The conversation between Maher Abdallah and Shiekh Ahmed Katani on AL-Jazeerah regarding the topic of 6 million Muslims’ rejection of Islam each year in Africa alone is here. This was an English translation of a television interview that was transcribed.
This interpretation of a television conversation offers a unique insight into the perspective of Muslim scholars who are worried about the spread of Christianity. Sheikh Ahmad Al Katani, the head of the Libyan institution The Companions Lighthouse for the Science of Islamic Law, which specializes in producing imams and Islamic preachers, is the invited guest.
Maher Abdallah started the show with a welcome to the episode of the program Islamic Law and Life.
Interestingly, African Christianization was the subject of our discussion as fewer than a third of people identify as Muslims, despite Islam once constituting the vast majority of adherents on that continent. Of course, this is taking into account the fact that a sizable component of this population consists of Arab Muslims. Without a doubt, the conversion and Christianization missions had a significant impact on the demographic changes among Muslims on the continent.
In the interview conducted by Meher Abdallah joined by Ahmed Katani it was discussed how people are leaving Islam every year.
Meher Abdallah insisted, “If we begin by asking about your hard attitude against Christian missions in Africa, don’t believers in any religion have the right to look for new converts, just as you raise up young Muslims and send them out into the world to spread Islam?”
Ahmad Katani: I seek protection from the stoned Satan in Allah, the Seer, the Knower. In the name of the Merciful and Generous Allah. We are grateful to Allah, the One and Only, the Everlasting One, to whom no one was equal and who neither gave birth nor was born. I attest that there is no other god save Allah, and I attest that our master Muhammad – Allah bless him and grant him peace – is his messenger and the seal of the prophets.
You don’t understand the distinction between evangelism and Christianization, which is evident in the question you ask.
The idea of evangelism is inviting non-Christians to join the Christian or Nazarene religion, and every Christian and believer has the right to invite others to join his or her faith. We are discussing Christianization, which is a separate topic. Christianization is the process of converting Muslims to Christianity by devising, carrying out, and evolving methods to do so while exploiting ignorance, poverty, and other needs resulting from similar conditions.
As a result, we must address the problem of how these people (missionaries) use the situation—for example, exploiting humanitarian necessities or the lack of education—to convert Muslims from their religion.
Maher Abdallah: This is a lengthy and harmful phrase. A Muslim may also be accused of exploiting needs such as poverty, ignorance, and lack of education. Therefore, if you don’t support what you say with instances or references, your words will just hang in the air.
The truth is that these words imply much less than they ought to, according to Ahmad Al Katani. Everyone has the right to evangelize, as we stated at the outset; this is done by inviting people to join their religion (or proselytizing). Regarding Christianization, nobody has the right to convert Muslims away from their faith, and since you requested sources, there are far too many to provide.
As you indicated earlier, Islam used to be the dominant religion in Africa, and 30 African languages were once written in Arabic script. There are now 316 million Muslims in Africa, and half of them are Arabs in North Africa. Thus, there are not more than 150 million Muslims in the region of Africa we are discussing, which is the non-Arab region. When we consider that there are one billion people living in Africa, we can see that there are far fewer Muslims today than there were at the turn of the century. Contrarily, Catholics have grown in number from 1 million in 1902 to 329 million 882 thousand (329,882,000). Let’s round that amount up to 330 million in 2000.
As for how that came about, there are currently 46 million members of the 1.5 million churches that exist. 667 Muslims convert to Christianity every hour. 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity every day. Six million Muslims convert to Christianity each year.
Maher Abdallah says (cuts in): Hold on! Let me explain. Do we have 6 million people transferring from other religions and/or Islam to Christianity?
Al Katani, Ahmad Wonderful (question)! The other religions are listed as being evangelized rather than being added to the list of those to be converted to Christianity. It is either Islam, Christianity, or paganism because that is the other religion practiced in Africa. There is nothing comparable to Zoroastrianism or Buddhism in Asia, for instance. Since there are just these three in Africa, Christianization efforts are directed against Islam, the only other heavenly religion. Pagans worship things like animals, planets, and other such things.
Maher Abdallah: So there are 6 million Muslim converts annually?
Every year in African countries this century, a tragedy has occurred, according to Ahmad Al Katani. Consider what occurred in Ethiopia as an example. Ethiopia is an Arab country, albeit I wouldn’t call it a Muslim country. Any student who searches the word Habasha (Ethiopia) in the book Ocean Dictionary written by Al-Fairuz Abady will discover that the word Habashat means “people of different tribes,” which is exactly what took place. Arabs from various clans would frequently travel to Ethiopia to temporarily settle there. As is well known, Islam spread to Ethiopia before it reached Medina. We are all aware that the emperor of Ethiopia, AL-Najashy, was a Muslim. Al-Darkatny writes in his biography of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that the Prophet remarked to his companions during the month of Rajab in the ninth year of the Hijra (Muslim calendar): Pray for your brother Al-Najashy by standing up. The custom of praying for the absent was established starting in that year. Islam, therefore, spread to Ethiopia from the time of the prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. What has therefore happened to Ethiopia?
The Muslim who refused to bow to the Christian was given 45 lashes and imprisoned for two to five years during the reign of Emperor Hela Silasi, who used to force Muslims to submit to Christians. The Amharic tribes, who were Christians and collaborators who carried out the most heinous deeds imaginable while slaughtering Muslims for 7 months, carried out a massacre in 1948. For instance, they denied them the most fundamental human rights, even going so far as to mutilate the male Muslim’s reproductive organs in order to prevent the birth of any more Muslim offspring. After committing all of these atrocious crimes, Ethiopia was rewarded by becoming the African Unity League’s headquarters.
Let’s travel to another country in Africa, Nigeria. Muslims referred to Nigeria as the Land of Takror. Nigeria was established by the British at the start of the previous century, and numerous Islamic writings refer to it as the Land of Tekror. Even a letter with the title: Opening the Blessed Request and Relating the Hidden Openly to the Questions of the People of Takror was written by the reciter Suyuti, who passed away in the year 911 Hijri. This letter (of questions) was sent by one of the Sheikh scholars of Nigeria by the name of Takror to the Muslim scholar AL Suyuti in Egypt, and he in turn responded. As a result, there was a relationship established, and they used to send questions to the Islamic scholars. The contents of this letter are published and printed and can be found in the book “The collection Islamic decrees.”
There are 120 million people living in Nigeria, and 70% of them are Muslims. A British missionary arrived in northern Nigeria in the 1960s and promised to convert the region’s predominately Muslim population to Christianity. As a result, Ahmad Banulo (one of the Muslim leaders) was compelled to transfer him to Lagos, the country’s capital, at the time. The butcher Arorese, who was there at the time, as a result, slaughtered Ahmad Banulo and all the Muslim rulers. Because he only dared to stir up this missionary, who proclaimed his desire to convert North Nigeria to Christianity.
Zanzibar, an Arabic-speaking African nation (I’m not saying Muslim), is located in another nation. Zanzibar and the Sultanate of Oman have traditionally shared a connection (in the Persian Gulf). In regards to Zanzibar, a Tanzanian ruler by the name of Julius Niriry led a military army that massacred 20,000 Muslims (both male and female) under the command of a chicken thief. This crook was put in jail for allegedly stealing chickens; after being freed, he was given command of the military brigade that killed 20,000 Muslims.
Maher Abdel-Hamid: The advantages of needs like poverty and illiteracy were emphasized by our sir; you then mentioned waves of elimination and waves of religious eradication; there was no need to refer to this as racial eradication. Let’s return to the subject of need and exploitation, though. All of this may have happened in the past—the military operations you mentioned took place at the start or in the middle of the previous century—but what is currently taking place in terms of the exploitation of necessities?
Ahmad Al Katani: I wanted to argue that these military campaigns and battles created the path for what we are witnessing now; the annual conversion of 6 million Muslims was not an accident; it was the outcome of the things I discussed previously.
When it comes to the subject of exploiting people out of necessity, consider a country like Somalia, where every single one of its 9.5 million citizens is Muslim. Neither Christians nor Pagans exist. If you did locate any, they would be few and not even included in official statistics. We all know the horrific situation that Somalia is going through right now and what it went through a few years ago. A Belgian missionary by the name of Sabeh traveled to Somalia and bought 30,000 Muslim youth, taking advantage of their parent’s poverty. This exploits a humanitarian need that any person may experience.
Ahmad Katani stated, “You are aware that trade in slaves is now prohibited by law, but I am at a loss for words. The individual requested roughly forty million dollars, or slightly less, from Belgium, and it (Belgium) hurriedly sent the money to him out of concern that this opportunity may be missed. Belgium quickly sent the funds, and the missionary paid them to the youth’s parents. There is no other name for what happened; I can only refer to it as buying and selling. As a result, 30,000 kids were converted to Christianity and baptized in churches. I regretfully state that these kids are now adults. The incident happened many years ago, the young people involved are now adults, and the fact that they will return to their families—some of whom have already done so and others who will—makes the situation even more perilous. In Somalia, a tragedy occurred as people’s poverty was exploited and they were humiliated in front of onlookers.”
Okay, Maher Abdallah Another illustration of exploitation, this one in light of Somalia’s wartime situation; in the case of a tragedy like poverty where people were compelled to do so because of the local conditions. How are things in the other regions, though?
Ahmed Katani: There are currently 500,000 Muslim refugees in Zaire, and only Muslims are spared the harsh missions of Christianization. It has been noted before, and I apologize for bringing it up, but the majority of humanitarian help supplied in Zaire goes to Christians, giving Muslims there the chance to convert to Christianity.
Every day, 500,000 Muslims are sought for conversion to Christianity. Muslim effort in the field is horribly lacking. Except for a token presence, there is no Arabic or Muslim (missionary) presence in Africa that is useful.
Without naming the groups that occasionally conduct these summits particularly to discuss the plight of Muslims in Africa, south of the desert, Maher Abdallah says that these remarks go counter to what we hear at those meetings.
Ahmad Al Katani: It’s crucial to recognize the fact that all Arabian groups operate under the humanitarian umbrella and not the missionary one. There are in fact active organizations, such as the sheik Abdel Rahim-led organization in Kuwait and The Islamic Invitation Organization in Libya.
There are numerous active organizations and institutions, the majority of which operate under the humanitarian umbrella, and this humanitarian umbrella, my dear sir, is a savings system for the wealthy to aid those who are hurt and suffering from poverty. We should, however, be discussing the work of the missionaries.
Al Katani: See, sir. Unfortunately, the way our groups operate is disorganized. Have you heard of a Christian religion that is practiced in Germany or Holland? I know you have a long history in the field of Islam thanks to your interactions with intellectuals. All have quit their jobs to work for the Vatican, which is in charge of converting people to Christianity.
Each Arab nation is attempting to convert people to their religion, and because these organizations operate autonomously, any success is the result of individual effort.
194 billion dollars were gathered by these Christian missionary groups in a single year. That amount is greater than the sum of the national budgets of all Arab nations. So what should a single Muslim organization in Kuwait, Libya, or Egypt do? Planning and completing this kind of task should be done collaboratively. Consider a different situation where Christians and missionaries in particular send children from their early years to schools, then from those schools to academies or colleges.
There is a facility set aside for the child where Jesus will heal him if he ever falls ill. They deal with him from infancy to adulthood to ensure that he never turns away from Christianity. On the other side, all that occurs is that a Muslim humanitarian group gives some relief temporarily in response to a disaster. However, after the need has passed, they return to Christianity or paganism, proving that we are not organized.
Maher Abdallah: Permit me to put this to you. I understand that civil society organizations in our region of the world are relatively young and may not yet have developed to the point of being streamlined, but what about the Arab countries? Some Arab countries take pride in how much money they devote to promoting Islam, particularly in Africa. Exists a coordinated official Arab effort? Governmentally speaking, what does “official” mean?
Al Katani: There is, but my dear sir, the problem of Christianization is too big and complex for even the united efforts of all Arab societies, let alone a single Arab country, to solve. And even if this Arab had paid for the effort, how much would it cost?
Add to this the poor planning as well. In order to build a mosque, for instance, funds from donations and religious offerings are gathered and transported to Africa. Before building the mosque, my honorable sir, you must build the worshippers. Schools should be constructed first since they are the main vehicle for advancing Islam and serving as a kind of Muslim protection, not mosques. The mosque will be a supporting act. This is one of the errors we make; we are proud of, for instance, erecting a mosque in Dar Al Salam, but trust me, sir, if we had used some money to build a school, it would have cost much more beneficial.
I’ll offer you a case study and some supporting evidence that would make the Muslim missionary hang his head in shame. For instance, Kenya has a population of thirty million people, with 25 percent of them being Muslims. There are 900 mosques and 25,000 churches in Kenya as a whole. Do you notice the noticeable difference? Additionally, half of these mosques—I am only referring to them as mosques out of sympathy—are inoperable. They have roofs made of reeds and similar materials, in contrast to the churches, which have significant financial investments.
Orphans are raised in these churches, but Muslims are not complaining about orphan care because the subject we are talking about is using the need for humanitarian aid to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Maher Abdallah: We go back to the 6 million Muslims who invade another religion’s land from ours. According to the contacts I have made with the western world, where the Muslim community is not as heavily targeted by Christian missionary efforts, the official Muslim organizations, Muslim missionaries, and even wealthy Muslims seem to share a mindset that prioritizes constructing mosques over other endeavors like opening schools and dedicating monuments.
Ahmad Al Katani: We are doing well when it comes to the wealthy Arabs and Muslims. The wealth of the Arab people as a whole is believed to be approximately 600 billion dollars, but we are talking about individual Arabs here, not entire Arab countries. Inferring that these persons contribute the Islamic tax known as Zakat (2.5% of income), which amounts to 15 billion dollars each year. I’m confident that we won’t leave any space in Africa for Christians to engage in missionary work if this religious contribution is collected and delivered to Muslim missionary organizations that know how to function effectively.
The issue with the affluent Arab is that he makes no attempt to advance the cause of Islam, in contrast to Europe, where all of the churches’ funding comes from private donations. We are doing well in terms of having rich Arabs. Despite the fact that they should give people whose hearts can be changed a quarter of the religious offerings, it appears that these wealthy Arabs don’t give a damn about these problems. This was carried out throughout the time of the prophets, may Allah grant them all peace. Omar, the wise caliph, put an end to this practice. The caliph Omar ceased splurging money on those whose hearts are susceptible to influence when Islam attracted a large following. What prevents us today from using some of the religious contributions to spend on these types of people over there? There are now monarchs and rulers of tribes in Africa who have significant power over their followers.
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