What is Boko? By Senator Umaru Dahiru

Source: huhuonline.com

We didn't get the chance to hear Muhammad Yusuf define his terms before he was killed; what's Boko and what's Haram? If by Boko he meant Western education and if Western education is the combinations of physics, chemistry, medicine, geography, etc then few people are as important to the development of Boko as Muslims. Even Westerners admitted as much.

Is abnormal psychology Boko? The authors of Ablongman Abnormal Psychology said, “Islamic physician Avicenna or Ibn Sina (c. 980-1037) approached the treatment of mental disorders with humane practices unknown to Western medical practitioners of the time. During the Middle Ages in Europe (c.500-1500) scientific inquiry into abnormal behavior was limited, and the treatment of psychologically disturbed individuals was characterized more often by ritual or superstition than by attempts to understand an individual's condition. In contrast to Avicenna's era in the Islamic countries of the Middle East or to the period of enlightenment during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the middle Ages in Europe were largely devoid of scientific thinking and of humane treatment for the mentally disturbed. A similar sequence of events occurred in other parts of the world.”

Was Yusuf saying that such monumental contributions (Europe, the home of science, had to wait at least 500 years before they could master the scientific techniques of the Muslims) of the likes of Ibn Sina, Boko, and therefore sinful? Is psychiatry Boko? To highlight the wisdom and the techniques of Muslims in the practice of medicine, Browne authored a book in 1921 called Arabian Medicine. On pages 88 to 89, he told a story of how Ibn Sina systematically treated the mental illness of a certain prince. 'A certain prince was afflicted with melancholia and suffered from the delusion that he was a cow….

He would low like a cow, causing annoyance to everyone… crying, “Kill me so that a good stew may be made of my flesh” Finally he would eat nothing….Avicenna was persuaded to take the case…. First of all he sent a message to the patient bidding him be of good cheer because the butcher was coming to slaughter him whereat…the sick man rejoiced. Some time afterwards Avicenna, holding a knife in his hand, entered the sickroom saying, “Where is this cow that I may kill it?” The patient lowed like a cow to indicate where he was. By Avicenna's orders he was laid on the ground bound hand and foot. Avicenna then felt him all over and said, “He is too lean, and not ready to be killed; he must be fattened.” Then they offered him suitable food of which he now partook eagerly, and gradually he gained strength, got rid of his delusion, and were completely cured.'

Is embryology Boko? Professor Keith L. Moore a former President of American Association of Clinical Anatomists said “I was aware of the glorious history of Muslim scientists in the 10th century AD, and some of their contributions to Medicine.” Is mathematics Boko? The Economist magazine of London although not pro-Islam said glorious things about the Muslim mathematicians Omar Khayyam and Al- Khawrizmi from whose name we have algorithm. 'Mohammed Al Khwarizmi was an Arab mathematician whose revolutionary new ideas transformed the field of mathematics. His book, hisab al-jabr, gave birth to a whole new field in mathematics: algebra. In fact, the very word algebra comes from the Arabic word al-jabr from the name of his book.'

Mohammed Al Kwarizmi's contributions to mathematics are without match. Are his contributions Boko, therefore sinful? The Boko we know might not be the one Yusuf was referring to. No Muslim in his right mind would say Western education is haram. But like Muhammad Haruna said on the back page of Daily Trust of Wednesday 4th of August Yusuf's “rejection of modernity suggests he had mistaken it for Westernization.” But even where Yusuf had legitimate concerns about Boko, like his rejection of Darwin's theory, it is not enough grounds for a blanket rejection of Boko. How many Nigerians – Christians and Muslims – believe Darwin anyway?

Sheik Yusuf should have done what Hussain al Jasr did in Iraq. When Khalifa Abdul Hamid called Jasr to ask his opinion about Darwin's (then new) theory of evolution, Jasr said he saw no conflict between the theory and religion. The Khalifa was shocked and asked Jasr to explain further. Jasr said that the theory of evolution had unwittingly acknowledged a system operating in the universe; therefore, the question to ask was who created the system?

Senator Umaru Dahiru: Chairman, Northern Senators' Forum/Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary and Human Rights. Room 313 New Senate Building, National Assembly Abuja.

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