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ONE ON ONE: Yahya Sseremba takes on Christians and atheists who link Islam to terrorism

Introduction: This is a slightly-edited version of a dialogue extracted from the Facebook group page Activists For Change that took place between 15 and 21, April 2013. It was sparked off by a story about enemy plots to undermine Islam whose link was posted on the page.

The slight editing was necessary partly to replace with full words the shorthand style of writing often used on social media.

Biography of Yahya Sseremba: He is the publisher of The Campus Journal news website.

Chali Lima Lima

Religion is a cancer that needs to be abolished in strongest terms possible; these two western religions have killed a good number of Africans, from Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania and Kenya. Islam has contributed to the highest death in Africa than any other religion. Both Christianity and Islam suck. I’m an African and I trust God; not the Bible nor Qur’an.

 

Yahya Sseremba

The idea that religion is a “cancer” is too absurd to merit any debate. As for its abolition, Europe has greatly succeeded in relegating Christianity to the periphery. But the same cannot be said of Islam in Muslim and even non-Muslim countries. In the article above we have explored Islam’s inherent strength and resilience that enable it to survive and thrive even in the most hostile environment.

 

Chali Lima Lima

As soon as I landed in Sanaa [the capital of Yemen] with my holy rosary on my neck, some security personnel grabbed and shuttered my rosary in front of onlookers. They said, “This is not allowed here.'' I was puzzled.

The point is that Islam is a threat by itself, and a threatening religion by far due to their involvement in politics, abolishing of African traditional/customary norms, putting human in slavery of abiding only on Arab culture, covering and prohibiting human freedoms of expression.

Islam would love to be free in the West and in Christian countries and yet they don’t allow the same to Christians in Muslim countries. They kill and shouted Allah Akbar, which is against God’s creation. They form militia and associate it with Islam: Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, al-Shabbad, which is against African way of life.

In recent years Islam has been seen as a problem to Africans; it has restricted Africans way of life and limited it to Islam and religion, Islam has washed out African identity at all. As soon as Islam enters your country, problem has already started, said President of Mali.

 

Yahya Sseremba

Islam cannot apologise for eradicating values and practices that hinder the material and spiritual progress of man. Islam cannot simply watch as mankind sinks in ignorance, submitting to the whims and caprice of men instead of submitting to God alone. As for breaking your rosary, that was unfortunate. Islam does not sanction such actions.

 

Muganga Fred

Sseremba, what is Islam in your local language?

 

Yahya Sseremba

Islam in my (Luganda) language is: Okujemulukukira Katonda.

 

Ssenyonjo Ronald L

Thanks for the sober argument Uncle Sseremba. Question, what’s so correct about Islam that is so wrong wit Christianity or any other faith?

 

Galabuzi Mpologoma

African People who defend Islam and Christianity are like a person who leaves his home open and goes to guard his neighbor’s house. Firstly, Fred, Yahya, and Ronald are all in the same boat. You are all dressed in the names of your masters as if your cultures do not have names enough to offer to you.

I view you guys, as a blind people fighting in the darkness with no light. But you will be surprised when the lights of your life are switched on, and only to realize, total emptiness.

I can assure you that any religion is a good religion if it is used well to liberate you as a human being. But if a religion is degrading you that religion may as well be thrown in the trash of history. Both Islam and Christianity have degraded a black man and therefore only a blind black man would still follow them.

They have considered us as a cursed race, for what reasons do I need such a religion if it has cursed me already, and why should I follow it if it does not have a place for me as a people.

 

  Yahya Sseremba

Islam has never regarded any race as “cursed” or even inferior to another. In his Farewell Sermon the Prophet said, “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”

The Prophet said this over 1400 years ago. In the West where Christianity reigned for ages, black people, as late as mid 20th century, were still fighting to be treated like human beings! So the racism that mr. Galabuzi talks about possibly applies to other religions and ideologies, but not Islam.

Secondly, Islam is not foreign to Africa since it’s meant to liberate all humanity regardless of race or place, as God, the Creator of mankind, says in Q21:107: “And We did not send you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy for the entire world.”

In another verse (Q34:28) God says, “And O dear Prophet, We have not sent you except with a Prophethood that covers the entire mankind, heralding glad tidings and warnings, but most people do not know.”

So Islam is not an Arab religion; it only used Arabia as a starting point, as a launch pad in its mission of lifting humanity from the abyss of ignorance to the bliss of enlightenment, from the slavery of submitting to other beings to the liberty of submitting to God alone.

 

Kalema Shaban

First of all I appreciate you guys for having a sober exchange of ideas. That’s good and it will make us understand what we didn’t know from our opposite faith.

On the issue of Islam linked to terror groups and the likes, I have always told my friends with such stereotyping views that groups like al-Qaeda, Bokoharam and Alshabab are not the guardians of Islam.

Not anywhere in Islam do they have a place. Infact I compare them with a big family having one relative who got mad, it does not mean that all members are mad.

The west, using its compromised media, has successfully aligned Islam to such groups. The truth is their composition or formation is of "Muslims" but they don’t represent Islam

 

Yahya Sseremba

Mr. Ssenyonjo wants to know, “What’s so correct about Islam that is so wrong with Christianity or any other faith?”

Islam is the only purely monotheistic religion that acknowledges the oneness of God. Christianity once acknowledged the oneness of God until it was distorted in the first century by people like Saul of Tarsus, commonly known as Paul.

Today Christianity is total polytheism, alleging that God begets children and that He needs partners – the Son and the Holy Spirit – to fulfil His Godhead! This is the foundation of the distortion of many Christian teachings.

As for other faiths, for instance African religions like Lubaale that some of you cherish, these are totally unfounded. Unfounded because, instead of preaching the worshiping of the Creator, they call to the worship of His creations like emisambwa.

These creations are themselves helpless, incapable of bringing any benefit to themselves, let alone to others, as the Qur’an (7:197) says, "And those whom you worship besides Him (God) cannot help you nor do they help themselves."

 

David William Rukanshonga

It beats my understanding to see that Africans to whom Islam was introduced to act like they started the religion. Any religion is a way of life and it depends on how any individual interprets and lives by its rules.

Respect is earned not forced. Just as Chali mentioned above, I don't see why other religions should be forced in countries where they didn't originate from while at the same time bar other religions from being introduced in their countries. Are you implying that Islam must be the one and only religion worldwide?

A scholar from all religions including our African traditional beliefs will argue that his is the best and right one to follow, however, let people decide for themselves and not be forced nor have their religions/beliefs dismissed.

 

Yahya Sseremba

Those alleging that Islam doesn’t allow freedom of worship should produce evidence either from the Qur’an or from the teachings of the Prophet known as Hadith or both. These are the two primary sources of Islamic teachings; not the actions of some errant individual in a certain corner of the world.

The Qur’an (2:256) says, “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.”

 

David William Rukanshonga

@Yahya. Where did Islam originate from? Let me spare you time to answer me and answer myself. It originated from Saudi Arabia and it’s the only religion in all Arab states.

Question one though is, why is anyone prohibited from practicing any religion apart from Islam and even foreign dignitaries of Christian and other faiths aren't allowed to worship as religion?

2. Why do we have mosques in Italy (the origin of Catholicism) and England (origin of Anglicanism) and NOT a single church in any Arab state to the extent that anyone found preaching the gospel in the Bible is hanged or given a hefty jail term?

In the Bible, John 3:15 says, "The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him."

Do I then have the authority to condemn you for not believing that He's Gods son?

Get a life brother.

 

Kalema Shaban

David, I beg to correct you. In many Arab states, Christianity is practiced and enjoyed by Christians there. Example in Iraq, Tariq Aziz who was defence minister during Sadam Hussein’s regime was a Christian; in Iran, many churches are there; in Lebanon, its one Arab state with a significant number of Christians.

Go to Syria, it’s the only group spared in the ongoing conflict and I think you well versed with Egyptian Coptic Christians.

Now get sober and discuss issues with information.

 

Yahya Sseremba

David William, it’s unfortunate that your education has not enabled you to conduct your won independent inquiry before unquestioningly accepting all sorts of propaganda.

You were told that there are no Christians or churches in Muslim countries, and you believed it. This suggests that you cannot even make proper use of the internet to which you seem to have abundant access. I regret to inform you that I don’t debate with lazy ‘intellectuals’ like you.

 

David William Rukanshonga

Don't know who's the lazy intellectual and ill-informed drunk that needs to get sober as I've been labeled. However, here's something from Wikepedia and I hope you will tell the Wikipedia administration to get sober.

"Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work, but does not allow them to practice their faith openly. Because of that Christians generally only worship in secret within private homes.[3] Items and articles belonging to religions other than Islam are prohibited.[3] These include Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols, and others"

 

Yahya Sseremba

David William, it’s good to read Wikipedia but get informed that the online encyclopedia in question is not authoritative because every Tom, Dick and Harry can add or remove information.

It is not recognized anywhere as a source of accurate data. That you can rely on such an unreliable source proves the lazy ‘intellectual’ you are.

 

James W'Oguttu

Similarities between Christianity and Islam:

Christians and Muslims have some beliefs in common. We both agree that there is one God who created the universe and is sovereign in the lives of men. We agree that God is the source of justice and morality. We agree that his ultimate justice is dispensed via life after death in heaven and hell.

Fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist Muslims both consider such things as pornography and licentious living as pollutants to society. In fact, one of the reasons for the strong negative reaction to western civilization in Muslim countries is the influence of such practices emanating from the west.

But there are many things upon which we disagree. The points of disagreement touch on every important religious doctrine. Indeed, the disagreements are so severe as to be irreconcilable. We will look at these issues point by point.

Most Muslims are exceptionally gracious and peace-loving people. And Islam has elements of peacefulness in it. For example, Muslims point to Sura 2:256 which claims there is no compulsion in religion, even though this passage is often interpreted in Islamic nations to mean tat "there is no competition in religion" within their borders. Another passage is Sura 29:46 which says not to dispute with People of the Book (Jews and Christians) unless they do wrong. Also, Sura 41:34 instructs that one should respond to evil with doing good deeds to the evil doer.

However, anyone who wants to commit violence has perfect justification for doing so from the Quran. While violence in the Quran is sometimes for self-defense; at other times it is open-ended.

Many passages in the Quran exhort Muslims to hate or kill or terrorize infidels (non-Muslims) wherever they find them. See Suras 2:190-193, 2:216, 2:244, 3:56, 3:151, 4:56, 4:74, 4:76, 4:89, 4:91, 4:95, 4:104, 5:51, 5:32-38, 7:96-99, 8:12-14, 8:39, 8:60, 8:65, 9:5, 9:14, 9:23-30, 9:38-41, 9:111, 9:123, 22:18-22, 25:52, 47:4, 47:35, 48:16, 48:29, 61:4, and 66:8-10. (Note: English translators of the Quran sometimes try to soften the true Arabic meaning of some of these passages. For example, to "fight" really means to kill in Arabic.) There are various versions of the Quran online so you can look these passages up.

There are dozens of violent prescriptive statements like those above in the Quran. Osama bin Laden in the now famous videotape discovered in Afghanistan in late 2001 is quoted as saying, "I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad." These words echo language in the Quran itself.

Such calls to violence are not mere distortions of the Quran by extreme radicals who twist the Quran for their violent ends; violence is an intergral part of Islam. Violence is Muslim doctrine. Just as many Christians are ignorant of what is actually in the Bible, many Muslims are not aware of such passages in the Quran.

Unbelievers in Islam receive persistent chastisement in the Quran. They are described as the "worst beasts in God's sight" (Sura 8:7). Muslims are instructed not to obey unbelievers (Sura 33:1) nor to make friends with them (Suras 58:14-15, 60:1, and 60:13 ). These commands open up numerous questions about the duty of Muslims who live in non-Muslim countries or work for a non-Muslim boss. Here is a link to a list of such passages: Unbelievers.

After the attempted attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmatallab the so-called "Christmas Day (2009) Underwear Bomber" several news outlets asked how a nice Muslim boy from a wealthy family could have perpetrated such an attack. Like all Islamic terrorists, the answer comes in the above passages right out of the Quran. Here is how Abdulmutallab describes the obligation of every Muslim:

"In late 2009, in fulfillment of a religious obligation, I decided to participate in jihad against the United States. The Koran obliges every able Muslim to participate in jihad and fight in the way of Allah, those who fight you, and kill them wherever you find them."

But the Quran is not the only basis for violence in Islam. The example of Muhammad himself laid the foundation for violence via his deeds and commands, which are found in the hadiths. Eleven percent of the pages of the Bukhari Hadiths mention Holy War (jihad). Military jihad is a traditional and authentic part of Islam.

 

Yahya Sseremba

I will enjoy this discussion. The first verse James W’Oguttu cites to support his allegation that the “Quran exhort Muslims to hate or kill or terrorize infidels” is 2:190. Let me spell out the verse here (since he didn’t) for all to see: “And fight in the Way of Allah those who fight you, but transgress not the limits. Truly, Allah likes not the transgressors.”

If he had read this verse, it wouldn’t surface in his argument. The verse is short, simple and clear: fight against those who fight you.

The verse that follows it immediately, which he also cites but without spelling out, reads: “And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And oppression is worse than killing. And fight not with them at the sanctuary at Makkah, unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.”

This verse should be interpreted in the context of the verse that precedes it. It refers to the unbelievers who have waged war on Muslims, as the statement “and turn them out from where they have turned you out” clearly indicates.

The verse that follows reads: “But if they cease, then Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” i.e. if the unbelievers cease fighting against Muslims, then there is no need for war.

The problem with some of our colleagues is their eagerness to quote Qur’an verses out of their context. This they do either out of insufficient knowledge or out of prejudice or both.

The gentleman goes on to cite verses that are totally unrelated to his case. Such verses include 2:244, which says, “Enjoin you piety and righteousness and each and every act of obedience to Allah on the people and you forget to practise it yourselves, while you recite the Scripture! Have you then no sense?”

Surely, how does this verse support the claim that the “Quran exhort Muslims to hate or kill or terrorize infidels”?

This selection should prove that the verses cited by this man are either out of context or completely irrelevant.

He also claims that Muslims are prohibited from making friendship with the unbelievers, and cites, among others, verse 60:1 to support his claim. But he does not cite the verses that follow which specify the kind of unbelievers refereed to in the first verse. In short, the unbelievers in question are those who, among other crimes, have “driven out the Messenger and yourselves (from your homeland) because you believe in Allah your Lord!” (read last part of 60:1)

Indeed, after specifying the kind of unbelievers with whom a Muslim cannot make friendship, that very chapter (60) says in verse 8: “Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those (unbelievers) who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.”

It should by now be clear that the textual ‘evidence’ provided to link Islam to unjustified violence is baseless at best. I would advise those who wish to know something about Islam to read the Qur’an and the Hadith themselves, instead of relying on the half-truths disseminated by propagandists.

There is no question that Jihad is an important duty in Islam that Muslims must embark on for the reasons clearly stipulated in the Qur’an and Hadith. Cardinal among these reasons is the defence of the House of Islam from all internal and external threats and the removal of all impediments to the peaceful spread of Islam. Killing people because they are not Muslims is not one of those reasons.

Lastly, the writer exhibits an ignorance of the Arabic language that is expected of him. He says that “fighting” is the same as “killing” in Arabic! I wish to educate him that “fighting” is “qitaal” while “killing” is “qatl”. In English, the words “hat” and “hut” may look almost the same, in pronunciation and in spelling, but they are totally different in meaning. So my friend, beera mu class!

 

James W'Oguttu

Kalema Shaban and Yahya Sseremba I wonder which sects of Islam you follow. That would be a good point to start discussions on Islam. If you are Shiite I could forgive for calling those of us ignorant.

To you it looks like only the two of you can read and understand what the Quran says plainly. By the way who between you and the late Osama bin Laden is true Muslim. The latter and his soldiers scattered all over the globe ready to kill and mime infidels so as to gain access to paradise where virgins await them don’t agree with you two at all.

If you Shiites you are not different in their eyes from me the so-called infidel. We know that in Iraq and Pakistan the Ssuni sect has massacred more Moslems than anybody. If they could lay their hands on you its nothing if they killed you, assuming you are Shiite.

That is all I will say about this. I have better things to engage with and not religion which has been rightly termed the opium of the masses.

 

Kalema Shaban

James W'Oguttu I can smell a sense of defeat intellectually. I expected you to quash Yahya's response with information not wishful conclusions. Indeed this depicts the rate of your ignorance on Islam but just a spiteful of hate and lack of informative views.

If I may ask, who is Bin Laden in Islam, a prophet or a celebrated scholar?

On the issue of the so-called Islamic sects, I would advise you not to express your ignorance anymore, still that is above your understanding.

Lastly my brother, if you had much to do rather than engaging in religious exchange of information, you would not have penned a single dot to comment, otherwise we have wasted much of our precious time on an IGNORANT.

 

Yahya Sseremba

Thank you Kalema Shaban for your parental advice to James W’Oguttu. It’s gratifying that after we have exposed the baselessness of the textual ‘evidence’ he provided in his wordy but empty argument, Mr. W’Oguttu is now seeking sanctuary in the actions of bin Laden.

Islam derives its teachings from the Qur’an and the Sunnah (Hadith) of the Prophet, not from the son of Laden. If someone cannot support whatever they attribute to Islam with evidence from these two sources, let them shut up!

Mr. W’Oguttu, who initially postured as if he knew something about the Qur’an, has miserably resorted to diversionary tactics, introducing irrelevant topics on Sunni and Shia Islam. It is my obligation to educate people about Islam, and I will not run away from this new topic.

There is no fundamental theological difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims. Their difference is largely political. The word “Shia” translates as “follower” or “supporter”, and that is to say the supporters of Ali bin Abi Talib.

These were a small section of the Muslims who supported Ali as the “rightful” leader of the Muslim ummah after the demise of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the seventh century. But the majority who came to be known as the Sunni favoured Abu Bakr, and they triumphed.

This conflict marked the birth of the two sects. Along the way some theological differences emerged, but there remains no fundamental theological difference between the two. They all believe in the five pillars of Islam and have the same view on the importance of Jihad in Islam.

Both, most importantly, regard each other as Muslim. There is a very small minority among the Sunni that regards some Shias as heretics at best and unbelievers at worst. But the mainstream Sunni view treats Shias as Muslims who only erred in some small details, not in the core teachings of Islam.

Almost all Ugandan Muslims, including yours truly, are Sunni. In this part of the world the Shias are very few, extremely few, which renders the Sunni-Shia discussion irrelevant in our country.

The Shias constitute between 10 – 15 percent of worldwide Muslims, and they are largely found in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and around that region. Very few Shias can be found beyond that geographical area.

Both sects have coexisted peacefully for 14 centuries, despite skirmishes here and there that are sometimes instigated by foreign elements.

The bottom line is that both the Sunni and Shia have the same understanding of Jihad, and that is to defend the House of Islam from internal and external threats and to remove all the barriers that hinder the peaceful spread of Islam.

None of the two sects says that Jihad is meant to force people to accept Islam. 

 

Adam Basamulaekkere Kabano

Thank you so much Mualimu Yahya Sseremba may Allah reward your efforts.

Sometimes even when Muslims are defending themselves as passive responders to aversive stimuli, they are referred to as terrorists. How do we refer to the crusaders who killed thousands of innocent Muslims! How about those who slaughtered and buried innocent Muslims alive at river Rwizi in Bushenyi in 1979?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

 

Chali Lima Lima

As a South Sudanese, I suffered a lot under Islam, I became a slave of Islam not Arabs, in the Qur’an there are 6000 Suras that talk only about death, nothing else, torture and abuse of personal right, children being killed by their fathers especially when pregnant unknowingly.

in Alexandria, Egypt, a school colleague of mine gave me a Quran and I told him I don’t know how to read Arabic. He immediately threw down the Quran and shouted Allah Wagbar [Akbar] and accused me of abusing Islam.

In court, I was sentenced to 7 month in jail in which I was supposed to be stoned to death. I escaped to Saudi Arabia then to Kenya immediately. To be truthful, Islam is a curse to the world, I’m a Christian but now I said to hell with the religion. My tribes[men] know God before Christianity and Islam [came] to Africa.

In South Sudan, a few [politicians] have started an Islamic party, Islam into politics, but I will be the 1st to silence them.

 

Yahya Sseremba

Chali Lima Lima, the whole Qur’an is composed of 114 Suras (Chapters) only. One hundred and fourteen Suras only. So how can it have “6000 Suras that talk only about death, nothing else”?  This is the level of knowledge of the people I have spent my time discussing with.

But I have no choice but to educate them. We – the Muslims – have no choice but to educate people, a role for which our Lord has honoured us as "the best community ever raised up for mankind". (Qur’an 3:110).

We must excuse the ignorance they often exhibit in their arguments, for if they were not ignorant, our role as teachers would be un-called for.

I am glad that no person who has followed this discussion can be deceived anymore by those who quote a small portion of a verse, for instance “and kill them wherever you find them”, to claim that Islam calls for the indiscriminate slaughter of the unbelievers.

We have unveiled the full context of this and related verses, and we believe that by the Grace of God we have reduced on the number of people susceptible to anti-Islam propaganda.

I thank whoever has commented and whoever has read for their precious time. I have captured and published this debate on our news website, www.campusjournal.ug, for further dissemination and for future reference.

I encourage everyone to read often this online journal, for it is the only Ugandan publication that retains the courage to call a spade by its real name. Other publications – including so-called independent ones – have been silenced and subdued.

May Allah guide us to the Straight Path.

 

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