We are organizing a waste recycling project in Senegal. There is a Dutch intern, Thomas, who will stay half a year in Diofior to do a feasibility study for the waste recycling project. He had a Senegalese girlfriend, Aby, but it didn’t work out between them, the cultural differences were too big. But Thomas is still living with Aby and her family, they have completely accepted him as part of the family.
Aby’s father explained how they could accept him as a full member of the family:
He said that we have a different cultural background, we were born in different places and we have a different skin color; but we have only one God, we all have the same God. And this is why we are all equal as human beings. This is why Thomas as a total stranger can be welcomed as a full family member, it doesn’t matter that he is white, European and a non-Muslim.
I find this a very beautiful way to combine religion and tolerance. According to Aby’s father, God is there for all human beings, even for the ones who don’t believe in him. And racism is by definition unacceptable when we are all equal for God.
Islam is often considered as an intolerant violent religion, based on the idea that infidels should be killed. I think it’s important to see that this tolerant version of Islam exists just as well, and I think this is how religion is meant to be.
Religion is not meant for a power struggle, it is not meant for human beings to kill each other. It is meant for us to be united and to live together in peace, despite all the differences.