Alagi Saidy-Barrow: The Conversation: The People, The Religions

Alagie Saidy-Barrow

Kareem: So your name is John; I take it you’re a Christian.

John: Yes, I’m a Christian. A true Christian that is. How about you Emmanuel?

Emmanuel: As for me, I’m a born again Christian. The Bible says “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Kareem: Born again? Are you saying John’s Christianity is incomplete unless he’s born again? That he won’t see the kingdom of God?

Emmanuel: I only speak of my own faith. We have different Christian sects. The other day I heard you say that you’re a Shite Ismaili Muslim. And that you became an Ismaili Muslim after you attended the Aga Khan University and learned about the Ismaili faith.

Kareem: Yes, that is true. I’m an Ismaili Muslim; but you see, unlike many of these Muslims, I didn’t simply follow the religion I was born into. I read, researched, prayed for guidance and Ismaili Islam is the way Allah showed me.

Fatima Bin Bilal: That’s true what you said Kareem. Many of us simply follow the religions we were born into. If I was born into a Christian family, I would have simply followed the Christian faith and probably be named Janet. Makes you wonder how strong our beliefs are given that we simply adapted without seeking knowledge to undergird our faith. But Ismaili Muslims, Ahmadiayyas, Mourides, and many of these Shias are questionable Muslims to say it kindly.

John: It’s the same with us Christians too. If we were born into Muslim families, we most likely would have been Muslims and my name would have been Muhammad or something. That’s why it’s important to seek knowledge about one’s chosen faith. Many of us can’t even answer why we are Muslims or Christians.

Musa: Well, personally, I believe that the fact that I was born a Muslim is a blessing from Allah. It’s up to me to follow His guidance and save myself from hellfire.

Ibrahim: Musa, are you therefore saying that those who were not born Muslims are not blessed by Allah? And non-muslims are going to hell? I guess that too depends on who you consider to be a Muslim since there are various sects under the Shia and Sunni “branches” of Islam.

John: Musa, didn’t you say the last time that there’s only one true religion and it’s Islam as practiced by those of the Sunni faith? Does that therefore mean that Kareem calls himself a Muslim but he’s not one and is therefore bound for hell?

Kareem: Well, we all have our beliefs and many of us think that those who are not of our belief are on the wrong path. If Musa thinks I am going to hell, I too think the same of him.

John: You too think Musa is a Muslim but he’s on the wrong path?

Emmanuel: Well, John, it’s the same in Christianity too. Some think if you’re not born again, you’re on the wrong path. If you are not catholic, you are on the wrong path. If you are not a seventh-day adventist, you are on the wrong path. This is why others who are not Muslims or Christians keep their faith on the down low. I mean who wants to be see as the person going to hell?

Cabral: So basically, while none of you would say it or perhaps even admit it, all of you think anyone that’s not affiliated with your belief system is on the wrong path and some of you take that to mean those not with your belief are bound for hellfire. And you all came to this conclusion because you simply believe it to be true because that’s what you were told. Am I tracking like a VCR?

Emmanuel: Cabral, yes you are tracking and yes, going strictly by the teachings of my religion, you are going to hell because you refuse to accept our lord and savior Jesus Christ!

Musa: Emmanuel, you can’t say who is going to hell or heaven.

Ibrahim: Well, if he dies a disbeliever or kuffar, he would have died disobeying Allah and I can’t say who is going to heaven or hell but admission criteria to heaven is mostly very clear for us Muslims.

Cabral: So you guys hang out with me even though you believe I’m hell bound. I guess I’ll be there with your ancestors who were not Muslims or Christian’s either.

Ibrahim: I pray the noor of Islam enters your being and you become a Muslim.

Emmanuel: I pray the light of our lord Jesus Christ saves you and makes you a god-fearing Christian.

Cabral: God-fearing huh? Perhaps you two should pray for one another to go to heaven. I’m alright with the hell I live in with you unthinking and brainwashed zombies.

Musa: Be nice Cabral. I’ll pray for you.

Fatima: Bye everyone. I have to go home before my fiancé Sawagibi, gets home.

Musa: Fornication is haraam… You should not be with men that are not blood relatives or your husband

Fatima: Musa, but you sat right beside me all this while… I guess you thought I am a man…

John: Bye everyone…. blessings

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