Chrislam (/ˈkrɪslɑːm/), or The Will of God Mission, The True Message of God Mission, Oke-Tude which means The Mountain of Loosing Bondage in Yoruba or Ifeoluwa Mission (Ifeoluwa is a Yoruba word meaning “God’s Love”), is a Nigerian syncretic religion which mixes elements of both Christianity and Islam.
Founded by Tela Tella in the 1970s, the sect predominantly exists in Lagos, Nigeria. Its followers recognise both the Bible and the Qur’an as holy texts, and practice “running deliverance,” a distinctive practice of spiritual running which members liken to Joshua’s army that took Jericho, or the Muslim practice of walking around the Ka’aba.
The religion has about 1,500 adherents in Nigeria.
There are two different religious movements of Chrislam in Nigeria. One religious movement is called Ifeoluwa and was founded by a man named Tela Tella in the 1980s. Tela Tella claims that an angel of God came to him and told him that he gave him the mission and the name Ifeoluwa: The Will of God Mission.
Chrislam uses both the Bible and Qur’an and sees them both as holy texts. During the worship service, verses are read from both the Bible and the Qur’an. According to Ebenezer Edohasim, a man who worshipped with the Chrislamic people, there was no friction between the two religions and both texts were accepted by the congregation as true. The people of the congregation are also free to shout out the name of Allah or God in worship. The Chrislamic people believe that Muhammad, Moses, and Jesus were all great prophets and we need to love them all.Worship services include singing of Christian and Islamic hymns to praise God and attract his presence. During the times of Christmas, Easter, Ramadan, and other Christian and Islamic religions celebrations, both are accepted and celebrated without judgment or hostility. Inside their place of worship there is an altar similar to those built by Abraham where the worshippers pray and seek the face of God. There are prayers going on here most of the day. Like other religions they believe in evangelism and try to convert new members every day.
In the Oke-Tude organization of Chrislam there are three different sessions or services that take place on Sunday. The first is a Muslim session, then there is a Christian session, and finally there is a joint session that Saka leads. During this he stresses the similarities between Christianity and Islamic beliefs. In the other organization of Ifeoluwa, they worship on Saturday because when they worshipped on Sunday the congregation claimed that Tela Tella was showing favoritism since Christians worship on Sundays and Muslims worship on Fridays. The worship sessions on Saturday are held three times a day. Tela Tella believes in both the Qur’an and the Bible but says they are incomplete, and that is why he is writing his own book called the “Ifeoluwa Book”. In Ifeoluwa there is an annual pilgrimage to The Mount of Authority, where the people pray for three days, and other annual festivals put on by Tela Tella. Tella also leads the singing of hymns during the Saturday service. Tella claims that these hymns were revealed to him by the angels Gabriel and Michael.
Criticisms of Chrislam
Some have criticized Chrislam, citing irreconcilable differences between its two component religions, Christianity and Islam. According to Stephen Ellis, who together with Ineke Van Kessel edited the book, Movers and Shakers: Social Movements in Africa, the religion is “rather exceptional and increasingly so.” According to Sidney M. Greenfield, who wrote the book, Reinventing Religions: Syncretism and Transformation in Africa and the Americas, Chrislam is a logical product of the Yoruba people because they want to be able to work out their own destiny. Because the people of Nigeria are struggling in all areas of life and Chrislam offers miracles and deliverance they see this as a good spiritual way to help them get through every day living. Others disagree with the religion because of the fact that Christianity and Islam are such different religions with different beliefs. The people who practice Chrislam see no fault with mixing the two religions, because they say that God loves all people and wants us to love all people. Prophet Saka says that when people criticize Chrislam he takes solace in what his Lord Jesus Christ says about loving others in all religions. Ifeoluwa seems to have fewer followers than Oke-Tude because Ifeoluwa has very strict regulations, that Tella calls commandments. These commandments deal with behavior, morality, discipline, how to dress, what and what not to eat and how to eat it, and hygiene and purity. Tella says that these commandments were given to him when he was on the Mount of Authority.
The new religion has now spread to America and so far has over 100 churches that has introduced Chrislam in their services.
Additional reporting by Abdulmajeed, Staff Reporter