Will Muslim extremists never cease to abuse and vilify their religion by continuing to kill innocent people, believing that they (the extremists) are on their way to Heaven?
Heaven knows that we all want to go there. In the 1970 the prominent Liberian broadcaster, Milt Greaves, carried ELBC public service announcements that urged motorists to drive safely. He often said, “We all want to go to Heaven. But how many of us want to go now?” For everyone, the answer to the first question is a resounding Yes! But for the second, it is equally a resounding NO, because no one in his or her right mind, wants to die now. Yet death is the gateway to Heaven. Without death, no one gets there.
The Daily Observer contacted Sheik Kafumba Konneh, head of the National Muslim Council of Liberia, and asked how do ordinary Muslims get to Heaven? He replied, first, by believing in Allah and His oneness, and practicing that belief. Part of that practice is to pray five times daily and fast during Ramadan. Second, if one has the means, to go to Mecca at least once in one’s lifetime; and third, pay “poor dues” —alms to the poor—annually.
What then is jihad? He was asked. “The first jihad is to discipline oneself,” Sheik Kafumba replied. “This is the most important jihad,” he insisted. “Second, if you are attacked to be killed, defend yourself.” Third, if you are prevented from worshipping, or driven from your home because of your religion, you have the right to fight to return and practice your religion. Fourthly, when your country is attacked from within or without, you are permitted to defend your country.”
As for Christians, they strongly believe that NO ONE gets to Heaven except through the blood of Jesus. Because man—or humankind—is infinitely sinful, there is nothing one can do to merit a place in Heaven. That is because Christians believe that all their good is like “filthy rags” before the Maker—why? Because God is so holy and so pure that NOTHING that humans do is worthy enough. We get to Him only by believing in the saving blood of Jesus Christ.
How much more, then, can a person claim a right to enter Heaven by committing one of the fundamental DON’Ts of the Ten Commandments—“Thy shall not kill”? Indeed, this sixth commandment, according to Sheik Kafumba, is listed among the 71 commandments in the Quran.
Christianity and Islam are two distinctly different, yet fundamentally similar religions: first, both believe in monotheism—only ONE God. Secondly, both hail from the same patriarch—Father Abraham; thirdly, both believe in the principles of obedience and sacrifice, though the sacrifice part may be different. While Muslims believe still in the sacrifice of burnt offerings, which the Jews, the direct descendants, too, of Abraham, also believe, Christians believe that the ultimate sacrifice was already paid by Jesus on the cross for their sins. This, however, does not mean that Christians are exempt from sacrifice. “The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite [sorry, repentant, apologetic] heart and a broken (crushed) spirit,” says David in Psalm 51. This means that when one seeks God’s forgiveness, one brings nothing but faith in His love, mercy and goodness and acceptance of Jesus. Christians believe that Jesus has made it easier for them, because He already paid the price on the cross, overcame death by His resurrection, and is now with the Father in heaven, awaiting Christ’s Second Coming—to judge the living and the dead.
But the sacrifice that Christians know is to shun all the worldly things—the lusts of life—for heavenly things.
So how is it possible that people could commit such a grievous sin as murder—even mass murder as it happened thrice in Kenya—the bombing of the American Embassy, 1998; the Westgate supermarket, 2013; and now the Garrissa massacre—and go to Heaven?
Most Christians will never accept that because of the misdeeds of a Muslim minority, Islam is a murderous religion—it is NOT! It is a religion of peace.
We pray that Liberian Muslims and Christians will continue to preach and practice love, peace, reconciliation and unity—the essence of peaceful coexistence.