Thursday, July 19, 2012
The value of anything is appreciated when it’s lost. For sometime the Somalis took the rule of law and equality before the law for granted. What followed after the collapse of the state is violence and spread of all kinds of societal ills that has divided the society further. For example, before the tribal based factions followed by factions with religious themes came to the fore, the country was under a dictator who is much better than those who have removed him from power.
The tribal faction leaders had the view that it was the time for their tribesmen to pillage the national treasure for their sole benefits. The faction leaders used fear to rally the support of their respective tribes who were afraid of negative consequences lest a rival tribe assume the executive power of the nation. The notion that a given tribe or alliance of tribes can take over the executive power failed to materialize.
Another ills that came up during this time were religious sects. Somalis did not know about Takfir or other religious sects. Prior to the civil war there were some groups that followed Sufism and the society tolerated their views even when they didn't agree. Unlike the sufis, the Takfir do not tolerate other Somalis who have different religious views with regards to certain controversial issues. They assume the position that they are right and the rest of the society is wrong. They assume the position that Somalis did not practice Islam before them.
The so called " sahwa" or Islamic awakening, which these groups have used, is misleading. First, we have practiced Islam from generation to generations. We were educated in the Islamic principles and have had learning center across the country for centuries learning, teaching, and practicing Islamic tenets. Its well known there were such learning centers throughout the nation. For instance, there were learning centers in Hiiraan, Zeylaa among others. The first freedom fighter, Sayid Abdullah Hassan, was a Muslim scholar.
It is misleading to claim that Islam came to Somalia after the collapse of Socialist government and that we practiced "shirk" or "bidaa" It is true that a number of Muslim clerics lost their lives for opposing the socialist views of the last government. The Somalis shared the views of these clerics across the board.
Somalis were opposed to socialism as it is contra to Islamic values but many of them were cowed to come forward. These clerics were educated in Somalia before getting advanced degrees in Arabian nations. Some Somalia went to Arabia simply to get paper certificate as they already had the requisite knowledge for a Bachelors degree in Islamic religion if not more.
Like the clan-based factions, no religious factions will have absolute power. The so-called "Ahlu sunnah wal Jamaal" is an outfit of Ethiopia who has assumed this name in order to confuse Somalis and give their movement legitimacy. They do not represent the followers of Sufi Sects in Somalia. In fact, the followers of Sufi orders have been known to be very peaceful and peace loving people who were concerned with spiritual purification rather than political power. Nowhere can you find a Sufi order clamoring for political power. What we are seeing today in Somalia is purely the transformation of clan-based factions into Islam-based factions.
The latest development is regional governments. These regional governments are based on the notion that a given tribe dominates each region or "owned a given region". The regional government claim ownership rather dominance because ownership in a sense excludes "outsiders" from the political process of the region. This model is gaining popularity for two reasons, to increase regions' access to foreign aid and to act as bargaining tool for the tribe in power sharing for the greater Somalia. This model was copied from the current Somaliland, which has claimed independence from the greater Somalia. This model may not work well as it did in Puntland and Somaliland. Puntland and Somaliland are relatively homogenous with regards to the clan composition.
However, other regions in Somalia have diverse populations and attempts by certain clans claiming ownership over a given region may lead to more bloodshed. The interest of the people and the lasting peace does not lie in religion-based faction or clan-based faction or regional government but rather a balance between both. Lasting peace and stability can be achieved when there is tolerance between the people. For example, no two are alike and it’s likely that we may never agree on anything but our disagreement should never rise to the level where we use deadly force to dominate the other.
For regional government to be effective and successful it should be all-inclusive. One way they can be inclusive is creating a policy that ensure that minorities are represented in the government's legislative, executive and judiciary. Policy of inclusion will lead to regional stability, greater economic developments and prosperity whereas exclusionary policy will only result bloodshed, chaos, confusion and poverty.
Faisal Ahmed is a candidate for Jurist Doctor at William Mitchell College of Law