Muslims playing active role in Togo

Updated 22 February 2013

Muslims playing active role in Togo

Islam reached Togo about the same time as it did in much of West Africa. Tribes and other communities of the region came in contact with Islam in the 1700’s that came across the salt and gold trade routes. The Berber and Tuareg merchants traveled the trans-Saharan trade routes.
Muslim scholars, teaching their beliefs and establishing mosques and madrassas along the routes, accompanied traders on their journeys. The Hausa and the Fulani, a traditionally nomadic group, traveled all over West Africa, taking their Muslim beliefs to places such as present-day Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
In the absence of any reliable data, the Muslim population in the Republic of Togo ranges between 12 and 20 percent. The imam and preacher of the Salam Mosque in Lome, Sheikh Haroun Al-Hassan however puts the figure as much as 50 percent of Togo’s total 5,000,000 population, which appears exaggerated.
Almost every tribe and community has Muslim population. Kotokoli for instance is the largest community in Togo that is concentrated in the center of Togo in the region of Sokode. The Kotokoli used to control a principal trade route and developed a reputation for dealings in trade. They converted to Islam in the 1800’s. Today, almost all of the Kotokoli with a population of over 200,000 are Muslim, sincerely practicing the faith of Islam.
Daawa work is undergoing in the republic and a number of Islamic organizations have come up. They work for the welfare of the Muslims in the country. Many villagers are now gravitating toward Islam and embracing the faith in large numbers. The Muslim organizations are working to spread peace, justice, love and freedom, as also to help the Muslims live a decent life as also co-exist with followers of other faiths.
They aim at spreading the message of Islam and the Islamic culture and education.
The Federation of Togo Muslims is one such organization, which is the largest one. It takes care of new Muslims and has discouraged extremism and violence. Many Togolese, including members of the Christian clergy are accepting Islam.
Ahmadu Tito, Federation’s secretary-general, said that the Muslims have established good relations with the government of Togo. Many Muslims serve in the government as civil servants. The minister of defense, minister of justice, Parliament speaker, and the private advisor to the president, are all Muslims. Only two year ago, the country’s minister of local government embraced Islam.
Muslims in Togo give top priority to education and have established several schools. There are several schools teaching Islam and modern education.
The Federation runs two schools in Lome in which French and Arabic are taught. It has also established an Islamic Center in Logi, and a Muslim Academy at Sonko.
It has received help from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to run the Muslim Academy, in which 500 students get education from primary to secondary level. The Federation has several other smaller educational institutions in various parts of the country.
To develop better educational curricula, several educationists have traveled to various countries in North Africa, such as Tunisia and Morocco, to study their curricula, and recommend their application in the schools in Togo.
The West African country has many mosques, 40 of them in Lome alone; two of which are large ones, and are filled to capacity with worshippers, particularly on Fridays, when they overflow and some of the worshippers have to pray on the pavements.
The Federation is engaged in dawa work and often holds seminars, symposia for this purpose.
Togo’s Muslims have effective means of spreading the message of Islam, including an Islamic broadcasting station, which beams its programs round the clock. The Jabal Noor Valley Islamic Broadcasting Station is on the FM wavelength. There is also a television station, while every Saturday the state television station allocates 30 minutes for Islamic programs. But there is no Muslim newspaper or magazine in the country.
Togo, which has joined the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), is the smallest West African country, with an area of 65,600 sq km and a population of over five million. Lome is the capital and the largest city. French Togoland became Togo in 1960. Gen. Gnassingbe Eyadema, installed as military ruler in 1967, continued to rule well into the 21st century through his Rally of the Togolese People (RPT) party. Upon his death in 2005, he was succeeded by his son Faure Gnassingbe.
The name Togo, which means “beside the waters” in the Ewe language (one of the national languages of Togo) refers to the Atlantic coastal region. The country is generally less than 100 km wide and is about 550 km long. Togo was a French colony until independence in 1960. Since 1991, the nation has suffered much political turmoil, which degenerated into intense armed conflict, especially in the central and southern regions, although there has been greater stability in recent years. The economy is heavily dependent on both commercial and subsistence agriculture, which provides employment for more than 60 percent of the labor force. Cocoa, coffee and cotton together generate about 30 percent of export earnings.

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Updated 23 September 2016

Gospels lead us to the Qur’an

Brandon Yusuf Toropov gives a vivid account of his personal quest to study the most authentic verses of the Bible — the Q verses — and his coming into the fold of Islam. Thhis is the concluding part of his story.

I WAS interested in the research being done that indicated that the oldest strata of the Gospels reflected an extremely early oral source known as Q (the Q source: Q from German, Quelle, meaning ‘source,’ is a hypothetical written collection of Jesus’s sayings) and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus (may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him) needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it. This is because that narrative material was added many years later.

Wresting with the doctrine of the Trinity: The more I looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels. I found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions. Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word “Trinity”? If Jesus was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God? And, if Jesus was God, why in the world would he say something like the following? “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.” (Mark, 10:18) Did he somehow forget that he himself was God when he said this?

The Holy Qur’an: In November of 2002, I began to read a translation of the Qur’an. I had never read an English translation of the entire text of the Qur’an before. I had only read summaries of the Qur’an written by non-Muslims. (And very misleading summaries at that.)
Words do not adequately describe the extraordinary effect that this book had on me. Suffice to say that the very same magnetism that had drawn me to the Gospels at the age of 11 was present in a new and deeply imperative form. This book was telling me, just as I could tell Jesus had been telling me, about matters of ultimate concern. The Qur’an was offering authoritative guidance and compelling responses to the questions I had been asking for years about the Gospels.
“It is not (possible) for any human being to whom God has given the Book and wisdom and prophethood to say to the people: ‘Be my worshippers rather than God’s.’ On the contrary, (he would say): ‘Be devoted worshippers of your Lord, because you are teaching the Book and you are studying it.’ Nor would he order you to take angels and prophets for lords. Would he order you to disbelieve after you have submitted to God’s will?” (Qur’an, 3:79-80)
The Qur’an drew me to its message because it so powerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus that I felt in my heart had to be authentic. Below, you will find just a few examples of the parallels that made my heart pliant to the worship of God. Each Gospel verse comes from the reconstructed text known as Q, a text that today’s scholars believe represents the earliest surviving strata of the teachings of the Messiah. Note how close this material is to the Qur’anic message.

On monotheism: In Q, Jesus endorses a rigorous monotheism. “Get thee behind me, Satan: For it is written, ‘Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.’” (Luke, 4:8) Compare: “Children of Adam, did We not command you not to worship Satan? He was your sworn enemy. Did We not command you to worship Me and tell you that this is the straight path?” (Qur’an, 36:60-61)

On Aqaba: Q identifies a right path that is often difficult, a path that unbelievers will choose not to follow. “Enter ye in through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there are who go in there. Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew, 7:13-14) Compare: “The worldly life is made to seem attractive to the disbelievers who scoff at the faithful, but the pious, in the life Hereafter, will have a position far above them…” (Qur’an, 2:212)

On Taqwa: Q warns us to fear only the judgment of God. “And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear. Fear Him, which after He hath killed, hath the power to cast into Hell. Yea, I say unto you, fear Him!” (Luke, 12:4-5) Compare: “To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. God’s retribution is severe. Should you then have fear of anyone other than God?” (Qur’an, 16:52)

Earthly life: In Q, Jesus warns humanity plainly that earthly advantages and pleasures should not be the goal of our lives: “Woe unto you that are rich! For you have received your consolation. Woe unto you who are full! You shall be hungry. Woe unto you who laugh now! You shall weep and mourn.” (Luke, 6:24) Compare: “The desire to have increase of worldly gains has preoccupied you so much (that you have neglected the obligation of remembering God) – until you come to your graves! You shall know. You shall certainly know (about the consequences of your deeds.) You will certainly have the knowledge of your deeds beyond all doubt. You will be shown hell, and you will see it with your own eyes. Then, on that day, you shall be questioned about the bounties (of God).” (Qur’an, 102:1-8)

Crucifixion: We are left then with an amazing early Gospel, a Gospel that (non-Muslim) scholars believe is historically closest to Jesus, a Gospel that has the following characteristics: Agreement with the Qur’an’s uncompromising message of God’s Oneness; agreement with the Qur’an’s message of an afterlife of salvation or hellfire ... based on our earthly deeds; agreement with the Qur’an’s warning not to be misled by dunya, the attractions and pleasures of worldly life. A complete absence of any reference to Christ’s death on the cross, resurrection, or sacrifice for humanity! This is the Gospel that today’s most advanced non-Muslim scholars have identified for us ... and this Gospel is pointing us, if only we will listen to it, in precisely the same direction as the Qur’an! I became a Muslim on March 20, 2003. It became obvious to me that I had to share this message with as many thoughtful Christians as I could.