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Debate on TV
At the end of the debate - "Christianity and Islam" - which appeared on the SABC-TV program "Cross Questions" on Sunday 5th June 1983, the Chairman, Mr. Bill Chalmers commented:" I think it can be said from this discussion that there is, at present, somewhat more accommodation on the Islamic side for the founder of Christianity than there is on the Christian side for the founder of Islam. What the significance of that is, we leave it to you, the viewer, to determine, but I do think you will agree that it is a good thing that we are talking together".
"Bill" as he is popularly addressed, without any formalities, on all his programs, by all his panelists, is extremely charming and stupendous in his humility. He is a picture of what the Holy Qur'an portrays of a good Christian:“ ...And nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say: We are Christians: because among these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world. And they are not arrogant” (The Holy Qur'an 5:82).
Jesus - His Status
Were the Muslims on the panel trying to placate the viewers out policy, deceit or diplomacy? Nothing of the kind! They were only articulating what God Almighty had commanded them to say in the Holy Qur'an. As Muslims, they had no choice. They had said in so many words:" We Muslims believe, that Jesus was one of the mightiest messengers of God that he was the Christ, that he was born miraculously without any male intervention (which many modern-day Christians do not believe today), that he gave life to the dead by God's permission and that he healed those born blind and the lepers by god's permission. In fact, no Muslim is a Muslim if he or she does not believe in Jesus!"
Over 90% of the people who witnessed this debate must have been pleasantly, but skeptically, surprised. They might have not believed their ears. They must have surmised that the Muslims were playing to the gallery - that they were trying to curry favor with their fellow Christian countrymen; that if the Muslims would say a few good words about Jesus, then in reciprocation the Christians might say a few good words about Muhammed (may the peace and the blessings of God be upon all His righteous servants, Moses, Jesus, Muhammed...etc.); that I scratch your back and you scratch my back - which would be a sham or hypocrisy.
We cannot blame the Christians for their skepticism. They have been so learned for centuries. They were trained to think the worst of the man Muhammed, salla-Allahu alihi wa sallam, and his religion. How aptly did Thomas Carlyle say about his Christian brethren over a hundred and fifty years ago:" The lies which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammed) are disgraceful to ourselves only". We Muslims are partly responsible for this. We have not done anything substantial to remove the cobwebs.
Ocean of Christianity
South Africa is an ocean of Christianity. If Libya boasts the highest percentage of Muslims on the continent of Africa, then the Republic of South Africa would also be entitled to boast the highest percentage of Christians. In this ocean of Christianity the R.S.A. - the Muslims are barely 2% of the total population. We are a vote-less minority - numerically, we count for nothing; politically, we count for nothing; and economically, one white man, as Oppenheimer, could buy out the whole lot of us, lock, stock and barrel.
So if we had feigned to appease, we might be excused. But no! We must proclaim our Master's Will; we must declare the Truth, whether we liked it or not. In the words of Jesus:" Seek ye the truth, and the truth shall set you free" (John 8:32).
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