The director of the Discover Islam Centre in Cape Town has written an open letter to a Johannesburg Christian school facing a public backlash over its comments on Islam. Last week, Bob Fuller, the principal of The King’s School in Linbro Park sent a newsletter to parents in which he compared Christianity to Islam. In the letter, the principal describes the athaan as a “mournful stain”.
He writes: As I listen, I can’t help but think of the vast difference between Muslim and Christian prayers.”
He continues: “Muslims pray in the hope that it might earn them salvation, while Christians pray because we already have assurance of salvation.”
“Muslims pray at prescribed times according to a set ritual in the hope that they will be heard, while Christians can pray anywhere at any time in any words we may choose, with the assurance that every word is heard because of our personal relationship with God.”
Crime Line head Yusuf Abramjee, who first raised concerns about the letter, has demanded the principal apologise to Muslims. In response, DIC director Maulana Zakirriya Philander says this is a prime example of the religious intolerance we as a country are working very hard to eradicate. He says the principal has a poor understanding of salvation in Islam and an incorrect understanding of prayer in Islam.
Dear Mr Fuller
I am Zakariyah Philander. The Director of the Discover Islam Centre.
I am not sure whether you are aware but a circular you sent out to your students is doing the rounds on social media and is fast going viral. The reason for it’s infamy is due to the level of ignorance it displays about Islam and its insulting insinuation.
Describing the Islamic call to prayer as “mournful stains” being broadcast in ‘your’ area is a prime example of the religious intolerance we as a country are working very hard to eradicate.
Respectfully, you have a poor understanding of salvation in Islam and an incorrect understanding of prayer in Islam. The fact that such misinformation and disrespect comes from an institution of learning brings into question in my mind the educational integrity of that institution.
My personal interaction with Christian clergymen and Christians in general does not reflect the type of disregard for the Islamic faith that you espouse. Our Quran teaches “And do not insult those who supplicate other than ‘one’ God, lest they out of enmity insult God without knowledge.” Q6:108.
Also “You will find the nearest in affection ‘to believing Muslims’ are those who say ‘we are Christian’, that is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they indeed do not behave arrogantly.” Q5:78.
The Discover Islam Centre regularly host educational institutions to a mosque tour, the most recent one just before Ramadan. The objective being to teach appreciation of diversity and to be true to the pursuit of knowledge and convey accurate information about Islam, its commonalities and differences with other faiths. I implore you in the interest of respect for knowledge and faith that should you wish to say something about your own faith it not be done at the expense of another. If we teach that the only way we become better is through belittling others then we have failed to realise what it means to be good and to love God.
While I think an apology is in order to Muslims, I will not demand it but will allow your faith to guide you.
On Friday afternoon, the school issued an apology for the “misrepresentation of Islam”. The letter states the letter was meant to be one of “compassion” and not to cause division between Muslims and Christians.