A veteran journalist and renowned columnist, Alhaji Femi Abbas has made an interesting revelation into how the adherents of other religions in the media profession smear the image of Islam.
Abbas made this known over the weekend while speaking at the 3rd Anniversary of Muslim News, Nigeria’s authoritative authoritative Islamic Newspaper.
The event – with the theme “Curbing Negative Media Framing of Muslims: Best Approaches” also featured the presentation of awards to the winners of Global and Nigerian Muslim Personalities of the Year 2020.
Alhaji Abbas, who is also the Chairman, media committee of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA, said the counterparts in other religion created their own imaginary Islam as far back as 1859 when journalism was birthed in Abeokuta alongside Christianity.
According to him, “Media framing of Islam dates back to 1859 when journalism was packaged to us alongside Christianity. The place was Abeokuta. All sorts of things were packed into it, especially the ones that will affect Islam.
“They created their imaginary Islam, started loading their own ideas into it and turned it into propaganda to smear Islam to whoever reads about it, so that as you are reading, you will begin to develop hatred for the religion called Islam.
“Muslims do not see rivalry in other religions, but our counterparts, especially in Christianity see it as such, believing the only way to propagate their religion is to smear Islam, believing doing so will create hatred for it”.
Abbas, one of the living legendary Nigerian journalist who hails from Ejigbo, Osun State, described the journalism profession as “the profession of all professions”, saying that it is the foremost, first and the last of all of professions”.
“The profession of man is information, which we call journalism. Allah informed the angels in chapter 2 of the Qur’an, verse 216 that He was going to create someone – a vicegerent on earth. They said, you want to create people that will shed blood. Allah replied them, I know what you do not know.”
“That’s the origin of man. To inform, as used by Allah, is one of the attributes of news writing in journalism.
“Not on all that, this profession is also going to be the last on the Day of judgement. On that Day, all mankind will be judged. There will be people of hell and people of paradise. By the time those who will enter hell or paradise have entered, there will be nothing called professions again.
“But the only profession that will remain is journalism, because after the judgement of Allah, the people of hell want to know what is happening to people of paradise, as people of paradise will also want to know what’s happening to people of hell. Journalism is the ability to know and the only profession that will be able to report such events is journalism. You can see why one needs to be proud of this profession,” he said.
Speaking further, Alhaji Abbas maintained that, there is no equal profession to journalism, saying, “After the delivery of a child, when the mother wants to start teaching a child, it’s by information. She will inform the child these are the eyes, this is the nose, hand and so on. That’s information, which we call journalism today”.
Abbas, who is also a media consultant with the Muslim Ummah of Southwest Nigeria (MUSWEN) decried the poor reading culture among Muslims, saying the act of reading is tied to the development of Islam.
“I remember in 1985, when I was in Concord. The publisher of the newspaper, late MKO Abiola asked me to go and write the feasibility study of an Islamic newspaper. I went and wrote it. He sent for me and I asked him, Sir, the paper will be meant for who? He said the Muslims. I said Muslims will not read it. He was shocked! He asked me how did you know, I told him, I am a columnist. That was the end of it. Even up till date, Muslims don’t read and that is a major disadvantage to Islam.
Speaking on his nomination as the Nigerian Muslim Media Person of the Year, the columnist expressed his indifference to awards.
“When AbdurRasheed got in touch with him, I told him I am indifferent to awards. Whatever I do in the way of Islam, I expect the reward from Allah. So, this award is the 52nd but I accepted only one before the one given to me by Muslim News. That’s my nature. I don’t make noise, I prefer my work to speak for itself.”
Alhaji Abbas, however, eulogised the establishment of Muslim News Nigeria in August, 2018, saying its advent is timely, especially at the time the Ummah needs a mouthpiece. He urged Muslims to buckle down and give required support to the media platform.
“When Abdurrasheed came to tell me about the idea of floating Muslim News, I told him, why not another name, because the word Muslim, to those who are readers is apparent. He, however, made some explanation and I agreed with him. Alhamdulillah, the rest is history today.”
Quoting Qur’an 48:27 where Allah says He has certainly showed to His Messenger the vision in truth, Alhaji Abbas said he is proud of what Muslim News has achieved in three years, adding, “We can call this an opening of Muslim information (centre) in Nigeria.
“Muslim News is history and it has come to be a success that will be succeeded by greater successes, by the grace of Allah. Muslim News is wonderful. It’s timely, very timely. It’s making waves around the world. And we are proud of that.
“We believe we are successful because we now have successors. So, we didn’t have the opportunity of having exclusive Muslim newspapers in our own days, but that it has come to be in our presence, in our lifetime, Alhamdulillah, we thank Allah.
“I feel proud anytime I read Muslim News. I hope other online newspapers will try to borrow a leaf. Alhamdulillah,” he said.
Abbas called on the Nigerian Muslim community to invest in the media and support Muslim News, which he described as the project of the future.
“If the Nigerian Muslim community is serious, this is the kind of project they should focus on; they should lift. That they should support by all means, with any possible and available materials. This project looks ordinary now, it’s the project of the future. And it’s a propeller of Islam in Nigeria and to the entire world. It shall be so by the grace of Allah,” he noted.
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