As a Christian in Northern Nigeria, where Christians are persecuted every day, I find it very difficult to interact with people from the Islamic religion. This is because I don’t think they have anything to offer as far as faith is concerned. Most of the Christians in my community have a similar stereotype concerning the Islamic religion – I am not an exception. We see every Muslim as a killer, murderer, terrorist and a worshiper of a bloodsucking god. this has been the picture of Islam to every Christian from the Northern Nigeria.
This perspective has changed in recent days when I enrolled in a summer course “Christian’s engagement with world religion.” The course assignment “forced” me to engage in an interaction with someone of another religion of which I couldn’t find another religion close to me other than the Islamic religion. I am left with no option than to look for a Muslim that I will interact with. I wish to invite you to read through my interaction with Nafisat a Muslim sister who turn out to be my Muslim friend at the end of the day.
Spiritual Journey of Nafisat
Nafisat was born in an Islamic family which she describes to be; “true and committed Muslims”. While she was growing up, she was enrolled into the traditional Islamic school (Islamiya) where they usually recite the Quran and memorize it – this practice is part of almost all Muslim families in the North. It meant to help make the children get acquainted with the Islamic teaching and practices. In this school, the children learned how to do ablution, how to say their prayers and make some important recitations. Nafisat attended that school and was formed to become the Muslim she is today.
After this early stage of training, Nafisat shared with me that; she engages in different kinds of religious activities in order to develop herself – she prays, studies the Quran and the Hadiths and also receives teachings from different Islamic scholars. One of the most significant experiences in the spiritual journey of Nafisat, was her visit to Mecca and Medina; she describes that as the most significant experience in her life. She was shaped by the way the Islamic religion was practiced over there, she liked the harmony and peaceful relationship of the fellow Muslims there.
It is interesting to know that Nafisat’s spiritual journey was not based only on her personal efforts – she mentioned how her marital relationship also played a vital role in her religious performances. Her husband has been an encouraging factor in her spiritual journey, she describe him as a loving and caring husband, a pious Muslim who knows and follows the teachings of prophet Mohammed (PBUH). She shares that; in Islam, every woman’s destiny (as regards paradise) is attached to her husband. Therefore, it is necessary for a Muslim woman to stay in peace with her husband in other to achieve her final destiny. In this regard, Nafisat was very happy to find a husband that supported her and led her in fulfilling her destiny.
Draw of Lived Religion and God’s Activity
As I shared above in the spiritual journey of Nafisat, her pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina is the most significant experience in her religious pursuit. She said that; that experience has developed her faith in the Islamic religion. She sees Islamic religion as the best religion ever – when she compares the practices and the teachings of Islamic religion and other religions, she feels God is more active in Islam than other religions. When in terms of trouble; she prays to Allah and he answers, he shows her the right way and the right part. It is not only about her personal being but her spiritual being also.
Interacting with Nafisat, has cleared some gray areas in my understanding of Islam. An average Muslim is personate about what will become of him in the afterlife. She tries to do everything possible to please Allah and to acquire his blessings – whatever she does, must be what will bring blessings (lahda) upon her; this is the ambition of every Muslim. I was wondering about the conflict between the Christians and Muslims in Northern Nigeria. I came to understand through our conversation that; it’s influenced by politics. The political elites who want to be in leadership by all means use religion to divide the masses and rule. She make me understand that; every true Muslim is expected to love every other person irrespective of his/her religion, and should not for any reason take the life of his fellow human being – this is because Islam is a religion of peace. Our interaction was educating for me; it has triggered my interest to engage more in religious conversation with my fellow Muslim, because through the conversation, strong relationship and love is established. This reminds me of the words of Muck; “The need for love and in human relationships applies not just to interreligious relationships but to everyday interpersonal discuss.”
This is brief about Nafisat. In my next article, I will discuss the concept of common grace, general revelation, receptive humility and reflective commitment in engaging people of different religions.
Martin H. Kamaidan
Saved by Grace
 Terry C. Muck, Conversation that enables Christian Witness (International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 35, No. 4, pdf), 192