Last Monday, I met someone who is neither a Muslim nor a Christian.
I know there are many people like this globally, but I had never met a Nigerian living in Nigeria who didn’t believe in organized religion. When we exchanged names, I automatically assumed she was Muslim, but she corrected me. So I said you’re Christian? And she said none. I was shocked. Not shocked because I found it wrong, but I was surprised.
There are many religions in the world but the major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Confucianism, Christianity, Taoism, and Judaism) differ in many respects, including how each religion is organized and the belief system each upholds. Other differences include the nature of belief in a higher power, the history of how the world and the religion began, and the use of sacred texts and objects. Source
As a Nigerian, you’re either a Christian or a Muslim. I’m not sure all the forms we fill permit “Others”. My Dad was born into a Muslim family, and my Mum, a Christian family. By default, my Dad grew up a Muslim and my Mum, a Christian. After my Mum married my Dad, she was converted to Islam and given a Muslim name. She even went on the holy pilgrimage to Mecca at some point and was addressed as an Alhaja, but she never lost her Christian side. She was what you’d call a Chrismus.
Me on the other hand, I was mainly a Christian until secondary school. I went to a primary school where we all had a “songs of praise” and would sing hymns at the assembly every morning. We had bible studies classes and would pray in the Christian way whenever it was time to. I never went to a Church except to attend weddings, and I don’t remember ever going to a mosque (siblings, please correct me if I’m wrong).
I had to choose between Christian Religious Studies and Islamic Religious Studies in secondary school, and I chose IRS. I was a Muslim, after all, because my Dad was. I learned about my religion from jss1 to ss3. I learned the five pillars of Islam, the six articles of faith, the hadith, how to perform ablution, origin of Islam, the revelation of the Quran, how to pray, surahs, duas, most of what I know today at school. It was an exciting journey to learn and transfer what I was taught to action.
As I talked some more with my new “friend”, she told me that she believes in God and prays to God but in her own way. She said organized religions are a foundation of man-made principles and practices that have sucked too many people away from God’s purpose. As she spoke further, I could see things from her perspective in a weird but interesting kind of way. She knows there’s a higher source, a higher frequency, a creator, and a guide and would rather acknowledge Him in her desired way.
Coincidentally, her Dad is a Muslim and her Mum a Christian too. She actually tried both religions before she tried none, and its been working for her, for years. When I asked her what her religion is, “she said, my religion is love”. I felt that!
I know a couple of people that would have been alarmed by her point of view, stopped the conversation and possibly cursed her out. I’ve always been liberal when it comes to religion. I consider myself more of a spiritual person than a religious person because I know my personal relationship with “God” or my “Creator” trumps religion. Also, there’s a verse in the Quran that says “there is no compulsion in religion” and It’ll be nice if people didn’t impose their religion on others.
Nonetheless, it was an exciting conversation and I’m curious to know what you would have said or done if you were in my situation? Would you speak from a place of judgment or acceptance?
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