initially published on April 6, 2016
Last Sunday I was watching first episode of National Geographic channel’s new great show, « The Story of God with Morgan Freeman« .
I greatly appreciated the episode, filmed like a Hollywood blockbuster, rich in beautiful colors and images, in emotions, and full of questions about our Faith in God, according to different religions.
This episode, “Beyond Death”, dealt with Life after Death, viewed from different faiths and beliefs (Aztec, Hindus, ancient Egyptians, Christians and science) and was perfectly managed and narrated by one of the best actors of all times.
Morgan Freeman is my favorite actor (sorry, Deckard…), since the day I watched him play the role of Ellis Boyd « Red » Redding, my favorite character, in my favorite movie (watched it over than 15 times, and still counting…), “The Shawshank Redemption” by Frank Darabont, adapted from my favorite novella, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”, part of my favorite book, “Different Seasons”, written by my favorite author, Stephen King (sorry, T.C…).
So, I really loved this episode, but… (there is always a “but” with me, as I am always looking for this little detail which makes that all our creations, we, human being, are imperfect, as we are not God…), something was missing…
As said before, The Story of God‘s first episode talked about what happens after our death, according to different religions and cultures around the World: Do our souls survive? What happens after? Will we reincarnate into someone or something else?
To answer to this question, Mister Freeman led us brilliantly in a trip around the globe, making very interesting interviews with men of God, scientists, archaeologists, in Mexico, India, Israel, United States…
But I was a little bit disappointed to see that almost all religions and scientific opinions were reviewed, except Islam, while our narrator had the opportunity to ask for what Islam says about life after death, as he was in Jerusalem, which is the a Holy City of the three revealed religions sharing the same God: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
I don’t think that not taking the position of Islam on the subject was a willful default of the directors or producers, and I strongly believe that it was a small oversight that will be rectified in the next episodes (this is what I call first step of tolerance: judge not, or you shall be judged the same way).
And while I was watching, I was finally happy to see that God is everywhere.
Indeed, if you listen carefully during this episode, from the 27th minute, I think that you can hear, behind Mr. Freeman’s speech, the voices of the Muezzins rising from the minarets of Jerusalem’s mosques…
Yes, I am Muslim, and I am one of the 99.9% of Muslims in the World who can proudly say it with a smile and peaceful shaking hands.
I am Muslim, and I am tolerant, like the 99.9% of Muslims in this Earth.
My religion is Islam, and I bear my Faith with an open mind and a sharing and compassion spirit.
I am Muslim, but I am also and foremost Senegalese, and I strongly believe that my nationality and my citizenship made me more tolerant.
In Senegal, more than 90% of the population is Muslim, but our way of living together makes that our Country is well recognized for its culture of hospitality, religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence amongst different faiths, through history and times.
Our beloved first President, Leopold Sedar Senghor was Christian. Our second President, Abdou Diouf, is Muslim, and his wife, Elisabeth, is Christian, and our third and former President, Abdoulaye Wade, is Muslim too, and his wife, Viviane is Christian (and French, too…).
April, 4th is the Independence Day of Senegal, and this day you can see how Our Nation is strongly attached to its unbreakable Faith in…Tolerance.
That’s why our current President Mr. Macky Sall, as his predecessors, tightly ensures the free exercise of all religious beliefs in our country.
What probably makes us live together and better than in other countries is:
- Our common Faith, whether you are Christian, Muslim or whatever are your religious beliefs and practices, Our Faith ties us, links us strongly.
- Our ability to share our beliefs: that’s why we celebrate together all religious holidays: Christmas, Eid al-Adha, Easter, Eid al-Adha, etc.
- And that’s why our National Motto is: « One People, One Goal, One Faith »
In many Senegalese families, you will see either interfaith marriages or siblings with different religious practices.
Senegal has one of the rare place in the world where our ability to live together is shown in its most beautiful manner, eternally: the Joal-Fadiouth Cemetery, where both Muslims and Christians are buried near each other.
In Senegal, you will often meet people with Christian names while they are Muslims, and vice versa.
My son Silman Frederic André Yannick bears the names of one of my uncles, who is Mufti, the name of one of my best friends, who is Christian, and the name of the brother of his mother, who is Christian (and a mermaid from Mindelo, too…).
The name of one of my little brothers is Jules Charles. He has the name of our maternal great-uncle, Jules Charles Diallo, who was Christian, and one of the greatest journalists of Senegal, one of the pioneers of the Senegalese press and first Head of “Le Soleil” Ziguinchor agency.
My great-uncle’s wife is converted to Islam after having dreamed of one of the greatest Muslim religious leaders of Senegal, and her children are Christians.
So, what makes us, Senegalese, to be so tolerant?
- The irremovable Laicity of our Country, written in our Constitution as a Fundamental Law,
- The Education of our parents, grandparents, teachers, professors
- The geographical nature of our Country, open to the World from North, South, East and West
- Our Diversity: there are no really ethnic groups in Senegal, but people with regional origins so intermixedthat you can’t really tell who’s Wolof, Serere, Lebou, Fulani, Jola…
Through years and through history, we have received many cultural influences from all countries, while not losing our own culture and our deep links to some of our beliefs before Islam and Christendom.
I often wander around the streets and neighborhoods of the City where I live, Dakar…
And everywhere I go I can see my Country’s flag…
And all these facts make me proud of what we are:
One People, with One Goal, Tolerance and One Faith: in Our Nation