Monthly Archives: September 2009

A discourse on the issues of human rights in the Arab world By: Hanie A. Bud

With the total collapse of the Soviet Union in the nineties, Cold war that divided the world into the western and eastern blocs has finally ended. Consequently, United States of America being the potent rival of the Soviet Union in the contest for world domination has stand out as the sole super power nation in the world. However, with “the rise of Islam as a political movement has convinced the West particularly the United States of America that its mission is not yet over, seeing Islam as inevitably opposed to democracy, pluralism and human rights”(Strawson, 1997) is an enormous challenge for the West to face. As perceived by many contemporary thinkers that Islamic ideology will soon arise and will serve as the “only obstacle in the face of today’s empire under American hegemony” (Najjar, 2005). Indeed, the time has come for the West to overcome this challenge and confront Islam making it to the point that at the end of the day it is the western ideology that will prevail.

On the issue of human rights alone, there are already underlying variations between the Western and the Islamic concept of human rights. It is noted, “the idea of human rights is a recent legal transplant” (Mayer, 1995:xiii) and that “the concept is Western in origin” (Tibi, 1994), and so obviously, it is subject under rigorous scrutiny especially by the fundamentalist Islam who have an extreme interpretation of the Islamic tenets. More to the point, since the idea is a new phenomenon introduced by the West to the Islamic state and societies up until recent days “Islamic thought has had not produced any concept of human rights” (Humphreys, 2005). The idea still appears to the Islamic world as vague and obscure especially most of the Muslims have completely different line of understanding and approach to human rights. More importantly, the concept “requires many adjustments to accommodate within the framework of premodern Islamic legal doctrines” (Mayer, 1995:xiii).

Besides, there are issues relating to human rights that of controversial in nature. It is therefore the purpose of this essay to look at some of these theoretical issues relating to human rights, which have been the subjects of discourses in the Arab world. Evidences of these discourses are the numbers of available literatures and seminars, workshops and conferences on Islam and human rights that have been conducted both by public and private institutions in the Middle East. Specifically, this essay focuses on three interrelated issues in the current debates on human rights: the universality of human rights; the question of national sovereignty vis-à-vis the observance of the human rights standards; and the impact of the application of Islamic law/Shari’ah on human rights.

Firstly, on the issue of the universality of human rights, it is widely acknowledged that from the very inception of the idea of human rights the Arabs have already lucid apprehension about its incompatibility with their local cultures. Arab human rights advocates through their spokespersons have reported to argue in many occasions “the ‘universality’ of the concept of human rights does not apply to Arabs due to their cultural uniqueness” (Mustapha, 1997). Hence, some Islamists governments like Sudan and Afghanistan “reject, explicitly or implicitly, the universal applicability of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)” (Afshari, 1994) which eventually made these defiant Muslim countries under the black list of the United Nations as among those countries who have gross violations of human rights.

For some Muslims, universality of the human rights is only workable within the Arab context under certain condition and that is to take into account some specific cultural norms of the Arabs. Mustapha identified some of these conditions “such as the right of every Arab citizen to work in any Arab country, or the right to fight against Zionism” (Mustapha, 1997). Unless such conditions are met, the problem of acceptance of the concept of the universality of the human rights among the Arab peoples is far from being resolved. Furthermore, the inflexibility of the attitudes of the Arabs toward western policies coupled with their long experience of western hegemony made the West difficult to infiltrate their concept of human rights into the mainstream Arabs discourse.

For Bassam Tibi, who is very much concern about the issue, view “human rights as a cultural concept parallel to the idea that there is and there can be no world culture” (Tibi, 1994). He argues that there can be a sense of international morality related to human rights should the international system of states possess clear conviction and consistency in observing such morality. But the problem he claims that “the international system of states lacks such morality” (Ibid) that is why it appears that despite of the concerted efforts of the international communities to introduce the idea of the universality of the human rights, most Arab peoples remain unconvinced of its viability in their societies.

Believing that there is a sense of international morality related to human rights, Tibi poses a question on how to reconcile this universal morality with the existing cultural diversities specifically among the Arab peoples. Indeed, this is a question that still left un-answered by many. However, for Tibi, this all draws back to the characteristics of the Muslims for being intolerant and create an environment of seclusion and thus, difficult to reach out and be brainwashed by new ideas no matter how indispensable those ideas are. As a possible resolution to this problem of Islam and the Muslims, Tibi puts his words:

Aside from the underlying need for legal reform in Islam, Muslims are basically required to distinguish between the dominance of the West and the universality of international human rights law standards. It is possible to criticize one aspect (hegemonic rule) while accepting the other (the achievements of cultural modernity). Confusing both aspects can only contribute to a further politicization of the clash between Western and Islamic civilizations” (Tibi, 1994).

Secondly, on the question of national sovereignty in relation to the observance of the human rights standards, the Arabs have oftentimes used the provision in the international law on the non-interference of each other state’s affairs as an excuse in respect to their non-adherence to the international human rights standard. It is noted that Arab leaders share the same voice in “condemning what they called foreign interference in their countries’ internal affairs in the name of human rights, which they called a violation of their countries’ sovereignty” (Mustapha, 1997). While it is true that every country under international law is immune from external control, the issue of human rights is totally of different case. Looking more closely at the nature of the human rights, one may infer that the concept of global nature of human rights is really understandable, thus making it the concern of all states of the world as part of the international community. Furthermore, if the ground of the Arab countries in setting aside the provision embodied in the human rights’ charter is based on their national sovereignty then it is of no point to condemn those countries that inflict awful violation of rights upon their citizens because they can argue base on this explanation. However, the fact that human rights charter is unanimously declared by almost all nations of the world it is binding upon them and whoever violates one of its provisions is accountable for its repercussion.

One shortcoming that hampers the strict compliance of the Arab countries to the human rights standard is the inconsistency and the double standard of the West particularly America in its relation with the Arab peoples. It is of general knowledge that America has always been insensitive and unsympathetic to the cause of the Arab countries who do not adhere their policy. Moreover, America tends to be heedless about human rights when it comes to their policy of combating terrorism. For example, Iraq and Afghanistan are among the Arab countries which are dubbed by America as haven of the terrorists mainly because of their complete defiance of the US agenda in the Middle East. As a result, America has exhausted its efforts to convince the international communities to get rid of these countries and US-led attacked was carried out at the expense of the rights of the persons and property of the civilians, whom they suffered the most. At the same time, while condemning Iraq and Afghanistan of perpetuating violence in the Middle East, America is silent and takes no action on the continuous occupation of Israel (which is a clear violation of international law) of some territories, which do not under their area of jurisdiction. This is the reason among other inconsistencies of America for some Arab countries to adhere to some provisions of the human rights while neglecting others. Therefore, it is correct to say that there are still need more to be done by the West in order to persuade the Arabs to properly observe the international human rights standards.

Finally and perhaps the most controversial issue in respect to human rights is the application on the principles of Islamic laws or Shari’ah. Many are convinced that apparently there exists an “incompatibility between Shari’a and modern standards of international relations and human rights” (Tibi, 1994). This incompatibility is evident in some of the principles of Shari’ah such as death penalty, hand amputation and certain personal rights. Undoubtedly, countries like Sudan, Afghanistan and some other Islamic countries were labeled as among those countries that have high rate of human rights violations because Shari’ah is the basis of their laws. With the growing numbers of the Arabs believing in the mandate of the political Islam, there is a high possibility that those predominantly Muslim countries will soon follow the political trend of Sudan and Afghanistan wherein the Islamists are put in powers and Shari’ah is applied in all domains. Hence, in order to compensate the current resurgence of political Islam, there is likewise a need to empower the liberal Islam who has more progressive approach in the interpretation of the religious text otherwise human rights abuses and state tortures in the Arab territories would continue to be the order of the day in the Arab world.

In relation to the incompatibility between Shari’ah and the human rights standards, Kelsay points out: “Islamic culture is opposed to much of what is signified by the notion of human rights, in relation to Western culture” (Kelsay, 1988). However, what is claimed to be the Islamic culture nowadays is unlikely to be the replica of the culture which is taught in the Qur’an and portrayed by the Prophet of Islam. Islam as a doctrine is supposedly a complete way of life which is applicable and suit to answer the problem brought about by historical development. But as Islam moves towards the age of modernity, Islam appears to hardly cope up with the innovative characteristics of the structure of society as a product of time. The current dilemma facing Islam is basically due to the unbending and extremist approach of the Arabs especially the elites (political, economic elites and religious elites) who only wanted to satisfy personal gains more than the public welfare.

As a reflection, there is a strong possibility that the application of Shari’ah would create much more complex problem and would jeopardize the unity of the Arab peoples. There are uncertainties as to the way the leadership of the Arabs would carry out the principles of Shari’ah. What is afraid most if the political Islam is given a chance to be in power is that they will abuse their authority and cannot meet with the expectation of the many. The questions may arise: how certain is the political Islam to religiously implement the Shari’ah consistent with its tenets that justice, freedom and equality should always be prevailed? Or Shari’ah law is only true to the poor and the marginalized sectors of society who have no capability to influence the government whereas in the same vein, when the elites violate the law, it does not apply to them. Another interesting question is how does the political Islam treat for example the problem of Christian minority living in an Islamic state which is fighting also for self-determination? Are they going to grant them independence or just ignore what they are fighting and continuously violate their right in the name of state unity? Indeed, the aforementioned questions are great challenges for the political Islam.

By examining more closely the issues relating to human rights discussed in this essay one way that the Arabs will be able to put things in place is “through constant dialogue at all levels” (Mustapha, 1997). In this way, Arabs will be able to gradually develop a modernist interpretation of Islam because for the most part, modernists concepts of human rights are flexible and close to those in the West. The modernist approach of Islam tends to be indispensable in today’s world of increasing numbers of fundamentalists Islam because “unless Muslims change their world view and the cultural patterns and attitudes related to it, the conflict between Islamic human rights concepts and international human rights standards will continue to prevail as a source of conflict between civilizations. (Tibi, 1994).


Afshari, Reza, An essay on Islamic cultural relativism in the discourse of human rights, Human Rights Quarterly, 16, (2), 1994, pp.23-276.

Dalacoura, Katerina, Islam, Liberalism and Human Rights: Implications for International Relations, (Revised Ed.), London, I.B. Tauris, 2003

Humphreys, R. Stephen, Between memory and desire: the Middle East in a troubled age, California, University of California Press, 2005.

Kelsay, John, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, South Carolina, University of South Carolina Press, 1988.

Mayer, Elizabeth, Islam and Human Rights: Tradition and Politics, (2nd Ed.), United Kingdom, Westview Press, Inc.

_________________ The Universality of Human Rights: Lessons from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Social Research, 76, (2), 2000, pp.519-537.

_________________ The Human Rights Jihad, in M. Kramer, (Ed.), The Islamism Debate, Tel Aviv, The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 1997, pp.119-135.

Mustapha, Al-Sayyid, Theoretical issues in the Arab human rights movement, Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), 19, (1), 1997, pp.23-30.

Najjar, Fauzi, The Arabs, Islam and globalization, Middle East Policy, 12, (3), 2005, pp.91-105.

Polisi, Catherine, Universal rights and cultural relativism: Hinduism and Islam deconstructed, World Affairs, 167, (1), 2004, 41-45.

Strawson, John, A western question to the Middle East: ‘Is there a human rights in Islam?’, Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), 19, (1), 1997, pp.31-58.

Tibi, Bassam, Islamic law/Shari’a, human rights, universal morality and international relations, Human Rights Quarterly, 16, (2), 1994, pp.277-299

The predicament of society and state in Sudan: in search of an alternative By: Hanie A. Bud

The society and state in Sudan have been greatly confronted by “sociopolitical and economic factors which complicated matters even further” (Warburg, 1985:400) as power in Sudan continued to be under the hands of those greed politicians whose personal interests are the ones being prioritized rather than the interest of the general public. Basically, Sudan is composed mainly of two (2) historic regions which remained in conflict with one another. The North is home with approximately 70 percent of the population and is dominated by Muslims, and the South has a mixed population of traditional Christians, local tribes which adhere to traditional African religions, and Muslim minority consisting 30 percent of the total population. “The two (2) regions were kept separate, initially at the end of the 19th century, as a result of British/French rivalry and cemented under British rule” (Crana, 1994:137).

The perennial uprisings between the North and the South does not only bring unprecedented loss of life and property to the two warring parties but also has caused total damage to other small groups of people or communities like the people in Nuba, Ingessanna, Fur, and Beja who were being caught in conflict and suffered the intense agony of the war. These people became the victims of human rights abuses by both the government and the opposing parties in the South and later felt that they are part of neither the North nor the South. Hence, the problem facing Sudan does not only pertain to the two regions but also has relative to these seemingly neglected places which are also believed to be among the potential sources of instability.

The main focus of this essay is to examine the past and present predicament of society interplay with the state in Sudan. Since the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium years (1898-1956) in Sudan has a far-reaching impact on the socio-political and economic development of Sudan, the narration will commence during this period. Next, post independence of Sudanese society and a concise analysis of almost three (3) decades of Nimeri’s regime in Sudan will be highlighted. Then, critical assessment of reinstatement of the Mahdist in power and the Islamic regime in Sudan will be also discussed. Finally, in the conclusion a brief summary, personal opinions as well as alternative solutions & recommendations to the problems besetting Sudan will further be elaborated.

As mentioned above, the legacy brought about by the Anglo-Egyptian occupation in Sudan or the so-called “Condominium Agreement” has enormous effects in the socio-political and economic domains of life in Sudan. “In law, the term “condominium” denotes a transitional government to rule a territory the sovereignty of which is in doubt” (Mahgoub, 1974:35) and originally as what is enshrined in the agreement, Sudan should be under the joint administration of both Great Britain and Egypt, but in practice however, “it was the British alone who ruled in Sudan because all ranks down to the lower positions being Britons” (Albino, 1970:16).

Apparently, the disparity “inherent in the economic structure of Sudan under the Condominium provides the key to understanding the country’s social and political dynamics” (Niblock, 1987:49). These inequalities or imbalances are evident in the way the condominium government treated the prevailing social classes or categories of people and the way they distinctly administered the regions. It is true that only the existing “social groups like the religious leaders, tribal leaders, merchants and higher civil servants or politicians” (Niblock, 1987:50) were greatly benefited economically and politically during the Condominium years. The Condominium leadership considered these social groups as threats and the primordial potent forces to oppose the regime. The apprehension was that once they are already served no one would stand out to go against the administration. Likewise, the obvious uneven distribution of economic opportunities among the regions has contributed largely to the root cause of the social problem, which until recent times is unlikely to be resolved. It is noted that the Condominium government has concentrated their efforts in developing the North part of the country with less attention given to the South. As a result of this policy, marginalization of the less fortunate inhabitants and the feeling of isolation of the Southerners was highly likely to be apparent.

Given the scenario of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, it is safe to argue that for more than half century of the Condominium rule in Sudan, it does not only put the country in the context where “there is no common coin of national unity-either ethnic, socio-economic of psychological” (Zartman, 1964:128) but also provide a complex puzzle wherein even succeeding administrations no matter how they exhausted their efforts periodically to offer for a solution, such efforts were always in vain.

The situation of the Sudanese society remained unchanged until the proclamation of its independence in 1956. It is a worth noting that a year prior to the independence, in 1955 civil war has already begun and power as well as huge part of the economic resources of the country were only shared, owned and distributed between and among the elites who represented the few numbers in the society. Hence, Sudan came to independence in the midst of social, political as well as economic turmoil. This predicament was exacerbated when the “country was continuously ruled by dictatorial regimes” (El-Tigani, 2001) following its independence. Although civilian or democratic governments for a while had the opportunity to govern the country, the regimes failed to prove their worth due to their ineffective and inefficient strategies to overcome the test of time.

It is essential to note here that among the political leaders in the Northern part of the country are composed of the bourgeoisies or the elites who mainly are coming from different Muslim political parties. Considering these Muslim political parties have contradicting opinions and different line of visions in ruling the country, it led to the rivalry and intense struggle for power to the extent of sacrificing the interest of the people if only to achieve their personal gains.

In regard to the Southern political scene, “in the post-independence period the deep political divisions not only survived but became anything more apparent” (Woodward, 1979:169). Unfortunately, due to the unfavorable policy to the South by the Condominium government, which seemed that “Britain deliberately slowed down the development of the southern part of the country while allowing things in the North to take their course” (Eprile, 1974:17) has caused to the vulnerability of political structure of the Southerners. Furthermore, the said policy has contributed to the state of “backwardness and inexperience of the Southerners and consequently, they were only give six (6) out of eight hundred (800) senior government posts to replace British officials” (Eprile, 1974:21).

Meanwhile, while the problem of political sectarianism in the North and weak political organization in the South continuously besetting their midst, there emerged a profound dissatisfaction of regions especially the east and the west parts of Sudan which were also disregarded by the Khartoum-based government. These regions felt isolated and have thought that the only way to get rid of this problem is to put forward their cause for consideration of the central government. Finally, on the question of the basis on framing up the Constitution has led to the increasing tension among the Sudanese political parties which eventually took more than a decade before they finally come up with the underlying principles of the Constitution.

Verney, et al as an observation to the general picture of Sudan after independence, point out that:

‘The national political scene from 1956 to 1972 was characterized by Muslim sectarian domination of the Main northern political parties, weak southern political organizations, regional discontent in the underdeveloped east and west of Sudan, and a failure to reach a national consensus on the form of Constitution to be adopted after independence” (1995: 12).

Moreover, Zartman notes that, “from the start, nationalism brought to Sudan was not awakening of sense of national unity, but the factionalization of politics” (1964: 126) which has plunged the country into an ambiguous situation. To quote again Zartman on the political scenario of Sudan after independence, he said:

“Southerners’ demands for consideration of a federal system were given little heed, but some northerners’ desires to establish an Islamic republic based on the shariah were likewise rejected, along with ansar demands for a hereditary position for the Mahdi’s descendant” (Zartman, 1964:138).

When Nimeiri overthrew his predecessor, the people especially the Southerners were hopeful that the leadership would institute social reform and economic development. Unfortunately, this hope did not translate into reality because although “The political institution of the Nimeiri regime were initially designed as instruments for radical and social change, but were actually used for a different purpose” (Niblock, 1987:262). Nimeiri is no difference with the dictatorial regimes that came to power before him and even tend to be worst as he failed to address the original problem facing his country. For example, instead of providing solution to the problem of social unrest that is happening in the South, he puts a fuel on the fire because of his unilateral decision of the enforcement of the Islamic law. It is claimed that his decision to adopt the Islamic law is line with his motive to win the hearts of the Islamists for the support in his next candidacy. Unsurprisingly, he was successful in his strategy but his decision later became also the cause of his downfall. Civil war was aggravated due to the people’s dissatisfaction of the entire performance of Nimeri’s leadership and especially his imbalanced economic policies. Persistence of the civil action to remove Nimeiri from power came only into halt when he finally relinquished his power in 1985.

After the transitional period following Nimeiri, the coalition government led by Sadiq Al-Mahdi came into the scene. Al-Mahdi’s government tried to unite the political parties and had reached out the Southerners to bring peace and development. Furthermore al-Mahdi “was riding a national wave toward unity and a collective sense of purpose, the focal point of which was the abrogation of the Islamic laws of Nimeiri. While the NIF was unequivocally Islamic, al-Mahdi and his party wanted to combine the mission of Islam with the idea of a historic multicultural and multireligious Sudanse nation, led by the Mahdist dynasty” (Deng, 1993:190). But his perceived civilian ruled government did not last long because the leadership seems to have less political experience to surpass the complex problems facing the country which have rooted in the context of civil war and rebellion. The government of Prime Minister Al-Mahdi was overthrown by military government led by Omar Ahmed al-Basher with the overwhelming backup of the National Organization Front (NIF) of Hassan al-Turabi.
Since the regime of al-Basher was greatly influenced by the ideology of the NIF, right after its installation to power they fully enforced the Islamic law in all domains of society without taking heed of the rights of the non-Muslim minorities in the country. The regime “has demonstrated its intolerance of political dissidence, and ethnic and cultural diversity” (Verney, et al, 1995: 5). In fact, for just a short span of time after the Islamic government came to power, there were enormous violations of human rights, tortures and extra judicial killings perpetrated by the government. That is why the reputation of the Sudan governed by the hostile Islamic regime did not gain favorable image and was likely to be unacceptable to the international communities especially the West.

Political tandem between al-Basher and al-Turabi did not end up with good result for both political figures have different and conflicting visions about the future of Sudan. Al-Basher is accommodative in his policy of adopting the Islamic law, while al-Turabi tends to be aggressive and has a strict adherence to the Islamic fundamentals as found in the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet. Moreover, it was a general knowledge that al-Turabi was undermining the leadership of al-Basher. Thus, as a preemptive defense, the government of al-Basher did not give the NIF the chance to advance their political interest and succumbed al-Turabi to prison.

As an analysis of the Islamists leadership in Sudan, Lobban & Lobban observe that:

“Nearly fifty years after its independence Sudan is still grappling with the basic elements of building a democratic, just, and stable state. An Islamic state for the culturally and religiously plural Sudan is both inappropriate and morally unjust with a third of its population being non-Muslim” (Lobban & Lobban, 1989)

Likewise Burr and Collins point out that:

“Although many Sudanese on the periphery of the Sudan in the south, west, and the east were devout Muslims, they were never attracted to the Islamists who demanded conformity at the price of their deep attachment to their traditional cultures, Sufi Islam, and ethnic identity” (Burr & Collins, 2003: 279).

Hence, It can be seen that the problem in Sudan when analyzed in a proper perspective reveals that it is basically the structure of the government that hurdled the progress and development in the country. Sudan has already been experimented by sorts of governments-parliamentary, military, Islamic, periodic democracy all have failed. Since the current regime of al-Basher is heading again to democratic form of government ensuring that every citizen has the right to participate in the political arena, it is high time for the Sudanese people to re-think about their political position that best suited to their complex and diverse communities and for the concerned government to attend to this alternative option. “Despite the gloom that pervades the economic statistics and the political analyses, there is, however, a reason for hope, if not conviction, that the Sudan can survive and even prosper” (Holt, 1988:224) if only the current government consider the idea of federal form of government. By federal government, it means that:

“in which there is a division of power between one general and several regional authorities, each of which in its own sphere is co-ordinated with the others and each of which acts directly on the people through its own agencies” (Birch as cited in Beshir, 1968:103).

Given this, the different states comprising Sudan will not only be provided with the greater autonomy to govern themselves which they have long been aspiring for but also they will have the chance to prove themselves as a social group capable of instituting social transformation and community development within their respective area of jurisdiction.


1.) Albino, O., Sudan; a southern viewpoint, London, Oxford University Press, 1970.

2.) Beshir, M.O., Southern Sudan; background to conflict, London, C. Hurst & Co., 1968.

3.) Burr, J., & Collins, R. (Eds.), Revolutionary Sudan: Hasan al-Turabi and the Islamist State, 1989-2000, Netherlands, Koninkijke Brill, NV, Leiden, 2003

4.) Cranna, M. (Ed.), The true cost of conflict, New York, New York Press, 1994.

5.) Daly, M., & Sikainga, A. (Eds.), Civil war in Sudan, London, British Academic Press, 1993.

6.) Deng, F., Hidden agendas in peace process, in M. Daly & A. Sikainga, (Eds.), Civil war in Sudan, London, British Academic Press, 1993.

7.) Donald, P., Inside Sudan: political Islam, conflict, and catastrophe, Oxford, Westview, 1999

8.) El-Tigani, M., Solving the crisis of Sudan: The right of self-determination versus state torture, Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), 2001, 23, (2), pp. 41-59.

9.) Eprile, C., War and Peace in the Sudan, 1955-1972, New Abbot, David & Charles, 1974.

10.) Holt, P., The History of the Sudan, from the coming of Islam to the present day. (4th Ed.) New York, Longman Inc., 1988.

11.) Keen, D., The benefits of famine: a political economy of famine and relief in southwestern Sudan, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1994.

12.) Lobban, R., & Fluehr-Lobban, C. (2001). The Sudan since 1989: National Islamic Front Rule. Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ). 23, (2), pp. 1-9.

13.) Mahgoub, M., Democracy on trial; reflection on Arab and African politics, London, Andre Deutsch, 1974.

14.) Niblock, T., Class and power in Sudan: the dynamics of Sudanese politics, 1898-1985, Hampshire, Macmillan Press, 1987.

15.) Spiers, E., (Ed.), Sudan: the reconquest reappraised, London, Frank Cass, 1998.

16.) Verney P, et al, (1995). Sudan: conflict and minorities. London: Minority Rights Group.

17.) Voll, J., Sudan-state and society in crisis, International Journal of African Historical Studies, 1992, 25, (2), pp. 419-421.

18.) Warburg, G., Islam and state in Numayri Sudan, Africa, 1985, 55, (4), pp. 400-413.

19.) Warburg, G., British policy towards the Ansar in Sudan: a note on an historical controversy, Middle Eastern Studies, 1997, 33, (4), pp. 675-694.

20.) Wai, D., (Ed.), Political trends in the Sudan and the future of the South, in D. Wai, The Southern Sudan; the problem of national integration, London, F. Cass, 1973, pp. 143-171.

21.) Woodward, P., Condominium and Sudanese nationalism, London, Collings, 1979.

22.) Zartman, I. W., (Ed.), Collapsed states: the disintegration and restoration of legitimate authority, Boulder, L. Rienner Publishers, 1995.

The Dynamics of Islam and Politics in Indonesia By: Hanie A. Bud

Home of the predominantly Muslim population, Indonesia is ranked as the “fourth- most populous nation in the world” (Masters, 1999:5). Of the total number of population, “88 % described themselves as Muslims” (Reid, 1993:1) with less percentage of Christian minority and other religious denominations. Given the substantial number of Muslim inhabitants in the country, it is highly likely that Islam has played an important role in shaping Indonesian political system. Indeed, the question of the place of Islam within the state of Indonesia has been the subject of heated arguments among its founding fathers and has continued intermittently until recent times.

The purpose of this essay is to examine the attempts by both Muslim political groups or intellectuals and successive Indonesian administrations in resolving the prolonged debate on the political relationship between Islam and the state. The approach is historical and politically narrative with critical analysis on some important key issues in different periods of history of Indonesia. Specifically, it tracks the period prior to independence until the post-Soeharto era in 1998.

In order to get a clear picture of the significant role of political Islam interplay with the state, it is essential to deal first with the historical background of the emergence of Islamic organizations in Indonesia. One of the important and earliest Islamic organizations prior to Independence was Serakat Islam (SI), which was established in 1912. The nature of this organization is very religious and is greatly influenced by some Middle Eastern political revivalist thinkers. Its primary purpose is to strengthen the Islamization of the political, economic and social dimensions of life of Indonesian people. Hence, “in order to achieve this aim, independence from colonial power was imperative” (Abdulrahim, 1991:6). Later, Serakat Islam was succeeded by Partai Serakat Islam Indonesia (PSII) and because there was a felt need for the unification of various Islamic organizations, the Japanese occupation in Indonesia insinuated the creation of the Madjlis Sjuro Muslimin Indonesia (MASJUMI). Looking more closely at this development, it is safe to argue that political Islam is one of the potent forces that paved the way for the Indonesian independence.

It is worth noting that there has been a considerable disagreement among these Islamic groupings and although, Indonesia is composed of Muslim majority, the notion of categorizing them into a single group tends to be insignificant. They have varying opinions and attitudes as to the interpretation of Islam in relation to the state. Noer categorized these Islamic groups as the “traditionalist and modernist” (1978:1), which basically have been in competition to gain more followers for the adherence of their respective ideology. Since “traditionalists” appeared to have the adequate mechanisms and have gained the strong support of most of the Muslims before the Independence; their voices were heard in lieu of the “modernists”. Consequently, the ideology of the traditionalists which has the strict interpretation of the religion and is likely not receptive towards progress and modernization was carried out to be the stand of the Islamic group before independence.

No doubt that the relationship between the Islamic group that is adherent to the traditionalist principles and the Nationalist group which is established by western-educated young intellectuals and is totally opposed to the ideology of the former group, has always been problematic. According to Hamayotsu:
“In Indonesia, the fate of Islam was disproportionately discredited in the main course of nation building. This alienation reinforced the peculiar political and ideological discourse which centred on the rivalry between the two “institutionalised traditions”: the so-called Merah-putih (Nationalist) and Hijau (Islamic)” (Hamayotsu, 2002).
Eventually, due to the increasing pressure of the immediate declaration of independence from the colonial power, the two factions came into agreement based on the principle of the national unitary state, which was introduced by Soekarno. The national unitary state adheres to the five (5) ideological and philosophical basis of the state or known as Pancasila, that ensures equal treatment of Indonesian constituents regardless of religious affiliations. In short, Pancasila as advocated by the nationalist group, promotes unity among the diverse groups of people of Indonesia. At first, the Muslim groups were dissatisfied with the five (5) principles, but later they accepted because of the compromise agreement as embodied in the Jakarta Charter. The Charter was primarily served to offer solution to the increasing tension between the Islamic groups and the nationalist. It stipulated the famous seven words: ‘dengan kewajiban menjalankan syariat Islam bagi pemeluknya’ into the preamble of the Constitution of Indonesia. Furthermore, “It laid down that the state was to be based upon the belief in God, with the obligation for the adherents of Islam to carry out the Islamic law” (Abdulrahim, 1991:15), which the Muslim groups believed favorable to their cause.
However, at the last moment of the declaration of independence, decision was drastically changed because of the influence of the Dutch to delete the seven words in the proposed preamble of the Constitution in consideration of some places in Indonesia where Christian settlers are the majority. They have earlier announced that should these words will not be omitted, they will not join the republic. Thus, Jakarta Charter was totally nullified and what prevailed as the basis of the state when Indonesia was finally declared an independent state in 1945 was the original version of the five (5) principles or Pancasila of Soekarno.
The Islamic groups felt betrayed of the decision on the eleventh hour prior to the declaration of independence to omit the seven words. This decision has “acted as a point of contention for many Islamic groups in Indonesia, and has influenced their relationship with the government since Independence” (Hosen, 2005). In fact, one may argue that among the primary factors that contributed to the instability of the reign of Soekarno was the failure of his regime to attend to the aspiration of the Islamic groups. His regime was beset by internal problems particularly on the controversial issue on the question of the position of Islam in the state. Frequently, years following the independence, there has been attempts of reinstating the seven words to the preamble of the Constitution but the administration of Soekarno did not take heed instead he implemented the 1950 Constitution, which “mandated a parliamentary system with a largely ceremonial president, guaranteed human rights, placed the military under civilian control, and provided checks and balances on the misuse of power” (Masters, 1999:6).
Although the 1950 Constitution was perceived to be ideal and none but the Indonesian themselves drafted the Constitution, its flaws to address the root of the original problem relative to the persistence of the Islamic-based parties to integrate the Islamic law, had contributed largely for the Constitution not to survive longer. In 1959, “Soekarno unilaterally abrogated it, reimposed the 1945 Constitution, and formally proclaimed Guided Democracy” (Masters, 1999:6). The idea of establishing “guided democracy” as Porter has put it:
“which, in one of formulation was to include a national front as a co-ordinating body for functional groups under Soekarno’s leadership. The thinking behind functional groups was that all groups and interests that comprised the nation would be incorporated and linked to the state according to the function and/or profession they performed.” (2002:24)
Notwithstanding the enthusiasm that Soekarno’s administration has shown, it would seem that Soekarno could not stand up anymore due to the various obstacles that came along his midst. Pressures from the Islamic groups and other political groupings like the Communist movement of Indonesia which emerged as the strong rival of the administration were very intense and have caused the downfall of Soekarno in 1965.
During the dawn of the installation of Soeharto to power, Islamic groups have once again aired their sentiments and it was their fervent hope that their voice will be heard. “But alongside and initial optimism, a feeling of disappointment soon arose, because things did not go as had been hoped” (Boland, 1971). Soeharto’s regime particularly for more than two decades was likely to be adamant in regard to the idea of accommodating Islamic policy. As a matter of fact, “separation of the state and religion even found its clearest manifestation during Soeharto’s rule. For example, to reinforce his beliefs that politics should not be dictated by religious considerations, Soeharto in 1985 forced Islamic organizations to renounce Islam as their ideological basis.” (Sukma, 2003:4). He made it a point that these Islamic organizations should adhere to the principles of Pancasila as their sole ideological principle. It is important to note here that Soeharto persistently asserted this policy because he had seen no room for compromise with the Islamic faction which remained firmed with their traditionalist stance of political Islam.
Only in the later years of Soeharto, the regime shifted its policy towards Islamic political groups. This development is justified by the administration in consonance with the approach of the Islamic group which turned to be modernist. More importantly, Soeharto has viewed Muslim political force as an asset rather than a threat to his administration the fact that he had already a bargaining talk with the leader of the group like Abdurahman Wahid, who had earlier “invoked Indonesia’s ideology, Pancasila, rather than Islam” (Ramage, 1996). Hence, as a mode of integrating and accommodating Islam, “structural, legislative, infrastructural and cultural changes have been initiated in all levels of society in Indonesia. Ultimately, if the Islamic group had still been pursuing a Muslim state and had not shifted towards more societal, non-political goals, Soeharto would likely never have been so accommodating. (Effendy, 2003)
On the other hand, more friendly treatment of Soeharto towards the Islamic communities was viewed as his most effective strategy to gain his much-needed support from the public. It is a fact that in the later years of Soeharto’s leadership, his popularity and reputation as a public servant began to wane. Sukma argued that “Islamic factor was given attention in the context of broadening and strengthening the power base and legitimacy of the regime at a time when Islam was seen to be a potent force which could help fulfill those objectives” (Sukma, 2003). In another view, in order to “boost his own position in the run-up to the (1993) elections” (Effendy, 2003), he had to adopt this policy.
Although Soeharto was successful in his bid in the 1993 election, following years of his stay in office was unfavorably cloudy climate for the Indonesian people. The country was confronted by various domestic and external problems which tend to exacerbate day by day due to the ineffectiveness of the regime to combat and provide extra measures for its prevention. Losing its vital grip from the constituents, the regime of Soeharto was finally ended in 1998 when he stepped down from office due to the inevitable civil disturbance who was very determined to oust him from power.

The period after 1998 was another milestone in regard to the relationship of Islam and politics in Indonesia. “The rule of Soeharto was to last for 32 years, and he became increasingly oppressive with the passage of time, (Masters, 1999, p. 8). This political breakthrough after the period of containment, led to the vital growth of Indonesian political self-consciousness. “The most visible political development in post-Soeharto era was the rise of political Islam” (Azra, 2004:133) and this has eventually “provided them the opportunity to propose again the introduction of Shari’ah into the Constitution” (Hosen, 2000). It is essential to note that among the “181 political parties that emerged, 42 parties are considered Islamic” (Effendy, 2003:200). Although on one hand the emergence of numerous Islamic political parties can be viewed as a sign of democratic environment wherein it legitimizes their participation in the political arena, but on the other hand, it jeopardizes their original motive for the application of Islamic law. Thus, no matter how the Islamic political parties tried to influence the administration on the adoption of Shari’ah law, it would seem that the possibility of its realization is likely to be minimal as even from among the Islamic parties they do not have a concrete definition as to the mode of its application and remained divided in terms of the interpretation of the Islamic ideology.

In conclusion, the periodic attempts of the Islamic movements to implement Islamic law/Shari’ah as the basis of the law of the land in Indonesia and the consistency of its failures from the very beginning until the recent times, “is a clear indication of formal Islam’s lack of appeal to Indonesian Muslims” (Azra, 2004:145). Had the Indonesian Muslims convinced by the ideology of the Islamic political groups, they would have been voted for them in the 1999 elections for it was high the time for them to show and prove their support. Surprisingly, the Islamic political groups had gained fewer votes preventing them to occupy more seats in the parliament. This does not, however, reflect that Indonesian Muslims do not really adhere to the original teachings of Islam, but one may argue that their interpretation of Islam is more progressive, liberal and consistent with the contemporary concept of ideal form of governance.

Therefore, the impasse between political Islam and the state in Indonesia must be seen from another lens. As elsewhere, where government failed to institute reform and development in all domains, dissatisfaction from among the constituents is inevitable. This kind of scenario is what has been exactly happening in Indonesian society. Unless the problems of poor governance, limited freedom of democracy, crooked law and order, and instability of national economy are not being properly addressed, the hostile relationship between political Islam and the state is far from being resolved and Indonesia will continue to face its status-quo.


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Globalization in the Arab world: varying perspectives of the Muslim intelligentsia By: Hanie A. Bud

Although globalization experience in the Muslim world is not new, it was not until the late twentieth century until present, wherein its massive and adverse impact is largely felt by the Middle East, in general, and the Arab world, in particular. It is widely acknowledged that in recent years, Arabs are faced by a huge challenge and are “quite concerned about maintaining their cultural identity and their sovereignty amidst the West’s superiority and its pervading globalization” (Najjar, 2005). Arab communities tend to have left no choice than to face this challenge for the new globalization process is commonly “perceived as a natural and inevitable phenomenon” (Murden, 2002:93) that is pervasively penetrating in all levels of society. This is evident in the way in which globalization is impacting the socio-political and economic condition of the Arab world.

However, “globalization has been viewed from different perspectives” Shboul, 2004:45) within the Arab world. Generally, these views are representing the traditionalists or the fundamentalists and the views of the more moderate or secularists, more progressive Muslims. The former views basically are the extremists’ voices which are very radical and extreme in their understanding about globalization. They totally close their door toward the idea of globalization, consider this as the effective strategy of the West, particularly the Americans to undermine Islam, and to alienate Muslims from their original roots and history. The latter have more positive outlook toward globalization. Since they believe that globalization is seemingly an inevitable phenomenon brought about by development in all domains, they argued that the Arabs should be more open and accept this process, taking advantage of the good benefits that may derive out from it.

In this essay I subscribe to the idea of the latter group of Muslim thinkers who have a positive attitude about globalization and what is happening around the Arab world. After all, we are all endowed with human intellect which basically enables us to distinguish what is good from what is bad. If globalization is designed to weaken the faith of the Muslims, it is incumbent upon the Muslims to understand fully its repercussions and not to reject it. Truly, it is hard to appreciate something when at the beginning it is already been denied.

The negative attitude by the Islamists Fundamentalists toward globalization is associated with their innate anguish of the American policy. It is a common belief among majority of the Muslims that globalization is “identified with American military, political and economic superiority” (Najjar, 2005) and that the radical group of Muslims cannot just accept this fact and have exhausted their efforts by all means to prevent the Americans to influence their cultures, beliefs and traditions.

It is argued that the rejection of globalization idea is due to the long and dismal experience of the Arabs under the hands of the imperialists West. The advent of industrial revolution which begun in Europe is an economic breakthrough for the Europeans and the Westerners, which subsequently led to their political dominion in the Middle East and the rest of the parts of the world. Eighteenth century is characterized by the massive expansion of the area of jurisdiction of the Europeans. By means of trade and conquest, they were successful in building an empire in the Middle East that paved the way to the “absorption of the Muslims into the European global systems” (Murden, 2002:95). From then until today, Muslims are, to a certain extent, concerned about their fate – absorbing a system which does not suit to their customs and traditions.

Thus, owing to the new development of globalizing world, the fundamentalists are alarmed of the possible consequences should they will not adopt measure to combat globalization. Moreover, there is a general consensus among majority of the Arabs that globalization greatly influence the socio-cultural, economic and political situation of the Arab world.

Firstly, in the socio-cultural sphere, there is an increasing fear that as a consequence of globalization, it will lead to “more social fragmentation, and more negative effects on family ties, moral values, and cultural character” (Shboul, 2004:56). The Arabs are divided into social classes. If the Westerners have these bourgeoisies and the aristocrats, they too, have this idea of classification between the rich and the poor, although the disparity there is highly likely more apparent in the Arab world. The fundamentalists Muslims believe that globalization aggravates this social discrepancy between the elites and the marginalized lower classes of Muslim societies which eventually result to the situation, wherein the rich becomes richer and the poor becomes poorer as is the case currently happening in some of the Middle East countries. Furthermore, fundamentalists feared much about the influence of the Western values and lifestyles that is seen as vulnerable especially among the younger Muslim generation. Evidence of this is the looming moral decadence prevalent in the Muslim communities, which is seemingly inexorable no matter how the fundamentalists intensify their campaign against the influence of the western cultures.

Secondly, as regard to the economic sphere, since “economic globalization has conventionally referred to the cross-border integration of production, trade, financial transactions, and capital flows” (Rudy, 2004:46), the radical Islamists found it difficult to cope up with the challenges that Murden has identified in his book, Islam, the Middle East, and the New Global Hegemony. Murden points out that:

The new globalization presented Muslim state and societies with two major challenges. First, reform was liable to destabilize local economies as markets were liberalized. Second, economic reform was designed to engage with foreign capital and global markets; apart from the direct on economic life, liberalization opened societies to the culture of the market as well as the individualism and consumerism that went with it. (2002:94).

Aside from the above-mentioned economic challenges confronting the Muslim world, it is noted that other economic effect of globalization, which is also besetting the Arab world, is the obviously income disparities again between the rich and the poor. As the economic elites are enjoying the benefits of the divisive effect economic liberalization, the poor people incessantly feel the prolonged agony of the uneven distribution of goods and resources.

Finally and perhaps the most feared aspect that will be affected as a result of globalization is the political sphere. “Political globalization refers not to the consolidation of democracy in each sovereign state but to the universal institutionalization of normative, ethical, and legal governance, “a cosmopolitan of global civil society” that trumps sovereignty” (Habermas, 1999:264 as cited in Rudy, 2004:52). Hence, Islamists are vigilant of the major political changes that may have occurred in the Middle East as a direct effect of globalization. The fact that political globalization tends to homogenize Muslim societies along the lines of a Western concept of democracy, Islamist argue that it certainly would not work and fit with the political environment in the Muslim state and societies.

Certain scholars have observed that the pessimistic attitude of the traditionalists or the Islamists toward globalization is due to the their limited knowledge and loose grasp of the meaning and implication of globalization. The word is overly discussed elsewhere in the Arab world but only few who are able to give a precise meaning of the concept. As Pipes notes that “many fundamentalists are ignorant of their own history and tradition” (1997:55). Although most of them are educated, learn the history and cultures of the West, it seems that they completely blind themselves to the positive idea that they can get from the West. For instance like the renowned Muslim thinker Abul A’la Maududi, Nasr explains:
Maududi’s formulation was by no means rooted in traditional Islam. He adopted modern ideas and values, mechanisms, procedures, and idioms, weaving them into an Islamic fabric…he sought not to resurrect an atavistic order but to modernize the traditional conception of Islamic thought and life. His vision represented a clear break with Islamic tradition and a fundamentally new reading of Islam which took its cue from modern thought” (as cited in Pipes, 1997:55)

Hence the tendency of this inadequate grasp of original teaching of Islam is the misleading interpretation of any form of development. Moreover, since these fundamentalists have pre-conceived biases and prejudices toward the West, any western originated concept like globalization is certainly met in the by the fundamentalists with strong opposition.

On the other hand, not all Muslim intelligentsia opposed to globalization. There are those who view globalization in a positive, more open and sensible approach. Dr. Fuad Zakariya, an Egyptian professor of philosophy, Dr. Rashid Ghannoushi, the founder of the Tunisian Islamic Renaissance Party, Jurj Tarabishi, a prominent Syrian writer, among others, are examples of Islamic activists, however, secular, moderate and more progressive in their interpretation about Islam in general and globalization in particular. For Dr. Zakariyya, those who have negative attitude toward globalization have misunderstood its meaning and implication. And thus, “Zakariyya’s concern is not primarily to defend globalization but to defend “sound thinking” and to question the enlightenment of those who speak constantly about things they know little or nothing about” (Najjar, 2005). He further argues that there are other contemporary relevant issues and problems confronting the Muslim communities that need to attend to and not just focus so much of their time on criticizing globalization and the negative impact that goes with it.

For Ghannoushi, considering the overwhelming numbers of Arab thinkers and their followers who have tended to mistakenly give wrong impression about globalization, efforts should also be done from among the liberalists Muslims who have the capacity to persuade in order to correct this misconception. He himself is a good example for in his works, his attendance in conferences or seminars about globalization, he always puts an emphasis on the positive aspect that Muslims can get out from this development brought about by globalization. Interestingly, because of the unselfish efforts, Ghannoushi is able to influence some of his Arab compatriots and are able to reflect positive attributes of globalization in most of their writings. Ghannoushi believes “advocacy for a purpose-oriented comprehension (al-fahm al-maqasidi) of Islam” (Shboul, 2004) is apparently indispensable to provide an authentic view about Islam in relation to recent developments and not the fundamendalists view which most of the time biased and put Islam in a state of backwardness is the one always prevailed.

Perhaps the more critical Arab thinker in defense of globalization is Tarabishi. He charges those that oppose globalization of using this as a tool to reinforce their position of disapproving western concept of development. He maintains a view there are there are “subconscious psychological fixations, stubborn and fanatical, behind such a negative attitude” (as cited in Najjar, 2005), as well as, he defends the notion that globalization is tantamount to the struggle of the West for their superiority in all spheres. Furthermore, he is dismayed of the efforts of his Arab compatriots of overly reacting to globalization process in the Middle East and for dubbing globalization as equals “cultural invasion, imperialism, dependency and modernity that they were Western and invasive” (Ibid). He seems to be tired already of listening to such a superfluous claim which is exaggeratedly brought up in most of the public gatherings, symposia, conferences, books, and the like on globalization. His concern of the misleading campaign of the fundamentalists about the wrong perception of globalization in the context of Islam triggers him to give also his views in all forms in defense of globalization.

In conclusion, globalization controversial is undeniably among the controversial and delicate issues which have been the subject of discourse in the public meetings conferences and seminars held in many Arab nations in the world. The topic in a way is controversial because it concerns the fate of the Muslims and their future generations. However, it can be observed that there is a great deal of exaggeration as regard to the views of the fundamentalist on the negative effects of globalization on socio-cultural, economic and political condition of the Arab world. Notwithstanding its negative effect impacting the Muslim communities, which even Kofi Anna is reported to have said: “However, millions of people around the world experience globalization not as an agent of progress but as a disruptive force, almost hurricanelike in its ability to destroy lives, jobs, and traditions” Kofi Annan, 2002 as cited in Ahmed, 2003), Muslims especially the intellectuals who have more pragmatic approach should remain steadfast and accept the “challenge of understanding Islam in an age of postmoderdity” (Ahmed & Donnan) in aid of putting the interpretation of Islam in the right perspectives. After all, globalization is a product of historical development wherein every community of the world whether Muslims or non-Muslims is vulnerably affected by the process of globalization. Otherwise, those who oppose globalization will be left in a state of backwardness and from achieving the process of modern civilization.

Ahmed, Akbar, Islam under siege, UK, Polity Press, 2003.

Ahmed, Akbar & Donnan Hastings, Islam, Globalization and Postmodernity, London, Routledge, 1994.

Murden, Simon, Islam, the Middle East, and the New Global Hegemony, United State of America, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 2002.

Najjar, Fauzi, The Arabs, Islam and globalization, Middle East Policy, 12, (3), 2005, pp.91-106.

Pipes, Daniel, The Western Mind of Radical Islam, in M. Kramer (Ed.), The Islamism Debate, Tel Aviv University, The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, 1997, pp.51-67.

Rudy, Sayres, Subjectivity, Political Evaluation, and Islamist Trajectories, in B. Schaebler & L. Stenberg, (Eds.), Globalization and the Muslim World, Culture, Religion, and Modernity, New York, Syracuse University Press, 2004, pp. 39-79.

Shboul, Ahmad, Islam and Globalization: Arab World Perspectives, in V. Hooker & A. Saikal, (Eds.), Islamic Perspectives on the New Millennium, Singapore, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2004, pp. 43-73.

Tibi, Bassam, Islam Between Culture and Politics, New York, Palgrave, 2001.

Varying Perspectives of the Muslim Secularists, Modernists and Traditionalists on the Concept of the State

“Because of Islam’s potential for differing interpretation, there has been no single unified notion on the concept of state” (Effendy, 2003:6). Muslims, although shared a common faith, confessing their belief in one God and in His book and the teaching of His Prophet Muhammad, have long been experiencing intellectual crisis which centers on the relationship between Islam and the state due to the fact that seemingly, Islam does not lay down any clear cut pattern of state’s concept for them to follow. These groups of Muslims represent sort of labels which are characterized by their distinct ideological views in different age and in different period. Shepard puts categories of Muslims basically into the main types which he called, “secularism”, “Islamic modernism,” “ radical Islamism,” “traditionalism,” and neo-traditionalism. He further stated that it is possible that subtypes may discern from these major categories in several cases. (Shepard, 1987:308). However for the purpose of this essay, secularists, modernists and traditionalists dissenting outlooks on their vision of government and state would be given much emphasis since such views are becoming more popular among Muslims in different parts of the world.

As well, the emergence of a number of advocates of these different ideas, has led to the uneasy relationship and increasing tensions among Muslims. Obviously, the original root of the conflict is the different interpretation of the sources of the law. Some verses in the Qur’an are both understood differently and utilized differently among these types of Muslims. What is perceived as an ideal state by the secularists for instance, have been seen differently by the modernists likewise totally different from the perspective of the traditionalists. In fact, these three principal categories of Muslims, as widely understood, all have been campaigning for the repudiation of each other’s claim for being the authentic one.

Cambridge Advances Learner’s Dictionary defines secularism as “the belief that religion should not be involved with the ordinary social and political activities of a country.” Hence, in this case the concept of loyalty and devotion to one’s own nation is given more importance above any other ideologies including Islam. More often than not the nationalist ideology of a secular country is with great consonance with others such as capitalism, socialism, liberalism, etc. Furthermore, “in a secularist state constitution Islam is not the religion of the state and sovereighty is not vested in God but in the “nations” or the “people” (Shepard, 1987:309). As it is known to many, Turkey which was formerly ruled by a Caliph and abolished by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk in 1924 and established a totally different political system is the best example of a secularist country. Turkey being a secularist country is not only manifested in the way of life of its people but more so because it is enshrined in their constitution. In the past Islam was clearly embodied in Turkish constitution as the official religion of the state and everything must emanate from the teaching of Islam. At present the relevant article reads: “The Republic of Turkey is a democratic, secular and social state governed by the rule of law, … loyal to the nationalism of Ataturk, and based on the fundamental principles set forth in the Preamble” (Article 2, as cited in Ibid).
Since the installation of a new political system in Turkey there has been a sporadic attempt of the Islamists to revive the old-traditional concept of the state due to the fact that the current system just does not in line with their political interest. It worth noting that the term secular has always been perceived by the Muslim world as anti-Islam and anything which is associated with secularism connotes bad implication among Muslims. Perhaps this is the result of the successful propaganda of the Islamists against secularism which is to create an unacceptable image of a secularist person into the minds of the public. They frequently “equate secularism with atheism, using it as a slogan to intimidate their political adversaries, charging them with apostasy and unbelief, deserving the death punishment” (Najjar, 1996). Even Muhammad al-Ghazali who is supposedly a leading Egyptian theologian has misleadingly interpreted secularism as a kind of kufr (unbelief) and irtidad (apostasy). Al-Ghazali emphasizes the superiority of Islamic tenets among any other precepts and denounces any enactments of laws by human beings as part of the law of the state. For him all human activities public or private must strictly adhere to the principles embodied in the Qur’an and the practice of Prophet Muhammad.
Aside from individual persons who strongly oppose to secularism in the Muslim world, there was also emergence of variety of Islamic movements that attacked the political standpoints of secularism. Muslm Brotherhood in Egypt and Jema’ah Islami in Pakistan were the main organizations which other fundamentalist organizations spawned from. Ann Elizabeth Mayer pointed out that “for decades these groups that invoked Islamic loyalties and called for respect for Islamic tradition seemed to be engaged in a futile rear guard struggle against inevitable change to progress. She further said that “although these defenders seemed to be fighting a losing battle, their opposition to the forces of secularism created political tensions and constituted stumbling blocks in the way of many reforms and development programs” (Mayer, 1987:128). Apparently in the Muslim world, the idea of secularism is most likely accepted only by the educated people and great numbers of individuals are still having strong grip on the traditional belief of Islam. It is a bit frustrating on the part of the secularist because no matter how efforts they will put to advocate for political change in their respective country, a great proportion of the masses are still susceptible to the fundamentalist idea of the Muslim clerics and religious leaders.
Perhaps because of the wrong impression of the idea of secularism, Muslims who were advocates of this idea were being castigated as traitors to Islam. What is really not understood by the fundamentalist Islam is that the concept does not totally reject Islamic principles but it only finds new concept which suits to the needs of the current concept of the state. Looking more closely at the difference of the concept of separation of the state and church from the perspectives of the Christians and Muslims, one may notice that they are different to a considerable degree. Basically Muslim secularism unlike Western idea concept which is a total separation of church and state on matters relating to government, Muslim concept does not involve a total separation of mosque in the exercise of political affairs. Secularist governments recognize the importance of religion in advancing the national interest should it is understood from a more open and progressive perspectives. “Essentially, secularism has meant state control of religion and state effort to use religion in the service of its nationalist and developmental goals” (Shepard,…). Therefore, Islamists should not feel intimated by secularist government because if their concern is for the protection of Islam certainly secularists uphold the principles of Islam. Furthermore, it does not necessarily mean that people manning secularist governments are good Muslims in fact secularists are more likely be an effective and efficient leaders because they are well acquainted with both Islamic and Western perspectives of good governance, combining these two concepts make them far more acquainted with how government can catch up with the forces of modernity.
Another interesting perspective that evolved as a result of development in science and technology in modern times is the idea of Islamic modernism. Muslim modernists see no contradiction between Islam and modernity. In fact it “insists that Islam does provide adequate ideological base for public life” (Shepard, 1987:309). In order to meet with the requirements of current development in all spheres public and private modernist concepts emphasizes flexibility of Islam by reinterpretation of its traditional principles in a way that is suited with current interplay between the religion Islam and the state. This means that the modernists do not just rely on the interpretation of the schools of law promulgated in the medieval Islamic period but derive another synthesis which is in harmony with modern age. Hence, unlike the traditionalists approach, modernists justified that the “gate of Ijtihad” is still opened up until the present times.
To name a few, among the proponents of Muslim modernists’ ideology are Muhammad Abduh and Jamaluddin Afghani. It was because of their influential ideas that the concept of modernism has pervasively spread throughout the Muslim world. Modernist approach is a milestone on the concept of Islamic state on the hand since it seeks to find alternative solution to the impasse between Islam and modernity, but on the other hand, it was subject to enormous criticisms by those who are devouted to traditionalist stance of Islam. In a modernist state the idea of progress and development are the main consideration to reinterpret Islam. Basically modernist’s assumption is that the present situation is advanced and things have been changed in all levels since the death Prophet Muhammad. Thus in order for Islam not to be left behind by the modernization process it should find its room in the contemporary world because religion is primarily relative to time and place by judging Islam in light of modern science and technology.
Elaborating further the justification of modernism, Shepard quoted Azzam who says:
“When we look at the Scripture, the Sunnah, and Muslim history in the days of the Righly-Guided Caliphs, we find that Islam is definite and conclusive on all general principles suitable for all times, places and peoples. When it comes to implementing these principles, one can see clearly the flexibility of the Islamic Shari’ah and the authority it gives to our reason and our ijtihad. The Shari’ah in effect upholds the guidance given by the Prophet when he said, “You know best about your earthly matter.” Thus there is wide scope for human opinion and it is up to reason and experience to distinguish correct from incorrect action, to show the road to the general welfare and to steer clear of harm.” (Azzam as quoted in Shepard, 1987:311).
Finally the most extreme point of view among Islamic ideologies mentioned is the traditionalist ideology. Traditionalism has been the main concern of progressive Muslim scholars since advocates of its principles served as stumbling blocks hindering contribution towards progress and development in the Muslim world. They insist that with their view that a true Islamic state has to be governed by what God has revealed in His book and what Prophet Muhammad has provided for them. Furthermore, they claimed that human beings are incapable in legislating laws since all aspects of life have already been provided by the Prophet and interpret fully by the four Muslim schools of thought. Therefore the traditionalist believed Islam is fixed already after the great four Madhahib and declared that the “gate to Ijtihad” is already been closed.
For the past few decades, the traditionalist ideas of Abu al-A’la Maududi and Sayyid Qutb have gained much attention not only from among Muslims but also more importantly they have become hurdle on the part of the West who is trying to revolutionize the old Islamic tradition into a more friendly and more compatible with the west ideology. Moreover, the ramification of the traditionalist ideology which has won the loyalty of the local masses is “seen as a threat to the basic principles of modern society” (Najjar, 1996). It is noteworthy however, that the traditionalist Muslims is quite ambivalent on what kind of an Islamic state they seek to establish. Islamic movements around the world are often overuse already the term “application of Shari’ah” but the truth of the matter is that Islamic law is a broad concept and its application varies from one community to another depending on the nature of the places and people to where it is applied. In short to speak of Islamic law from the perspectives for example of the Islamic Republic of Iran is totally different in context in the eyes of the government of Saudi Arabia.
To sum up the whole points mentioned above, the dissenting understanding of Islamic concept of state among Muslims today has put ordinary Muslim masses in dilemma on which among these perspectives they ought to follow. Undeniably, advocates of these ideologies are repudiating each other’s claim to be unacceptable in the contemporary setting. In this regard, Muslim leaders need to embark on sort of compromise stance and adopt neutral ideology that is acceptable to all to enable Muslims to engage with one another without endorsing each other’s ideology. Only then they could acquire a sustainable relationship and create a balanced environment where mutual respect and tolerance are being promoted.

Najjar, Fauzi, The debate on Islam and secularism in Egypt, Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), Spring 1996, 18(2), pp.1-21.

Enayat, Hamid, Modern Islamic Political Thought, London, Macmillan, 1982.
Effendy, Bahtiar, Islam and the State in Indonesia, Singapore, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2003.

Shepard, William, Islam and Ideology: Towards a Typology, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Aug., 1987, 19, (3), pp. 307-335.

Euben, Roxanne, Comparative Political Theory: An Islamic Fundamentalist Critique of Rationalism, The Journal of Politics, Feb., 1997, 59(1), pp.28-55.

Mayer, Ann Elizabeth, Law and Religion in the Muslim Middle East, The American Journal of Comparative Law, Winter, 1987, 35(1), pp. 127-184.

The Viability of the Application of the Islamic Law (Shari’ah): the Cases of Sudan and Pakistan

The vision of the application of the Islamic law (Shari’ah) has been the subject of discourse among the Islamists living whether in a predominantly Muslim country or as a minority occupying a definite small portion of territory in a Christian or other religious denomination dominated country. The former pertains to a group of fundamentalist Muslims trying to influence the regime of the way they wanted to run the affairs of the government based solely from the principles of Islamic law as found in the Qur’an and in the hadith (saying) of the Prophet of Islam, while the latter also a fundamentalist who used variety of strategies at their disposal in order to create noise for the government to consider their aspirations. It is indeed of general knowledge that notwithstanding the “failures political Islam has confronted when given a chance to govern in some countries, Islamic movements in the 21st century continue to be a significant force in mainstream Muslim politics” (Esposito, 2003).

Since the rise to power of the Islamic political parties, political developments in the two Muslim dominant countries-Sudan and Pakistan-are seemingly stagnant and have been the subjects of local and international media criticisms questioning the abusive authority and theocratic system of governance that the political Islam has shown in the aforementioned countries.

In the Sudan context, the National Islamic Front (NIF), founded by Hasan al-Turabi has been in the forefront to persistently promote the establishment of an Islamic state. Similarly in Pakistan, Jamaat-i Islami (Islamic Party), which is founded by Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi, has also been done periodic attempts to legitimize Islamic law in mainstream Pakistan politics. It is worth noting that both above-mentioned Islamic movements have lucid contention on their strict adherence to the Shari’ah which they claimed as a “religious law, is comprehensive and theoretically applies to all legal matters that are differentiated in the West as civil, criminal and family law” (Fluehr- Lobban, 2004). Furthermore, these prevailing Islamic movements in Sudan and Pakistan have a strong grip to Zubaida’s definition of Islam as:

a religion revealed by God for the whole of mankind and for all time. As such it covers all aspects of life of the individual, society and the state. The Shari’ah according to this line of thought, is the revealed law of God and is, therefore, the perfect set rules for human conduct, which needs no supplementation by man-made laws (2003: 2).

However, despite of the indubitable vision of the NIF in Sudan and the Jamaat in Pakistan respectively to create a model Islamic society that is founded on Islamic idealism, such objective unfortunately was not effectively realized for what is being practiced is likely to be intolerable and far from being appreciated by many.

In this essay I argue that Islamic law or Shari’ah as found principally in the Qur’an and in the tradition laid down by the Prophet of Islam is unlikely to be effective as the sole ideological or philosophical basis of the law of the land even in predominantly Muslim countries like Sudan and Pakistan rather, I subscribe to the idea that only some parts of the principles of Islamic law like those that pertain to persons and family relations or family law (marriage, divorce, and inheritance) are deemed necessary to be incorporated to the Constitution of the state (whether such state is of Muslim majority or minority) in consideration to the customs and traditions of the Muslims. Specifically, I will examine the political Islam’s experience in governance in the two Muslim dominated countries-Sudan and Pakistan- and look into their shortcomings and loopholes of experimentation of the application of the Shari’ah in all-private and public spheres.

In Sudan, the first attempt to make the Islamic law the state law after independence was during the later years of Nimeiri’s regime. Particularly in 1983, when Nimeiri’s credibility among the majority Muslim Sudanese has waned dramatically, he imposed the Islamic law as a strategy to regain the trust and confidence of the Sudanese Muslims and as a strategy for containment in power while disregarding the negative impact of the decision on the non-Muslim population of the south. This drastic decision of “formal institutionalization of Sudan’s Islamic path” (Esposito, 1995:89) during Nimeiri’s leadership was greatly influenced by the highly organized Sudanese chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood, the National Islamic Front (NIF).

Since its inception, the NIF has been a key political organization that has had played an important role in shaping the Sudan politics. More importantly as a major contributing factor for the flourish of the organization is due to its leader who is a man full of charisma and of brilliant intellect, Hasan Al-Turabi. Having been educated both in secular and Islamic education, Al-Turabi has his own philosophy about Islam. “While influenced by modern Islamic thinkers such as Hasan al-Banna and Abul A’la Maududi, Al-Turabi has always argued that it is the responsibility of the contemporary Muslim intellectuals to interpret Islam suitable to the needs of Muslims in the modern world” (Woodward, 1997:100). For him, there is no contradiction between the tradition and modernity and that his “theology is the coming together of the two” (Ibrahim, 1999).

Accordingly, where Al-Turabi is in the limelight, the NIF likewise is on the forefront of eminence. Al-Turabi’s image started to capture national scene in the mid-1960’s when he was appointed first attorney general and then elected a member of parliament, and by the end of the 1970s, he became a cabinet minister. In the same vein, the NIF’s ideology has dramatically penetrated every echelon of the Sudanese society. Thus, the NIF under the stewardship of the its able leader, Al-Turabi has won the sympathy of the majority of the Sudanese Muslims which even the leadership of Nimeiri was greatly influenced and eventually made him thought of accommodating in his policy the interest of the NIF.

Apparently, Al-Turabi and the NIF has once again proven their potentials as an influential political figure during Sadiq Al-Mahdi’s regime where the “NIF was in and out of government” (Woodward, 1997:99) and Al-Turabi being “appointed first minister of justice, then minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister” Moussalli, 1994). However, having been realized also the political upheaval brought about by the continuous uprisings in the south perpetuated by the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), Al-Mahdi was “pressed to deal” (Ibid) with them and aborted the Islamic law which is advocated by the NIF but obviously opposed by the SPLA. The failure of Al-Mahdi to efficiently and effectively treat the problem besetting his administration resulted in 1989 to civil disobedience that led to a military take over in Sudan led by General Omar Beshir with strong backed up from the NIF.

Since 1989 Sudan although its President is a military man, the NIF’s slogan, which is the reassertion of the supremacy of the Shari’ah, is the one widely promoted in the entire country. Hence, Islamist government has been given another opportunity to rule the country “despite SPLA insistence on a secular state” (Esposito, 1995:93) for the multicultural Sudanese community. The regime is likely to be heedless to the root cause of the problem confronting the country wherein, instead of offering viable solution, the people responsible to the policy formulation exacerbate the problem by adopting the Shari’ah as the state law that are binding upon even to the large non-Muslim population of the south which is naturally against their will. For the non-Muslim residents of the south, this policy is totally unjust and is tantamount to the inconsiderate gesture of the government toward the culture and beliefs of the southerners. Moreover, considering that sectarianism among Muslim is highly likely to be prevalent in Sudan, the decision to adopt the Shari’ah does not acquire a unanimous acceptance of the entire Muslim communities in Sudan and thus, appear to be unjustified.
There are a lot of distinguished contemporary writers who give their personal assessment and critical observation on the Islamic regime in Sudan. Some try to compare the regime of the NIF with that of its predecessors which adopted similar form of government while others try to provide objective analysis on the possible consequences of the application of the Shari’ah. Andreassen & Swinehart observes that:
Compared to the May dictatorial rule (1969-1985) which, in turn, was more harsh and abusive of authority than the Abboud first military coup (17 November 1957 to 24 October 1964), the third dictatorial rule of the NIF since the 30 June 1989 coup to the present time has been exceptionally cruel and intolerant as it systematically continued to violate human rights (as cited in El-Tigani, 2001).
While Lobban & Lobban are with the idea that considering nature of the Sudanese society which “culturally and religiously plural is both inappropriate and morally unjust to declare Sudan as an Islamic state. They further observe that “any continued attempt to Islamize the south by politics or force will be met with fierce resistance, as has been the case historically” (Lobban and Lobban, 2001). More to the point, Islamist regime in Sudan turned out to have failed to improve the living condition of the Sudanese people who have high hope for social, economic and political transformation of the country because of their dismal experience under the previous regimes. In fact, an astounding turn of event was witnessed in Sudan when political Islam was in power. Gross violation of human rights is widespread throughout the country wherein the power is solely put in the hands of the government. No doubt that the long aged internal dissension in the country is far from being resolved.

In Pakistan, on the other hand, the vision of making the country into an Islamic state can be traced even prior to its independence due to the strong influence of the Jamaat-i Islami (Islamic Party). The Jamaat has had numerous members and sympathizers from all over the country, which until recent years still emerge as among the largest political parties in Pakistan. Because of its enormous membership, it influenced markedly the different administrations that the country had. Like the NIF in Sudan, the Jamaat has periodically raised their assertion for the full implementation of the Shari’ah.

Owing to the influence of the Jamaat which represents by and large the voice of the majority of the Muslims in the country, the “1956 Constitution of Pakistan recognized and incorporated some principles of Shari’ah” (Ahmed, 1966). As well, succeeding Presidents of Pakistan like Muhammad Ayub Khan and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto have recognized the Shari’ah but with limited openness, which somehow contributed to the hostile relationship of their regimes with the Jamaat movement.

On the other hand, having gained from the lesson of the past, during the presidency of General Zia, “the state adopted a radically different approach to managing the role of Islam in politics” (Nasr, 1997:147). Unlike his predecessors who were seem to be adamant to the political Islam, Zia espoused a claimed to be a progressive policy which is more accommodating and considerate to the interest of the Jamaat. He implemented programs and projects in line with the objective of the Islamist and offered high-ranking positions to its members. However, this strategy is a form of compromise and a “way to control Islamic parties and regulate the flow of Islam in politics” (Ibid). Despite of the left and right offer in terms of positions to the Islamic activists, Zia maintained a prestige of which his leadership still on the top among others. Eventually, Zia’s did not prosper with his strategy of power sharing with the Islamist while giving limitation to them. Consequently, the Jamaat felt aloof and move onto different path from the Zia’s regime. They have realized that in order to implement fully what they aspire for is to “participate in the electoral process” (Esposito, 2003).

In the series of election that were held with full participation of the Islamic party, the result of the election turned out that only very limited numbers of seats occupied by the party. For instance, “in the election of 1985, Islamic parties performed poorly” (Nasr, 1997). It is quite surprising that despite of the pervasive membership of the Islamic party and the presence of a huge Muslim traditional population in the country, the politicians who have secular approach in running the affairs of the government have gained the large number of support from the electorates.

In conclusion, the existing Islamic parties both in Sudan and Pakistan have undeniably a far-reaching and immense influence on the different regimes in the two countries. It can be seen however, that their influence are only pertain to “state policy but are not in a position to launch a successful bid for power” (Nasr, 1997). With the exception of the case of Sudan, the political Islam was put in power because of the sponsored government of Omar Basher which was strongly backed up by the NIF. As regard to electoral process, Islamic parties were proven to be unsuccessful. Looking more closely to the political sequence of the Islamist, one may argue that despite they carry the banner of Islam in their pursuit for political hegemony, more and more Muslims believed that the application of the Shari’ah law is not viable and is unlikely to solve the contemporary problem confronting the Muslim world. Furthermore, one feature of the almost all countries of the world today is the pluralistic nature of the state. Adopting a kind of law that only based from the culture and beliefs of the Muslims will definitely jeopardize the unity of the constituents. Hence, limitation to the application of Shari’ah law elsewhere in the Muslim dominated countries is seen to be the primordial concern of the framers of the Constitution in order to create a balance and healthy environment for both the Muslims and the non-Muslims alike.


Ahmed, Mansooruddin, Pakistan: the emerging Islamic state, Karachi, The Educational Press, 1966.

El-Tigani, Mahgoub, Solving the crisis of Sudan: the right of self-determination versus state torture, Arab Studies Quarterly, 23, (2), 2001, pp.41-59.

Enayat, Hamid, Modern Islamic Political Thought, London, I.B. Tauris and Co Ltd, New Edition, 2005.

Esposito, John, Beyond the headlines: changing perceptions of Islamic movements. (Perspectives), Harvard International Review, 25, (2), 2003, pp.16-20.

Esposito, John, The Islamic threat: myth or reality? (2nd Ed.) Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1995.

Fluehr-Lobban, Carolyn, Islamic Societies in Practice, USA, University Press of Florida, 2004.

Ibrahim, Abdullahi, A theology of modernity: Hasan Al-Turabi and Islamic renewal in Sudan, Africa Today, 46, (3-4), 1999, pp.195-222.

Lobban, R., & Fluehr-Lobban, C, The Sudan since 1989: National Islamic Front Rule. Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), 23, (2), 2001, pp. 1-9.

Maududi, Abul A’la, The political theory of Islam, in M. Moaddel & K. Talattof, (Eds.), Modernist and fundamentalist debates in Islam, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2002, pp.263-271.

Moussalli, Ahmad, Hasan al-Turabi’s Islamist discourse on Democracy and shura, Middle Eastern Studies, 30, (1), 1994, pp.52-63.

Nasr, S.V.R., Islamic Opposition in the Political Process: Lessons from Pakistan, in J. Esposito, (Ed.), Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform? USA, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 1997, pp. 135-156.

Tanwir, Farooq, Religious parties and politics in Pakistan, International Journal of Comparative Sociology, Dec., 2002, pp.250-269.

Woodward, Peter, Sudan: Islamic Radical in Power, in J. Esposito, (Ed.), Political Islam: Revolution, Radicalism, or Reform? USA, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 1997, pp. 95-114.

Zubaida, Sami, Law and power in the Islamic world, London, I.B. Taurus, 2003.

RP flag’s 9th Ray?

and you think this will solve the problem in Mindanao??!!

September 23, 2009, 6:15pm
This came after the two panels reconciled the disagreeing provisions of the two versions of the bill amending the Flag and Heraldic Code.The bicameral conference committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives approved Tuesday the addition of a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag.
Sen. Richard J. Gordon, chairman of the Senate panel and principal author of Senate Bill (SB) 3307, said the approval of the measure would foster greater unity among Filipinos regardless of religion.
‘’We are a country that has had a conflict with our Muslim brothers for the last so many decades. I think this is a bid step towards reuniting our country, recognizing the contributions of our fellow countrymen, Muslim Filipinos. We should recognize their deeds in our country,’’ Gordon said.
Included in the Senate bill was Gordon’s proposal to add a ninth ray to the sun in the Philippine flag to acknowledge the courage, bravery and integrity of Muslim Filipinos who fought for the nation’s independence.
SB 3307 proposed amendments to Republic Act 8491, or ‘’An Act Prescribing the Code of the National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-of-Arms and Other Heraldic Items and Devices of the Philippines.’’
‘’This is a great step in recognizing the fact that we had Muslims such as Lapu-Lapu, Sultan Kudarat, Amai Pakpak and Sorongan who kept fighting the Spaniards long before this country thought of a revolution against Spain. This would foster unity, making sure that nobody is excluded. If we are to have national unity in this country it must begin with our flag, it must be symbolized in our flag,’’ Gordon said.
‘’We take an amendment of the law here but we actually amend the mindset of our countrymen and bring the nation back to its original posture, one that will not accept tyranny. And we should give credit where credit is due,’’ Gordon stressed.
Members of the bicameral panel were Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and their House counterparts, Reps. Del de Guzman, chairman of the House panel; and representatives Ma. Carisssa Cocoluella, Salvador Escudero III and Roman Romulo.

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doon po sa amin.

this weekend i’m off to an aunt’s 7th day gaygayan (prayer for the departed) in Pagagawan (now Datu Montawal) in Maguindanao. so looking forward to seeing my relatives in my fathers side. will be traveling with the big boys (Teng and Pipo). eternal re…

Shall I Not Return!

Shall I not return

What happen to the Philippines?
I shall return Mindanao and Sulu then…
>> Neldy Jolo ‘>
Mc Arthur Escape Point to Australia,
where he promised “I shall return”
Corrigedor Island, June 2006
Jabidah Massacre also occured in this Tadpole Island

Teach Me Not Just To Fish!

If I could just rewind the past
I would do better things than just to fish for food
To fish for food is not to fish the freedom of our country and nation
Education and research is a must to do!
Teach me not just to fish but to cook the fish too…


>> Neldy Jolo ‘>
Taganak Turtle Island, Sulu, April 2009
A child showing the big fish found in Sulu Sea


By: MSA-UZ Member

I have Allah to thank for, because He guided me to find a group which really changed my life into something valuable, and that group was the Muslim Students Association- a group which is very beloved to my heart.

Foremost, we expressed our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the academe for giving us the freedom of assembly in order that we may grow into well-rounded individuals who can be an asset in peace building regardless of faith, creed, race, color or gender. Through the years, the MSA serves as a crucial instrument in upholding the well being especially the spiritual aspect of not only the students but also the faculty and staff of this University.

Just recently on March 21, 2009, the association held its Prayer Gathering Program along with a Special Stage Play Presentation on the history of MSA with the theme of “YOUTH: THE SOUL OF THE NATION”. The said affair was attended by plenty students, some faculty and staff from different colleges of the University, and also from the MSA members of different schools and universities within the city. It was indeed a very successful endeavor for the organizer, the MSA-UZ, ALHAMDULILLAH.

The affair ran smoothly. In fact it was a very emotional afternoon for the MSA especially to the graduating ones because once they graduated they will be missing all the things they have done while they are in college and so busy with MSA activities. The presentation on what people say about MSA really touched their hearts and made them cry because they realized that because of MSA they have become good servants of ALLAH by practicing the teaching of ISLAM despite of the hectic schedules as college students. In effect, the MSA really cares for MSA, because MSA has become the means of the Muslim students in upholding Islam in the academe.

Moreover, the spiritual advice given by the guest speakers namely: Ustadz Abdulwahid Amil, Ustadz Guldamier Amirul, Ustadz Abdulhaq Muhammad; extremely inspired the students to become more studious and be more pro-active minded in doing something for the cause of ISLAM. This is because ISLAM is neither merely doing the five pillars i.e. praying five times a day, fasting in the month of Ramadhan etc. nor staying only at the mosque and waiting for the blessing, instead ISLAM is a comprehensive way of life that in every movement of a Muslim, he is being guided by its beautiful teaching.

Among the guest speakers during the program were the two highest officials of the university. It was Dr. Bashiruddin Ajihil, Vice President for Academic Affairs-UZ who really challenged the MSA-UZ in his Inspirational message. He imposed a great challenge to the association to call upon all Muslim students in the university to come and be a part of all MSA activities so they can be oriented with the teaching of true Islamic values.

The program continued with the words of advice coming from the energetic woman, Dr. Norma T. Francisco, Dean of Student Affairs-UZ, who never relents in helping the association in its endeavor. In her speech, she congratulated the MSA-UZ for the contributions being rendered to the university and for being the dynamic association in the university that has conducted various endeavors for the good cause. She called out for assistance to the MSA-UZ to help the school in imposing some disciplinary actions to the students who are fond of doing violations within the school premises as well as exhorted everyone to be part of MSA. “I hope to see more students praying at the MSA Praying Center. I hope to see the 70% of Muslim students to be under the MSA. I hope to see that the next officers and members of MSA-UZ could do the same or do more,” Ma’am Norma said. Indeed, the Office of Student Affairs totally supports the MSA-UZ in all its program and activities.

Finally, this very great challenge vested upon the MSA-UZ can never be realized of course after the help of Almighty Allah without the consolidated participation of all the Muslim students in this university along with the academe. We crucially need too the unending all out support of especially the school’s administration in this struggle. In our humble capacity, we will not disappoint you in your expectation to the MSA-UZ in upholding the good values within the students via teaching them the beautiful values of Islam in several methods. Consequently, we can ultimately have a University of pious students. To the Muslim Students, let us work hand in hand in this challenge. Let us come back to the teachings of our ad-Deen by sincerely performing our responsibilities as Muslim youth. As the next generation of rulers of the Ummah, we must get ready ourselves now so we can readily face the task that awaits us tomorrow.

It is our hope and prayer that with strengthened faith and unity, peace and prosperity will reign in our beloved university. May the blessing of peace continue to triumph us amidst an atmosphere of mutual respect and goodwill. Please support Muslim youth…

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By MSA-UZ Member

The youth camp is one of the most effective methods for the Islamic training of young potential leaders. Thus, as an official youth organization in our most beloved academe, we wish to contribute more to the welfare of the university in pursuit for peace and development even just in our humble capacity despite the hectic schedule as college students. We apprehended that in order to gain the aforementioned matters, we must first discipline ourselves along with our co-MSA-UZ fellows in an Islamic arena.

Consequently, after a long patient and persistent preparation on the proposed plan for the mini Youth Camp, finally, the MSA-UZ held its 1st time ever youth camp with the THEME of “ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD: HOW TO ATTAIN IT” at Puerto Villa Beach Resort, Patalon, Zamboanga City last April 10-11, 2009. The activity was peacefully opened by the recitation of verses from the Holy Qur’an by the former MSA-UZ President Alhusin Muhammad. It continued with the elucidation of background of the activity and announcing of some house rules during the camp. It was actually a great opportunity for the participants to be with their friends all through that night especially when we started with our grouping activity and group sharing wherein everyone were asked to speak under the cold and solemn night.

The 35 participants coming from the association itself were divided into four groups and the respective groups were identified with very meaningful names such as Abubakar group, Uthman group, Ummar group and Ali group. Among the endeavors embarked were the PROBLEM(S)-SOLUTION(S) IDENTIFICATION within the MSA-UZ; participants’ sharing on some insights regarding the MSA; role play presentation of each group about the Strengthening of Isslamic Brotherhood, etc.
It is interesting also to note that during the activity the participants were praying together to the Mosque i.e. five times obligatory prayers and tahadjud within the vicinity of the resort, sleeping together along with the group, sharing food with each other even in very small amount and of course telling stories with one another. As a matter of fact, you can really feel the true camaraderie in the real sense of Islamic brotherhood.

Furthermore, the main objectives of organizing the said effort were as follows: To increased the participants’ faith, knowledge, and commitment to Islam through guided living; To develop an Islamic personality; To develop skills required for Islamic work; To provide opportunities to gain general experience in cooperative living; and To develop an understanding and an opportunity for the natural development of true Islamic brotherhood.

The activity ended in very momentous words of inspiration given by every participant to their co-participants especially of the graduating ones. Alhamdulillah, even though not all of the objectives were perfectly attained, at least we can say that throughout the whole process of events, it was indeed a very successful and humbling endeavor.

Meanwhile, the MSA-UZ is in all out in its effort in initiating various programs and activities to somehow contribute in pursuit of PEACE and SOLIDARITY of the MUSLIM UMMAH most especially within and among the Muslim youth.

May the Almighty ALLAH grant us MUSLIM YOUTH unending strength and courage. Ameen!

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Madina physician meets with IMAN members

Naheeda M Dimacisil MD


Before Ramadhan started last August 22 2009, an informal gathering on Islamic Principles in Medicine was held at UP Manila with Dermatopathologist, Dr Alauddin Qadri, as guest speaker. Dr Qadri, an Indian national who joined more than 10 professionals from different countries to visit the Philippines for tabligh and dawah, expressed his appreciation of IMAN’s establishment.

Dr Qadri who has been based in Madinah for more than 10 years already, graduated from Taibah University and is a member of both the Saudi Dermatological Society and the Indian Association of Pathology. He has trained in skin pathology in Germany and has lectured on several religious dialogues for physicians.

Sharing thoughts on physician-patient relationship, he quoted a famous hadith on visiting the sick and attending to patients. Emphasizing on the role of physicians, he believes that “patients become the avenue for doctors to gain more blessings from Allah” and that as Muslim physicians, we should constantly renew our intentions of directing our services towards pleasing the Almighty alone.

When asked by an IMAN member on pharmaceutical company sponsorships, he noted that a taqwa or ruling has been made in Madina that any excessive or luxurious offer by some companies for doctors who are being requested to speak on a novel but unproven drug should be avoided. On the other hand, Dr Qadri agrees with sponsorships for conventions and other events related to advancement in medical education such as research and clinical guidelines. The Philippine Medical Association, under Dr Melchor Santos’ current leadership, is gradually implementing regulations to avoid any bias in medical management through regulation of pharmaceutical sponsorships as well.

The visiting Muslim professionals also held a forum on Islamic principles among students at the Ateneo de Manila University during the same month through Atty Rasol Mitmug Jr.

Among those who attended the forum were Dr Sherjan Kalim, Dr Mohammad Al-Moqtader Abedin, Dr Naheeda Dimacisil, Dr Nadhira Mangondato, Intern Norbaida Dipantar and former UP AMS President Angelie Dugasan.

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Lahat tayo, sa mga Moro o sa Filipino man, ay naghahanap ng isang lipunan at masang kritikal. Isang lipunan na pinatatakbo ng mga ideya, damdamin, at pananampalataya. Isang lipunan na bukas sa sanlibo’t sandaang mga pananaw na kung hindi man umaayon ay…

Picture Documentary of IDP Rally

Picture Documentary:

State of the Bakwit (IDP) Address and Peace Convoy

July 23, 2009

A Muslim civic leader reads a prayer while behind him are members of Cotabato’s Catholic Church who likewise followed in reading a prayer.

Incumbent North Cotabato Provincial Governor Sacdalan giving his message of support for the IDP’s prayer rally.

Participants of the inter-faith multi-sectoral prayer rally held at the gym of the Notre Dame University of Cotabato City

Some of the IDPs along the Datu Saudi Ampatuan – Datu Piang Provincial Road. At least 2 dozen times, the convoy of rallyists were met by IDPs along the road. Everytime the convoy neared a cluster of IDP tents, IDPs came out on the highway and blocked the road for a few minutes to call the attention of the media contingent to their plight. At one point in Guindulungan, the IDPs managed to block the path of a convoy of military vehicles.

With the assistance of NGO support groups, the IDPs prepared placards that read “stop the war”, “safe return for IDPs”, “respect rights of IDPs”, “resume peace talks”, “rebuild homes destroyed by soldiers”.
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