He said the teaching of Islam was that of peace and love and that Prophet Muhammad encouraged goodness.
His words: “I learnt that the lifestyle of Muhammad was that he did and encouraged all to talk softly, walk humbly, eat moderately, breathe deeply, sleep sufficiently, dress properly, interact politely, act fearlessly, work efficiently, think truthfully, believe correctly, behave decently, learn practically, plan orderly, earn honestly, spend intelligently, sacrifice regularly, serve diligently, worship, live peacefully and die faithfully.
“However, as you are all aware, the global image of Islam is constructed by the actions and in actions of a tiny minority that grabs the headlines with their horrendous activities, whether they are ISIS, AI-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, The Taliban or our own Boko Haram. Organisations like yours cannot afford to be complacent when the narrative or perception of Islam is dictated or informed by the fringe minority.
“It is my strong belief that those who say Muslims are terrorists because of these groups are either ignorant, mischievous or wicked. I do not subscribe to such balderdash, which was partly why I risked my life at a time to talk sense into Boko Haram when I reached out to its leaders.
“In 2013, the world population was said to be 7.2 billion people out of which 1.6 billion were Muslims, meaning that 23% of the world were Muslims. By implication, one out of every four persons is a Muslim. ISIS at its peak had 31,500 fighters, meaning that it was just 0.001969% of the world Muslims.
''Now that the world population stands at 7.5 billion and Muslims are 1.8 billion, all the crazy people that claim Islam and perpetrate atrocities all over the world cannot be up to 200,000 if we are generous with their figures. They are still far below 1% of the global Muslim population.
“Therefore, let the message of love, peace, compassion and kindness resonate and do not allow others to dictate the perception of your religion. It is now time to double and even quadruple your efforts in the areas of education, health, outreach and humanitarian services so that the world would know better the essential Islam. Let the message sound and resound that we should embrace love for all and all for love.”
Obasanjo said he reached out to the dreaded Boko Haram sect to talk sense to its leadership over the image of the religion at the risk of his life.