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Islam's Role in Two Lives

BINTA BABAKARAH and Abdul Oroh are two young Nigerian Muslims who say that their religion plays a central role in their lives. Miss Babakarah recently completed her university studies in Sokoto. Her parents are divorced. She grew up with her father, who is modern in his encouragement of her desire to work professionally. But he is also traditional and has two wives. Polygamy is allowed by the Muslim faith.

On her own concept of marriage, Babakarah says: ``I wouldn't mind being one of several wives.'' But she would prefer to be the only one. She hopes to marry a man ``very understanding ... who would be willing to give me my own freedom ... to do what I really want to do.'' She would also consider marrying a Christian, but would try to convert him to Islam. If he objected, she would not force the issue.

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Like Babakarah, Mr. Oroh, a Nigerian journalist, also feels a deep, inner commitment to Islam. A writer for the weekly news magazine ``The African Guardian,'' he is single. He plans to marry only one woman, saying it is ``not possible to love more than one woman equally.'' Oroh's search for meaning took him from his childhood as a Muslim, to doubting God, to believing in Marxism as a response to Africa's many social and economic problems - and finally back to Islam.

``I realized there has to be in everything we do that divine, spiritual intervention,'' he says. ``I started to read the Koran, the English version. I don't read Arabic. And I found that Islam means complete submission to the will of God. Allah, God, whatever you call it; I'm still convinced there's a Supreme Being.''

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