Bridgetown, Barbados, January 20, 2016: The warm reception of a leading Muslim scholar at Codrington College, a prestigious Christian seminary in Barbados, reinforced the idea that Islam and Christianity shared a core set of values.
Visiting Eritrean born Muslim scholar Shaykh Faid Muhammad Said was welcomed yesterday by the seminary’s Principal, Reverend Dr. Michael Clarke along with other priests and theological students.
Shaykh Faid was on his first ever visit to Barbados, his final stop on a three country tour of the Caribbean that took him first to Guyana then Trinidad. Shaykh Faid is a classical Islamic Scholar who have spent many years in the study of Islam and its related sciences and knowledge. He is based in London, United Kingdom.
Reverend Dr. Clarke invited Shaykh Faid to deliver a lecture on the Spiritual Tradition in Islam. Codrington College located on very scenic surroundings made the perfect spot for the gathering of Christians and Muslims learning from each other’s faith-based traditions.
Prior to the lecture a donation of park benches was made by the Barbados Muslim Association to be utilized by persons using the facilities at the College. Additionally, author Sabir Nakhuda presented a gift of a 200 year old Bible from his private collection of books to the library of the College.
The tradition of cooperation between Christians and Muslims goes back many centuries but regrettably interrupted by periods of destructive behavior on both sides by individuals who take a narrow view of the world and an even narrower view of what their religious beliefs teach.
Shaykh Faid put the question of spirituality in perspective and several in the audience, representing a cross-section of Christian denominations on the island observed that many of those spiritual principles intersect between Christianity and Islam. Understanding the Creator, Almighty God and one’s faith better ensures that one would live a life in service not only to God but to the creation of God. He said that human beings cannot claim to be in the service of God and at the same time be a harm to others and cause destruction on the earth.
The acts of prayers, fasting and charity all help to build one spirituality. Especially prayer that is done in solace with sincere devotion. He noted that the action of Muslims and putting their faces on the ground in complete submission to the Almighty while in prayer serves as a practical lesson in humility. He said he observed similar acts with some orthodox Christian groups in his country of Eritrea. He mentioned that he had spent one year in a church in his country studying a very old sematic language.
In response to a question about those who say their act in the name of Islam but carry out brutal acts of murder, terrorism and other such deviant behaviours Shaykh Faid pointed out that there was a major disconnect with these people and their understanding of the faith and his and the majority of the Muslims and their understanding of the same faith. He said these deviant persons are misinformed and have a wrong interpretation of the teachings. He noted that scholars like himself are working to reverse these corrupt ideologies from spreading among the younger generation.
On the issue of fear by some people of Muslims he said that fear was the worst enemy for human beings. With fear, persons are capable of doing anything. He said it was natural to have fear in light of all the negative portrayed about Islam and Muslims but he made the point that this issue concerns everyone, not only Muslims and we should all work hand in hand to combat extremism. Religion is being regarded as outdated and so today the focus is on Islam but tomorrow it will be another religion.
Shaykh Faid’s gave another lecture last night at the Grand Salle. Here he reminded Muslims to go back to the teachings and examples of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for in those teachings one would find the way to live a wholesome life even in today’s modern world.
The audience at both lectures represented a cross section of the Barbadian community. From priests to professionals, Muslims and persons of other faith. Shaykh Faid’s message of following the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) true message resounded with all the audience. An attendee commented that he was extremely happy to have attended and felt that Muslim should do more on the island to educate Barbadians to the teachings of Islam. Another comment from the night lecture included one priest saying: “Totally enjoyed tonight. The presentation represented true Islamic scholarship. Fantastic!”
Shaykh Faid was interviewed on the local television station which was well received by the viewing public. Nazim Baksh, a journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, who accompanied the Shaykh on his trip to the Caribbean, also did an interview on television and examined the role of the media in directing the narrative on Islam and Muslims.
The Shaykh’s visit came at a time when there have been much public discussion in Barbados on the issue of Muslim females wearing hijab for official photographs. The local press covered the Shaykh’s visit and published several articles. Contributed by Suleiman Bulbulia