Afghanistan and the Triumph of World Ideologies

by: Deji Yesufu

When I wrote my final thesis at seminary, I stumbled on a piece of information in my research that was a little troubling. Till this moment, I have not been able to reconcile the facts around my discovery; although I must confess that the recent fall of the Afghan government to Taliban forces has helped shaped my thoughts better around those discoveries. My conclusion now is this: ideas rule the world but no idea can be preserved without some military force. Here is what I found:

Christianity came to Nigeria in the 1840s. The leading indigenous Christian minister in Nigeria in those days was Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther. He was a minister with the Anglican Church and his first mission base was in South-West Nigeria. He often transverse Lagos and Abeokuta, preaching the gospel and establishing mission bases in various villages and towns. The first major towns that opened their doors to Christian missionaries were Badagry and Abeokuta. Lagos, as of that time, had a king that was impervious to the gospel message. His name was Oba Kosoko. This king’s major grouse was not with the gospel itself; since even the natives could tell that imbibing the White Man’s religion made life better for the devotees. It was the fact that if Lagos became Christian, the king will loose his major source of income – which was slave trade.

At this time in British national life, slave trade had been abolished and the British were leading efforts around the world to end slavery. When Ajayi Crowther and his fellow missionaries saw that Lagos will not receive the gospel, the Bishop was sent to England to see the Prime Minister and to talk with leading British politicians. His argument essentially was that Britain should come to Nigeria to help end the evil of slave trade and the only way to do this was to depose that king. But the side reward for removing such an evil ruler was that Christian missionary efforts will thrive in Lagos and the town will be won over to Christ. The British agreed.

One day in December 1851, British ships invaded the coasts of Lagos, firing canons into the town. The sleepy town was awoken to the military might of the English. The king, Oba Kosoko, was deposed and a new king, Oba Akintoye, was installed – an individual who would do the bidding of the British. The missionaries entered the city of Lagos and established the gospel there. Slavery ended. The British planted a detachment of their army on our soil. Subsequently the new king traded the rights of governing the town of Lagos to the Royal Niger Company – who themselves will hand over the governing of the colony of Lagos to the British in 1900. The formal colonization of Nigeria had begun.

I tell this story to explain to us that the crisis in Afghanistan is a crisis over the clash of ideologies. The root ideology of the Western world, now led by the United States, used to be Christianity. Today the leading idea in the West is liberalism. While liberalism may be defined by many from a political point of view, I continue to insist that religious liberalism is at the root of America’s ideologies today. Religious liberalism is basically a belief that one can maintain a Christian worldview without submitting to the laws of God that birth those worldview today.

The Christian worldview birth the concept of a democracy: an idea that says that the governing of a people should exhume from the collective will of majority of those people. The idea is that a society that is ruled by God’s law is likely to birth a people who will mostly make the right decision. This idea is against the feudalist system that once operated in Europe and had been the basis of the monarchical system that most of the world operated in. The idea of a monarchy was that a few persons are born so special that God had ordained such people to be rulers over others. What happens then is that even after these people die, their children are still installed rulers because they have their blood. The Christian worldview changed all of that. Stating that man is created in the image of God and any man can aspire to the position of leadership, as long as he possesses the wisdom and charisma to lead a people. And such leaders are installed to power to a tenured period via democratic means.

The Taliban, on the other hand, reject this idea. They hold that society must be governed by Islamic laws. Islamic jurisprudence is still essentially feudalist at it root. The Taliban are doubly against the liberal ideologies of Western societies today because while America led Afghanistan in the last twenty years, they have not only succeeded at birthing freedom and education among the Afghan people; they have also begun to plant their liberal ideas of homosexuality and infanticide (abortion) among the people there. The Taliban see all these as the corruption of Christianity on their land and were basically emboldened to take their society back through the force of arms.

Another thing that has led to the rise of the Taliban in the Afghan government has been the kid glove commitment that the Democrat led government of the United States brings to the manner of military force. Christian societies have learnt over the years that God has given government the power of the sword (Romans 13), to punish evil and to reward good. It is this idea, that is still prevalent in the Republican Party of the USA, that constrains them to pay attention to the matter of national security through the empowering of their military. A Republican Party government will not only invest in the military, they will also take proactive steps at curtailing movements all around the world that pose as security threats to the United States.

The USA discovered that Afghanistan was the hotbed for terrorist activities. They realized that Osama Bin Laden had used that country to train his men to build up the terrorist group that attacked New York in September 11, 2001. The US immediately moved into Afghanistan, overthrew the Taliban government there and installed a democratic government. Unfortunately for America, they succeeded in planting a government without a corresponding ideology to preserve that government. The idea that has preserved the USA and other Western countries till now has been a Christian one. Everywhere you discard the Christian ideology, you open yourselves to others – including Islam.

My argument in this essay is simply this: no idea is sustained in our world without the might of the military. Islam conquered much of the world where their religion exist today by the force of arms. Christianity, as we saw in the story of Nigeria earlier, has also employed the military for its mission works sometimes. Does this mean that there are no fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity? I believe there are.

In every conflict in our world, certain images emerge that depict perfectly the principles and spirit propelling that conflict. For the Syrian war, it was the image of the body of a three year old Syrian boy washed up the shores of the seas. That boy’s death was a pointer to the collective failure of the world to preserve peace on the world stage. For Afghanistan, it is the sight of young Afghan men – climbing to the wings of flying jet, seeking to escape the Taliban that had just entered their country.

Those boys fell off that plane and seven of them perished in the process. Here is the thing: the people running away from the Taliban are Afghans and they are Muslims. But they would rather be led by a Western government than by people of their own religion. It is not a secret that the Taliban lead by Islamic laws and these laws have curtailed not just the freedom of the people; it has also ensured that the girl child gets no education. Girls are already being traded off for marriage as early as age twelve. Many Muslims in the West and in developed societies will disagree with the position that the Talibans are simply trying to be as faithful to the message of the Quran and the Hadiths around the life and times of their Prophet. Unfortunately no one debates these issues with the Talibans. They are now in power and their feudalistic approach to government is all that they know.

What is the lesson to the Christian Church? First, we must remember that our God is still the sovereign ruler of all the world. He is in charge. For this reason, we plead with him in prayers for his will to be done and for lasting peace to exist in the nations so that the gospel can be preached in all the earth. The Christian ideology must reach all the nations because even Muslims, who have benefited greatly from the Christian worldview, will prefer to be ruled by Christian ideas than by their repressive Islamic ideologies. Second, we must continue to preach the gospel and trust that Christ will change the hearts of sinners. The blessing of Christianity is that even where person may not be converted, a Christian worldview is a lot better than any idea that this world has birth. Lastly, Christians must continue to speak and champion for a just society anywhere they live. Christianity leaves the world a better place than it met it.

In the 18th century, a Muslim scholar by the name of Uthman Dan Fodio, instigated an Islamic crusade throughout Northern Nigeria. By the end of his jihad, the whole of the north was Muslim and had come under his reign. It was this campaign, more than anything else that motivated Christian missionaries to come to Southern Nigeria through the sea and to work up mission efforts to Northern Nigeria. Till today most of the north is Muslim and much of the south is Christian. My point in this essay is this: ideas rule our world. The Christian worldview is worlds apart from the Islamic worldview and recent happenings in Afghanistan is proof of this.

In the mean time, pray for Afghanistan.

Posted by Deji Yesufu

One Comment

  1. J. O. I. Joseph August 21, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you, Bro. Deji.


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