OPINION

Discovering the Quran

My Fancy….

I grew up with Muslim parents (both were), but not in what you will call a religious home – but my parents were good fellows.
My father practiced and professed Islam all through his life time and my growing up at his heels was a great life orientation for me, I think.
The religion of Islam, though shrouded, informed mostly the mode of his life and the values he impacted on us his children. We were quite many, if you can imagine how many five competitive wives will contribute, with my mother, as the first wife, giving birth to seven of us!
Apart from father’s unconscious impartation of the religion in my upbringing, what I remember most vividly, as a young boy, was his regularly coming into our rooms to rouse us all to prayer in the early mornings at the Adhan’s “Call to Prayer”.
Such early time, 5:15 am, to wake a playful young boy to anything was most insensitive of my father, I would think.
I never loved those moments, to also imagine having to apply cold water on all parts of my exposed body, even during hamatan, before I could utter some Arabic words at prayer was another drudgery. Myself and my brother would always grumble saying why must we have to wash every time, in ablution, before we can join the row of other people in the mosque. But we couldn’t ask father or let anyone know sometimes in those days, we weren’t following the order of the ablution!
I was taught early in life, at home, that apart from the generic Arabic name Allah for God, He is also known as The Gracious, The Merciful i.e Al Rahman, Al Raheem, Those names struck me as of a being who could be indulgent, then why the stiff rituals and routines? I did tagged along however, whenever I could.
While in primary schools in Ibadan and Ile Ife, of then Western State of Nigeria, I had my formal tutelage to the basics of the religion of Islam, under some well grounded scholarly mualims, who were attached to the schools.
The teaching in the schools lasted only four years, after then I had no other formal exposure to “what is Islam”, for a very long time.
Subsequently, I picked the culture and practice in the environment, both the facts and the superstitions, yet the main influence to my religious being has been the parental guidance, by watching and listening to their daily instructions and actions at home.
As I was not subjected to any strict religious code or instructions, I had a good chance to not be a Muslim in my adult life, but my father kept me in Islam, without him knowing! I could have been an Agnostic or a member of some other religious or mystic order, if not for my secret fondness for him. He never knew how deeply I loved him till he passed on, or was it fear of him?
I have observed my sisters and cousins change to Christianity, and one nephew became an Eckist. It was quite tempting seeing them change faith without much resistance from home and I also wanted to join them, more so, with much invitation and luring, but I wanted to have cogent reasons to use in opting out of Islam, and if possible, call out my dad to come to the new found religion.
I started reading the Quran, and that was my first step to find good reasons to opt out! I should be 23years old then.
If I didn’t take the step to read the Quran before taking a position, I would not be in Islam today. If I also have not read some other religion Holy Books. I still will not be stable in Islam.
Reading other religions and philosophy books gave me the relative balance and the inter-relatedness. I seem to enjoy with other faith believers.
I am very conscious of a Supreme Being who over-sees all human affairs, I am also convinced about the “Universal Fatherhood of God and Brotherhood of Man”.
Apart from my siblings influence, after they converted to Christianity, I had this particular older cousin, who showed me much care and was doing all he could to call me out of Islam. He wanted me to become a member of the “Scripture Union (SU) which was the rave in Secondary Schools in those days. But I was not responding the way he wanted.
After that, he became impatient and started blatant lies and superstitions of what will happen to me or any other non-Christian when they die! This got me more curious about the essence of religion in the life of man and why there couldn’t just have been one faith.
When I started noticing his lies and blackmails on me, rather that responding the way he would have loved, I became more resolute to read the Quran before I follow him to any other faith!
The Quran became my regular companion and I joined some Islamic organisations to improve my understanding of the religion.
I found that Islam there is continuous Teaching and exposition of the Holy book and more so of the content of the Hadith.
The Hadith is the record of the doings and sayings of the prophet of Islam –Mohammed Mustapha.
The teaching textbook is mainly from the Hadith, while the preaching is seeing mainly in the Quran.
At every Muslim religious gathering one notices that both go together to impact on the followers of the faith.
The teaching involves explanation and presentation of standard knowledge, while the preaching is done to prick and awaken the conscience of the believers.
I have submitted myself to both the teachings and the preaching and I have kept a note of my discoveries of what Islam means (to me).
I have been impressed by what the books teach and preach. It blend with my daily live and I am just at home with it!
It is symbolic to me that the last verse to be revealed of the Quran reads “This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion. Yet fear them not, but fear me.
This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” Q 5:3.

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“Ibn Kareem”

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