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PRESENTED TO THE
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
There is not a single night in which I do put my head over the pillow without thinking of the poor in my nation and in the world in large. It is to those impoverished people, to my parents who helped me reach this level of conscientiousness, to my wife whose love helped me overcome the agony, and to my children whose heavenly spirit helped sustain my soul that I dedicate this dissertation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
DEMOCRACY, AND GOVERNANCE:
Chair: Goran Hyden
Major Department: Political Science
Throughout its history, Islam has been marked by two trends. The first trend is a literalist tradition, which considers the Sharia laws as expounded in the medieval manuals as the eternally valid and immutable standards of conduct. The second trend is a liberalist interpretation of Sharia, which views that classical theory as only one stage in the evolution of the Sharia. This interpretation continues to interpret the Qur’an in light of the mundane forces that activate society.
My dissertation argues that the absence of a well-balanced socio-political philosophy exacerbates the tension between these two tendencies: between Islamization, which as a result of the colonial and post-colonial legacies has become tantamount with the literalist tradition, and Liberalization, which lies in consonance with intellectual school of thoughts that had evolved in the West. This tension becomes internalized in a culturally homogeneous society such as the Moroccan society; it becomes externalized in a culturally heterogeneous society such as the Sudanese society. Increasing acts of violence display some of the tension that the Moroccan society is experiencing; jihad declared citizens of the south explains some of the Sudanese tension. An Islamic epistemological revolution, to borrow Mohamed Arkoun’s terminology, may be the way towards invigorating genuine interaction between Islam with its emphasis on a communitarian bond, and the sociological and historical roots of modernity with its emphasis on individuality, hence creating a morally bounded public sphere, yet one that is liberating.
Democratization, with its ensuing pressures for parallel
liberal economic and political reforms, poses a special challenge to Islamic
countries. Relatively little work has been done on this subject (Tibi 2002;
Ahmed 1992; Sivan 1990; Eickelman and Piscatori 1996; Lewis 1988; Nasr 2001).
This dissertation is an attempt to fill the existing gap in our knowledge. It
focuses on two African countries,
Politics in plural Islamic countries, such as
In my comparison I shall examine the tension between
ideological polarization and incorporation and how it affects political
stability. The degree of ideological tension is higher in
The argument pursued here is that in societies where the literal tradition continues to be very much alive, political stability is foremost influenced by the tensions caused by the political mobilization that this literal tradition permits, on the one hand, and the liberal and secular efforts to modernize and develop society, on the other. Within the Islamic literal tradition, however, there is also a marked polarity between centralization and dispersion of political authority, with “high” Islam pursuing the former and Sufists the latter. This latter division within Islam also has another dimension: “high” Islam being predominantly an urban, Sufism predominantly a rural phenomenon. The main argument here is that it is this “double disadvantage” of relying on dispersed authority and being largely rural that contributes to displacing the pragmatic forces from the political center and leaving room for more radical secular or Islamic forces to seize political power.
The migration of elites to the left and the right of the ideological spectrum then has deprived the middle-of-the-spectrum of an important asset it could have used to intellectually (not only pragmatically) balance the rich –though dormant Islamic heritage– with the important tenets that modern political systems are based upon, namely, political rights and civil liberties. In order to fully understand the governance challenges in Islamic countries it is helpful to pursue the analysis along two axes: one horizontal, the other vertical. The former refers to the ideological spectrum already mentioned, the latter to the way power is organized in a centralized or dispersed fashion. Islamic countries tend to differ politically in terms of where they are located in the matrix below:
Seculars | Islamists
Ideology Left_______________|________________ Right
? (NGOs) | Sufis
The ideological tension between the literalists and the liberalists has some resemblance to the continuum of Islamic socio-political philosophy that existed a thousand years ago and which extended from the taqlid to the ijtihad. The literalist considers Islamic jurisprudence/Sharia laws expounded in the medieval manuals as the eternally valid and immutable standards of conduct. The liberalists view classical theory as only one stage in the evolution of the Sharia and they continue to interpret the Qur’an in light of the mundane forces that activate society. However, a little bit of investigation in Islamic history reveals a lack of historical continuity between the old itjihad-taqlid distinction and the more contemporary liberal-literalist distinction. Thus, the ijtihad school of thought, with its pluralist and empowering ideals was repeatedly suppressed by political authorities. These authorities sought refuge in taqlid to monopolize understanding of Islam. The taqlid therefore controlled the masses religiously and thwarted their potential to challenge to the status quo. Islamic regimes drew on the taqlid tradition to legitimate their political authority. For instance, while the Moroccan regime limited its understanding of Islam to media coverage of Friday prayers, the Sudanese regime tried to ideologically impose its understanding of Islam over the society as a whole by indoctrinating students at all levels, infusing Islamic agenda in media programs, and so forth.
Where there was no religious authority to monopolize the
political center, such as
relationship between the left and the right can be explained by the
dysfunctional political systems that
Similarly, what allows Islamists an opportunity to label Sufism as heterodoxy and to some extent succeed in such propaganda is a colonial legacy that gave modernist groups institutional power –that of the modernist state– to politically marginalize Sufi groups. In countries like Morocco where Sufis enjoy a sizable presence, the king boosts his authority by portraying himself, again aided by extremely influential modern media technology, as a mega Sufi, a religious scholar, and a descendent of the prophet.By playing both seculars and “high” Islamic forces against the Sufis, he has been able to neutralize their influence and occupy the political center-stage himself. While the Suftsts had played a major part in the foundation of the Istqlal party in the 1960s, they have now been marginalized and unable to play their role in the political middle.
The political stage has for a long time been orchestrated
by the king who in addition to having benefited from regional and international
circumstances in bolstering his political authority, capitalized on an antique
heritage or centralized religious authority. However, increased challenges from
the right have exposed the efforts that the Moroccan regime have made to reconcile
the Islamic heritage and liberal political values. The dismay of the public
with secularism and their discontent with Islamic ideology that brought
disasters to neighboring countries, such as
To the extent that this duality helped the king stabilize
the Moroccan regime, it endowed Hassan II with maneuverability he could use to
thwart political opposition without changing actual political stands. The king
managed to make himself indispensable by activating political rivalries between
actors at either end of the extreme, that is, seculars and Islamists. For
example, during the Cold War radical forces were crushed for the cause of
protecting Islamic identity from the evil of socialism. The change in the
regional and international circumstances encouraged opposition leaders to
demand political freedom that was overshadowed by the king’s demand for national
unity in the face of secessionist forces in the
The governance story of
In conclusion, this dissertation argues that the locus of
power is “off-centered” in both
Three main blocks contribute to the building of this
argument. The first section, which contains Chapter 1, explains the difficulty
that Muslim countries in general encountered in coordinating cultural and
political activities at the time of independence, the Cold War, and Islamic
revivalism. The second section consists of Chapters 3 and 4. Chapter 3 examines
the historical circumstances that allowed the state to impose its authority
over the society, but with more degrees of success in
The relationship between Islam and democracy is both historically and in a contemporary perspective a tortured relationship. Mainstream notions of democracy are the product of a historical trajectory dominated by Western Civilization. Muslims have been approaching such principal features of contemporary democracy as individual freedom, human rights, and competitive elections from the outside to the inside. They are being asked to adjust to this type of political system without necessarily having the economic or cultural conditions that have given rise to it in the first place. But looking at these issues in a historical perspective, individual freedom was more advanced in the Golden Era of Islam in the 10th to 12th Centuries than it was during that time within other religious traditions. Thus, it is to easy to argue that within Islam the development trajectory has been from individualism to communitarianism, and in Christianity and Judaism, it has been just the opposite.
The evolution of communitarianism in the Islamic world has
both internal and external causes. The different religious interpretations and
the relatively decentralized system of authority, which characterized Islam in
the past and still exists, were not easily compatible with the ambitions of
individual rulers wishing to create states of their own. Retaining some degree
of control and coherence required the establishment of systems in which
obedience in a religious sense and submission in political terms were
necessary. The literal tradition lent itself to this kind of evolution with the
ulama serving the needs of the
rulers. The relative flexibility and freedom that individuals had enjoyed in
the Golden Era were gradually constrained. The ummah, which had at one time been interpreted in a “bottom-up”
fashion, was gradually defined in distinct top-down fashion by the elite.
Although the religious diversity within the broader Islam continued, each sect
tended to “freeze” a certain interpretation of the Qur’an and the Sunnah,
thereby giving such interpretation not only a sacrosanct status but also
providing a rigid behavioral code for each follower. This tension within what
might be called a “high” and a “low” Islam –between rulers and followers–
produced its own tensions between those inclined to follow a mysticist interpretation
(sufism) and those ready to follow a
more literal interpretation of the principal sources of inspiration (salafis). In both cases, however,
individuals were expected to conform or comply with norms and beliefs set for
them by authoritative sources within the religious system. Influenced by
external and internal pressures, both groups had over the years moved onto the
literalist side of the spectrum, with the only difference that the
traditionalists/Sufis adopts a society-oriented strategy of reform, the Islamic
modernists a state-oriented. There are virtually no convincing cases until very
recently, for example, the opposition in
Islam has always been interacting with other religions and
civilizations. It would be wrong to suggest, therefore, that external
influences are only recent. Islam was influenced by military combat with the
Persians, Romans, and Europeans in
These dichotomies between high and low Islam –or state and society-dominated rule– and a literal and a liberal tradition have been the dominant factors shaping the evolution of Islam and its relations with notions of democracy. These distinctions constitute the basic organizing principles of understanding this relation, and the organization and discussion in this chapter reflect this. More specifically, it begins by tracing the evolution of Islamic thought and its political implications in the years prior to Western colonization in the 19th century. The second part deals with the effects of Western colonialism on Islam, especially its attempt to modernize Islam by weakening the grip by community of its individual members. The final section of this chapter identifies cases that illustrate a matrix built around the two dichotomies listed above.
The central issue in Islam’s political history has been authority: who “rightfully” holds the authority of interpreting the text and by what criteria is authority established (that is, differently among various groups)? Indeed, the original differences in Islamic history do lay the groundwork for what we see in contemporary Sudan and Morocco, for example, whether their authority devices from Sharia scholarship, prophetic descent, mystical experiences, or a combination of all. While Sufis encourage a flexible interpretation of the Qur’an based on the allegorical interpretation (tawil) of the saint (walee), Salafis, true heirs to the early theocratic state, emphasize plain investigation/literal meaning (tafsir) of the scholar (alym). Hodgson in his classic, The Venture of Islam, asks the compelling question: “How can the inward-minded Sufis and the Shariah-minded Hadith folk be made to complement each other in an Islamic spiritual life” (Hodgson 1977: 402)? Should Muslims decide to give up their adornment with society as an indivisible polity, can the modern state –with its emphasis on functional differentiation– provide each entity its domain while granting a schema of operation? Does democracy, with its indelible demand of popular sovereignty, extend Muslims an opportunity to pay tribute to their heritage or does it forfeit them such right in the name of “liberalism” and/or “secularism”?
The Qur’an and the Sunna are the material sources of divine revelation in Islam. The Qur’an was revealed in 23 years and was completed shortly before the death of Prophet Mohammed. The Sunna represents the recorded words and deeds of the Prophet; it was recorded almost a century after the death of the Prophet. In his lifetime, the Prophet discouraged his companions from recording the Sunna. He wanted the broad precepts and ethical norms of the Qur’an to provide guidance for the newly forming community. Nonetheless, scholars, who followed the literate tradition, found in the Sunna (conceptual) tools they could use to confine the Qur’an to the spatial and the temporal particularities of the time (see Chapter 4), while still claiming that “Islam is timeless and unchanging.” Modern scholars like Abd al-Majeed Al-Sharafi (2001), Tariq Ramdan, (2004); Mohamed Arkoun (1999), and Nasr Hamid Abu-Zaid (1996) contend, in addition to agency-related issues, there are structural factors. These factors the extended period between the time of the Prophet and the recording of the Sunna. This may have influenced the imagination of individuals who reported the sayings of the Prophet not to forget the pressure that religious scholars experienced to stabilize a society undergoing rapid transformation. Historically deconstructing that time period to expose the relationship between truth and –power and thus to make a distinction between what the Prophet intended and what the scholars decreed– resembles one of the thorniest issues for Muslims today. First, given their lack of intellectual training in social sciences, today’s ulama are ill equipped to undertake such a task (see Chapter 4). Second, activists who are often referred to as “Islamists” want to preserve the picture of a pure and pristine Islam in the face of continued encroachment of the West over Muslim territories. This is a defensive strategy as well as a strategic one.
While Ali b. abi-Talib (the fourth Caliphate after the
Prophet Mohamed, his cousin, and son-in-law) demanded piety as a way of
subverting parochialism that was deeply engrained in the Arabic culture, his
cousin Moawya b. abi-Sufyan, also a political competitor, thought the latter
feature could be used to stabilize the political system and thereby spread Islam.
But what kind of an Islam is this? How different is it from the religion of
Quaraish (the prestigious Arab tribe that had the honor of protecting
During the first three centuries of Islam, four different
Sunni schools of law were established and received recognition as “equally
authoritative expressions of Sharia law.” These are the Malikis, the
Hanbilis, the Hanafis, and the Shafis. According to Coulson, “The genesis
of Islamic religious law lay in a complex process of historical growth
intimately connected with current social conditions.” For instance, while
a woman could contract a marriage only through her guardian in the traditionally
tribal and patriarchal society of
Muslim encounters with the high civilization of the
Sasanids and the Byzantines, which were then the borders of Near Eastern
Civilization, and later the intellectual barter with the peoples of
The orientation of the Silk Road that extended from
In his classic, The Arab Moral Mind, Al-jabri asserts that the choice of “obedience” was strategically a political move, as well as a historic coincidence. To stabilize his regime, the Abbasid Amir needed a specific type of obedience, not the obedience of the nomad to his chieftain, or that of the disciple to the pastor, but both. He wanted political obedience that was religiously stipulated. Such tradition was for centuries woven in the Persian culture, which saw the Caesar as both a religious figure and a political leader (Al-jabri 2001). To prevail through massive internal and external pressures, the political institution advocated an already existing religious doctrine, that of the Salafis (referring to the salaf: the companions of the Prophet). The theocratic logic, first introduced by the Umayyad and later institutionalized by the Abbasids, made it difficult for political dissidents to oppose the Amir (ruler) without facing the accusation of apostasy. Any uprising against the status quo, Al-Jabri asserts, needed to be substantiated religiously (and probably ethnically); it had to be a revolt from within the circle of religion. What was supposed to save Muslims –the plight of trial and error with their newly born political system opened– the door for infinite turmoil. Repeated failures of the indigenous populations to destabilize the Arab-dominated regimes, be it Abbasid or Umayyad, enticed the new converts, mainly Persians, who became strangers in their own land, to seek a different strategy. They shifted from active resistance to passive resistance. By resorting to asceticism –again a quality inherent in the Persian heritage– mystics evacuated the public sphere, thus diffusing the authority of the Amir, without giving him an excuse to use force. This created a precarious situation as it deprived the political authority of human and material resources it needed to carry further expeditions, that is, direct resources for outside invasion rather than wait for it to be directed against them. In the modern context, this will mean an indirect involvement in politics, which departs western understanding of party systems, given its separation between ends and means of achieving political objectives.
Muslims of Persian origin masterfully used the weapon of
“obedience” against the Arab Caesar. They transformed obedience from that of
the ruled to the ruler, Al-jabri asserts, to it being obedience of the disciple
(mureed) to the master (sheik). Pioneers of Islamic mysticism,
such as Ibrahim b. Adham, Abd al-Allah b. al-mubarak, Shageeb al-Balki, and
many others, were wealthy people; some of them came from privileged families.
They were non-Arabs who used group asceticism as a weapon against the “invader”
who deprived them of social and political status. Mystics discouraged their
followers from pursuing political power and material wealth, and instead
enticed them to concentrate on purifying the self and displaying moral
discipline. The less tolerant the central authority became with deviations of
the public from its outlined doctrine, the more tolerance the Sufi sheiks
displayed to their disciples or mureeds.
As a result, Sufism spread to the “periphery” in a very limited time, and its
followers grew beyond the wildest imagination of the then Islamic Leviathan.
Not surprisingly, countries that are in the periphery of today’s Islamic world,
This political tension between centripetal and centrifugal forces persisted over the years and gave rise to theological tendencies that prevail strongly today. To the extent that the petal/fugal tendency endowed Islamic theology with a kind of fluidity that hindered the formation of an ecclesiastical institutional, it thwarted the construction of a common public sphere. People escape the rigidity of the center to immerse themselves in the (spiritual and temporal) flexibility of the periphery. For example, elites or masses that feel stifled with dogmatic policies of modern Islamic nations choose to escape the doctrinal/distinctive Islam of formal Islamic schools (madrassa). These schools are supervised by the state scholars to join the doctrinaire/diffusive Islam of the maseed, one that is entertained by saints (auleya). By fleeing to the periphery, it is prudent to ask, has the individual Muslim better enjoyed his individuality or has he substituted one master with another, to borrow Al-Jabri phrase? Have the disciples (mureed) voluntarily joined a type of incarceration different from that of the pupil (talib)? How does the spiritual training of the former differ from the pedagogical training of the latter?
What role can modern politics play in governing –not exploiting– the relationship between the two? Will colonials and post-colonial state builders try to ameliorate or exploit the already existing cleavages and with what objectives?
The encounter of the Muslims with the capitalist West is qualitatively a different situation from their encounter with the pre-capitalist West. Colonialism was the Muslims’ first full encounter with the West in economic, social, and political terms. This was a hegemonic encounter that not only influenced the form of life, but also changed its substance (Taylor 1992: 66). Driven by materialism and armed with advanced military technology, colonialism set itself the task of filling metropolitan treasures with the wealth of colonized nations. An alien autocratic bureaucracy, erected for the fulfillment of this objective, continued to exercise tutelage and subjugate societies to its own whims in the period of decolonization (Young 1994). As the cage was opened, colonized peoples found themselves in dire poverty and had to borrow money to cover the huge gaps in health and educational services. They fell prey to international financial institutions. These institutions preached impartiality but preserved the right of indoctrination. It used liberalism as a strong ideological arsenal against ancient civilizations –Islamic, Christian, and Chinese– that were already beginning to lose their grips on the minds of people due to the forces of secularism: scientific rationality, economic interdependence, and communication technology (Anderson 1973: 65). This caused a transformation unprecedented in the history of mankind. Not only has man set a mission to conquer nature, but also to shake the convictions that had held humanity for thousands of years.
Though secularism, as explained by Badie and Binbaum
(1983), was peculiar to the European history, it was propagated in the Muslim
world as the natural evolution of political development. Nonetheless, this is
not a type of secularism that granted religion autonomy from state or the state
autonomy from religion; it is a hybrid strategy that targeted sufi Islam –that
of the periphery. The colonial authority introduced legal changes that aimed at
thwarting the potential of popular Islam and gradually diffusing its authority,
as it vigorously fueled the resistance to the presence of imperialism in Muslim
factors had a matrix dividing effect on Muslim societies. The position of
political authority vis-à-vis the sharia introduced for the first time in
Muslim history a secular/theocratic dichotomy: Secular regimes substitute the
Sharia with legal codes imported from
In addition to the already existing cultural difference between high and low Islam, educational policies had the effect of separating the economic interest of elites from that of the masses, that is, create a socio-economic barrier between the rural and urban populations. Whereas socialist/communist groups chose economic development as a means to overcoming the distance, Islamists –be they conservative or radicals (the difference between authoritative versus totalitarian approach to governance remains to be explored in Chapter 4)– preferred manipulation of cultural symbols. Regional and international pressures –that coincided with sketchy temporal zones such as colonialism/independence, Cold War (zenith/ebb), Islamism/War on Terror– influenced the move of regimes from one quadrant to other, simultaneously altering the reference points. The economic mode moved from colonial exploitation of the natives (pre-capitalist/primitive), to imperial expropriation of the periphery (socialist/capitalist), to (dis)integration of global economy (state versus society-oriented reform). Simultaneously, the cultural code shifted from questioning the validity of traditionalism (traditionalism/modernity), to critiquing the political and social utility of religion (secular/theocratic), to finally confronting the challenging task of making it an integral part of governance (liberalist/literalist). Proper contextualization of liberalism may hopefully advance the cultural code toward entertaining a rights/duties spectrum, one that goes beyond the confinement of religiosity.
For as long as Islamists were politically and economically weak, they managed to stay under the umbrella of traditionalism in their confrontation with modern elites during the period of independence and slightly after. The modern appeal of Islamists made them representatives of Islam –both popular and ideological– given its combat against socialists/communists during the Cold War. The rise of Islamic revivalism enticed Islamists to dissolve their coalition with conservative parties that were the primary representatives of the periphery, and pursue economic and political policies that only succeeded at the expense of unseating their traditional allies. Though the traditional middle ground is ill equipped intellectually to confront the Islamists, it will be aided with the Left that adjusted its strategy and the Right that is coerced internationally to play by the rules of the democratic game. Without making the reader overly optimistic, this paragraph assumes a move in the right direction for two reasons. First and foremost, by overcoming a dichotomous relationship and instead assuming a continuum along extremes, both culture and economics have amended their relationship with reality. As I mentioned in Chapter 1, rather than dominate economics that inevitably creates an identity problem (see Chapter 6), the state can enhance the ability of the public sector to provide services to the private sector by providing education and health services to the poor, hence diffusing ethnic tension by way of integrating national economy. Also, an enlightened form of secularism can secure a deliberation medium between various ideological views. Second, politicians –with their distrust of ideology and disenchantment with their performance– have realized the coordination of culture and economics as an important component of governance.
With emphasis first on legal/institutional changes,
followed by explication of economic/structural factors, this section attempts
to systematically go through the national and international events that set
this dynamic on the move. Prior to and after independence there was a tension
between traditionalists and modernists. During the Cold War, there was a
conflict between Islamists and secularists. Toward the end of the Cold War and
immediately after the rise of Islamic revivalism, the debate got heated between
ideological Islam –that of center (sometimes referred in the literature as
“high Islam”) and sufi Islam– that of the periphery (also referred to as “low
Islam”). The liberal group, for reasons we will later discuss, suffers most the
absence of society-oriented activists, that is, individuals who are willing to
legitimate their liberal concerns Islamically. The report, Civil Democratic Islam: Partners, Resources, and Strategies,
recently published by the National Security Research Division (Benard 2003),
encourages its partners and strategic allies, who until now are unidentifiable,
to join in the “recognition of fundamentalism as a shared enemy” against the
To give itself a chance of educating public morality, Asad contends that colonialism dismissed traditional values as “irrational” and irrelevant, consequently making a “strategic separation between law and morality” that justified its use of force against the indigenous Muslim population. For example,
By so doing, colonialism registered its strongest blow
against Islam. Not only had colonialism severed the links between the rationality/scientific
endeavors (which in the old days were exercised in the domain fiqh but not limited to it), morality,
and political circles that Islamic Leviathans ill coordinated, as I show in the
previous section, but it also divided each upon itself thus causing a
schizophrenia from which Muslims still suffer. Making a distinction between
procedural and substantive rationality (Weber 1982) deprives a community of its
heritage, thus denying it existence (
tradition is not based on rationality founded belief but on commitment to a shared way of life divinely mandated. The techniques of the body (kinesthetic as well as sensory) employed in rituals of worship are taught and learnt within the tradition, helping to form the abilities to discriminate and judge correctly, for these abilities are the precondition not only of Islamic ethics in general but also-and this is the point I want to stress – of the law’s moral authority. (Asad 2003: 249)
The separation between law and ethics causes an enigma because it challenges the conception that sharia is “the process whereby individuals are educated and educate themselves as moral subjects in a scheme that connects the obligation to act morally with the obligation to act legally in complicated ways” (Asad 2003: 241). This demarcation between private and public morality has adverse effects, as it opens the door for patrimonialism (For example, individuals do not feel shame embezzling public funds to fulfill private responsibilities, nonetheless they may consider themselves religiously devout). It deprives the state of a spiritual endowment it could utilize to do development, thereby overcoming its distance from the society. Badie and Birnbaum (1983) contend that the political development espoused by the colonials has split “third world societies in two: one segment of society derives its legitimacy from the desire for modernization, while the other strives to preserve national traditions without any effort of adaptation or reform” (Badie and Birnbaum 1983: 99). Not surprisingly, colonialism succeeded in its original plan: portraying modernity and traditionalism as running at cross-purposes.
To be modern was to be free from ties of community and tradition and live instead with forms of regulation that were formal, specified, and impersonal, whereas to be moral was to live with common cultural values and strongly inscribed traditions that effectively denied democracy, individual self-development, and equality. In short, one could have either individual rights without binding moral codes or binding moral codes without individual rights. (Wolfe 1989: 191-192)
Nevertheless, says Schulze, “traditional Islamic culture” did not disappear. “The bastion of that tradition remained mysticism. The movements of rebellion against colonialism were based on this traditional culture, and the hostility between it and colonialism was extended to relations with the official Islam that colonialism had created” (Asad 2003: 21). This form of “conservative Islam” will continue its collaboration with state elites even after its independence. The failure of the post-colonial state will deprive the state appointed scholars (ulama) of leadership position their counterparts had at the beginning of the 20th century. The vacuum will be filled by modernist elites. Unlike their predecessors, the conservatives, who accepted their role as an instrument of the state, the Islamists use the state to achieve their religious objective of wanting to establish an “Islamic state.” The characteristics of this state will be examined carefully in the coming sections. However, it behooves the reader to recognize that the project of “civilizing” the Muslim population, one that justified the use of force, is one that modernists forces, be it Islamists or communists, share with the colonial masters. Marnia Lazreg contends,
The Islamist’s aim is not to ‘re-Islamize’ people as is often said. Rather, it recolonizes private and public spaces by infusing them with new meanings and norms derived from ideational and behavioral sources that sound familiar to individuals because they are expressed in the Arabic language and refer to a monolithic Islam.(Lazreg in Ahmida 2000: 149).
Though their treatment of Sufism as irrational is objectionable from a philosophical
standpoint (something that complicated their conceptualization of education and
caused them to mystify rather than analyze history, see Chapter 4), it
alienated the center which was spiritually connected and already had meager
economic ties with the periphery. The advocacy of modernist forces –both
secularists (who during the course of the Cold War existed either as Socialists
Naserist forces or Communists Leninist forces) and Islamists (who existed
either as conservative traditionalists or radical modernists)– a “monolithic
approach to truth,” that is, ideological approach to power, denied them
malleability they could have used to swiftly move between irony and ideology.
For example, Jamal Abd al-Naser mobilized ethnicity as the “natural” source of
political and social cohesion (Eickelman and Piscatori 1992). However, as
honest an effort to contain ethnicity under the umbrella of an Arab
superordinate identity, it failed to stand the test of “authenticity.” First,
it was challenged locally by Islamists who questioned its
intellectual/spiritual validity to combat an enemy,
The more political challenge Naser –or his disciples of
the Arab world– faced the more they resorted to the masculine feature of the
legal state, force, and they relinquished its feminist component, symbolism.
Not surprisingly, force created its antithesis. Muslim Brothers who aided
President Naser in his ascension to power challenged him using Islamic ideology
that gained salience, especially after the Israeli defeat of
Introspectively speaking, the ideology of the Muslim
Brothers was not less authoritarian than Naserism. It revitalized elements of
the despotic model of the Abbasid Amir, which suited the heritage of the
colonial state and which Muslims until today confuse with the model of Prophet Mohamed
(PBUH)and the Four Righteous Caliphates, thus giving it sentimental if not
historical credibility. Naserism inevitably gave way to the rise of
Pan-Islamism. After all, Muslims blamed Turkish nationalism –though
incorrectly– for the demise of the
To better understand how regional/international
circumstances influenced regime change in the Muslim world, we need to
complement cultural/ideological displacement that Muslims had undergone with
economic transformation that colonial developmental policies introduced to the
region, (refer to Figure 1). “Reinhard Schulze once asked a question most
historians have taken for granted: Why did nineteenth-century Islamic reformers
take so eagerly to the European interpretation of Islamic history as one of
‘civilizational decadence?’ The interesting answer he gives refers to political
and economic changes, as well as to the cultural consequences of print.
European capitalism, he points out, transformed the 18th century
mode of surplus extraction through rent into a system of unequal exchange
between metropolis and colony. Because the traditional forms of political
legitimation were now no longer appropriate to the colonial situation, he
argues, a new ideological creed emerged out of the social-economic
disintegration of the old society and of the effects of print on its culture.
European historical reason (including the notion of an Islamic Golden Age
followed by a secular decline under the Ottomans) was adopted by the new
elites, he suggests, via books from and about
For reasons we will discuss later (see Chapter 4), elites
privileged with Western education were better equipped intellectually to take
over from colonials and thereby lead their countries to
The end of the Cold War, which for a long time provided
impunity for allies of both camps, had the effect of forcing regimes to face
political realities that extended along economic and cultural domains. In the Islamic Leviathan, Nasr argues that
“islamization must be understood in terms of both its defensive function –a
response to political and ideological challenges to ruling regimes at times of
crisis– and its proactive function, to get better terms in negotiations with
social forces for power and capacity.” What appeared to some as a pseudo-cultural
response to modernity was actually a “conscious strategic choice,” on behalf of
elites who wanted to ideologically overcome the distance between the center and
the periphery. He continues, “Islamism doesn’t purport to be some form of
liberalism”–as it does not engage the problematic of the dominant of the state
. . . nor alter the scaffolding that sustains its edifice as in the case of
The choice of high Islam was strategic to modernist groups,
this time Islamists, who favored the center over the periphery. They denounced
as obsolete the attempt of the state to direct national economy and instead
used the market as their vehicle to personal wealth. The more they ignored the
economic and political demands of the periphery the more the racial hierarchy
that facilitated such exploitation became visible. Religion is related to
ethnicity inasmuch as political groups are chiefly ethnoreligious in their
ideological composition. Tibi correctly asserts, “this new phenomenon can be
observed throughout the world of Islam, but perhaps most clearly in
Afghanistan, where three major ethnic groups –the Pashtun, Tadjik, and Uzbek–
struggle for power, in the name of religion. In the multiethnic Afghan society,
we see clearly that religion does not unite, but rather is mingled with,
ethnicity as a divisive force. In
Aside from adopting wrong developmental strategies, which in most cases were exogenously influenced, these forces made no effort to change the aforementioned characteristics that identified colonial rule. They contrasted distinctive high Islam that of the center –with diffusive low Islam– that of the periphery, and they decreed the low Islam as irrational. In so doing, they separated religious prudence, which was expressed in total and uncompromising terms from ethics of the public that historically evolved outside the corridor of political power. This incursion justified the use of force and spared Islam “the Sufi love of Ibn Arabi, the reason-based orientation of Ibn Rushd, the historicizing thought of Ibn Khaldun, and al-Farabi’s secular concept of order” (Tibi 2002). I would add the humanism of Rumi, the courage of Halag, the intellectual integrity of Ahmad b. Hanbal, and so forth. These are the needed seeds for an Islamic enlightenment that can liberate the Muslim mind and soul from the domain of medieval theology. Between the Muslim and accessing his rich heritage are thick layers of interpretation that can only be accessed epistemologically, not ideologically or dogmatically (Arkoun 1999; Abu-Zaid 1996; Al-Sharafi 2001; Harb 2000; Al-jabri 2001; Filali-Ansary 2003).
Democracy as meaning governmental structures that ensure alternation in governance, transparency in governance, and accountability to the governed (Diamond 2003) is a necessary not sufficient condition. It needs to be substantiated with education as a tool that can expose Muslims to the modern-day achievements, as well as give them an opportunity to revitalize elements in their heritage that can help with the promotion of principles of pluralism, tolerance, and inclusivity– values that are embedded in current international efforts to foster democracy around the world. Although Masmoudi considers liberal Islam “the nascent voice of the Muslim world’s silenced majority” (Masmoudi 2003: 4,1), this section asserts that the term “liberal” does not precisely capture the pervasive ideological orientation. The majority of Muslims are not liberal, they are moderates. The Muslim lives values of individual liberty, human dignity, and human rights in his moral consciousness not in their social or political reality. Influential events happened along the history of Islam, as I have explicated in previous sections – that made the individual submissive to the family, the society subservient to the state, and the state (ummah) incapable of translating prophetic prescriptions into a universal vision (Filali-Ansary 2003: 7), rather than expect the opposite.
Muslims accept democracy as a means that can moderate
politics peacefully. But Muslims may not necessarily be receptive to a
reconceptualization of religious doctrine that grants women, Muslim minorities
(Shiites living in a predominantly Sunni majority, or vice versa), and
non-Muslims their economic, political, and social rights. Concepts such as dar-al-harb/dar-al-Islam (
The rising popularity of Islamist trends, Abdalwahab
El-Affendi argues, “has created a fear among liberals that democratic forms may
hand power to illiberal Islamists.” (El-Affendi 2003: 3). For them, “The
introduction of electoral democracy without the existence of constitutional
liberties will mean electoral victories for illiberal Islamists who would
(ab)buse their new institutionally-recognized political power to destroy the
most basic civil liberties, even eliminating elections themselves” (Zakaria
2004:108). Surprisingly, despots have used these genuine scholarly concerns to
sabotage the democratic process. They adopted tools that further embedded the
Islamist “salvationist” appeal. Nasr correctly asserts, “In many cases, the
secularization drive pushed religion out of the public sphere where it could no
longer be effectively regulated or controlled by the state. As a result,
religion –made more politically conscious–festered in the private arena as a
potential source of support for opposition to the state and its ideology. In
This theory elegantly resolves the dilemma that scholars have over which level comes first: cultural features or institutional norms. They have to be compatible in design and orientation. Manipulation of cultural symbols provides the consensus needed to steer development in the right direction without resorting to violence. Without hegemony governance becomes an impossibility, too much of it kills dissent and eventually causes apathy. Evans contends, “Re-examining the developmental state means rethinking embedded autonomy. In developmental states, connectedness has meant ties with industrial elites. Can embedded autonomy also be built around ties to other groups?” (Evans 1995: 228) In the absence of material links, state elites cannot extract resources without influencing or even manipulating “thinkability.” To make the latter operationable, development has to go beyond that what is material; it has to revitalize education and reconfigure spaces for political socialization. This is precisely the predicament of political change in the developing Muslim world: it is dependent on historical immaterialism and not historical materialism.
Whereas individualism (that is, economic liberty) was the
tool by which a European gained his individuality, i.e., political freedom
remains the Muslims’ only means to changing conditions of subjugation. It is
along the economic dimension that revolution occurred in
The process from liberalization/pluralization to democratization in the Muslim world is riddled with contradictions. The inherent tensions, which mark the boundaries between the civil and religious power, offer another unique but important barrier which is yet to be overcome if Islam and democracy are to emerge as complementary forces in modern Muslim societies. So in this context, the pursuit of the agenda of constitutionalism and good governance, which largely avoid some of the ideological underpinnings of the western ‘democratic model’ might still bear fruit, particularly if systematically pursued in Muslim polities with pluralizing tendencies and embedded horizontal features of democracy. (Ehteshami 2004:107)
Can “steering,” which is the layman’s expression for governance, be done without causing cultural fatigue or deeming institutions ineffective? Does democratic rule necessarily imply a cultural reorientation that links the individual with his inner self, the society with its various organs, and the state with its variegate components? What role can international factors play in expanding the scope of governance beyond lib/lit duality to a rights/duties spectrum?
ISLAM AND THE POLITICS OF STATE
Prior to colonialism, politics in Islamic countries was
conducted almost exclusively within the literal tradition. Politics was about
immaterial values, a phenomenon that gave particular weight to those who were
best suited to interpret the religious text and/or use those immaterial values
to mobilize popular support: official scholars (ulama), non-official scholars relying on mysticism (sufis), and/or blood lineage to the
Prophet Mohammed (sharifs). Because
of the competition between these groups and the scope for different
interpretations of the religious texts, this kind of politics tended to be
unstable. It veered between efforts to centralize control and escape from it.
The history of Islam in
Although the religious and political configurations in
Morocco and Sudan bore a definite resemblance because of their incorporation
into the Islamic world, there were also differences that stem from their
relation to Islamic authority in the Mashreg
(East), notably Saudi Arabia and what is now Iraq, as well as the
geographic conditions of the two countries. Thus, centralization of authority
to a monarch proved easier in
Such were the differences that existed at the time of
European colonization of
The purpose of this chapter is to present the gradual
evolution of politics within the Islamic tradition in
Historians and scholars of contemporary Islam have made the
tension between centripetalism and centrifugalism a major theme in describing
the essence of politics in Islamic societies (Hourani 1981; Al-Jabri 2001;
Hodgson 1977; and Lewis 1988). It goes as far back as the time when Islam first
The dynamics of sufis
pulling toward the periphery (centrifugal force) and mahdis (messianic leaders) pulling
toward the center (centripetal force) influence the interplay of religion and
politics in both
The political dominance of particular families, mainly the sharifs, scholars (ulama or fugaha), and/or
Sufis,explains the prevalence of “obedience” in
In his book, State,
Sainthood, and Space at the Middle Magreb, Al-Geible cites four states in
the history of
Each of these four dynasties imposed its vision of morality
through the adaptation of a sectarian religious doctrine: 1) adarisa introduced
Shiite Zaideya/Isma’eliya; 2) Almuravids adopted the Maliki Sunni school of
thought; 3) Almohads had links to a Shiite Mutazelaite; 4) and Asa’rhaite
doctrines (specifically Mohamed Al-Wattassi was a Shiite who made Shiism the
dominant mazhab or religious doctrine of the state), was later inherited by the
mareeniyeen. These doctrines did not necessarily reflect the aspiration of the
local population as much as the surrounding dynamics. The state in the Magreb
The polemical environment that existed in the Mashreg (east of Arabia), as a result of
the Kharjite revolt (724 A.D.) against the religiously established authority,
caused the migration of some of the sharifs –descendents of the Prophet
Mohamed. The most prominent among them was Mulaye Idris toward the
The great historian, b. kuldoun, is the first to have pointed out this phenomenon. He commented, “anytime you have a religious fervor and a tribal bond (asabeya), you will have a state in the Arab world” (Rosenthal 1981). The sultan engaged his forces in jihad, and when danger was eminent at home, he accused his opposition of apostasy or rida. This was zealous, according to Al-Geibli, that manifested itself locally. Since there was literally no room for politics, tribal people resorted to Sufism/Welaya as a form of passive resistance that could help diffuse the power of the center. Later, they collected their forces to face a decaying regime in the form of Mahdism/Sharifism. Power resides in the form of fagih, leaves the center in the form of welaya (sainthood), and returns to it in the form of mahdaweya (millenarianism). People seek refuge in Sufism from the rigidity of theology, accept Sharifism (the origin of the word Sharaf means “honor”) to regain religious purity, and submit to Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) to maintain political stability.
Through their control of travel routes, Al-Geibi argues,
the Almuravids succeeded in monopolizing, if not completely homogenizing, the
socio-political space (Al-Geibli 1989:76,77). Bin-Tashfeen, the leader of the
Almuravids state (who was called Amir Al-Muslemeen, translated Prince of
Muslims), is the first to have attempted to manage the diffusiveness of power
and to reduce the petal-fugal tension in favor for the latter. To do this they
made alignments with people of their own ethnic background and others whom they
could entrust with guarding the road in exchange for rewards in the form of
prestige or material gain. Looting, killing, and kidnapping were the norm
rather than the anomaly. It did not escape the attention of natives to ascribe
some mystical/super qualities to a person who traveled alone and arrived safely
to his destination. Some historians contend that traveling at this time was so
dangerous that religious scholars had to issue a decree making “voluntary” the
obligatory religious duty of the pilgrimage. Moroccans, who did not feel a need
to pay allegiance to the central authority, continued performing the pilgrimage
by paying dues to these shifta
(individuals engaged in the act of armed robbery). However,
the central authority did not limit its focus to controlling transport routes.
It spread its influence through various and oftentimes cruel means, which
included displacement of rural inhabitants, forceful acquisition of their
belongings, and appropriations of land. Through its agents in the rural areas,
the state forced the peasants into bringing their crops to the center. The
state later distributed these crops to whomever it pleased, thereby obtaining
the loyalty of tribal/religious patrons. The erection of a social hierarchy,
along with the manipulation of religious symbols, spared the central authority
excessive use of force. According to al-Geibli, the term “Makzan” (which
literally means the “storage house”) was representative of such a function –at
least in formal writings- towards the beginning of the 13th century
(al-Geibli 1987). The Makzan remains the institution that coordinates the
activities of the palace today. Although it is no longer dependent on
extraction of resources from the periphery, the Makzan remains a central player
in politics by promoting its role as reconciler among power seekers. The Makzan
has no power of its own. It gains its influence by depicting the weaknesses of
others, but, more importantly, playing them against each other. Further
developments along the history of
Al-Karsani, Chairman of the Political Science Department at
the University of Khartoum/Sudan, asserts that the Alaouite dynasty in
By adopting baraka (blessing) as the paramount criterion of power, Berber tribes span the balance of power in favor of sharifs, who saw themselves as kings with an undisputed authority. The erection of a hierarchical authority of this kind defies egalitarianism as a basic logic of any tribal institute. But by elevating himself above the citizenry, the king sets himself the task of positioning his subjects against each other. For example, a preferential treatment of the chieftain is strongly emphasized in the sociological sense but disappears completely in the political sense. There is a protocol in saluting him, not in expressing a concern or complaining about injustice. Unlike a king, a chieftain cannot impose his vision on his subjects. He has to listen to be able to maintain the balance within the tribal institute, which may exist in actuality or metaphorically in the prevalence of conciliatory or compromise culture. Even though it was legitimate to use just enough external pressure to maintain balance, Moroccan kings had sought the assistance of outside sources to suppress dissent, albeit with various degrees. Indigenous populations were helpless in as far as subverting the logic of Sharifism. But these people used the zawya –sufi worship place– to coordinate their rebellion that was legitimated by the ulama. The ulama considered giving allegiance to anyone other than a Muslim ruler an abrogation of religious creed. Embedded in this religious language is a political logic that sees collaboration with outsiders as marginalizing the periphery in favor of the center. It could be a spatial periphery meaning rural areas, or spiritual periphery indicating those sufis, sharifs, and scholars who are not co-opted by the sultan. Inability of the sultan to serf through the wave of sufis, sharifs, and scholars can result in the authority of the former being challenged because he obtains his power from them in a dialectical manner. For instance, Mulahi Abd al-Hafiz claimed to have sought the help of the French Protectorate to administratively modernize government institutions. He was removed by the ulama for having brought the French into the Moroccan land, and his brother, Mulayi Yousif, who is the great-grandfather of the current king, was chosen in his place (Attuzi 1999). Colonialism was by then a de facto reality that Moroccans had to confront. The effort to remove the French created social and political dynamics that helped consolidate the authority of the king.
Inadvertently, the French helped the king get rid of three
strong historical opponents, mainly sharifs, who spiritually represented the
tribal interests, sufis who provided the ethics needed to establish bonds
beyond one’s primordial ties, and the ulama who were their spokesmen. By
crushing tribal resistance, the French emasculated the ability of sharifs to
launch a millenarianist campaign from the periphery. Also, they put under
strict surveillance sufi sheiks they could not neutralize, absorb, or
completely eliminate. The French Protectorate changed the institutional basis
In his prize-winning book, Azzawya wal-Hazib (translates Sufi Religious Center and the Party),
Azzahi asserts that elites were the local agents who helped the French
Protectorate –General Loyouti- achieve his objective of wanting to make the
king the central spiritual authority who replaced all other authorities (Azzahi
2003). It is inconceivable that a foreign power could have succeeded in doing
all this without help from some influential national figures. Some of the early
elites like Al-Fasi and Balhassan Al-wazani, found it convenient to access
politics from a religious door simply because they had theological credentials;
more importantly, they originated from families and cities of special spiritual
weight. Although there were structural/historical and sociological factors that
influenced their decision, they made a “rational choice” of accessing politics
from a non-political door. National elites set themselves the task of pulling
all strings of power and putting it in the king’s hands. They inflated the
sanctity of the king as a sharif capable of overshadowing all other sharifs.
They spared no effort to become spokesmen for the King in religious circles,
albeit not without resistance from elderly and renowned scholars of
The written history of present-day
It is in this period (1504-1820) that Sudanese Islam gained some of its lasting features. At the center of this Islam stood the Sufi shaykhs as archetypal figures who provided the community with its spiritual sustenance. Besides, these shaykhs were at the center of a complex socio-economic and political context and as such they owned property and exercised a degree of political influence. The shaykhs built their independent center of power vis-à-vis the state and other shaykhs. This bestowed a great deal of prestige on the Sufi institution; so much so that when the Sudanese eventually wanted to realize their salvation, it was only a shaykh produced by this institution who could unite them and lead them into a revolution that promised global salvation. (Mahmoud 1997:169)
That shaykh was Muhammad Ahmad b. Abd Allah (1844-1884). He had some
resemblance to the Wahhabist action-bound reform movement (refers to Muhammad
b. Abd al-Wahhab, 1792) of Hijaz, today’s
The Turko-Egyptian government was not interested in
colonizing Sudan, but it manipulated Sudanese politics just enough to secure
access to the slave trade and ivory that passed from the southern part of the
country through the north to Egypt (Holt and Daly 1988; Stephanie Beswick
2004). Junior officers were stationed in major cities that served the purpose
of checkpoints more than actual military presence. Since
The revolt that had been waged by the Mahdi was a two-fold reaction: a revolt of the fakis who were concerned with the increased secularization and adaptability in Sufism; and a revolt against the modernization and Westernization brought on by the Turko-Egyptian administration. These two forces combined, although the initial fervor did not last, proved to be quite a binding force since it took military strength to overthrow them. (Degorge 2000:201)
The political success of the revolution overshadowed the myth of millenarianism; nonetheless, it left the Mahdi with the burden of authenticating his rule religiously. Although the Mahdi used mahdism or millenarianism as a political tactic, he could not escape its religious implications.
As a shaykh, however exalted and influential he might be, he would after all be one among many and part of a vast and intricate web of rivalries and animosities. It was the appropriation of the position of the Mahdi (who by definition is a scholar, a sufi, and sharif) that would at one stroke place him above the entire religious establishment and bestow upon him the required authority to exercise his role. (Mahmoud 1997:172)
Along with overcoming his sufi
competitors, al-Mahdi had to introduce tareeqa
(spiritual discipline) to his disciples, mainly the pastoralists of western
Al-Mahdi did not live long enough to see his vision of a
religiously and politically united
For instance, Amir Yunis wad adikaim –a cousin of the
Caliphate, did not hesitate to whip anybody who passed by his left side,
asserting it is the path of Satan that is preserved only for “infidels.” He is
the commander who directed the forces of jihadia or battalion of the state
against the Jaa’lyeen, a northern tribe that preferred to face death than allow
their children and families to be humiliated or relocated for “strategic
military reasons.” To justify such a cruel act, the Caliphate cabinet accused
Abdallah wad saad, the leader of the Jaa’lyeen and one of the early supporters
of Al-Mahdi, of collaboration with the enemy. This was the beginning of
zealousness in the history of
The Caliphate army, which was predominately occupied by
forces from western
The failures of the Mahdist regime and its
eventual removal at the hands of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium forces in 1899
did not, however, put an end to the aura and influence of Muhammad Ahmad’s
Mahdism. The legacy of that revolution still remains and plays an active role
Al-Mahdi justified his choice of his successor religiously;
sometimes testifying that Caliphate Abd al-Allah was the one who came most
frequently to the prayer or calling him the one most devoted to the message of
the leader. But it was basically a tactical move to secure the support of the
group with the major political and military weight, that of western
These grievances were compounded to such a high level to
justify the cooperation among religious –and tribal– leaders with the British
forces that invaded
Al-Mirghani’s son, Hasan (1819-1869), continued
the work his father started. He instituted close ties with Turko-Egyptian rule
(1821-1885). This marked a move into the political arena of a major Sufi order.
The tariqa (sufi order) acted as a
mediator between its followers and the governmental structures in place. It
collected taxes, announced decrees, and many of the followers served in the
armed forces. When
The petal/fugal tendency materialized in the case of
By allocating the leader of the Khatmiyya, Sayyid Ali, a
huge endowment of material and political privileges, the British thought of
overcoming the authority of the periphery (Mahmoud 1997). The Khatmeyya
gradually became large enough to embrace and politically (not religiously)
dominate other tareeqas, such as
Qaderya and Sammaniyya (Degorge 2000), thus avoiding the mistake the Mahdia
made of attempting to dilute the influence of religious leaders. Whenever they
felt their religious authority threatened, charismatic leaders, such as
Asshareef Al-Hindi (who is also a sharif
and, moreover, a walee), oftentimes
rose to challenge the political authority of Khatmeyya leader. Through their
command of large tareeqas, for
example, the Sammaniyya who gave breed to the Mahdi, the colonial authority
thought of drying up the potential of zealous (which would translate to
“terrorism” in today’s terms). Due to their highly organized and centralized
makeup, the Sudanese tareeqs were the structures that enabled the Sudanese to
articulate and aggregate their interest. The imperial experience, Degorge
asserts, “Gave way to a duality or competition between both tareeqs –Khatmiyya
and Ansar– that furnished the setting for the loyalties of Sudanese Muslims”
(Degorge 2000:204). Nonetheless, they balanced the power of their loyal ally,
Sayyid Ali, by empowering Sayyid Abd al-Rahman (the only remaining son the
Mahdi). The latter consumed the energy of his “zealous” followers cultivating
huge amounts of land that he was allocated on the
Sayyid Abd al-Rahman tried to attract or even co-opt some elites who could give his message a modern appeal. But he nevertheless could not gather enough numbers to match those of the DUP. He had a limited pool to recruit from, because education was a privilege that the colonials extended to northern settlers. Most of early elites were by default Khatmeyya who belonged to the sect by virtue of their socio-cultural background. People who joined Umma Party, such Al-Mahjoub, Prime Minister of Sudan (1956-1958), felt their weight due to the scarcity of elites in the Umma Party. Others in the DUP were strong enough to manipulate politics, sometimes threatening to divide the party. They almost did in the case of President Ishmael al-Azhari (President of Sudan 1956-1958). Toward independence time (1956), the spectrum of Sudanese politics could resemble a two-hump
with Ali al-Mirghani patronizing the national unionist parties and Abd al-Rahman patronizing the Umma (Nation) Party. By contrast, the other Sufi orders withdrew on the whole to the background and confined themselves to their religious role. What may, however, be noted about this period is that though the two religious leaders were prime players on the political scene, the dominant political discourse was essentially secular. (Mahmoud 1997:179)
Political pragmatism has influenced Abd al-Rahman’s
decision to at least temporarily give up some of his father’s theocratic claims
that were strongly accented by the Caliphate. Abd al-Rahman was prudent enough
to have understood the impossibility of molding a society religiously, but he worked
dedicatedly toward infusing Islamic ethics. While his progeny denied the
Caliphate political credit he deserved, they inherited his theocratic ambitions
(Slati, Carl, Freihervon 1969). It was during the heat of the Cold War that
Imam al-Hadi al-Mahdi found himself sabotaged by the Muslim Brother’s demand
for an “Islamic Constitution.” In the rise of Islamism, al-Sadig al-Mahdi found
no alternative to competing with the National Islamic Front, NIF, in its
pursuit of an Islamic state. It was not until he was personally insulted and
his political constituency at the expense of eliminating the Umma presence in
In spite of weak political (and economic) links with the
periphery, the two traditional parties, the DUP and SUP, have in the past
successfully mediated ethnic differences between the Arabs (Baggara) and Blacks (Zurga) of Darfur/western Sudan. The Fuor
and Masaleet, now under fierce attack
from the Janjaweed (Arabs who were
traditionally and historically affiliated with the Mahdi movement), do not have
spiritual ties with the Khatmeyya, only political links with the DUP that has a
secular appeal and does not resist spiritual independence from the center.
These indigenous African tribes of Darfur did not participate in the Mahdi
movement, and they did not have strong affiliation with sufi tareeqs, except maybe with the Tejhaneyya which was political dormant, at least in western
In conclusion, the two colonial powers (the British and the
French) appropriated the concept of sharifism differently. While the British
maintained balance by introducing sectarianism in Sudan, the French
Protectorate had no alternative to presenting the King of Morocco as a unified
central authority, thus fusing sharifism, sufism, and scholarship in the figure
of the sultan. The religious groups mainly incorporated in the Sudanese
political system, the Khatmeyya and the Ansar –which are led by Sharifs– gave rise to the two major political parties.
The Umma Party of Sudan (SUP) consisted of pastoralists located at the western
and central part of the country who drifted toward the political center at the
time of the Mahdia (1885-1899). The DUP represented sedentary peasants who
lived at the northern and eastern parts of the country, and who escaped control
in those days by pulling their feet toward the periphery. Whereas traditional
leaders resorted to sectarian platforms in the name of democracy, modernist
leaders sought refuge in the military in the name of revolution. The
discontinuity created by the move from dictatorial regimes to democratic
systems and back interrupted the ability of patrimonial leaders to fix the
social hierarchy needed to overcome the power of the periphery. By trying to
bypass traditional leaders, such as tribal chieftains/leaders, religious or
sectarian leaders eluded the very logic that sustained them. As a result, the
religio-political power in
While the British used sectarianism as a strategy to rule
Because the Islamic tradition is so heavily dependent on
what was being written in the Qur’an and the Hadiths, it is no surprise that
education has been a vital issue in these societies. Those controlling the
curriculum could also assure themselves of a stronger grasp of the determinants
of regime legitimacy. In modern times, such as the times since colonialism, the
educational issue has centered on how to combine the literal and the liberal
traditions. How far have Islamic leaders been willing to be pragmatic and
adjust their own thinking to suit the changing circumstances that British and
French colonialism brought to
The colonial experience, its benefits notwithstanding, has
made Islamic theology more dogmatic by causing a dichotomy between what is
spiritual and what is temporal, between reason and revelation, and hence
between “god’s city” and the imagination of humans who are entrusted with
overseeing the various processes of execution. The outcome has been an
ontological gap that caused only minor cracks –that was later patched by
post-colonial state builders– in the city walls that for centuries fortified
religious fantasies and political fanaticism. Not surprisingly, Islamic
fundamentalism finds comfortable accommodation in regimes that are secular at
heart and use religion for legitimation purposes, what I call “quasi-secular
regimes” such as
This chapter addresses the structural (economic/cultural) factors that influenced the development of Islamic orthodoxy in the 11th century and helped with its promotion until the advent of colonialism in the 19th century. At that time, it was given the status of law codified by the state for the purpose of inducing political stability. What appeared for centuries as the cultural preference of the Caliphate was now given the authority of an “authentic” Islam, which was exploited politically by Islamists, which invited a reaction from seculars. The political polarization –between the left and the right, between the seculars and the theocrats, between the liberalist and the literalist– is only ideological. It is a dispute about shared characteristics and not different characteristics. Also, considering themselves “advanced” and dismissing Sufis as “sectarian” and “back-warded” is more a propaganda ploy that served no purpose other than superficially assisting elites to elevate themselves above social reality.
The cultural and sociological factors that influenced the practice of politics in the Moroccan (and Sudanese) society were woven into a collective memory that did not recognize a separation between religion and politics. In the midst of this ideological quarrel, modernists –elites from the left or right side of the ideological spectrum– failed to engage the local heritage by way of educating it. They were more interested in expressing their views than harkening to the wisdom of the masses. This attitude thwarted their ability to communicate effectively with the masses. Under the pressure to influence change, elites embraced techniques that were correctly perceived by the masses as an attempt to unseat their traditional leaders. Such opportunism made the society resilient and its culture more stagnant. (Elites in the African/Muslim world, as we shall see in subsequent sections, were more a liability than an asset.)
Elite preferences were reflected in their choice of educational policies that confused education with indoctrination. While occasionally introducing some adjustments, they made no effort to do away with dogma. As it stands today, religion and secular sciences stand side by side with no correspondence that can help the elites or the masses perceive as beneficial a mutual relationship between the two. The first part of this chapter traces the development of a religious tradition that until today has a strong hold on Muslim minds. The second part explains how modernity has challenged the grip of such tradition but has not provided Muslims with conceptual tools that can help them adjust to such huge transition –one that requires that one creates the world in one’s own image and not just accept it as is. Thus modernization has denied Muslims the liberties it delivered to European populations. The third part reveals the tendencies that developed among contemporary Muslim thinkers, as a result of historical and political tensions that for the first time signal an indigenous attempt to reconcile “modern epistemological views with a classical cultural religious tradition” (Filali-Ansary 2003:6).
Institutional Factors Influencing the Persistence of Orthodoxy
In Chapter 2, I alluded to the political circumstances that
made favorable the choice of the traditionalist school over the rationalist
school in the 11th century. The former innovated a dichotomy between
Sharia knowledge, which it strategically called “beneficial knowledge” (alm nafah), and sciences, which it
referred to as “worldly knowledge” (alm
dunyawi). Embedded in this distinction was an attempt to psychologically
rebuff external influence and politically suppress internal dissent.
Understandably, the more Muslims got exposed, the more empowered they became in
challenging the “truth,” as was propagated by the political authority. The
meager the realm of irony/imagination, the easier it was for one group to
promote its understanding of religion as religion. The reader may find it
difficult to understand how one approach to knowledge would prevail
uninterrupted through almost 10 centuries, in spite of political, economic, and
social turbulences, but not if we understand the pedagogical approach that got
introduced at this turn in history. This approach emphasized obedience of the
pupil to the master and gave pride in memorization of knowledge as was passed
by one’s “honorable” masters. The
master of your master becomes your grandfather in knowledge, something that is
considered more valuable than blood kinship. To the extent that this
pedagogical approach –individual exchange between master and student– has preserved
the authenticity of the text, some scholars like Nursi Said of
The authority of the master and the tradition was affirmed through the establishment of Islamic colleges –madrasas— in the 11th century. These institutions were religious trusts that strictly taught Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet, Arabic grammar, Arab genealogy, poetry, and some arithmetic for the purpose of dividing inheritances. Although they were protected from political intrusions, the madrasas were not legally autonomous entities. “Rather, as strictly religious charities, they were perpetually bound to the strictures and limitations specified in the founding document creating the educational trust (waqf). No alterations in the purpose of the trust, or the subjects of study was permissible. In a legal sense, they created a true ‘dead hand’” (Huff 1997: 31).
There was no faculty to assess the curriculum and make adjustments according to the need of the time, only a group of individuals, each entrusted with issuing an ijaza (permission to transmit) in his own field. This is not to question the credentials of the masters who in most cases were renowned scholars, or the pupils who tolerated a strict training method –almost to the point of being authoritarian. It was emphasize the Muslim educational system as the master institution in the perpetuation of Islamic tradition and the creation of Islamic society as we know it today (Geertz 1965: 95).
For as long as the
Silk Road existed, which to a great extended manipulated world trade for
centuries (Ferguson 2000), Muslims paid their pious endowments in the form of
educational trust (madrasas), which
“could not encompass the teaching of anything inimical to the spirit of Islam”
(Huff 1997: 31). This proved the most difficult hurdle, as the world was about
to witness one of the greatest intellectual revolutions ever made. It is at the
15th century that Europeans
found the transatlantic as an alternative trade route with which they could
In case of Islam, it was less a problem of one authority
imposing itself over others than the existence of the scientific,
moral/religious, and political domains independent of one another (see Chapter
2) that denied Muslims the transition “from the closed world to the infinite
universe,” to borrow Koyre’s phrase (Huff 1997). Rather than adjust their
strategy to meet the demands of an ever-changing reality, jurists adopted a
“jurisprudential definition of religion” that shunned sharia from the
developments in other fields. They have wasted an opportunity to coordinate –that
is, if they ever had an option—
the relationship between the aforementioned authorities (who will become
historical rivals). They have also failed to allow for the discoveries in one
field to enhance the understanding in the other, thereby thwarting the ability
of the Muslim community to evolve beyond the confinement of religiosity and
hover into the realm of spirituality. Sharia eventually recessed into being
God’s law, instead of a legal mechanism. With such essentialism in mind,
Muslims felt compelled to define themselves in opposition to “the other” rather
than mobilize the constituents of their own heritage to venture into wider
realms. This was contrary to the ethos of the founders of the faith who pursued
a universalistic vision, nonetheless in face of prevalent injustice, they
occasionally felt compelled to bear on particularities (Filali-Ansary 2003).
Hodgson, the great British historian, asserts, “It was precisely what was
universal in the vision of Islam, its hope of equal justice and of a human
responsibility under transcendent norms that issued in the exclusivity of
Islam. The very response to the vision which allowed that vision to be embodied
in a living tradition, and the responsible commitment which then carried it
forward in actual society, were what closed Islam off from rival values and
rival traditions” (Hodgson 1977: 369). This explains the obsession of some
Muslims with concepts that have almost become obsolete. Nonetheless, they may
not have been completely siphoned off the Muslim frame of reference, such as
the distinction medieval jurists make between the land of Muslims and that of
“infidels” (dar-al-Harb and dar-al-Islam), or the term dhimi (used in reference to Christians
or Jews living among a predominantly Muslim majority). Rashid Ghounishi
considers this a jurist term that has lost its political implication in
associations where people no longer live as a “community of believers” but
“citizens of a nation state” (Ghounishi 1981). It is difficult but not
impossible to overcome these concepts, especially in a society that voluntarily
chooses to abide by the Sharia. Because, as Hodgson correctly asserts, “The
exclusivity latent in the Qur’an was early complemented by an exclusivity
grounded in the historical Muslim community. In the reaction that followed the
third fitnah and the “Abbasi triumph,
this communal orientation of this
In spite of the firm teleological grip, Muslims continued to perch on the forward edge of one of the highest intellectual endeavors, only to be inherited by Europeans who would take to it unprecedented limits that changed for good and forever the conditions of human correspondence, at the economic, political, and social levels. Most significant was the opening up of the public sphere whose activities were for a long time enjoyed by the privileged. “Jurgen Habermas defined the public sphere as a social space in which so-called ‘private’ individuals come together for the purpose of using their critical faculties in the service of so-called ‘public’ interests” (Huff 1997: 27). Does Habermas condition the engagement in the public sphere on individualism and secularism? Should he treat individualism and secularism as “epiphenomal products of bourgeois self-interest”? Does Habermas ignore the role religion plays in the emergence of a public sphere in a different cultural context? Since both are important criteria for our evaluation of institutional design and educational policies in the Muslim world, I will first discuss the issue of individualism as a direct breed of capitalism. I will later address concerns about secularism.
Capitalism could have only been possible due to the
bifurcation of scripturalism and materialism in the late 15th century. The unlimited accumulation of wealth
Among the more prominent causes of this historical trend is
the interference of various European powers, of which
In the wake of independence, most conservative forces sided
with the King of Morocco in the face of totalitarian and fanatic secularism
that was coming from the Left. For instrumental logic that we shall see in
subsequent sections, modernist groups of the center right particularly avoided
salafism of the Maghreb, and they
instead adopted the values of the Mashreg
Rather than aim at completely thwarting the authority of
the periphery, the British created a hierarchy that facilitated the flow of
administrative directives, as well as giving them enough discretion to
manipulate the political platform (see Chapter 3). In
The decision by Sudanese national leaders (Arab nationalists in the late 1960s, and socialists/communists in the 1970s) to eliminate Qur’anic schools –from being an integral part of the educational system– marks a significant disjuncture between popular and high cultures. A prominent educator, who was once a Minister of Education and at one time belonged to Islamists groups, asserts that the education at the time of the British was generally better because it produced highly cultured and well-rounded individuals (Personal Interview. DH. Spring of 2003). Furthermore, from an Islamic perspective, it was more profound than the scholastic Islam introduced by the current regime (1989-2005) because the former taught general Islamic principles rather than impose one particular ideological orientation (Personal Interview. DH. Spring of 2003).
Most of the early national leaders of
Typically Islamists blamed Sufism for the intellectual and political decadence that Muslims reached at the time of colonialism, and accused Sufis sheiks as being collaborators with the invaders and dictators. It is important to understand the circumstances which led to such accusations. In most cases, they found collaboration with the authorities as the only available tool to deflect harm from reaching their followers. Sufism was not a bulwark in the face of development as it was one among many organs in a body inflicted with despotism. But it was definitely a strong fortress against the hegemonic forces of colonialism. Azzahi asserts that a Salafi fagih (scholar) may dismiss a Sufi dance as innovation in the deen (religion), but a sociologist cannot. It is by listening, dancing, and, most importantly, invocating the name of Allah that sufi sheiks unite the body and the soul and entrench its equivalence in the intellectual unconscious (Azzahi 2003:138-139). This ritual makes a person’s cultural, social, and religious existence become real in a non-confrontational manner. It attempts to address the zoug –taste– as well as the mind.
Most contemporary Islamists (scholars who study Islam, be
it Muslims or non-Muslims) contend that sufi Islam is the mode most qualified
in resisting the encroachment of imperialism –as it had done with colonialism.
A renowned Moroccan scholar and an Islamic activist found it fair to admit that
he resisted Sufism for 30 years, only to recently come to recognition of its
vitality in resisting the institutional forces – both local and international –
that are trying to erode the richness of the Muslim heritage. He now recommends
listening to madeeh (praise poems of
the Prophet introduced with instrumental music), and watching and participating
in sufi festivals (Personal Interview. MB. Summer 2003). Salafi groups in
While ideological Islam fit the modernist ideology that attempts to increase visibility of the society –thereby making its members more manageable– Sufi Islam encourages diffusiveness in thought and practice. Hence, it allows the individual room to reshape the moral boundary without having to transgress against the community or compromise his own individuality. By capitalizing on the good qualities that every disciple possesses one way or the other, the Sufi sheik allows the mureed to voluntary get rid of the negative aspects. A prominent sufi sheik, AG, asserts that Sufism puts the individual through spiritual training to ultimately liberate him/her from anything but the love of Allah (Personal Interview. AG. Fall of 2003). This concept of freedom is different from positive freedom, as defined by Western philosophers, or, for this matter, negative freedom as ill-conceived by Islamists. Western philosphers put emphasis on rights, Islamists bear more attention to duties. The sufi regard to the moral code is a way of fulfilling the covenant with Allah and not watching out for the morality, as defined by society and/or enforced by the police. To take an example, the word ayeb (morally scornful in Arabic) has a deeper psychological effect than haram (prohibited) in making the individual morally conscientious of his moral responsibility to the “other.” It is a divine rule interceded by the society’s conception of morality that is deliberative, adaptive, and which follows an evolutionary learning path. Such philosophy characterizes the sufi approach to moral upbringing (tarbeya) and reveals the secret of its success. Unlike Islamists who use (scientific) rationality to distinguish themselves and thus gain a superior status, Sufis are more egalitarian and use communicative rationality to allow room for cohesiveness. In their debate with the Sufis, Islamists are very “rational”; in their contestation with the seculars (socialist/communists), they are very “moral.” The more gimmicks they attempt, the more obvious their political intricacies become.
I may not have adequately answered the questions about individualism and secularism within the capitalist tradition, nonetheless this section is aimed at highlighting the distinction between “structural” and “subjective” secularization. Structural secularism, applies to the institutional arrangements of society and subjective secularism to the subjective experience of secularizing forces by individuals (Robinson 2003). Structural secularism, defined as the “institutional separation of church and state,” may have been the midwife who helped with the birth of subjective secularism. But it is definitely capitalism, functional differentiation, and more recently mass communication that helped with the conception of such child in the European continent. (Forcing the birth of such child in the Muslim world has caused the death of both the mother and the child. It is a child born out of wedlock at best and abortion at worst.)
In spite of persistent attempts to block sufi heritage,
Sufism continues to shape the cultural, social, and intellectual unconscious of
most of these Muslim societies. By omitting Sufism from formal educational
In his prize-winning book, Az-zawia Wal-Hazib,
Azzahi, a Moroccan sociologist, asserts that
A’lal Al-Fasi of
Al-Fasi used his political skills and religious credentials to establish himself as the undisputed leader of the Istiglal Party, which monopolized Moroccan politics long before it was challenged by the Socialist Union. He overcame the challenge Bal-Hassan Al-wazani once presented for the chairmanship. Even though the latter was assigned the vice-chairmanship, Al-wazani chose to leave and establish his own party. These were not simply two-party members competing for an administrative position. They were two religio-political figures competing for the sheikdom of a worship place (zawya) called Istiglal Party (Hizb Al-Istiglal). They did not stand for themselves, but also represented two renowned Fasi families, and they shined as beacons for their societal groups. Similar to the Moroccan saying, ‘Two snakes cannot reign in one den,” the defeat of one meant the departure of the other. It was only logical to do so because it is by a strict following of the instructions of the leader (Aza’eim) that the party remains intact. Any dispute of his orders violates the social logic that governs the political dynamics in the party and in the nation as a whole.
The lively presence of the characteristics of the zawya in a national party makes it
difficult for a leader to be challenged, or be excused from his position in
their lifetime. This patrimonialism applies to religious as well as
non-religious parties. Looking at the political landscape in
Unlike Al-Hindi, Assadig Al-Mahdi (the leader of the Umma
By the time Assadig becomes a president of the Umma Party, the party members would have no way escaping this octopus-like psychological hold. While giving a leader ample political maneuverability, in the secular sense, these myths are supposed to serve the purpose of a strong religious shield in the face of criticism from political or party opponents. However, too much dependence on these superstitions has caused Said Sadig to relinquish an important political quality that distinguished his great grandfather Imam Mahdi, from among all other Sudanese leaders: choosing the right time to strike an offensive against an enemy or pulling the army back as an appropriate defense strategy. Assadig could not confine himself to becoming a religious leader like his uncle, Al-Hadi Al-Mahdi, and he could not consistently follow secular logic, that is, accessing politics from a political rather than a religious door. Consequently, Assadig fell in between the two cliffs; he could not impress academicians in spite of concerted efforts to show scholarship, and he could not be perceived by religious clerics as a pious man.
In spite of the political acrobatics to diffuse the power
of alboytat (big families who were
once in exclusive control of traditional or national parties, either from a
tribal or religious background), the self-proclaimed Islamic movement was
subconsciously looking for a leader whose credentials could fit the definition
of a sheik. They found Hassan Atturabi. In addition to being a Sorbonne
graduate, he is married to the daughter of Assiddig –Imam of the Ansar (who in
turn has coached him into becoming an aristocrat– that is not to deny his
proclivity for becoming one). The Ansar largest sect in
Abdellah Hammoudi, a
Under the influence of urgency, Turabi and his group adopted the techniques of his political and religious rivalries. They adopted the modernist approach of the Communist Party while wearing the gown of a sheik. Consequently, they relinquished the spiritual ethics that traditionally link a Sufi to his sheik and were not exempt from the competitive tendency of modern politics. In the absence of rules that can mediate conflict, the relationship between the leader and party members took the worst form of a sheik-disciple relationship, and it reflected negatively on the performance of the polity. Instead of facing the cultural and social stagnation, ideological parties tried to bypass it; consequently, they fell victims to it. They have escaped the authoritarianism of traditional leaders, mainly sectarian leaders of Umma and DUP, only to find that sociological intrigues do not dissolve merely by giving a party a modern name or importing an ideology.
As much resilience as these cultural traits may have exemplified, they were only made stronger through the adamant attempt of Islamists to mix a sacral understanding of politics with a sacral understanding of religion, which has become inoperationable by modern standards. As much as legislation is no longer the responsibility of religious leaders, religion has ceased to become the exclusive domain of the theologians (Galyoun 1991). Modernity has not as much announced the death of God as it has influenced a demarcation between cosmology and history. Soroush contends,
The notion that the new world gradually rids itself of religion is only half true. It is true in so far as the modern world condemns ignorant and vulgar religiosity to extinction. However, it also allows a different kind of religiosity, a learned and examined religion, to prosper on a higher level. Scientific treatment of political and economic affairs does in no sense preclude a well-defined role for God and religion in political, social, and natural affairs. Determining the limits of that role and the exact form of that relationship remains to be worked out by scholars. (Soroush 2000: 61)
Western civilization, evolved out of a position against
religion to establishing a truce with it and now it is facing the challenge of
incorporating it as an important and an essential part of its value system. The
debate in the public sphere cannot help but show a fervor for religion; for
instance, in the
While the state is trying to force its vision on the public
sphere using Islamic slogans, individuals experience secularism in a subjective
manner. For example, a regime design like that of Morocco, which is secular at
the core and is just using Islam for legitimation purposes, could have existed
unchallenged before the rise of Islamic activism and its demands for equity and
social justice. Even then, the efforts of the society and the state were not
mutually exclusive because individuals were experiencing Islam subjectively
through their societal interaction and experiencing secularism in the modern
formal institutions. A regime design like that of
Depending on the political orientation of state elites, five educational policies exist in the Islamic World. Secular elites ban religion from being taught in public schools thinking that its influence will fade away with development, thus capitulating to modernity. Theocratic regimes ignore secular education, undermining the significant role that science can play in directing the course of society and politics. Quasi-secular regimes build secular schools with a place reserved for religion, giving precedence to reason in faith matters. Quasi-theocratic regimes build religious schools with a place reserved for secular education subordinating secular knowledge to religious knowledge. Embedded democracy equally values religious knowledge and secular knowledge. For the purpose of this comparative study, I shall limit my focus to the more problematic cases, mainly comparing educational systems in Morocco and Sudan, before I move to the middle point where secular norms and principles of rationality are perceived as applicable to religious jurisprudence (Soroush 2000: 149).
Table 4.1: Typology of Political Incorporation of Islam
Position from Modernity
Capitulating to it
Seduced by it
Neither capitulate nor reject
Envious of it
A century ago,
More paradoxically yet, it is not a rigid separation of education from religious influence that will make it possible to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s in an Islamic society but the further integration of secular and religious learning in modern schools. It is through such schools that Islam, on the sociological level and in consequence on the intellectual level as well –for ideas cannot develop in a social vacuum, will be able to enter the modern world. To cut the umma off from this critical regenerating institution in its midst by a strict adherence to a state-sponsored and –directed secular school system and by vague hostility to “Quranic” schools as “backward,” “feudal,” or “fanatical” is to ensure the rigidification of Islamic institutions generally and, in consequence, of Islamic thought. (Geertz 1965: 107)
The official attempt to reform education in both
Along the same lines, as previously discussed, Sudanese
traditional parties established Omdurman Islamic University, but they made no
attempt to influence the curriculum, recruit criteria, or even decide upon
general policies. The DUP and the Umma Party knew that they wanted an Islamic
University. But they were not clear as to the purpose that such a school could
serve in the wider context of democratic politics, apart from them answering
the demands of a religious public. The school made no attempt to revive the
pluralist, liberalist, and tolerant Islam that prevailed 10 centuries ago and
which was buried (alive) for political reasons that I discuss in Chapter 3. It
taught scholastic Islam, which, according to Arkoun, Aljabri, and others, is
dogmatic, fundamentalist, and encourages a monotheist vision of the world.
As Ernest Gellner correctly argues, what reshaped the cycle was modern mass education, which in widening access to the written cultural traditions, ended up strengthening the hand of fundamentalism. For the policies upon which this education was implemented were such that, instead of opening minds to critical inquiry and rational approaches, they favored a return to premodern views and attitudes. (Filali-Ansary 2003: 3)
Unsurprisingly, we have graduates who bear the responsibility of protecting Islamic theology but are ill prepared to adopt it to today’s terms.
In their attempt to reconceptualize the educational
curriculum, the Sudanese government introduced Islamic studies in all
disciplines and at all university levels, but with no attempt to imaginatively
and courageously bridge the gap between secular and religious sciences.
Students do not see the relevance between their field of specialization and
“Islamic subjects.” The government made no attempt –needless to say, creative
attempt– to see which part of the sharia can aid the medical student in his
understanding of biology, or how can the student of astronomy help advance his
understanding of some aspects of the Qur’an. They picked some subjects and
threw them into the curriculum hoping that the students can make sense out of
them somehow one day (Personal Interview. HJ. Spring of 2003).
Ironically, the government resisted attempts to incorporate social sciences
into any of the so-called Islamic disciplines. Even worse, to counterbalance
the intellectual weight of “secularism,” the Islamist government in
Those religiously educated may more recently have been
accredited in the eyes of the public, however, their capability to provide
solutions for worldly problems has recently come under scrutiny. The public may
not perceive individuals such Al-Jabri (socialist) in
There are three tendencies that have primary historical precedence: 1) apologetic, which aims at reforming popular religiosity without reexamining orthodox religious beliefs; 2) radical, which, in the process of asserting Islam’s authority in the political sphere, combines “premodern epistemological views with modern ideological attitudes,” and 3) enlightened, which abandons ahistorical essentialism and accepts the methods and suppositions of modern scholarship (Filali-Ansary 2003:6).
Imam Mohammed Abduh (1849-1905) is the first among the traditionalists to have genuinely attempted to grapple with the issue of bridging the gap between “reason” and “revelation.” Abduh refused to abide by taqlid (the traditional interpretation of the Qur’an) and exhorts those believers with the requisite knowledge and intellectual equity to interpret the Qur’an in light of the modern current of thoughts. Though he limits ijithad (independent interpretation) to ibadat (matters of worship), he argues that any statement in the Qur’an has to conform to the canons of reason in mu’amalat (matters of life dealings). In case of conflict between the two, Abduh gives precedence to reason over the literal meaning of the Sharia (Adams 1965: 127). Nonetheless, he applies this methodology to family issues, such as divorce, polygamy, law of testate and intestate succession, that are explicitly mentioned in the Sharia, and conflict with the dictates of natural law.
According to Euben, “Abduh reinterprets Islamic concepts in terms of Western ideals and vice versa, linking, for example, maslaha –reform in the interest of the community– to utilitarianism, shura –the principle of consultation– to parliamentary democracy, ijam’ (consensus) to public opinion” (Euben 1991:17). This epistemological eclecticism explains some of Abduh’s apparent inconsistencies. Though he views science as an autonomous mode of thought from religion, Abduh treats governance as an extension and specification of the religious perspective. This position invites a critique from the right side of the ideological spectrum.
Unlike Abduh, whose training as a scholar was limited to
religious education, Qutb received his intellectual training in the
Qutb sees the West living in a state of “jahiliya” (complete ignorance) for the following reasons. The economic institutions of the West are fully governed by material rationality, a belief that defies the ontology of any religion. Secularism rules political institutes as a sovereign mistress, thus denying social norms and especially religious values a role in designing public policy proceedings. The Enlightenment’s vilification of religion, according to Qutb, has at a minimum caused moral relativism, and at a maximum culminated in the moral impoverishment of Western societies. In his own way, each scholar rejects the separation of faith and reason. While Abduh portrays science as an expression of Islam, Qutb tries to counter the cultural hegemony of the West with an Islamic ideology that subordinates science to Islamic creed. Qutb admires the processes associated with modernization, for example, rationalization as well as technical capacity of the modern state. But he sells his version of modernity –a set of socially encoded values emphasizing sympathy for traditional values over economic efficiency, power, and profit (Euben 1992: 30).
Soroush, a contemporary Iranian scholar, differentiates religious knowledge from religion and makes the former an integral component of human knowledge. By envisioning religious knowledge as evolving with other branches of human knowledge, he welcomes the application of secular norms and principles of rationality to religious jurisprudence (Soroush 2000: 149). Thus he escapes the reluctance of Abduh to apply secular knowledge to sharia matters and Qutb’s unweary effort to subordinate sharia to modern political proceedings. That is to say, should people decide to abide by sharia, whose understanding of it should prevail. How is that an elite few (scholars or Islamic activists) or the members of parliament should decide on behalf of the people?
With his “expansion and contraction of knowledge” theory, Soroush escapes the epistemological eclecticism of Mohammed Abduh and the epistemological relativism of Said Qutb. Is Soroush then establishing an epistemological pluralism? By differentiating religious knowledge from religion and making it an integral component of human knowledge, Soroush attempts to articulate a relationship between religion and politics. This articulation avoids extremes, secularization of religion, or the ideologiziation of politics. Is such an ideal feasible? Can religion set the cultural accord within which the political discord takes place without interfering in politics (Tocqueville 2000: 73)? In his words, this genius asserts,
Once the status of reason, particularly the dynamic collective reason, is established; once the theoretical, practical, and historical advances of humanity are applied to the understanding and acceptance of religion; once extra religious factors find an echo within the religious domain; and finally, once religion is rationalized, then the way to epistemological pluralism –the centerpiece of democratic action– will be paved. (Soroush 2000)
To the extent that the transition –from an epistemological revolution to political democracy– substantially transforms rights and duties, it is morally contentious. The transition can help the society members systematically and consistently go through the “thick layers of interpretation,” rather than make frog loops that achieve nothing other than agitate the political environment and make it more tumultuous than it already is. For example, “Whereas in the West the women’s issue is largely seen in the framework of social justice and equity, in the Magreb countries the women’s issue is part of the a different discourse involving Westernization, modernization, and secularism” (Banuazizi et.al 1994:28). It is the personal status laws, especially those elements relating to marriage, divorce and inheritance, which are the most oppressive and which are the most intractable in the current period because of the prevailing literalist interpretations of the Qur’an (Lacey and Coury 2000). Filali-Ansary contents, it is “not so literalist as it is simply premodern in an epistemological sense” (Filali-Ansary 2003:3). Reformists and activists of the 19th and 20th centuries never questioned the historical authenticity of the established orthodoxy. This remains to be tackled by prominent scholars of the 21st century who make a distinction between the eternal message of the Qur’an and its contingent reality (Abu-Zaid 2000). These scholars investigate the structural factors that influenced the imagination of the scholars who authenticated the Sunna almost a century after the death of the Prophet (Arkoun 2000). They also expose the variegate approaches to the interpretation of sharia that got harmonized under politically malignant circumstances (Attunsi 2002). They also examine the characteristics of the “model” that Islamic modernists present to the masses as Islamically authentic (Al-Jabri 2001). By depicting the views of these scholars, this sections aims to penetrate the various strata –often referred to in this dissertation as “thick layers of interpretation”– in the chronological order of their formation.
Oftentimes when Muslims say the Qur’an –Islam’s revealed book– is valid for all times and applicable to all geographical locations, they nonetheless approach it with methodological and conceptual tools that inadvertently indicate it is above time and space. For a long time, Muslims have stopped reading the Qur’an and instead were satisfied reciting it. Reciting the Qur’an provides the readers with tranquility; the reading it enhances their understanding of reality. There are conceptual as well as psychological reasons for this kind of intransigence. First, Muslims are stilling reading the Quran through the interpretation of others –mainly generations that existed 10 centuries ago– without making any effort to decompose or reformulate it in a way that benefits from modern methodological and epistemological breakthroughs. While Europeans have moved from the Kantian, to the Hegelian, Marxian, structural, and ontological expositions of the mind, Muslim theologians are still caught in the rationality of the middle ages, that is, there is an absolute truth that doesn’t undergo transformation (knowingly Allah is ever-changing) and the approach to it is monolithic (Arkoun 2000:37). They find it difficult to make a distinction between the theological status of the Qur’an and the linguistic condition of the mind that produces human expressions (Arkoun 1993:96). Second, Muslims cannot approach the text with the liberty of the founding fathers of faith (Kubba 2003:3). As sacred as the Quran is, Muslims find it difficult to believe that the revelation captured the picture of a society –the Arabs– that was undergoing transformation. Nasr Hamid Abu-Zaid contends that analyzing the text requires the understanding of the culture to which it belongs, and, more importantly, tracing its progression to help the text speak to modern reality (Abu-Zaid 1996). This historical contingency, he asserts, does not nullify the divinity of its origin. As a containment for human experiences Qur’anic language can be transparent, but is definitely not neutral (Al-Sharafi 2000:24, 36).
Since the Sunna was authenticated a century after the death of the Prophet, Arkoun strongly suggests exposing the contingent factors, both philosophical and imaginative, that influenced the compiling of the words, deeds, and sayings of the Prophet. Philological studies explain that, in its appeal to reason, logic undergoes primary adjustments when societies shift from expressive and oratory narratives to written and metaphorical connotations (Arkoun 1993: 85). Needless to say, the move from innate spirituality to rationalized religiosity (Al-Sharafi 2000:183) occurred under politically turbulent circumstances, as was explained in chapters 2 and 3.
Although the protectors of orthodoxy want to promote their understanding of sharia as puritan, scholars agree that it was only historical coincidence –economic/structural as well as political/institutional factors– that saved the orthodox synthesis of medieval theology from facing the destiny of other schools of thought that was forcefully pushed to the background. The “amalgam of Sharia legalism and tariqa mysticism” (Geertz 1965:104) that Ghazzali legitimized and promoted as authentic was formulated under circumstances that were anything but egalitarian. The patriarchal nature of the society permeated the scholars’ perception of the rights of disenfranchised groups, such as women, slaves, and others (Arkoun 2000:54s), accordingly we find issues of marriage, divorce, and inheritance among the most oppressive in today’s sharia. Rather than perceive religion as a “historically situated expression of spiritual visions and ethical ideals” (Filali-Ansary 2003:10), solutions that the scholars found as suitable for their times were made as the archetype passed from the Prophet and his righteous companions (Al-Sharafi 2000:128). Abu-Zaid argues that the quintessential mistake of the salafi (orthodox) groups is their perception of history as regressing toward the worse in all aspects. He asserts that this is an ideological position that supports backwardness and resists development (Abu-Zaid 1996:223). Nothing betrays the moral ideals of the salaf more than this theological rigidly that forbid Muslims the right to administer their life because earlier generations were spiritually better enlightened.
It was at the time of Abbasid, as I explained in Chapter 3, that this historical contingency about Islam was raised to the status of an authoritatively normative model (Filali-Ansary 2003:2). Any opposition against the ruler was seen as an abrogation of religion. Consequently, all aspects of Muslim governance became personalized and the implementation of sharia became synonymous with despotism. Al-jabri has done an excellent task decomposing that period, as well explaining its characteristics (Al-Jabri 2001). Should Muslims decide to be the makers of history and not its victims, a revision of such heritage may prove inevitable. If the external threat is an illusion, then the internal danger is imminent (Harb 2000).
To study how education affected political stability, this chapter has traced the development of religious theology, identifying historical benchmarks that characteristically witnessed a tension between the liberal and the literal traditions. Depending on the socio-political and historical conditions, there were moments of ebb and flow that favored one tradition over the other. The attempt of the ruling elite to establish theocracy at the beginning of the 10th century, that is, find religious justification for political decisions, has led to the bifurcation of rationality and politics. This gave scientific endeavors a break from the intense heat of politics. It allowed Muslim scientists to excel in all fields, especially during the exceptional period of time referred to as the “Golden Age of Islam” which coincided with the rule of the Abbasids. It did not, however, entice the fagihs to theorize about political institutions. Those who did were executed. Social values such as equality and justice, which were frequently emphasized in the Qur’an and highly emphasized by the Prophet’s companions (salaf), were ignored by Muslim rulers. The rulers preferred to focus on the moral values associated with the religion. Consequently, we notice great emphasis on duties and little or no emphasis on rights, thereby causing a disjuncture also between morality and politics. Although this deemed authoritarian politics ineffective, it brought about an enormous outburst of human qualities: breadth of spirit, tolerance, and deep appreciation of the human condition (Brown 2004; Tibi 2002). The consequence, however, was to leave the moral consciousness of the Muslim to grow in a direction opposite to that of the state. Ever since those early days, rationality and morality in Muslim religion and law have remained two separate tracks. They have failed to interact in a dynamic manner. Neither colonial nor post-colonial state elites, in their effort to stabilize politics, made an attempt to ameliorate this problem. On the contrary, they consciously or unconsciously reinforced it further.
The educational policies espoused by both the French and
the British gave rise to a generation of elites who, in spite of their
ideological differences, were not appreciative to the Sufi heritage. This
caused an ideological polarization that negatively affected political
stability. On the left of the Moroccan spectrum were groups influenced by
French communism and socialism; on the right were groups that took their lead
from the Salafism of the Mashreq. Although in its dialectic with the Mashreq,
“Ideologization” in the form of secular
authoritarianism or religious autocracy inhibits the ability of the state to
move from rhetoric to politics and from politics to policymaking.
Hence, the state misses the opportunity to influence the allocation of values
in a community, reshape its identity, and deepen the normative boundaries of
its moral acceptability. Denying Islam access to the public realm, as in the
The all-encompassing nature of Islam was used by Islamists as a political tool that can defeat secular opposition, as well entice the periphery (sufis) to gravitate toward the center. (This is an old gimmick tried by the Mahdis. It proved especially useless in a modern context where there are demands that the state not only provide spiritual but also material salvation.) Those seeking a revival of tradition and an authentic Islamic state have become inflexible in their interpretation of the Qur’an, leaving them ill equipped to handle matters which have a basis outside the Qur’an and Sunna. Scholars in the early 20th century limited their understanding of ijtihad (independent thinking) to reviving Islam’s liberal thought. Modern scholars regard an epistemological revolution as necessary, according to which Muslims would benefit from modern European thoughts in penetrating the “thick layers of interpretations” that for a long time have stood between the Muslims and their religious text. This is a huge task that cannot be confined within the domains of the academy. It requires an institutional reform that would provide the link between the theology studied by the scholars, the law investigated by genuinely elected legislators, and legal provisions enacted by administrators who are accountable to the public, not a religious guru or secular despot. Ijtihad makes possible the erection of an immutable and fair system that will balance itself by maintaining the levels of jurisdiction of the people, religion, and government. If the people want a strict state, they will choose a strict leadership that will vote on a strict interpretation of the laws. If this does not fit their liking, then the next term they can choose a more lenient government that will vote for a more flexible interpretation of the sharia. It no longer is the role of an ecclesiastical class to draw the moral boundary, but the society’s moral and religious consciousness that is a direct outcome of a philosophically well-balanced educational policy. It is yet to be seen if such an arrangement, when adopted, will produce a socio-historical understanding of sharia that is facilitated by a rational approach of governance.
chapter 4 dealt with the institutional basis of obedience that gave rise to
different regime types in
As they were deeply
torn between the literal and liberal legacies, the elites in both
The principal issue
In doing so, some
governance issues manifest themselves more explicitly than others. I shall
therefore look at the extent to which the countries have been able to maintain political stability, as influenced by
their position along the ideological spectrum that extends from left to right,
and measured in negative terms by the number of coups and political
assassinations that have occurred. There is a direct correlation, as will
become evident in the course of this chapter, between respect for political rights measured in terms of
rights of ethnic and religious minorities and civil liberties measured in terms of rights association, and
expression. The more a country is pressured to guarantee civil groups their
rights in the center, the more it uses an insurgency in the periphery as a
subterfuge to avoid democratization. The reverse is also true. Each country has
had its own governance dynamics, and it is necessary to address in some detail
what has happened in each place before conducting a comparison toward the end
of the chapter. Thus it begins by looking at
The striking point about politics in
The rest of this chapter will trace
A B C D E
Communists SPLA DUP Umma NIF Ansar-Assuna
Lord Kitchener the British army general, who defeated the
Sudanese forces in in the late 1880s, is quoted to have said, “When God created
Although the British proposed secession as a solution for an existent problem, the overwhelming majority among traditional forces (both from the south and the north) chose to postpone the issue until after independence. The vote of southerners was conditioned upon giving the issue of the south special consideration. Among the many options, southern elites thought of regional autonomy as an option that would feasibly diffuse unnecessary tension between the two regions. However, the political rivalries after independence between the two major parties, the DUP and Umma, made them overlook their immediate responsibility of designing a constitutional order that would grant southerners their rights. Moreover, the growing tension between modernists and traditional elites who shared the same party platform reflected negatively on the overall performance of the polity. The modernists depended on the traditionalists to obtain a mandate with which it could rule effectively (Holt and Daly 1988; Kasfir 1977).
The public perceived traditional parties as incapable of constructively channeling their ideological differences (which spanned a reasonable range and were inflated by personality conflicts). The public was especially critical of the democratic government after an insurgency broke in the south in 1955 (Beshir 1974). The insurgents killed “traditional leaders” from their own natives for they accused them of being collaborators with the north. This juxtaposition was necessary if soldiers and junior officers among southerners were to find a political position in an otherwise traditional society that revered its leaders. As we shall see, the more aggression committed by the central authority against its southern citizens, the more authority these “modern” elites would gain. This left traditional authority no option but to succumb to a political agenda that may be antagonistic to its vision of political order. I make this point early on lest the reader assumes that the traditionalism/modernity dichotomy that characterized Sudanese politics for a limited time before and after independence is limited to the north. It includes the south and permeates its politics until today. Nonetheless, it is downplayed in the face of a greater danger –an enemy with a primordial vision that threatens the existence of the southern people as a whole.
As minimal as it was, the insurgency gave the already frustrated political leadership an excuse to wink to the aristocratic leadership of the army to take over power. Without understanding the sectarian logic that dominated the Umma party and Sudanese politics in general, it becomes inconceivable for an observer to understand how an incumbent president would prefer passing power to the army than to allow the continuity of democracy. This was less a moment of personal frustration than it was the wisdom of Abdallah Khalil, the General Secretary of the Umma Party. Khalil thought that without some coercive measures that can draw dissent within a reasonable range, the government will not be able to confront the growing insurgency in the south. Consequently, he handed over power to General Aboud in 1958. This was a smooth transition of power from a civilian president, who is an ex-officer, to a military leader who maintained the hierarchical formation of the army, as well its integrity and non-partisanship.
Along with other high-ranking officers, Aboud created a mission of discipline. Force was the only solution they could offer to the problem in the south. They expelled all the foreign Christian missionaries and started the process of Arabization in the south (Personal Interview, BS, Spring of 2003). This process of Arabization/Islamization, which reached its apex with the arrival of Islamists to power in 1989, would serve no purpose other than boost Christianity in the south. It reached a point where southerners fully identified themselves with Christianity to counteract the imposition of Islam (Deng 2001:15). Except for Communists, who are on the liberal side of the ideological spectrum, most northern elites saw homogenization of cultural identity as a solution to the problem.
While General Aboud used force in the south, he used other
means of coercion in the north. He attempted and succeeded to a certain extent
in bypassing sectarian leaders to their traditional constituency. These
sectarian leaders to some extent were unsatisfied with party politics, and
moreover they perceived the gradually rising modernists elites as threatening
to the socio-political order. Thus, it is fair to say that General Aboud made
no attempt – at least figuratively – to represent influential figures or co-opt
new emerging elites. Unlike Nimeiri and others who followed him in later years,
Aboud didn’t build a “machine of persuasion.” He offered an alternative to
politics, but did not offer an alternative to partisan politics. As sincere and
good intentioned as he was, the general put the elites/masses between two
strict options: a civilian or army rule. Northern elites could be seen to
sympathize with the south. Even Hassan Turabi, who was then a law professor at
The new government with the leadership of Sir al-katim al-Kalifa, Interim President (1964-1965), was delegated the responsibility of arranging a conference that would discuss the southern question, as well as lay ground for a constitution draft that would be approved by an elected parliament. Although it was clearly decided in the Round Table Conference (March 1965) that the south is to be granted some form of federalism that would help it preserve its historical distinction and cultural heritage, northern politicians tried finding ways of escaping their political and moral obligation. In addition to the administrative difficulties that this kind of an arrangement raises, there was a conceptual problem. Somehow they felt that autonomy is a prelude to secession not national integration through voluntary and peaceful means. Muslims would not adjust to the new reality that demanded they relinquish their abstraction of a “community of believers” to expand their imagination/conceptual frame as wide as a “nation of citizens.”
While the leaders of the traditional parties in the north
–of whom toady’s Islamists were a subordinate group– were consumed with the
idea of an Islamic state,
At this moment in history, the country was experiencing a
point of high tension between the political and the religious leaderships of
the Ansar, between the President of the Umma Party and the Imam of the Ansar.
By virtue of being the Imam, Al-Hadi al-Mahdi had full control of the party.
Sadig Al-Mahdi, a recent graduate of
Whether this conspiracy theory holds water or not, the
empirical evidence points to the following facts. First, the heavy handedness
of sectarian leaders was more felt in the Umma party than the DUP, which
explains the frustration of party leaders with parochialism, moreover the
disappointment of democratically elected presidents with civilian rule in
general. It is worth noting that
Second, the Umma was less tolerant of liberal views.
Therefore, it was not receptive to the views of the communist regime that
seemed radical and somehow antagonistic to sectarianism, if not religion. In
addition to the nationalist component, there was the regional fervor of
Naserism (and the agitation of the Cold War) that supported –though
inadvertently– the rise of radicals against conservative forces all over the
Arab world. It even supported Nimeiri’s regime by sending him a fleet of
combatant aeroplanes that annihilated an estimate of 12,000 of the Ansar in
their presumed rebellion against the regime in
This is a point of high tension in the history of Sudanese politics. Given its political instability, the regime resorted to force in suppressing dissent. Therefore it violated the civil liberties of citizens in the north and left the south skeptical about the feasibility of obtaining its political rights in such turmoil. The state’s ability to govern in the Muslim world is very much dependent on its willingness to cultivate Islamic heritage. However, it was not clear how such objective can be achieved while being tolerant of “divergent” views. The lack of tolerance of the right of liberal views –emanating mainly from the Communist Party– created a violent response from the left. This not only thwarted democratic proceedings, but was also intolerant of literal views embraced by the majority of the population.
adopted a version of secularism (totalitarianism) that dismissed all
traditional parties and assumed control of the public sphere. They infused a
revolutionary fervor that treated as incompatible the conception of modern
reality and the adherence to traditional views. Arab nationalism was
emphasized, in the media and educational curricula, at the expense of religious/traditional
values. In addition to thwarting the dialectic between the society and the
state, this ideological imposition of political views stressed the relationship
between the center and the periphery. This was evident in the great welcome that
Nimeiri received in all regions of
The communists ideologically supported Nimeiri’s coup d’etat, but they could see he was not swiftly adopting their policy initiatives. Nimeiri felt the Communist Party’s program was too radical. He could envision the danger of following a Leninist approach in a conservative society such as the Sudanese society –one in which politics was more of a consensual exercise that followed a bottom-up pattern than a top-down trickle approach. The failed attempt of 1971 by the communists cadre to topple Nimeiri’s regime has given him popularity in a society that had distaste for radicalism (Personal Interview, AM, Spring of 2003), regardless of its ideological twist. This earned him the support of the regional and international community.
It is to this kind of mandate that Nimeiri responded,
especially after he lost the ideological support of the Communist Party in
1971, that made him move to the middle of the ideological spectrum. In the city
The process of Islamization included changing civil laws
(the penal code was introduced at later stages) and dismissing socialist
jargons (not necessarily abandoning socialist programs, but withdrawing support
of some radical reform strategies). These civil laws were infused during the
time of the communists –Nimeiri’s early partners. Family laws, such as
marriage, divorce, adoption, and inheritance arrangements, were Islamic since
the time of the British (1916). This applied to
Nimeiri wanted to
advance the Sharia while paying
careful attention to the issue of national unity. His continuity in power (and
others to come) depended greatly on stopping the civil war in the south (Kasfir
1977). He tried enticing southern elites to join in ministerial positions
(similar to the trick attempted by traditional political leaders). But these
southern elites refused to join without a clear position of Nimeiri’s regime
from the problem of the south. Nimeiri was quick to adopt the terms that were
reached for by political leaders –at the time of democracy before he attempted
his coup d’etat– in the Round Table Conference. He signed the Addis Ababa
Agreement on June 9, 1973, under the auspices of Emperor Haile Selassie and
some Christian missionaries from the
According to a cabinet minister, Nimeiri’s regime resembled a moment of harmony (if not the only one) in the relationship between the north and the south (Personal Interview. AS. Spring of 2003). The diffused tension has facilitated cultural integration in an unprecedented manner in the history of the nation. An eyewitness says that the first time he attended the commencement at the University of Juba, it was opened by a reading from the Bible; a year later, this same informant saw in addition a southern youth –wearing the traditional dress of Al-Azahar religious scholars– reciting some verses from the Qur’an. To his surprise, in the evening AS saw the same ladies who only last year wore suksuk in the trim-trim (traditional dance) enjoying the breeze of the occasion with Sudanese saris. AS emphatically explains, “what more of an acculturation do these Islamists want?”
As a vice president, Abil Lair (southern politician)
attended Ramadan dinners wearing the turban and Muslim garment (Jalabia) out of respect for the feelings
of northern officers at officers club in
According to an
education scholar, primary students, for example, in the south were taught up
to the third grade certain subjects in their own mother’s dialect, along with
Arabic (Personal Interview, JO, Spring of 2003). This was stopped in 1983 when
Nimeiri announced the September (Sharia)
laws and started the process of homogenization that advocated Arabic as the
only mean of communication in classrooms. What pushed Nimeiri along an
ideological route, which made him renege on the Addis Ababa Agreement? This
agreement was his paramount political achievement –one that for sometime stood
out as an African success story. It gave
To explain this we need to first study the behavior of the agent from an anthropological perspective. Second, we need to scrutinize the structural factors that supported the regime and which came into contradiction the more Nimeiri advanced to the right of the ideological path.
Nimeiri became a devout disciple (mureed) of the renowned Sheik As-Sharif Mohamed Al-Ameen Al-Khatemi, and visited the sheik’s city, Karkoug, in major religious ceremonies. For as long as As-Sharif Al-Khatemi was alive, he ensured that the moral recovery of the president from alcoholism and the brutal killing of his communists colleagues in 1971 would not become a plight for the nation. He tried to redeem himself by expediting the process of Islamization. After the death of his sheik, Sharif Mohamed Alameen, Nimeiri moved into religious dogma. By this time, he was a political orphan who needed adoption. A clique of urban sheiks, dogmatic clerics, and loyal legal advisors provided him exactly this opportunity (Duran 1985). This was a precarious move that brought the whole system to a halt.
Nimeiri was especially devastated when traditional leaders
–mainly from Umma, DUP, and Muslim brotherhoods– attempted a coup d’etat with
the financial and logistic help of Colonel Kadaffi in 1976. Nimeiri decried
this as an invasion and incursion on national sovereignty since the machinery
was transported to
As a descendent of a prominent Sufi Sheik, Sharif Hussein had an appeal in the periphery, mainly Sufi orders that resided within the
locus of Sudanese politics (which, as I said many times, was a bit off-centered
due to the colonial legacy that favored some and excluded others), and
merchants who until then had economic power in the center (Cudsi 1983). Nimeiri
did not get political support at the time when it was most needed. He did not
get it from Sufis to whom he
distributed spoils or from the
This is a critical juncture in the history of
Rebels made their case clear to the international community
that started becoming alert of the phenomenon of Islamic revivalism.
They attacked oil refineries in the south. After incurring human and material
loses, Chevron –the American oil company– reconsidered its investment in
What do we need to understand about the relationship between religion and politics that makes us recognize that an imbalance can be detrimental to both? Nimeiri’s regime endured all sorts of contradictions that were fully exploited at the trial of Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. Taha questioned the credibility of the Imam and challenged the authenticity of his “Islamic doctrine.” The execution of Taha exposed the moral and political bankruptcy of the regime (Personal Interview, AS, Spring of 2003). Nimeiri was eager to use force, but the Sudanese people gave him no further cause to do that (Personal Interview. KZ. Spring of 2003). He was ousted 72 later. The fervor of religion, however, was not going to wane.
The April Intefada (1985) interrupted the efforts of Turabi
and his group to have a full and unchallenged grip of the state, as they had
started infiltrating Nimeiri’s regime since the time of the National
Reconciliation in 1977 (Holt and Daly 1988; Warburg in Voll 1991). While all
other Sudanese parties were financially and politically exhausted, the National
Islamic Front (NIF) utilized resources it accumulated over the years to
influence the direction of events from this point onwards (Personal Interview,
KZ, Spring of 2003). The leader of the SPLA, John Garank, was one of the few
intellectuals who saw the interim period (1985-1987) as a continuity of
Nimeiri’s regime. To say the least the leaders of the interim period,
1985-1986, had neither the will nor the vision to resolve any of
In the limited time they had, the army officers, along with
the civilians, who were ruling the
country made a careless move of providing pastoralist groups, mainly Arabs of
Previous administrations were careful not to exploit the
cleavages because they well understood that its inflammatory nature could bring
the nation to ruins and ashes. At the time of his hallucination (with Islam),
Nimeiri referred to the conflict as nothing but “insurgency.” He understood the
tensions underlying the conflict and particularly avoided agitating them. In
this sense, Nimeiri was a good ruler. It was only after the demise of his
regime that the
In the course of 16 years Nimeiri fired 300 officers, only
those expected of conspiring against the regime. Basheer fired 3,000 officers
and replaced them with an Islamist cadre (Personal Interview. YAY. Spring of
2003). Most of these officers were not affiliated with any party. Their only
crime was that they probably belonged to a region, such as the Baghara of
A prominent member
of the southern elite said, “his insecurity is increased by the silence of his
neighbors, meaning the people of west
My best guarantee to peace, development, unity, and security is to see all regions demanding their rights. For justice to prevail, things must be done on the basis of citizenship. Today we notice somebody is wise enough –less than being a god– to decide on our behalf. This is not acceptable. (Personal Interview. AL. Spring of 2003)
It was not until the plague of
subjugation and economic injustice reached them that the people of western (and
As soon as the interim period (1985-1986) was over and democratic leaders were elected, the SPLA reinstated its terms of negotiations with northern leaders in a clear and inconspicuous manner. The stipulations were as follows: 1) removal of September laws (it is not actually the Sharia laws as much as the grievances that followed it); 2) cancellation of military pacts with Libya and Egypt to avoid regionalization or internationalization of the conflict, especially since northern leaders are accusing Garank of having clandestine deals with Israel; and 3) holding a national conference to discuss urgent issues (Personal Interview. JO. Spring of 2003).
Neither the Umma nor the DUP succeeded in confronting the masses with the importance of reconsidering these laws to at least questioning their validity from an Islamic perspective. Parties that depended on Islam for a popular mandate could not approach the issue of September laws with political or even intellectual objectivity for it was their source of mobilization at three levels: the sect, the nation, and the Umma. Influenced by Islamic Revivalism, which was then prevailing throughout the Muslim world, all national parties –except for Southern Parties and obviously the Communist Party- advocated an Islamic agenda for the national election of 1987: “Islamic Enlightenment” (sahwa) was the platform of the Umma Party, and “Democratic Islam” that of the DUP. Salih asserts,
The majority of the Umma, some DUP elements, the NIF, and a few other minor northern parties, wanted to maintain the supremacy of the northern Sudanese Muslims and to retain Islamic law in one form or another. They were opposed by the southern and other regional parties, together with the ‘left’ and secular organizations, and increasingly by the liberal wing of the DUP, and this camp generally believed that an equitable end to the war had to be followed by the return to a united secular and heterogeneous Sudan, in which the non-Muslim regions would have a large measure of autonomy. (Salih 1990:214)
Said Mohamed Osman, in his capacity as a party leader and under pressure from his party members (who were more on the liberal side of the spectrum), made a daring move and approved the meeting of his people with the leader of the SPLA. He started bi-lateral negotiations with Garank and in the course of six months, more precisely, June 16, 1988, they agreed that all issues are to be confronted in a national conference that could decide about the constitution and legally related issues including the September laws. (The conference was supposed to take place on August 16, 1989, and the NIF attempted its coup d’etat July 30, 1989.) Failure of Sadig Al-Mahdi as the prime minister to give the treaty the required mandate, out of sheer personal jealousy or personal weakness, gave the NIF the opportunity to decry it in the eyes of the public (Personal Interview. YAY. Spring of 2003).
Although Nimeiri took political measures toward the end of tenure that disturbed the balance of power, his regime was imbued with political stability (it is considered less stable than Aboud’s and more stable than Bashir’s). He violated the civil liberties of people in the north, but did not attempt to completely thwart the opposition. Nimeiri maintained his ties with southerners, who nonetheless doubted his ability to grant them their political rights now that his legitimacy became questionable in the south. Southerners always had to make a tradeoff between legitimacy and effectiveness. They can either strike a deal with a military officer, who has the will to enact an agreement but lacks the legitimacy, or reach for agreement with civilians who have the legitimacy but cannot sustain their will in the face of local turmoil or agitation from neighboring countries.
Toward the end of Nimeiri’s regime, the Sudanese polity was
disoriented. The parties had especially lost touch with reality (unlike Aboud’s
regime which only continued for only six years, Nimeiri’s regime lasted 16
years). Neither the state nor the political parties had enough resources,
needless to say intellectual stimuli, to design strong institutions that could
mediate between society and the state. Although the democratic government tried
being accommodative, it did not provide a liberal enough a vision that could
accommodate the south, nor was it capable of channeling emotionalism that was
increasing with the rise of Islamic revivalism. In the absence of an
appropriate institutional arrangement, both at the national level and the party
proliferation of democratic values proved detrimental to the issue of political
While traditional leaders opted to obtain military support
from the Arab world,
Garank was gaining ground in neighboring countries. The
escalation of the war in the south weakened the ability of the state to exert
coercion that would contain dissension within a reasonable range. The more
polarized the political environment became the more difficult it was to keep
the internal conflicts from going beyond the constraints of the national
boundaries. Consequently, the southern agenda was articulated by the
International Authority for Drought and Development (IGAD), the northern agenda manipulated by
the Egyptian-Libyan authorities. The NIF portrayed such a stretch as a
compromise of national sovereignty. It vowed publicly to take necessary
measures to secure the safety of peasants who were increasingly intimidated by
Chadian forces crossing the boundaries of Darfur/western
The fogginess of the political environment caused by these
fumes, that is, radical proximity between Islamists and Mahdists, encouraged
the SPLA –by way of testing the political will of an unstable regime led by a
poor administrator and an unaccredited Mullah, Sadig Al-Mahdi– to attack the
city of Naser (in a remote boundary area). Islamists created a fuss about this
incident as soon as they were removed from power. They claimed the morale of
the army was consumed by the government’s acceptance of secular views that
aimed at cancellation of the Sharia and inclusion of an “Imperialist agent.” It
was only under pressure from the army that President Al-Mahdi excluded the
Islamists and hurried to form a coalition with southern parties and the DUP. By
then it too was late because the NIF attempted its coup d’etat only a few
months after the formation of the new government (whose main objective, as
mentioned earlier was to pave the way to a national conference). The National
Islamic Front, in collaboration with an Islamist cadre in the army, aborted the
democratic experience in the evening of July 30th 1989. It vowed to
suppress the rebellion in southern
The decade and a half to follow highlights the major
distinctions in their approach to Islam between the parties in the center and
those to the right side of the ideological spectrum. Rather than adjusting
their vision to fit the Sudanese reality, Islamists tried adjusting
Unlike the time of Nimeiri when Turabi had to share power with the Sufis, communists, and bureaucratic figures, at this point he ruled as he pleased. He brought an “Islamic cadre” to all public institution and fired those whom he perceived as opponents or being neutral. Ideological commitment of governmental agents became of paramount importance. Army personnel (and police) were replaced with loyalists for fear of future military coup d’etats. To allow for programs to be carried out effectively, the bureaucracy was infiltrated with party members who spared no effort to eliminate all rules of transparency or accountability, which could hinder the attainment of personal wealth or secure privileges that party members could pay back without the need of promissory notes (Personal Interview. MK. Spring of 2003). The capitalist or pre-capitalist class, which is said to have received preferential treatment over the peasants at the time of Nimeiri was now completely eliminated. (Nimeiri was steadfast in maintaining his grip on his power, however, according to the opinion of his opponents -among those he detained and persecuted –he did not favor any group over another.) Even if peasants in the past did not receive the profit they deserved, they at least got enough to survive.
To have a fair
assessment of the misery that befell the population of
In addition to the
extreme weather conditions, the lack of attempts by the Sudanese
authorities to provide the peasants with resources that can improve their crop
productivity has made the population of western
On page 292 of the report from the
The reluctance of the state elites to provide service to
the poor has definitely added to the plight of the whole nation.
What is especially disturbing is the distribution of economic benefits, which
has revealed racist preferences on the part of the decision-makers. Kabag’s
examination of the distribution of health facilities per 100,000 citizens in
2000 reveals that although Darfur’s contribution to the national income is 6
percent, it is assigned one-fifth the number of doctors assigned to northern
By dominating politics and the economy, the NIF has
eliminated student, labor, and professional unions, and bureaucratic figures
and economic elites as the backbone of the civil society. Thus, it has
relinquished the link that the Sudanese (autocratic) state traditionally
maintained with society (Personal Interview. AB. Spring of 2003). The NIF has
marginalized traditional parties that sustained a spiritual link with the
has left the northern parties —even some
southern groups– with no alternative but to fall in the arms of Garank.
Consequently, all opposition leaders met in
The treaty of 2003 calls for an immediate end of the
fighting and allows the SPLA to share power with the current regime.
Furthermore, it gives southerners the right to choose self-determination after
a period of six years.
The treaty has come in a timely manner because both parties are exhausted (the
war has consumed the lives of at least 2 million), the regional powers want to
stabilize the Horn of Africa to avoid turbulence in their own backyard, and the
West wants to have access to the oil reserves in southern and western
To guarantee political immunity for themselves, the ruling
junta risked the country’s national interest to the same groups that they long
denounced as imperialists, expansionists, and dubious entities long
contaminated with the incurable vice of greed. In the course of 16 years, this
group has oppressed Sudanese society, has attempted the assassination of
neighboring leaders, and has harbored groups in terrorist camps. These
activities, however, came to an end after the dramatic events in
As the head of the legislative branch, Hassan Al-Turabi
suggested some changes that could take
President Omar Al-Basheer resisted loosening his grip of power and took the step to put Turabi in jail. He announced his nation relieved of the constraints of dogma. To make up for the void of the political and religious guru, the regime appealed to groups, for instance Muslim Brotherhoods and Ansar Assuna, that for a long time had resisted being part of the amalgamate of ideas (secular, and non-secular) that Turabi used to give his rule a modern/liberal appeal.
In an attempt to maintain its power, the defunct group
–Turabi and his gang– supported the “blacks” of
The NIF had high aims of obtaining parliamentary seats in
This fight contributed to debilitate the social and
political bond among populations. Who by virtue of their economic interdependence,
intermarriage, religion, and so forth, these populations had lived in peaceful
coexistence for more than four centuries.
This section shows that with the coming of the NIF to
What are the conclusions one can be drawn about governance
is not independent of underlying structural conditions. Not everything can
therefore be blamed on the political leaders. Much must be explained with
reference to these structural factors. As with other countries that are
characterized by multiple ethnicities and religions,
The discovery of oil and its expanding
role in the economy might be seen as a counterfactor, but oil is as much a
curse as a blessing. Much of the fighting between the north and the south has
been over control of areas supposedly containing oil reserves. It has
exacerbated political instability, and despite the recent agreement between
Garank and the government in
CHAPTER IN ISLAMIC COUNTRIES: THE CASE OF
Chapter 5, I showed that
This chapter explains that the Moroccan political system
went through three main development stages. In the first phase, radical forces
were crushed in the name of protecting Islamic identity from the evils of
socialism (1972). In
the second phase, change in the regional and international circumstances
encouraged national players to demand political freedom that was overcome
through the articulation of the baia’
as a religious oath. This oath made to the Leader of the faithful (1975), who
is also the king, to claim an “annexed Muslim land” —
A French scholar is reputed to have said everything – and
therefore nothing – changes in
I identify three phases in
A B C D E
Development Socialist Istiglal Party Justice & Dev Just& Bene
Hassan II assumed authority in 1961. Unlike his father, who
was content by being a fatherly figure for a political life managed by the
The political leaders, as astute as they were, were not
oblivious to what the young king was doing. They realized that his scheme would
have a profound impact on the design of the political landscape. They
nonetheless could not perceive of a move that would stop him from marginalizing
them without disrupting the social order, which Istiglal Party very much
resisted. The left, as we shall see, confronted the king militarily. When that
attempt failed it mobilized its intellectual and popular forces to resist the
king’s incursion in the public domain. A trustee of King Hassan II, a loyalist
of France, Mohamed Aoofghair, attempted a coup d’etat against Hassan II in
1972. The failed coup which gave the
king the mandate he needed to present himself as a protector of the “Muslim
identity.” This attempted coup consolidated his coalition with the popular
–not political– right that had become distrustful of the effort by the left
to forcefully want to impose its vision over a conservative society. Most
importantly, international forces perceived Hassan II as a bulwark against the
march to the left in
Whereas the king managed to promote himself as a secular and a rational leader in the international arena, he cleverly used the media machinery to present himself as the savior of the Umma (nation) at the national level, that is, as a traditional leader. After all, he managed, at least temporarily, to rebut the left. In addition to his personal charisma, Hassan II capitalized on a long tradition of spiritual central authority to affirm such an image. To the extent that the king is believed to be a sharif and a scholar (he had undergone traditional pedagogical training), his close associates contend that baraka (blessing) was transmitted to him by Sheik Hamza who was a master of the boutsheshya sufi order. Before passing his last breath, the sufi sheik told his mureeds (students of a spiritual leader) that the king will be saved from an air strike –the work of the communists– aimed at ending his life. The sheik entrusted them with a masbaha (a set of beetles that Catholics and Sufi Muslims use for invocation of the name of the Lord or Allah) that they should deliver to King Hassan II. Metaphorically speaking, the gift indicates that Al-Hassan II is a continuity of the sheik’s spiritual duty, or so it was be perceived.
The compound institutional heritage put its prints on the
personality of Hassan II, that is, the all-encompassing influence of religion,
which gave him little choice but to embrace a traditional role while being
secular at heart. Though the king was aligned politically with the right, he
was intellectually closer to the left, given his upbringing and academic
training. It was only a matter of time before he completely thwarted the
authority of the right (Tuzi 1999), and harshly oppressed the left (so long as
it did not recognize him as a central constitutional figure). Hassan II was
unable, however, to overcome the political opposition altogether. Consequently,
he faced a severe opposition from the left that had intellectual weight among
university students and professors, professional and labor unions, and so
forth. Unlike the left in any other part of the Muslim world, the Moroccan left
had popular support. It enjoyed considerable presence in all cultural domains:
art, music, literature, and scholarly circles. Much of this presence can be
explained by the colonial legacy already discussed in Chapter 4. The
intellectual activity one notices in
Historically speaking, the French had tried to draw an
ethnic demarcation between the Berbers and the Arabs. When, the French failed
they settled for an erection of a linguistic divide. They preached Christianity
to the Berbers, whom they felt would be less devout to Islam –for no clear
reason other than they were non-Arabic speakers. This was a bold but largely
unsuccessful move that impacted the Moroccan psyche and disoriented the
nationalist educational plans for years to come. Nationalist leaders reacted by
boycotting the colonial educational system. Istiglal Party elites, who
basically received religious education at
The battle over cultural rights continued after independence by the left which thought that it could resist the oppressive attitude of the political authority. While the political right supported the king in defeating the left, it also compromised its own political rights. Apart from organized elites, most groups preferred indirect involvement in politics, occasionally not paying attention to the violation that this passive attitude may cause against their own identity rights. Al-Housaein and Aza (2001:114) mention the story of a Moroccan lady who came to visit her son who was held in custody for some political activity. The guard instructed her to speak in Arabic, knowing that she spoke no language other than Berber. Such humiliation made many Moroccans react not only to the authoritarian approach of the state but also to the Arabic language in general. The solidarity that the Berbers exemplified in their resistance to the process of homogenization, which was attempted by the French, was mistaken by Arab nationalists as an acceptance of cultural dominance or forgetfulness of language rights (Al-Housaein and Aza 2001:59). It was not a resistance to the Arabic language as much as it was a refusal of the ideological approach that promoted it at the expense of suppressing other cultures.
Berber elites kept fighting for their right for almost five decades. It was not until the modernist model of development became obsolete that the Berbers succeeded in getting the authorities to listen. Again, as with most of the issues that I discuss in this chapter, it was sealed behind an ideological curtain. When released, it got caught up in the tension between Islamism –a term that for some reason became equivalent to Arabism– and secularism which thought of expressing itself in any language other than that of the Qur’an. Hassan’s successor as monarch, Mohamed VI, assigned a committee to decide upon the mechanism of incorporating the Amazigh/Berber heritage. This committee was an amalgamate of activists, politicians, and scholars who are specialists in this field (Personal Interview. AJ. Fall of 2003). The decision to teach the Amazigh language in Roman-like letter (tafinag), a language that is supposed to be non-partisan, paid more attention to the political quarrel over this issue than to true policy objectives. According to one prominent educator, by choosing the Roman alphabet, the Amazigh language has lost its connection to more than 26 Arab countries that could have bolstered its ability to revive itself (Personal Interview. AJ. Fall of 2003). Even the Arabic language, he pursues, is likely to become more a means of communication than a medium of scientific authentication. Therefore, economic necessity, along with the cultural diversity, has challenged the ideological constraints of the Arabization/Islamization scheme.
The period of nationalist governance in
The fact that the king came to enjoy both a religious and a political legitimacy was not trouble-free. It raised the concern of many as to the nature of the constitution: Is it secular, religious, or both? The many politicians I interviewed gave me a different answer. Even those who belong to the same party differed in their assessment of the constitution. As expected, politicians on the left side of the spectrum highlight the secular nature of the constitution. Those on the middle –mainly Independence Party– try to bring out the religious/spiritual component of it, although from a historical perspective; those on the right, finally, approach it from a purely religious/theocratic point of view. The Development and Socialist Party –Communist Party on the left end of the spectrum– puts more emphasis on the unwritten aspect of the constitution (see Chart 6.1), that is, the authority of the king to work out the tension between religious and secular demands, rather than on the provisions of the document. The Socialist Union sees the constitution Islamic only in terms of allegiance (baia’) but not in a legal sense. Independence Party considers Islam as one of the main sources of legislation. The Justice and Development Party, which is the Islamist party on the right side of the spectrum, attempts to rejuvenate the Islamic nature of the constitution. The Just and Benevolence Group considers Islam the only source of legislation (Personal Interview. KN, MA, NK, MR, and FA. Fall of 2003). It seems the constitution is purposely left ambiguous to allow the king room for maneuver: He can choose to activate the religious aspect when needed, and also downplay it whenever necessary.
When the demand for political freedom increased in the
1970s, King Hassan II restored the tradition of the baia’ (oath of
allegiance), which in the past was limited to religious scholars and
chieftains. He expanded it to include army generals, politicians, and
bureaucrats. This revived an old Islamic tradition, which assumes that the
believers are obligated to obey the Leader of the Faithful at all times. This
is one of the many incidents in which there is more emphasis on duties than
rights, applicable especially in circumstances such as when the sovereignty of
a Muslim land comes under attack or becomes disputed. In the absence of an
authentic claim, the Moroccan king articulated the baia’ to indicate
that the Muslim population of the
Under the terms of the
However under pressure from the
Central to the thinking of Hassan II was his attempt to manage the public realm as a sanctuary. He did not allow any religious activity to escape his attention. He did not interfere with activities of a secular nature that may have directly violated the Islamic creed. For instance, according to one informant, as the Society of Moroccan Astronomers was scheduled to meet in one of the university yards to discuss the sighting of the moon, as it relates to the month of Ramadan, the group was denied the right of assembly. On the day of the meeting, the minister of Religious Affairs, Abd al-Kabeer al-Madgari, asserted that the topic was the sole responsibility of the Leader of the Faithful (Personal Interview. MB. Fall of 2003). It is not clear as to how the contribution of some academic scholars would interfere with the authority of the king, who is also the Head of the Council of Islamic jurisprudence (mufti). The general assumption would be that such advice can only inform his decisions better. Some argue that Al-Madgari may have acted on his own, but his behavior falls in line with the attitude of the state toward civil society and its attempt to nationalize religion. Thus, it is not likely to be a coincidence.
To the extent that such an approach homogenizes the public
opinion (especially as it relates to issues of a religious nature) and eliminates
dissent, it deprives religion of its ability to enrich intellectual debate or
enhance public morality. It is not clear whether Hassan II established Islamic
scholarly circles (Al-Majalis Al-elmya)
to initiate and encourage deliberation among people or different groups or if
he has done so merely to create the illusion of debate. Abbas Al-Jarari, a
distinguished Moroccan educator, contends that the attitude of members in
various scholarly circles presents a golden opportunity for dialogue between
secularly educated elites and religious scholars, between the Imams and the
public. The absence of such a dialogue exposes the country to misunderstanding
and the potential danger of extremism (Personal Interview. AJ. Fall of 2003).
The attempts to herd people within the confinement of Islamic orthodoxy have
failed. While showing conservatism, the government does not wish to lose the
income it indirectly receives from hasheesh
(drugs) that gets transported to
The main point, however, is that Moroccans experience pressure to conform to the norms of the state (and the society) that are becoming increasingly Western, liberal, and dogmatically secular (Personal Interview. MB. Fall of 2003). To reconcile conflicting cultural (or moral) codes, people compartmentalize life into temporal and spatial domains to suit different styles of life or simply adjust the moral code to their level of comfort. In the introductory chapter of his book, Monarchy and Political Islam in Morocco, Tuzi speaks of an old lady who started praising Allah the moment she felt her airplane was experiencing air turbulent, but as soon as the plane stabilized, she asked for a glass of whiskey (Tuzi 1999). A Western man sitting next to her saw the contradiction in such behavior by a Muslim believer, so he asked her for an explanation. She answered: God’s Praise is good for my soul and the whisky is good for my health. This is a simple reflection of the way the society handles the issue of spirituality and the issue of religion. An observer cannot find any people who are as religiously devout as Moroccans during the months of Ramadan or the time of Pilgrimage. However, as soon as the month is over, men and women leave their traditional dress to Western cloth and enjoy life as they please the rest of the year.
This is less the problem of the Moroccan society than of a
dysfunctional political system. The system unnecessarily ties individuals
between two poles without providing them the means to educate their religiosity
or change corrupt social norms to meet their convictions or moral standards. It
is often said that King Hassan protected the Moroccan “Muslim Identity” at the
time when the country faced difficult challenges (Personal Interview. DK. Fall
of 2003). It can be argued, however, that Moroccans preserved their Islamic
identity in spite of Hassan II and not because of him. Hassan II depended on
religiosity to carry the traditional crowd and intellectualism to convince the
modern audience. To make himself indispensable, he purposely kept the two
This succeeded at the cost of completely deriding the energy of the public
realm. With the tension of the Cold War diffusing, international monetary
agencies began to exert pressure on
The changes were seen as more far-reaching than previous
challenges to his authority. The king knew that it was time for a politically
authentic figure, somebody who is credible in the eye of the public so he
called on the leader of the Socialist Union, Al-Yousifi, as the man to carry
responsibility for the reforms. Since he had opposed the regime for more than
two decades denouncing the “triumph of capitalism,” who would be more credible
than him? But why would someone like Al-Yousif take responsibility for
introducing changes he ideologically had opposed for more than two decades?
Demands to introduce genuine democratic changes had been resisted by the king
in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, however, there was a resurgence of Islam in neighboring
To counter the weight of the left, the king gave Islamists the permission to establish their own party under the supervision of Abdel-Kabeer Al-kateeb, a loyalist of the palace who had sympathy to the right. The king also allowed the establishment of an Islamic party –after adamantly refusing for 20 years– to avoid having an opposition outside the system that is purely Islamic (Personal Interview. BK. Fall of 2003). This would have put conservative Islam, of which he is the representative, against political ideological Islam that the Justice and Development Party and Just and Benevolence Group represented. In addition to it heightening the tension, this juxtaposition would affirm the progressive image that the king had long been so keen to portray. As much as possible, the king wanted to reduce Islam to a religion (thus denying the presence of a political Islam) when it became necessary to accept its inclusion in politics. However, he did it in such a way that he divided the Islamists into moderates and radicals. The Justice and Development Party was admitted into the system (see Chart 6.1). But the Just and Benevolence Group was denied the right to participate for no other reason than its refusal to recognize the monarch as a legitimate entity (Personal Interview. FA. Fall of 2003). The Makzn remains sensitive to the opposition of the Just and Benevolence Party.
Far from being resolved, the ambiguities in the
Constitution became clear in the draft of 1996. As it existed, the Constitution
had an open-ended clause that indicated that Islam is the religion of the
state. With the exception of the Independence Party and Islamists who were not
in the Parliament, all parties wanted to exclude a close-ended clause that
states, ‘No law should be issued that contradicts the sharia.’ The king
interfered to remove this clause. As ambiguous as it was on this issue, the
Constitution was nonetheless signed (Personal Interview. MB. Fall of 2003).
Thus, the Islamists in
developed in different domestic economic and
political environment, followed different patters (than those of the Mashreg),
and received different responses from their respective states. In general, the
development and expression of the Islamist opposition in the
The advent of Islamic revivalism has made it difficult for
any leader to reduce Islam to a religion (or religion to dogma) and deny its
social and political utility. Establishing an Islamic bank has for a long time
been the aim of Islamic groups, but it was not until the time of the tawafug (a political compromise that
occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s) that they could bring it to the
attention of the king. Islamists almost convinced the king of the idea of the
Wafa Islamic Bank, which was intended to provide small or mid-level investors
with non-interest loans, but he backed off in the last moments for political
and economic reasons. He may not have wanted to give credit to Islamists.
Besides, there is always the difficulty of having banking systems operate in
the same country under two different laws, an issue that is currently being
King Hassan II wanted to experiment with an issue that is technically less complex, politically not sensitive, and can help alleviate economic hardship. At one of the Hassani lessons (sessions held during the month of Ramadan at the Masjid of the Tomb), he expressed the government’s interest in wanting to administer the Zakat. Zakat is the amount of money (2.5 percent of annual income) that the Qur’an stipulates the rich should give to the poor. If distributed reasonably, this money is believed to contribute to resolving part of the problem of the poor (Personal Interview. AJ. Fall of 2003). However, the mechanism of collecting –as well as distributing– it has become problematic in a modern context that requires rationalizing/institutionalizing governmental actions. A committee, for instance, was formed to investigate the relationship between Zakat and tax (Personal Interview. AT. Fall of 2003). A school professor, who for more than a quarter of a century spearheaded the efforts to institutionalize the Zakat, says neither the first minister nor the minister of Religious Affairs commented on their written proposal or interviewed them to verbally elaborate on the subject (Personal Interview. MB. Fallof 2003). He became convinced that while the king may have been “genuine,” conservatives in the government wanted to have full monopoly over what Islam really means. This has become evident in the handling of other issues, which, as apolitical as they may seem, reflected the social and economic utility of Islam. The Makzn sought to become the facilitator and guarantor of a principled outcome rather than assume a direct participatory role, that is, if they had other alternatives, given the change in political circumstances. Consequently, the Makzn had done as way with hardliners. Not long after the death of his father, King Mohamed IV excused Abd al-kabeer al-Madgari from the ministerial duties of the religious affairs that he controlled over three decades. Nonetheless, this would not suffice to eliminate the contradictory nature of the Moroccan political system (Tuzi 1999; Hammoudi 1997; Sabeela 2000; Layachi in Lacey and Coury 2000).
Once the nationalist spirit had given rise to more
immediate and practical concerns in the 1970s, the issues of governing
The main exception to what has just been said about
Ironically, it was the
Although Europeans had always admired the king’s moderate
policies, they have in recent years conditioned their economic partnership on
political freedoms. This means that slowly and incrementally, democratic
procedures have been introduced. Such reforms have helped attract investments
and paved the way toward economic integration in the global economy. Vermeren
asserts that any incorporation in the global economy, at least for
This kind of economic activity comes with its own cultural baggage. For instance, it brings with it a liberal attitude that challenges the literalist (moral/political) boundaries imposed by the state. Hassan II managed to infuse his version of conservatism so long as he handled a state-oriented economy, that is, during the 1960s and 1970s. The advance of the liberal economy in subsequent decades has transformed the relationship between society and state. It has provided individuals with some level of independence that enhances their capabilities to demand political and cultural rights. Globalization has provided opportunities — in terms of communication across national boundaries– for individuals, civil society actors, and international organizations to exercise influence over policy. These opportunities have necessitated revising the contract that long governed the relationship between children and their parents, husbands and wives, women and men in the wider public realm, not to forget the one between subjects and ruler. Before Mohamed V became King in 1999, the state –through the hegemonic influence of Hassan II– had been reluctant to revise its relationship with the citizenry. Instead, as previously discussed, it was mainly concerned with managing the horizontal relations at the elite level.
With the changing economic and social conditions, it became evident, for instance, that the Mudawana, which handles family laws from an Islamic perspective, needed to undergo basic revisions. As soon as the left could get into office, it took upon its shoulders the responsibility of making these revisions. Although they were sensitive to the cultural issues, the communists perceived the economic factors that determine the social relationships in the Moroccan society as paramount. The right was not oblivious to the economic reality but preferred to operate along the cultural component to make what it thought would be quick political gains, while gradually seeking autonomy from the Istiglal Party.
As expected, the left proposed a dry program that concentrated on policy issues and as much as possible avoided value-related topics that it ruled out as emotional, but which were of importance to the public. Influenced by the experience of Islamic activists in other countries, Moroccan Islamist parties adopted secular names instead of titles that signaled religious affiliation, for example, the National Islamic Front, but they do not to seem to have changed their agenda. The right, mainly the Justice and Development Party –because the Just and Benevolence Group is prevented from political participation, gave Islamic issues (such as public morality, and Islamic laws) paramount importance. But the right also gave policy matters a low profile. The Independence Party could not strike the balance between policy and cultural authenticity so it missed playing a role it was mostly qualified for, both from a historical and political perspective. By concentrating more on political pragmatism, it ignored religious emotionalism, which, according to a prominent politician in the party, characterized leaders of the caliber of A’lal Al-Fasi (Personal Interview. KG. Fall of 2003). As a result, it shied away from criticizing the Makzn’s “conservative” agenda, and could not articulate a program passionately enough to reverse the apathy of the Moroccan public.
Saeed Assa’di, a communist who was the secretary of Women and Family Affairs in 1999, proposed a plan, which was radical, according to the opinion of most conservative Moroccans, for the “inclusion of women” in inheritance. (Personal Interview. SO. Fall of 2003). It put forward the issue of revising laws of inheritance, which give women half of what men receive from the will of the deceased parent (or at least that is what the plan chooses to highlight). It proposed changing divorce laws that are oppressive. It suggested setting an age limit for girls who may rush or be forced (by their parents) into marriage, hence denying them an opportunity to get educated before they decide to endure such responsibility and bear its consequences. Discussing the details of these provisions is beyond the scope of my study. Suffice it to explain how the Mudawana came into the middle of the tension between the left and the right -as both were fighting for a position in the newly emerging political configuration. A representative of the Justice and Development Party (on the right) has asserted that the Development and Socialist Party (on the left) wanted to take advantage –especially after the International Conference on Women in Beijing– to locally demolish the “concept of sanctity,” thus liberate women along Western ideals (Personal Interview. SO. Fall of 2003). This attempt by a small section of the elite, largely on the left, to impose its taste on the public was strongly resisted. After failing to change the opinion of the communists in parliament, the Islamic right resorted to the street (Personal Interview. HA. Fall of 2003). According to preliminary estimates, Islamists mobilized 1.5 million Moroccans to stop the “Marxist proposal,” as they chose to call it. Many of the people who marched through the streets were not particularly radical. For instance, quite a large group of people sympathetic to the center-right Independence Party participated, although they would not necessarily have gone along with a number of the issues that the Islamic right embraces.
The electoral system is major reason why the Makzn can continue its guardianship over Moroccan politics and discouraging effective communication between the left and the right side of the political spectrum. Prior to the election of 2003, the Development and Justice Party has proposed a change from the plurality, first-past-the-post system to voting-list proportional representation system. All parties accepted this proposal under the assumption it would eliminate clientelism and allow voters a chance to focus more on policy proposals and not be distracted by slogans. However, the parties failed to realize that such a system breeds a partitioned parliament with no chance for any party to obtain a majority. Not surprisingly, the king –with the symbolic approval of the elected parliament– chose a non-partisan technocrat to the position of first minister. Second, in a country with more than a 60 percent illiteracy rate (literacy is not required to vote), the public is likely to overlook policy initiatives and focus more on the overarching themes that transmit from the debate among contenders.
The voting list proportional representation system suited members of the Justice and Development Party who do not have social connectedness –at least nothing comparable to that of Independence Party. But the party members can appeal to the masses with an agenda to stop the left from eroding the cultural identity of the nation and overcome the reluctance of the center to utilize its (religious) potential. The left preferred a partitioned parliament rather than see another party gain a parliamentary majority. After all, the left figured since it was the ruling party, it is likely to be penalized and a vote against it was likely to go to the Islamists. This arrangement would hurt the Independence Party most because being the center party; it was likely to lose votes to the Islamists. Under those circumstances, Islamists would have won an overwhelming majority had they not restricted themselves to nominations in only 60 percent of the districts (Personal Interview. HA. Fall of 2003). The Islamists nevertheless realize that people who vote for them are not necessarily committed to their cultural/intellectual project, but may ideologically be passing through their political zone. Islamists face less difficulty entering parliaments than intruding on cultural and intellectual domains that for a long time were dominated by groups on the left side of the spectrum. They detached themselves from the traditional population by defying sufism and did not develop the intellectual impetus to comfortably relate to music, art, sciences, movie industry, scholarly circles, and so on.
To avoid the political upheaval that the issue of the Mudwana might cause, the king preferred discussing the issue behind closed doors. He formed a committee of secularly educated elites and religious scholars. For reasons discussed in the chapter 4, pressures that they experienced from outside, that is, beyond the boundaries of their meeting room, the committee members spent months massaging the issues before they would announce a stalemate. The king assigned a different committee the duty of reconceptualizing the provisions of the Mudawana in a way that makes it relevant to today’s age. The king is keen on ensuring that the efforts of the advisors do not stumble a second time. Even if it does, under no circumstance will the Makzn take the Mudawana to parliament because it deprives the king of his reconciliatory role, reveals the contradictions in the political system, and presumably upsets the balance of power.
The Mudawana has become a thorn in Moroccan politics. It is at the height of the cultural divide that has long dominated the country. A member of the Socialist Union asserts that the Mudawana requires careful assessment because the society is too traditional to accept radical changes (Personal Interview. HN. Fall of 2003). Why has the society remained traditional after 50 years of a presumed attempt by Hassan II to modernize it? In spite of the proliferation of mass communication and exposure to various cultural schemes, is society really “traditional” or is the problem a political stagnation that is fixating societies in the swamp of traditionalism?
A lack of commitment to democracy on both sides of the ideological spectrum is definitely a factor. Parties on both the right and the left are not embedded in society, hence the meagerness of their chance of reaching power through democratic channels. While parties in the middle tend to use their strong Islamic background to advance a national vision, parties on the right or left remain to adjust to the national agenda set by others. This is a reason why their commitment to a more democratic system of governance continues to be more superficial. They don’t have the patience to wait for their turn within the rules of the system because they cannot muster enough support to challenge the agenda set by the king and the middle of the political spectrum.
The first five years of democratic governance in
Whatever happens with this and other controversial issues
that no doubt will arise in a more democratic polity, there is still a good
measure of political stability at the level of the system itself. What is more,
political rights and civil liberties are no longer stepped upon as whimsically
as in previous periods. That is not to say that
The real challenge that remains in
Issues such as the Cold War and the
dissertation has argued that the principal challenge to democratization in
Islamic countries is to find a balance between the Islamic and Western legacies
–what I call the literal and liberal traditions– that characterize the
contemporary Muslim world. It is the imbalance or lack of embeddedness in both
these traditions that makes countries such as
has centred on two countries,
The dialectic between the Mashreg and
the Maghreb, that is, the competition between the Abbasid and the
Umayyad, continued over 1,200 years, allowed Morocco an opportunity to centralize
its political authority, Sudan’s peripheral location in the Islamic world
denied it the dynamics it needed to consolidate its religious authority,
needless to say, to make it central. (The only time
Sudan went the
full ideological course, thus allowing itself –at least theoretically– to
overcome the secular/theocratic dichotomy and entertain a liberal/literalist
continuum, a position Morocco is qualified for intellectually, but besieged
from politically (see Chapter 2), Morocco managed through the manipulative
authority of the king to go center-right when the political circumstances both
nationally and internationally favored the left. The country then did a shift
center-left when regional dynamics favored the right. At the time of
The ideological tension did not disrupt the social fabric
The presence of a centralized religious authority allowed
the Moroccan authority monopoly (over cultural symbols) that it could use to
draw dissent within a reasonable range, hence build institutions robust enough
to do development. To the extent that this centrality of power can be useful,
it gives the state manipulative authority over the polity and makes it
dependent on extreme coercive measures in dealing with the periphery, for
example the Western Sahara. The absence of a strong central authority in
The more the state elites insisted on dragging the locus of
power to coincide with the center of politics the more politics became
dysfunctional. Only through armed revolt –this time from the barefooted
peasants in Darfur– did elites recognize that the history of Sudan remains
greater than that reached by ideological Islam, and its geography is wider than
what was limited by the sectarian domain defined by the British. Despite the
fact that traditional parties have difficulty incorporating the majority of the
Sufi periphery, the brief moments of collaboration that they enjoyed
ameliorated the tension between the peasants of
The ability of northerners to rule –almost five decades
undisputedly– depended on their ability to exploit the religious (and ethnic)
cleavage between the west and the south. It wasn’t until they were blatantly discriminated
against that the people of
What Lessons, If Any,May Be Drawn from the Cases
It is fair to say that international actors during the Cold
War had no commitment to democracy, only political stability could helped
superpowers secure their economic interest. After the heat of communism passed
(early 1970s), and before the breeze of Islamic Revivalism (mid to late 1980s),
However, terms like democracy and dictatorship do not mean
much unless we examine the dynamics at both national and party politics (that
is, go beyond the surface to investigate the relationship among and in-between
parties). Nimeiri, the military dictator who ruled
Elites, be it modernists on either the left or the right of
ideological spectrum or even conservative, preferred an easy route to power,
one that would save them the effort of having to communicate with the masses
which they perceived as a “sack of potatoes,” to borrow Karl Marx’s expression.
(We must not forget the gap in education and power, an important factor which I
allude to in Chapter 4.) Depending on where they are in the ideological
spectrum, elites allowed themselves to be played in the hands of despots, both
military and civilian. Modernist elites accompanied army officers in their
occupation of the national palace in
This dissertation has identified two tendencies that
influenced political stability. These are petal/fugal tendency (ideology) and
the hierarchy/rebellion proclivity (power), which were influenced by spectrum
of interpretation and history (see Chapters 3 and 4), the interplay between
these factors was explained in Chapter 2. The first can be overcome using a
bicameral system, the second adopting a presidential system, at least in the
The relationship between power and ideology is synonymous
with the relationship between identity and development. Without reshaping
identity it may be difficulty to reformulate the polity. The recently liberated
Amazigh culture and still incarcerated Nubian cultures can play a constructive
role in helping
‘Alim (pl. ‘ulamâ’): a learned man, in particular one learnèd in Islamic legal and religious studies.
‘Aql: “reason,” “reasoning”; in Islamic law, systematic reasoning is not limited to qiyâs (q.v.).
Amîr (also emir): a general or other military commander; after classical ‘Abbâsî times many independent rulers held this title; sometimes assigned to members of the ruler’s family.
Dhimmi (also zimmi): a “protected subject,” follower of a religion tolerated by Islam, within Muslim ruled territory, cf. ahl al-kitâb. The protection is called “dhimmah.”
Fiqh: jurisprudence; the discipline of elucidating the Sharîah (q.v.); also the resultant body of rules. A faqîh is an exponent of fiqh.
Îmân: religious faith; conviction, which a Muslim acknowledges both inwardly and outwardly through his actions.
Jazb: a state of Divine ecstasy.
Jihad: war in accordance with the Sharîah (q.v.) against unbelievers.
Mahdi: According to the belief of Muslims, he is a descendent of the Prophet from the lineage of Al-Hassan, who will join Jesus (the son of Mary) in his fight against the wrong Jewish Messiah. Many revolutionaries in the Muslim world returned to this messianic tradition in their fight against tyrants through the ages.
Sharîah: the entire body of rules guiding the life of a Muslim. In law, ethics, and etiquette; sometimes called Sacred Law (or Canon Law), The provisions of the Sharî΄ah are worked out through the discipline of fiqh (q.v.).
Sharîfs: Descendents of the Prophet through his daughter Fâtima and his son-in-law Ali
Silsila: spiritual chain.
Sûfi: an exponent of Sûfism (Ar. Tasawwuf), the commonest term for that aspect of Islam which is based on the mystical life.
Sufi Islam: “syncretic” Islam, one that coexisted with and was influenced by indigenous traditional beliefs.
Sunnah: received custom, particularly that associated with Muhammad; it is embodied in hadîth (q.v.).
Zawyia (or Khalwa): traditional school of religious sciences.
AA: Dean of King Hassan II Islamic School
AA: Department of Tax administrator
AA: Head of the liberal arts school
education section in
AA: Representative of the General Accountant Office
AB: Justice and Development MP, Agriculture Committee
AB: Justice and Development Party, MP
AG: King Hassan’s Arabic teacher and consultant
AG: Minister of Economics, 1980-1984
AM: Former minister of cultural affairs
AM: Former Moroccan Ambassador to
AR: Head of a religious group, Sharia professor
AR: Head of the high school curricula committee
FA: Justice and Benevolence Group spokesperson
GM: Head master of
HG: Movie Critic
HH: Editor of al-Asr newspaper, Justice and Development Party
HN: Head of Moroccan writers group
KN: Member of Development and Socialist Party
MA: Distinguished Professor, spokesperson of Socialist Party
MA: Minister of Cultural Affairs,
MA: Political science professor
MB: Dean of the Liberal Arts
MB: Head of Media Department
MG: King’s Economic Consultant
MK: Former Human Rights Organization President, political science professor
MR: Head of Justice and Development parliamentary group
MY: General Manager of Economist (a magazine considered the flagship of liberalism)
NK: Head of the Women Independence Group, MP
NY: Justice and Benevolence Party
OG: One of few people who signed
SO: Vice Chairman of the Justice and Development Party
TA: Justice Department official
TA: Philosophy professor, member of Sufi group
AA: An activist among Ansar group
AA: Architect of Addis Ababa
Agreement, Head of Regional Council (southern
AA: Chairman of the political science department
AB: Friedrick Foundation (German funded NGOs)
AB: Political science professor
AH: Umma Party, Former Attorney General
AJ: Retired Judge, legal consultant of Nimeiri
AM: Minister of Defense, Vice chairman Umma Party
AS: Former minister of heath
DH: Retired judge, former minister of education
FZ: Communist Party
GO: Southern elite, educator, and prominent politician
GS: Human Rights representative
GS: National Islamic Front
HA: Former President of
HB: Supreme Court Judge
IS: National Islamic Front
KZ: Member of Communist Party
MA: Deputy minister of education
SM: Democratic Unionist Party
SM: Former president of
SM: Tribal Chieftain (
SS: Ministry of Education
TZ: National Islamic Front
YA: Retired army commander
DOP: Declaration of Principles
DUP: Democratic Unionist Party
ICF: Islamic Charter Front
IGADD: Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development
NDA: National Democratic
NIF: National Islamic Front
NSR: National Salvation Revolution
PDF: Popular Defense Forces
SCP: Sudanese Communist Party
SSIM/A: South Sudan
SUP: Umma Party of
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I was born in
By the time I reached high school, I had to decide between
going either into medicine or engineering. Since my father was a professor of
engineering, civil engineering was my obvious choice. I entered the engineering
department at the
I then became interested in studying with the sheik, but I needed; to completely memorize the Qur’an, that is to say; memorize the 6,666 verses of Islam’s holy book to memory. It seemed like a big hurdle, but I felt I could achieve this memorization without much difficulty because I had a talent for memorizing long passage. I memorized the Qur’an in 100 days; setting a record for humanity and Muslim generations to come.
The Qur’an did not provide answers for the ontological questions I was asking, probably because I treated it as a manual of governance rather than a scripturalist text that provided man with the balance needed to seek answers for his own problems –a correction in the right direction.
However, until that point, it was not clear to me which
discipline to further pursue I the social sciences. In 1997, I entered the
department of economics at the
I was destined to bear the burden of trying to reconcile
the tension between the two from the day of my birth. My father is a descendent
of the great leader of the Baggara, Madibbo Ali. My mother is the daughter of
the first governor of
Apart from the difficulty that I encountered in overcoming the cultural embeddedness of the program, the intellectual training process was cumbersome. I believe intellectuality by nature is disturbing and unsettling, because it forces us to challenge our prejudices and expects of us nothing less than fulfilling our humanist ideal. Now that I have reached the final stages of obtaining my doctorate, I can say that this was a jubilating and rewarding experience.
In addition to teaching, I plan to establish a consultancy
firm that specializes in issues that relate to democratization, developmental
administration, policy evalution, and conflict mediation. I hope to establish
the consultancy in
 In Chapter Three, I explain that Islamists have tried to obtain both the authority of the scholar and the sanctity of the saint, thus defying their modernist appeal and making it difficult for the observer to distinguish them for any traditional groups.
 “The spiritual temptation of the Sufis was complementary to that of those of the Hadith folk who resisted going along the Sufi path. For the Hadith folk, the danger came from the attempt to capture the unformulable in a formula, to hold on to God Himself within the words of the Qur’an. In such an attempt, they risked forgoing the spontaneous responsiveness which never ceases seeking beyond what it has already found, in favor of a disciplined responsibility to truth already known: responsibility such as had caused people to receive and live by the Qur’anic challenge when it was first delivered. Such responsibility was always necessary to preserve the continuity of commitment in the tradition of any group. But, held to too narrow an exclusivity, such responsibility could impose a conformity which would preclude any new understanding, smother the creative dialogue which was equally necessary for any cultural tradition, and devitalize the very tradition it was meant to serve” (Hodgson 1977: 402).
 Said Qutb –the intellectual factor of modern activism– contends that the economic institutions of the West are fully governed by material rationality, a belief that defies the ontology of any religion. Secularism rules political institutes as a sovereign mistress, thus denying social norms and values a role in designing public policy procedures. The Enlightenment’s vilification of religion has, at minimum, caused moral relativism, and, at maximum, culminated in the moral impoverishment of Western societies. Albeit, he did not live long enough to see Islamism with its admiration with the processes associated with modernization, for example, rationalization as well as technical capacity of the modern state, sold its version of modernity
–a set of socially encoded values emphasizing sympathy for traditional values over economic efficiency, power, and profit– that bankrupted Muslim societies, both morally and intellectually (Euben 2000: 30).
 That is to say, politics was practiced within the zone of (partial) overlap between the temporal and the spiritual domains. And none of the caliphates in the first three decades of Islam attempted to use religion to dominate any of the two domains or completely separate them.
 “It is human intelligence that formulates the universal and elaborate methodologies, which vary according to the object of study to which they are applied (e.g., religious practice, social affairs, sciences), by working on the Quran and the Sunna. In other words, the Sharia, insofar as it is the expression of ‘the way of faithfulness,’ deduced and constructed a posteriori, is the work of human intellect” (Ramadan 2004: 34).
 Inherent in this system was an authoritative logic that put indigenous populations, be it Persians, later Africans, and so forth, at the service of the “Arab Caesar.”
 Religious theology developed under political constraints. What was propagated as religious decree was mostly an offshoot of some political quarrel (Abu-Zaid 1996).
 In contrast to radical forces, that is, fundamentalists, who in the modern would confront the enemy while being oblivious to the human cost, Sufis adopt passive resistance as a strategy that they mastered through the ages and which granted them success in front of an enemy that is disproportionately more powerful.
 This can be oppressive to the population because the law is neither imposed upon society from above nor is it growing out of it. “Nonrecognition can be a form of oppression, imprisoning someone in a false, distorted, and reduced mode of being” (Taylor 1992:25).
 With the fall of Russian communism, a new era with
the East has arisen –this time one against those very forces formed in prior
melees. The “War on Terror” is, in essence, a militaristic manifestation of the
animosity felt by the West against the extremism it helped to create. Nominally
against –those who embrace wholeheartedly totalitarianism in the name of
religion– it instead has hindered even those who would seek to reconcile
political differences by creating an even more divergent political environment.
It was not long before President Bush announced his crusade (against the Muslim
world) that he recanted and said Islam is a beautiful religion that was
hijacked by terrorists. Embedded in this decorative statement is a political
logic, which refuses to accept Islam as a political discourse that among many
others rejects the hegemony of the West (Moris 2000). Translating Islamism into
fundamentalism and equating the latter with extremism objectifies subduing it
militarily and/or politically. The
 The view that Sufis are traditional allies of colonialism/imperialism is an Islamist view that mistakes passive resistance for submissiveness.
 The authority of political Islam cannot be diffused authoritatively, that is, through annihilation, imprisonment, or psychological torture, but by engaging it in a persistent and systematic debate that penetrates deep enough to influence change and gradually cause a transformation that makes accessible the liberal end of the ideological spectrum. Otherwise, what incentives do these “modernists” and/or “traditionalists” have for cooperation, with what objectives, and through what political mechanism?
The modern-day incarnation of the eternal strife between the East and the West,
concerning as it did the two World Powers, was a battle over competing theories
of ideology and economics. Lenin-Marxism, the political system of the Eastern
Bloc, was designed to be completely devoid of religious tendencies. It was, as
a result of this ideal, that when the Eastern Bloc began to expand its sphere
of influence, it embraced those more secular nations of the Islamic world, and
 They are modern in the sense that they use the institutions of the modern state to achieve their objectives and not necessarily adhere to the philosophical and sociological roots of modernity, that is, they do not promise liberalism, they present old ideas in modern cloth.
 Islam became associated with remote provincial communities, whose earlier religious association gradually became ethnicized (Tibi 2002: 131).
Bellah asserts, “The Hanbalis, ass we have noted, were the only school that
allowed a wife to claim dissolution of her marriage if her husband married a
second wife in breach of a prior agreement not to do so. By today’s standards,
Ahmad b. Hanbal was a liberal. Even though
 In his article The Elusive Reformation, El-Affendi asserts, “The question of whether liberal democracy can be given a ‘truly’ Islamic basis is unanswerable, since there cannot conceivably be any Islamic democratic movement which is untouched by the influences and challenges of Western liberal-democratic thought and practice. Meanwhile, any modern Islamic reform movement trumpeting its liberal-democratic potential begs the question of whether religious-cum-cultural reform is a precondition for democratization, since to cite favorably the presumed liberal-democratic potential of a particular interpretation of Islam is to assume that there is already a broad Muslim constituency for liberalism and democracy as things desirable in and of themselves. Not all those classified as ‘Muslim liberals’ base their liberalism on theological assumptions; in fact the majority do not” (El-Affendi 2003: 1).
 “On the surface it is more than a clash of cultures, more than a confrontation of races: it is a straight fight between two approaches to the world, two opposed philosophies. And under the great complexity of the structures involved –the layers of history, the mosaic of cultures– we can simplify in order to discover the major positions. One is based in secular materialism, the other in faith; one has rejected belief altogether, the other has placed it at the center of its world-view. It is, therefore, not simply between Islam and the West –although many Muslims and non-Muslims who are brought up to believe in this simplistic formula will be surprised at this conclusion. On the threshold of the twenty-first century the confrontation between Islam and the West poses terrible internal dilemmas for both. The test for Muslims is how to preserve the essence of the Quranic message, of adl and ahsan, ilm and sabr, without it being reduced to an ancient and empty chant in our times; how to participate in the global civilization without their identity being obliterated. It is an apocalyptic test; the most severe examination” (Ahmed 1992: 264).
 The theocratic model of the Abbasid dynasty, which Al-jabri claims have influenced the beginning of authoritarianism in Islam, had been established exactly 10 centuries ago, that is, 1,000 years (Al-jabri 2001).
 Liberalism remains an illusion in the Western world, that is, individuals live within a cage in which they do not detect its presence; authoritarianism is the antinomian in the Muslim world where all that the individual sees is the bars of the cage.
 That is to say make a distinction between those who think politics like conservative groups (sufis in the periphery) and those who think politically like modernist forces (Islamists in the center) in the Muslim world.
 In full-fledged capitalist societies, the state has developed over the course of the centuries enough material links that it can use to influence the way they think about themselves. This collective identity is maintained, refined, or redefined through a redistribution of resources to which the state plays a central role.
 Despite commitment to secularism, the monarchies in
 This persistence reflects in the devoutness of Moroccans today to their religious duties, especially performing a pilgrimage. I have seen people, for example, who cry when denied visas to the sacred lands.
 I use Sharif with a capital ‘S’ to mean the central authority that claims lineage to the Prophet Mohamed. and similarly for Sufism and scholarly religious authority; small letters to indicate those who exercise their authority in the periphery.
A religious title of respect that people of northeast
 This will prove to be a especially precarious movement because that same tactic will be used against political dissidents by the Caliphate Abdullahi. To the extent that this tactic of religious mobilization proves successful in starting revolution, it has some deleterious effects in the building of a polity afterwards. Surprisingly, this is the same tactic used by Islamists in eliminating their political enemies, even in modern times. The NIF regime in the early 1990s declared opposition leaders as infidels and went to the extent of confiscating their personal belongings. This is considered legitimate against non-Muslims in the medieval theology, which echoes heavily in today’s Muslim heritage.
 Sayyid Sir Abd al-Rahman, posthumous son of the Great al-Mahdi, is quoted to have said that they are the descendents of Jaafar b abi-Talib, who is the cousin of the Prophet, thus he secretly discredited the claim that they are the direct descendents of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) (PI. AMA. Summer of 1983).
 Hamad al-Turabi, the great-grandfather of Dr. Hassan Turabi, is said to have announced Mahdism that did not go beyond the realm of his disciples (Mahmoud 1997:173). By trying to consolidate power religiously, his grandson, Hassan al-Turabi, would commit the same mistake of announcing a grand scheme at an untimely fashion.
According to the Sunni tradition, there is a reformer, whether a scholar or
politician or both, who rejuvenates the teachings of Islam at the beginning of
every century. Mohamed ibni abdel-wahab, the founder of the Wahabi movement, is
considered by his followers in
 Although some scholars argue the term “tribe” promotes a myth of primitive African timelessness, obscuring history and change, I adopt this term to mean the outer boundaries of an extended kin-group with the aim of preserving socio-economic and political dynamics.
Mahmoud asserts, “Abd Allah B. Mumammad belonged to the Taaysha branch of the
Baqqara of western
 This is a result of the society’s pressure for conformity and the individual longing for abstractness.
 The political factors are addressed extensively in Chapter Three.
 Modernization in the 19th century, and still more in the 20th century, far from reducing autocracy, substantially increased it. Lewis asserts, “On the one hand, modern technology, communications, and weaponry greatly reinforced the rulers’ powers of surveillance, indoctrination, and repression. On the other hand, social and economic modernization enfeebled or abrogated the religious constraints and intermediate powers that had in various ways limited earlier autocracies. No Arab Caliph or Turkish Sultan of the past could ever have achieved the arbitrary and pervasive power wielded by even the pettiest of present-day dictators” (Lewis 1993:96).
 Huff contends, “It should be noted that instruction in the madrasas was a totally personalistic experience. The student came to the master and learned what he taught. The master in turn certified the student by giving him an ijaza, a ‘permission to transmit’ the texts and materials that the student had committed to memory” (Huff 1997: 31).
 Unlike the Islamic madrasas that kept the natural sciences out, and the Chinese bureaucracy that rejected the study of anything that could be called scientific, Huff contends, “The European universities put the study of nature first in an institutional structure that was in effect legally autonomous” (Huff 1997: 33).
 The agency, in this case the jurists, were bound by huge structural factors that I allude to in chapter 2.
 Hodgson asserts, “Among Christian or Buddhist peoples, religion has indeed been very central also. But it has informed the culture of Christian Occidentals and of Christian Abyssinians, for instance, almost entirely in isolation from each other, so that there is no single civilization associated with Buddhism. But –despite the vaster areas covered development any culture of their own at all, never lost contact with each other: their cultural dialogues were always intermeshed. The bonds of Islamic faith, indeed especially the irrepressible transcendent ideals implied in the root meaning of Islam, with their insistent demand for a godly transformation of all life, have been so telling in certain crucial aspects of the high culture of almost all Muslim peoples that we find ourselves grouping these peoples together across all their different regions, even apart from considering other facets of high culture. Islam offered creative impulses that ramified widely throughout the culture as a whole, even where it was least regions” (Hodgson 1977: 94).
 Hourani asserts, “The development of Arabic social and political thought in modern times offered a special interest but presented special difficulties. It involved tracing two lines of influence: one which ran from medieval Islamic thought to the modern age, and the other which came from outside the Arab and Muslim world, from western Europe and in particular from England and France” (Hourani 1981: xiv).
 The President of Malaysia is believed to have suggested that Muslim countries reduce their military budget to only one percent, and instead direct it to educational services. He wants to give the world hyper power no excuse to force. Mernissi correctly asserts, “The supremacy of the West is not so much due to its military hardware as to the fact that its military bases are laboratories and its troops are brains, armies of researchers and engineers . . . power comes from the cultivation of the scientific spirit and participatory democracy” (Mernissi 1992: 43, 44).
 “We have communal actions and rituals, but not communal faiths. Expressions of faith are public but the essence of faith is mysterious and private . . . True faith is contingent upon individuality and liberty. Their decline is tantamount to the decline of faith, just as their rise amounts to the rise of faith” (Soroush 2000: 140,141).
The adamancy of the current Sudanese state to push morals politically has
caused a moral decline unprecedented in the history of the nation. A report of
international humanitarian agency –that was not made public– include a 400
percent increase in the number of children born out of wedlock (Personal
Interview. SM. Spring of 2003). Outraged by this social tragedy, a businessman
who I interviewed said that “at the time of the British when
 A distinguished member of the Istiglal Party (mid of spectrum Moroccan politics) says unlike Islamists (Justice and Development Party, right of spectrum) they do not judge the individual, that is, party member, by his personal conduct, only by his creed. She thinks a person can become morally upright at anytime provided he has the right conviction (Personal Interview. NK. Fall of 2003). She said this in reaction to an accusation of a member in the Justice and Development Party that they do not care anymore about the personal conduct of their members. Most Islamists parties started with such a conviction, soon as they reached the populist level, that is, their parties in number, they could not afford to follow with the moral upbringing of their party membership.
 Personal Interview with a prominent sufi sheik, who was also the President of Omdurman University for Islamic studies (Personal Interview. AG. Spring of 2003).
 Zawya is the Sufi religious center; Hazib is the party.
 Abdel-Salaam Yasin, who for a long time was a member of the botsheshya tareega, is said to have left it when the followers refused to make him the sheik, and instead chose the sheik’s son after his father’s death. He now has his own party and accepts no dispute of any of the party members.
 I can finish this dissertation before I will be able to enumerate that great man’s good qualities.
 Said is a reverence title used for the descendents of the Prophet Mohamed. Ironically Said Abdel-Rahman, the paternal grandfather of Sadig Al-Mahdi, asserted that they were descendents of Ja’far ibni-Talib, the Prophet’s cousin.
 Awad Abdel-Mageed, who was the Minister of Economics and Finance in 1984, told a senior Umma Party officer that As-Sadig once requested a scientific paper from him about an economic matter. He provided As-Sadig the paper only to find out that the latter published it in his name a few months later (Personal Interview. AM. Spring of 2003). I am pointing this out to show that while traditional at heart, these leaders spare no effort to appear in the most modern cloth. They want to be religious clerics, as well as academic shrewds. In the process, they miss what is expected of them: administrative skills, especially when they come to power. This applies to Turabi of the NIF, and many others, since they are only interested in the glamour of “modernity,” not its content.
 Turabi received 6, 500, 000 Sudanese pounds for taking part in the judeya among the sons of Al-Sheik Mustafa Al-Ameen (AM: summer of 2003),. This is something that sheik Abdel-Raheem Al-burai does on a daily basis without taking a penny.
 “Modern humanity aims to create the world in its own image rather than accepting it as it is . . . . Our acute anxieties are born out of this conflict” (Soroush 2000: 56).
 Though the state can compel people to act in unison, Soroush contends that it cannot make them understand Islam uniformly (Soroush 2000:143).
 The media has transformed the “sociology of Islamic knowledge” in an unprecedented ways (Soares 1998: 401). First, it ended the scholarly manipulation of the canonical doctrine, thus giving Muslims a chance to directly approach the Islamic text. Second, it created cultural communication among communities; thus overcoming urban/rural boundaries. Hakan contends, “The fragmentation of the Islamic movement is the outcome of democratization, expanding market forces, the introduction of alternative worldviews and increased education” (Hakan 2000:1). That all of this is tied to the epoch of modernity is not a coincidence.
 Political authorities treated religious culture as a “parasitic teaching matter: its time allocation is small; its prestige low because it is not judged by schools to be a criterion of scholarly aptitude; the caliber of teachers is low; the curriculum is dull, designed to have students memorize a few sacred texts and learn some acts of devotion rather than inculcate values” (Emmanuel Sivan 1990:8).
 “Nations are neither primordial nor perennial, but entities that have crystallized from ethnic origins in modern times. . . . Structurally generated processes of integration and cultural assimilation, supported by the new modes of communication made available by the novel technology, made it possible and necessary to imagine communities. . . . The crisis of the nation-state in the World of Islam has been due to its inability to generate this complex of integration-assimilation-communication functions which could have contributed to the formation of a national identity” (Tibi 2002: 127).
 “Traditional values systems growing out of long-standing religious commitments represent a much more important problem in the modernization process than had been anticipated by most of these modernizers” (Geertz 1965: 106).
 In his examination of the educational systems in Syrian and Egyptian education, Emmanuel Sivan notices, “Concerning school curricula, the radicals voice the all-too-expected complaint that the teaching of science, though not openly critical of religion, is subverting Islam quite efficiently, precisely by being oblivious to it. Science offers an alternative explanatory model, supposedly value-fee and objective; it does not even deign to try to reconcile this model with Islam. The implication is, of course, that by transfer through training, the same approach will be applied to other spheres. In like vein, the radicals attack the teaching of philosophy for giving too much place to Western thinkers and above all for having Islamic philosophy such as the Mu’tazila school, Avicenna and Averroes, branded as deviationists in their own times” (Sivan 1990: 6).
 “In this neo-Khaldunian view, the chances of liberal, secularized Islam are, therefore, very limited. And, indeed, taking Ibn Khaldun’s theory as a starting point is a path to reestablishing classical essentialism; it is another way of asserting that Islam always leads to similar patterns of behavior, as it did in the past, and as it must do in the present” (Filali-Ansary 2003: 3).
 When students dared to explore the limits of critical thinking, they were discouraged by the “guardians of faith.” I spoke to one of the professors at Omdurman Islamic University, who was furious because the faculty of the Department of Arabic rejected the proposal of one of his students; they justified their refusal saying that in an Islamic university, a student should not be studying the literature of a secular ba’theist Iraqi poet, such as Al-Bayati (Personal Interview. MM. Spring of 2003).
 While religious beliefs cast a light upon human life from the outside, man acts as a receptor of this divine truth. Being the fallible being he is, man’s perception of the truth will follow an elusive labyrinthine path, a theory Soroush calls the “Expansion and Contraction of Knowledge” (Soroush 2000:133). This is consistent with Geertz’s suggestion that, as opposed to other sorts of beliefs, ideological, philosophical, scientific, or commonsensical, religious beliefs are not inductive, they are paradigmatic; the world does not provide evidence of truth but an illustration of it (Geertz 1965: 98).
 Soroush asserts, “It is the religious understanding that will have to adjust itself to democracy not the other way around; justice, as a value, cannot be religious. . . .Justice, then, is a metrareligious category, and the right and acceptable religion should, inevitably, be just” (Soroush 2000: 131-132).
 Muslim women in particular seem to be squeezed between
Islamic fundamentalism and modernity, and between modernity and postmodernity
(Ahmed and Donnan 1993: 14). Civic society organizations, at least in
 Secularity of early Muslims made them resist the Caliphate of Ali or for this sake Al-Abbas because they did not want to combine a spiritual authority blood lineage to the Prophet with temporal authority, which is a place of debate (Al-Sharafi 2000:103).
 Mainly the notion of a Leviathan who should be entrusted with implementing the sharia –which by this time has ceased to be a mechanism and has become God’s law in the very theocratic sense. It has become a political tool by which Islamists demoralize their opponents, not only so but incarcerate them in the domain of God’s city.
 I do not intend to say that traditional forces are apt to be more literate than liberal, however, in the face of extremely coercive measures, they may find it difficult to adjust to a new reality.
 A southern leader who worked with Turabi in constitutional committees says that Turabi was more concerned with his ideological Islam than with giving southerners their rights. He further says, “Turabi didn’t pay attention to our existence in those committees” (Personal Interview. AL. Spring of 2003).
In the process of suppressing dissent, one university student was shot dead,
which caused the immediate resignation of General Aboud in 1964, who felt he
did not need to kill people he was assigned to protect. Ironically, the same
modernists forces will later bifurcate into the left that ruled
 In the absence of functional differentiation (not separation), secular and religious leaders encroach on each other’s domain, causing a political turmoil and spiritual disarray.
 “The Addis Ababa agreement is impressive testimony to the willingness of Sudanese leaders to achieve peace despite growing hostilities, but no one could have reasonably expected the agreement to do more than transfer entrenched suspicions from the violence of war to the maneuvers of politics. Unforeseen controversies have provided new challenges. Those creating the greatest obstacles to effective institutionalization of the Addis Ababa Agreement concern the extraordinarily delicate task of unifying former enemies into a single military force, creating acceptable administrative relationships between region and center, and financing sustained economic development in the Southern Region” (Kasfir 1977:148).
Islamic University at
 Traditional southern dress that covered only the belly area of a woman’s body.
 After all, Nimeiri had neither intellectual nor pedagogical training in Islam, and to a large extent needed the guidance of a guru (Personal Interview, AA, Spring of 2003).
 “Although a number of explanations have been given for the sudden introduction of Sharia law in 1983, it seems that Nimeiri’s intention was to outmaneuver the Muslim Brotherhood because this remained its demand” (Salih 1990:212). It was his last political bullet; he played roulette and shot himself in the head.
“Power rests, as ever, in the hands of a few families in
 Nelson Kasfir asserts, “Opposition to the agreement in the North seems to have been more a device to attack Nimeiri than a genuine concern with Southern affairs” ( Kasfir 1977:145).
 By 1978, ninety percent of the criminal laws were Islamic, it only needed to be extended to a legal banking system.
 Mohammed Ayoob contends, “To be fair to the Saudi rulers, they had envisioned Wahabism as a socially conservative and politically quietist form of Islam” (Ayoob 2004: 4).
 Thus breaching the Addis Ababa Agreement, which stipulates that the south should remain united.
 “The total abolition of all Islamic laws was among the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) most important preconditions for any political settlement to the civil war in the South” (Salih 1990:212).
Immediately after the announcement of Sharia,
and few months before the demise of his regime, Nimeiri was paid a visit by
President Bush, who was then the director of the CIA. This visit was not
scheduled and did not carry a specific agenda apart from the importance of the
security of the horn of
It was later cashed out by the Islamists regime, which under the banner of
“nationalization” sold it to one of its tycoons, Jar al-Nabe Ahmed. The latter,
a native of western
 Ustaz Mahmoud Mohamed Taha was the leader of the Republicans, a modern religious organization that composed of university teachers, students, and clerks. He had liberal views and called for rejuvenation of Islamic teachings. Taha was an astute supporter until Nimeiri brought Turabi and his group in power. Also, he was hated (but not confronted) by Sufis who saw his teachings as clear innovation in the religion. Taha was critical of the excessive measures that Nimeiri used to ensure implementation of Sharia, mainly beating people for violation of the private moral code, jumping into their houses to fetch for alcohol, amputating their hands for theft at a time of economic hardship (Duran 1985). Turabi had his own vision of an Islamic state, but he did not see a justification to Nimeiri’s relinquishing of the process of political socialization. Taha could see that the Muslim Brothers, his political rivalries (and religious, because he treated their ideology as outdated) as taking advantage of Nimeiri, or playing to his naivety, if not his ills. He felt that it was hypocritical of them to give Nimeiri, somebody who was until recently alcoholic and only started praying a few months before he was announced Leader of the Faithful, a chance to become an Imam. I do not present the Republicans in the ideological spectrum because at this moment they have neither the intellectual nor the political weight.
By refining their objectives to mean a just distribution of political and
economic resources, southern elites thought they would get support from disenfranchised
groups in western and eastern
 Unlike the leaders of Angaga I and Angaga II, who voiced their rebellion in the 1950s against Arab invaders (mandakuru), the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the political wing of SPLA, was joined by a high caliber of southern intellectuals (and later northern elites who escaped the brutality of Turabi’s regime), who could help it better articulate its demands.
 I do not want to speculate about the motives but I have to say officers such as Burma Naser, a military officer and a member of the revolutionary council (1986-1987), who until this moment does not deny it, sided with their Mesarya clans.
 I asked President Saddig Al-Mahdi (1987-1989) of his justification to join an army (SPLA) that targeted the soldier that only recently saluted him as a commander in chief. Of the criteria, Al-Mahdi explains, that defined a national army, the Sudanese army, the Islamists, only preserved the uniform (Personal Interview. SM. Spring of 2003). (Often times this uniform, as in the case of the Janjaweed, was distributed to groups for camouflage purposes.) He continues, “Basheer made the Sudanese soldier a target of public dismay by publicly challenging the Sudanese people and saying whoever wants power he should rather come and get it as we took it by force.”
 When the treaty was prepared, a political aide of Osman recalls that Osman called and said he would not the sign the document if southerners insisted on erasing the word “Sharia” from the document. After consultation among themselves, southerners agreed to leave that to the conference (Personal Interview. YAY. Spring of 2003).
 As I indicated in previous chapters, the Sudanese democratic system was born handicapped. First, parliamentary politics was not representative of the wider Sudanese spectrum –both politically and demographically– as it gave sectarian leaders complete monopoly over power. Second, the party system was divided along ethnic, religious, or regional lines. A northerner could not join southern parties, and whoever joined the DUP, Umma, or NIF from among southerners was looked upon by his group as being assimilated.
President Saddig Al-Mahdi (1987-1989) made his first trips to
The war had catastrophic results on the population of southern
 In reference to John Garank.
 The highest authority in the Sudanese Army submitted an ultimatum (muzakira) to President Sadig Al-Mahdi that explained to him that the army is too weak to pursue the course of war as a strategy, and that progress needed to be done at the negotiating table with the SPLA. Although this was perceived by the Islamists as an attempt to remove the NIF from power, we now know that it was done to save the third democratic experience from falling victim to the whims of some adventurous officers. (The NIF attempted its coup d’etat with 4 officers and 200 soldiers; this indicates the recklessness, if not conspiracy, of so called democratic leaders. For instance, the Minister of Interior Affairs, Mubarak Al-Mahdil, was not only notified of the coup d’etat, but was also transported outside the country by his brother-in-law, Gazi Attabani, a senior Islamist. Both remain safe until today in spite of the miseries that afflicted the Sudanese population. I simply intend to say there is a complete lack of commitment to democracy on part the of ‘democrats.) I asked a senior DUP official whether or not we should view the involvement of the army as an abrogation of democratic proceedings. He replied, “it was a needed step” (Personal Interview. TMS. Personal Interview. Spring of 2003). This leads us to an important point: the role of the army in stabilizing African democracies. Since it is one of the few, if not the only, institutions that has maintained some level of discipline in spite of the anarchy in the overall environment, the army may as well be included in the government. Similar to that of the Turkish political system, in government.
 On more than one occasion, the vice president, Ali Osman, declared that they needed to reconceptualize the Sudanese fabric (Personal Interview. ABN. Spring of 1994).
 In his
evaluation of the Islamization process in
 The government will admit at some point that it made the mistake of firing a great number of qualified officers and substituted them with loyalists who oftentimes were amateurs (Personal Interview. YAY. Spring of 2003).
 Abdullahi Gallab contends, “it might look paradoxical that the regime’s absolute claim to Islam and its attempt to marginalize and suppress other religious, Islamic and non-Islamic, expressions has led to the most serious rival claims that embedded themselves in Islam. Based on its presumption that it can credibly fuse the religious and the secular, the regime believed that its program of Islamization would wipe out its political and religious enemies and rivals and would lead to the creation of an “Islamist conformity”” (Gallab 2001:13).
 Khalid Duran contends, “Garank’s ideological commitment became the subject of much speculation. It is not difficult to guess what promoted so many observers to aver that he was not the Marxist he professed to be, that Marxist rhetoric was but a means to endear himself to the Ethiopian –and thereby the Soviets– in order, to obtain weapons and logistic support” (Duran 1985:593).
Although six years are not enough to build roads and highways, nor bridge the
psychological gap between the south and the north, the shortcomings of the
incumbent regime will be weighed against its limitations, which are immense.
The central authority will be looked upon by the south through the spectacles
of 47 not 6 years. It is the inner feelings about the interim period that
matter: Will the state elite try to buy time or will it look for ways and means
to fulfill its obligations?” Given the political recklessness of this regime,
and the absence of the IMF, the government may look for a way to win the
election rather than follow a specific national agenda. The government may look
over its immediate responsibilities, thus scatter the opportunity to bail
After September 11, 2001, the government dropped the flag (bairg) to prove its innocence though in a cowardly manner (Personal Interview. JO. Spring of 2003).
refresh the memory of the reader, the Mirghani-Garank treaty called for a
national conference, freeze of September laws, and cancellation of military
 What caused a group of ideologically committed scholars to go and meet with John Garang in the name of ‘Group of Muslim Ulama’ is the theocratic logic that allowed the Caesar absolute authority of his subjects, moreover gives him monopoly over the truth. Noticeably, these scholars have already compromised their integrity in two ways: firstly, no one elected them Ulama’, secondly, no one agrees to consult these Ulama’ outside the domain of their expertise (Personal Interview. MN. Summer 2004).
 “Turabi’s movement has always been driven by a strong, sophisticated and pure philosophical ideology which makes compromise difficult…Within the military-Islamist regime, Turabi represented the moderate faction. More extremist, anti-democratic and pro-army factions were led by Ali Osman Mohammed Taha and Osman Hassan Ahmed, who could more plausibly be labeled Islamic “fundamentalists” and whose support for Bashir was total” (Stephano 1999:5).
 Turabi was so astonished to be put in jail, he told an elderly Islamist “what kind of Islam is this? How can they deny a human being his basic rights and put him in jail?” (Personal Interview. IS. Spring of 2003). IS says that Turabi objected to torture and persecution that was committed in the name of Islam, even when he was in power; he could relate to the harshness of all of that when he was ousted. A prominent southern elite told me all people are democrats when they are out of power (Personal Interview. AL. Spring of 2003).
 “Many Arab and Muslim countries feel threatened by
the Islamic alternative –embodied by Turabi as leader of the PIC (Pan-Islamic
Conference)– which is considered to be more destabilizing than the pan-Arab
option . . . . Therefore, Basheer’s pro-Arab position has allowed him to obtain
direct support from
 According to the opinion of one prominent politician, ‘to the extent they tried, President Al-Basheer and his Vice President Ali Osman couldn’t follow Turabi’s zigzag line’ (Personal Interview. KZ. Spring of 2003). Their thinking is as dogmatic as it was on the evening of July 30, 1989. They are only giving in to pressure –sometimes beyond the limit permissible by Islam and patriotism– to stay in office (Personal Interview. SA. Spring of 2003).
 The pancreas is a small organ, approximately six inches long, located in the upper abdomen, and connected to the small intestine. It is posterior in the body, against the spine, and it is this deep location that at times makes diagnosis of the disease difficult. The pancreas is essential to the digestive process in two ways: first, it produces enzymes that help digest protein, fat and carbohydrates before they can be absorbed through the intestine; second, it gets absorbed through the intestine; third, it makes islands of endocrine cells that produce insulin which regulate the use and storage of the body’s main energy source, glucose, or sugar.
 At one time, it spent $6 out of every $24 earned from petrol in secret service (Kabag 2003: Article 3, page 19).
 They were radical in the sense that they did not recognize the Monarch as the sole proprietor of political authority.
 The Just and Benevolence Party demands that the monarch follow the example of Omar ibni Abdel-Aziz, who was the Umayyad Caliphate some 1,400 years ago. The party wants the king to bring back money his family embezzled and hold accountable others in his entourage (Personal Interview. AF. Fall of 2003). To the extent that this seems rudimentary, it embarrasses the monarch because it questions his religious legitimacy.
 The cross-trafficking of hasheeh is considered an illegal industry that brings a revenue of almost $6.6 billion.
Islamists used economic feasibility to convince the Moroccan Parliament that
the prohibition of alcohol may not necessarily harm the economy. I think
economics cannot be the bridge to two groups with different cosmological
visions. A belief in the blessing that a Muslim receives from obeying the laws
of Allah cannot be perceived instrumentally; it is about faith. The government
already has a law that prohibits selling alcohol to Moroccan Muslims. This law
may seem suitable in a country like
 He says he will not allow a woman, as such a dignified being, to be reduced to a piece of cloth. I wonder how can the modernization of women be limited to the removal of that piece of cloth?
 A Moroccan intellectual, who is also an Islamist, says he finds difficulty in stopping people from queuing for alcohol after the month of Ramadan (Personal Interview. BK. Fall of 2003).
 This is what people mean when they say, “Hassan II was firm in both modernity and traditionalism” (Personal Interview. IM. Fall of 2003). No one could afford to do so, except for a good actor like his excellence. It is difficult to speak different languages to different crowds and still be consistent.
 Members of the Justice and Development Party I interviewed say they exercised restraint and only nominated members in two-thirds of the districts for fear of being overthrown by the army. In a way they received warnings that the Algerian scenario may be repeated if they won a majority that would qualify them to rule. Some say prior to elections, arrangements are made between the Makzn and senior islamist to avoid embarrassing the king (Personal Interview. AH. Fall of 2003).
 A report once revealed that the amount of money that circulates the Moroccan banks (without being invested for a period one year) has been in the range of billions of dirhams (Personal Interview. AJ. Fall of 2003).
 As apolitical as it may seem, the issue of Zakat was resisted by the minister of Religious Affairs, Abdel-Kabeer Al-Madgari (Personal Interview. MB. Fall of 2003), presumably the citadel of conservative Islam.
 A senior of the Independence Party told me on condition of anonymity that he resisted the idea of proportional representation, but the party would not listen to him. He asserts that commitment of his party to such a notion is an unforgivable blunder (Personal Interview. AG. Fall of 2003).
 People threw themselves in cultural enclaves by way of protecting their Islamic identity, only to realize that is the surest way to eroding one’s identity. An identity cannot remain static; it gains immunity through interaction.
 Failure of king Hassan II to reform agricultural lands distributional system reflects the state’s intent to sustain the feudal aristocratic system that gave rise to the monarchy in the first place.
 Zoubir contends, “The Western Sahara conflict had
never brought the superpower close to a confrontation. However, unlike