodness but rather established the kingdom of evil, which has blocked everyone from returning back to heaven.

The purpose of all prophets and messengers and messiahs is to open the closed gates of heaven, so that ALL PEOPLE can enter into God’s kingdom of goodness. Therefore, no prophet will ever desire that a few persons be saved and many others perish. If such a situation is realized, then the prophet will become a prophet of Satan, denying many people of entry into the Kingdom of God. So, do you think that Jesus will pray for a few Christians to be saved and billions of Muslims to go to Satan’s hell? Do you think that the Holy Prophet will pray for a few Muslims to be saved and billions of Christians to go to Satan’s hell? This is our own selfish thinking and prayers.

Jesus loves Muslims more than Christians, because they are the options left to become Christians. Muhammed loves Christians more than muslims because they are the group remaining to be converted into Islam. Those who are Christians now are the first children of Jesus and today’s Muslims will become his second children in the future. Those who are muslims now are the first children of Muhammed and today’s Christians will become his second children in the future. As we all know, God has always waited for the second child even when the first has come. The story of Cain and Abel should be our lesson.

If Jesus had his way, he wanted to make sure all people are saved and not some people. Is it not a common phrase that “for God so loved the world that he gave Jesus…” So, did Jesus come to open the gates of heaven wide or to close it? Before he came, those who did not know him were able to go to heaven, and after he came, the same heaven will be closed? Will such a Jesus be for heaven or against heaven? The people of Jesus’ age did not receive him and his teachings until he departed from the earth. When Jesus left the world, were all sins taken away with him or there were still sinners on earth? Obviously, they were sinners and therefore many sins. Will God of goodness stop working toward the end of sin or he will continue? If we were alive at Jesus time, what should have been the message? No one can know what God is doing without coming to Jesus. Did Jesus not open a gate to heaven? He did, but he did not block other gates as well. Can you enter heaven through Jesus’ gate if you do not follow him?

If after Jesus, sin did not end; will God not raise others to do the work that Jesus began? What if we ask God today and he confirms that he raised Prophet Muhammad and gave him the Holy Quran to advance the work that Jesus has begun? What will the prophet say? Will he just stop at where Jesus stopped or will he move forward? In the context that the prophet was raised after several years after Jesus, he was told the same truth that his teaching is the way to heaven. If his teaching opened another gate, will Jesus refuse and go to close the gate or he will support him to expand the gate? If you are to enter heaven through the gate opened by Muhammad’s teaching, can you do that without following him? Will the opening of his gate close other gates?

However, no teaching on its own can take an individual to heaven because teaching is just the work of the teacher. What about learning of the teaching and practicing of the teaching? There is no wisdom in fighting about the teachings of Muhammad or Jesus but we should worry about our practicing of their teachings. So, we are the problems.

If anyone truly and fully follow the teachings of the prophet Muhammad and practice it, you will enter heaven through the gate that his teaching opened. If anyone truly and fully practices the teachings of Jesus, he/she will enter heaven through the gate that Jesus’ teaching opened. At last, we shall all arrive in heaven to one another’s surprise.

The Bible records that there are 12 gates of heaven and that 3 in the North, 3 in the South, 3 in the East and 3 in the West. No one is sure about how many gates Jesus opened and how many gates Muhammad opened and how many gates others are opening. So, we need to be careful and wise and be assured that our ultimate and common destination is heaven, which has many gates and mansions. Yet, we cannot enter just by the teachings but by our practices. So, it is true that the way to heaven is through Jesus, and it is not false that the way to heaven is through the Islam. These expressions have a common intention, but ignorant human beings are focused on the literal expressions while ignoring the main intention.

The summary is like the ABC message of HIV/AIDS lesson. Abstain from non-spiritual issues and come to God with a pure heart, which is like chastity before joining any religion. Be faithful on the path you have chosen, and remain committed to it with your whole heart and body. Thirdly, if you are not faithful enough, do not criticize or Condemn others for what you do not know. First, Abstain and maintain purity of heart and body. Second, Be Faithful to your faith and to God. Third, Condemn not what you have not known as what you do not know may be greater than what you have known already.

Do you think that heaven is for Christians only? But Elijah who was not a Christian was taken there? Our belief may be good but our practice is the best and key issue. The teachings of Islam and Christianity do not contradict each other but Muslims and Christians are in conflict and fighting each other and both are losing. Look at the amount government is spending on the Police to fight crime, which is sin but how much are Pastors receiving to pray and work against sin? We are losing! Can the Police ever end crime without ending sins? Who can address sin? Police or Pastor? Pastor Ayo is supposed to be treated more that the Inspector General of Police but is that the reality today?

Something is wrong and we should wake up and take our proper position. Our situation is like the relationship between the North and South in Nigeria. In the South, the East and West refuse to work together but rush to align with the North and at last they both lose. If Muslims and Christians work together, the politicians will come begging every day and will not even be qualified to lead Nigeria.

Please, let us put the concept of differences and division behind us and work toward increase and multiplication as God blessed from the beginning. The Holy Bible and the Glorious Quran are the expressions of God’s words to humankind through different context but the intentions of the words are the same.  If we still want to insist on our small salvation and the destruction of others, we may end up not getting the salvation and not getting the destruction of others. We may be destroyed while others may be saved. Let us quickly come together now!

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