+ Plots to tarnish the image of Islam exposed again!
BY ABDUR-RASHEED ABUBAKAR
Nigerian media have come under attacks from Muslims, home and abroad, for labelling an international Qatar-based Islamic scholar, Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips, a "terror preacher".
Thousands of Muslims who read the news on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 lambasted the media for using a derogatory banner headline to describe the person of Dr. Bilal Philips, noting that it's not only unprofessional, but an attempt to tarnish the imagine of Islam.
It is unethical to use negative adjective like "famous terror" or "renowned extremist" as it was used by the Nigerian Christian dominated media to label Bilal Philips, especially when there is no solid evidence that such person has record of terrorist activities.
However, they ignored professionalism and called him all sort of names in their tabloids, days after he was granted Nigerian visa by the Federal government.
The founder and Chancellor of the Islamic Online University is billed to visit and deliver lectures in some cities, including Lagos and Abuja, in Nigeria, from Monday, March 3 to Wednesday 19, 2014 under the platform of 1UMMAH.
The erudite Islamic scholar celebrated the good news with his followers on facebook, saying, "Al-hamdu lillaah. I just got a visa for Nigeria and will be going there in a few days, in shaa Allaah. So, I hope to see all my Nigerian brothers and sisters. Baarakallaahu feekum.”
He arrived Nigerian on Wednesday, March 5, 2014 and his first lecture, entitled, "The Prophet: The Ideal Role Model for all Times", held on Sunday, March 9 at Diamond Hall, A-Class Park Wuse 2, Abuja.
WHY WE BROUGHT HIM TO NIGERIA - 1UMMAH
The convener, 1UMMAH's Amir (President), Mallam Abubakar Muhammad told AL-FAHM why they brought the revered scholar to Nigeria. According to him, “we brought him here, among other things, to change the perception that "Western Education is prohibited."
He said, "The recent appearance of a sect known as Boko Haram, meaning "Western Knowledge is Prohibited" has led to great atrocities being committed, including the killing of innocent men, women and children.
"Although this is such a sad and pathetic situation, what is more pathetic is our collective silence. Out of fear of being attacked by this same group of misguided elements, or fear of being linked to them, a lot of Muslims have kept mute as they continue to cause mayhem.”
The recent killing of innocent children in Yobe was just the height of it, and it has awoken a large number of us to raise our voices in unison and disagree with what they stand for, even if our lives are taken.
MPAC Nigeria also asserts that Dr. Bilal's visit to Nigeria is another very powerful way of spreading the correct Islamic ideology and take away from the hands of violent extremists the dictation of our public discourse agenda.
WE DID NOTHING WRONG GRANTING HIM VISA - FG
Replying State House correspondents in Abuja, Minister of Interior, Mr. Abba Moro said the government has not done anything wrong in granting visa to the visiting scholar, saying that the he met all the requirements that ensured the granting of visa to him.
Moro said, "Every country has its own requirement for the grant of visa and in Nigeria's situation especially against "the backdrop of our security challenges, we also have our requirement for granting of visas. We have our own blacklist of people that because of our security situation should not be allowed into country.
"And if this preacher that you talk about for instance did not fall within the list of people black listed for their activities that are inimical to internal security. If he is preaching and the content of what he has submitted for the granting of visa that will not undermine the security of the country, then certainly we will grant him the visa. That is the purpose we have achieved here."
He further said it was double standards, as “when the Nigerian government signed the anti-law and the west was complaining, we stated that Nigerian nation is a sovereign country that should be allowed to determine its destiny and practices”.
He added that Nigeria will therefore not use: ”the refusal of visa by Germany, UK as a basis for refusing anybody visa here.
“I can assure you that the Nigerian security personnel are equal to the task of detecting whose activities that are inimical to the situation of this country.
“Any moment that his preaching and activities are seen to be inimical to the security of this country I can assure you that we are up to the task of repatriating him as soon as possible.
“And his specific activities in this country guide the request that he has made which has also guided the action of the Nigerian immigration service in granting the visa.
“Apart from the preacher any other person that gains entry to this country whose activities undermine the integrity and security of this country will be properly treated”.
IS DR. BILAL PHILIPS A TERROR PREACHER?
AL-FAHM's investigations revealed that the cleric had already been banned from countries like Australia, Germany, United Kingdom, United States of America, Kenya, amongst others, but the ban in most of these countries, we learnt, has been due to his stance against homosexuality, not terrorism as being speculated by the rumour merchants.
These are also the same Nations who are angry with Nigeria’s anti-gay bill, and are going to attempt to pressurize federal government to think otherwise.
AL-FAHM's findings also revealed that there is no single clip, either video or audio where the learned scholar has encouraged terrorism. In fact, he's one of the few scholars that speak in strong term against killing of innocent souls unjustly.
PLOT TO TARNISH THE IMAGE OF ISLAM EXPOSED!
Labelling Dr. Bilal Philips a terror preacher is one of the ungodly campaigns of the Christian-dominated media to tarnish the image of Islam and the personalities of the Muslims. That's why the allegation against the shaykh was not verified by the newspapers and online journals who carelessly used such derogatory captions, especially at the time when the Northern part of Nigeria is boiling over the several killings on innocent souls being carried out by the dreaded boko haram sect.
This is happening a week after a reputable Nigerian weekly magazine, TELL published a misleading story about "The Evil men in the House of God", where it ignorantly or deliberately linked Islam with violence.
The writers, about 4 journalists, wrote: "...Over the years also, Muslim preachers have been accused of religious fanaticism: of spreading hate and "radicalising" young Muslims..." But, the writers only cited an instance, as if they have several cases to buttress their points! They cited a case of Dr. Muhammad Nazeef, a lecturer at Kogi State University accused of being a boko haram member, without carrying out independent investigations to affirm if truly their hypothesis was right.
Media Analyst and writer, Abdur-Rasheed Abubakar said Nigerian media is at war with Islam. In his book, entitled, Muslims and the threats of the Media, he said, "They have continued the campaign to extinguish Islam and its adherent with their powerful media from where their godfather, Henry Townsend, stopped. Hence, anybody who preaches any doctrine contrary to the one brought by the godfather will be crucified and that explains why Nigerian Muslims have always been painted black on the pages of Nigerian newspapers, television channels and radio stations."
Also reacting to the news, Media961, a media monitoring unit under the Public Relations (PR) Unit of MSSN, Lagos State Area Unit, described it as unfortunate, saying, "It is high time we started monitoring what our media write about Islam, Muslims and the personality of our Prophet (Peace be upon him) passionately, before they start tagging our peace-loving scholars, who have been working for the unity of Nigeria, irrespective of their tribes, religious, terrorists like they captioned contemporary Muslim teacher, speaker, and author, cleric, Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips.
The Unit therefore urged Muslim communities to constructively react to any offensive publications written about their faith, by writing a letter or rejoinder to the Editor; or notify #Media961 Team on firstname.lastname@example.org for appropriate actions to be taken.
MPAC, Nigeria, while reacting to the deliberate assault, said, "The Nigerian media is presently awash with hate-filled publications on the visit of Dr Bilal to Nigeria. While oxymoron like 'Islamic terror' is being used freely to target the Shaykh and the Islamic community, Muslim Nigerians, and especially its leadership, has an extraordinary challenge in front of them: to go out to university campuses, to television, to write in newspapers and write books, to communicate their distinctive perspective and to engage in meaningful media activism.
Due to the on-going security challenge in the country, it is too easy for the media to wrongfully look at Islam through the lens of extremism. It is time for our Friday Khutbas to focus more on means to end Islamophobia, and protect Muslims against a particularly virulent response to misinformation- the type that the publication on the respected Shaykh can generate.
MEET DR. BILAL PHILIPS
Dr. Bilal Philips was born on 6 January 1946 in Kingston, Jamaica, but grew up in Toronto, Canada, where he converted to Islam in 1972. Philips had encountered Islam several times in his travels, but the book that won him over was Islam, The Misunderstood Religion by Muhammad Qutb, the younger brother of Sayyid Qutb.
He received his B.A. degree from the Islamic University of Medina and his M.A. in Aqeedah (Islamic Theology) from the King Saud University in Riyadh, then to the University of Wales, where he completed a PhD in Islamic Theology in 1988. Philips comes from a family of educators, as both his parents were teachers and his grandfather was a Christian minister and Bible scholar.
Islamic Information Center
In 1994 he founded (and continues to direct) an Islamic Information Center, now known as Discover Islam, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates Islamic Online University. The Islamic Online University has been founded by Philips as a completely tuition-free institution that is offering an online intensive, undergraduate, and graduate courses in Islamic Studies. The university offers a four year bachelor of arts degree in Islamic studies program.
The IOU was initially launched in 2001 from UAE with an offering of a few short courses. After a five year interlude, it was restarted in 2007 from Qatar with a greater offering of completely free short courses. He has now introduced an English Based curricula.
From this you can realize the power of his reach, especially to the English speaking audience. The motto of his institution is "Changing the Nation through Education." This obviously shows his sincere love for education, and how he would like it to be the saving grace for all people. These are not the things any radical person will want to talk about. For the fact that he owns and runs such a structure, the organization sort to bring him to help our teeming youths eschew violence and build themselves via education.
THE HYPOCRACY OF OUR SCHOLARS
The development has further exposed the hypocrisy of our scholars who have since the incident kept mum. Source who didn't want his name published said, "It's sad that most of them did not react to this provocative publication. This actually showed the continuation of ineptitude to issues affecting Muslims and Islam in Nigeria, except the ones that came with material gains for their own selfishness.
Apart from Shaykh Shafi'i, Dr. Lakin Akintola who have openly condemned the publication, I expect Muslim organisations to issue press releases, and speak against it."
Shaykh Dhikrullah Shafi'i, during his emotion-laden Friday sermon at NTA 10 mosque, Yaba, Lagos decried the story, describing Nigerian media as bunch of liars; mediocrities.
He said, "For calling Dr. Bilal Philips a terror preacher was an indication that they are not civilized. They need to travel wide, and improve their knowledge instead of misleading people ignorantly. Abu Ameenah is one of the moderate scholars in the world today. He's a lover of peace and knowledge, encourages youths to seek for knowledge, that's why he established an online islamic university. He has written books on several topics including Taoheed and Aqeedah.
Professor Is-haq Akintola also called Dr. Bilal Philips as a lover of peace, noting, "Those who love the Truth should ignore the rantings of bigots who label Dr. Bilal Phillips as a hate preacher and terrorist. I urge Nigerians to troop out to listen to him. Lets attend his programmes whenever and wherever they are held. Don't submit to blackmail.