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The Islamic Courts: A critical and closer look


By Ali H. Abdulla


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Most Somalis, including myself, welcomed the recent climb of the Islamic Courts to power at the expense of the abhorrent Warlords who held many parts of Somalia hostage for more than 15 years. Their sudden emergence was felt like rain falling on dry grazing pastures after a protracted dry season seemingly heralding a period Somalis hoped would be characterized by “Nabad iyo Caano”, Peace and Milk.


I, personally, saw them as knights on white horses sent by the lord to rescue my native country from thugs, robbers, pollutants, murderers, rapists, pirates and unscrupulous greedy businessmen who enriched themselves by exporting and selling Somali fixed assets that were built over a period of more than 40 years.  I even longed for an Islamic Renaissance under their watch and a return to the golden days of the fifth Khlaifa, Omar Abdul-Aziz, whose era was characterized by tolerance, peace, justice and the wide spread of knowledge.


As the Courts gained control of Mogadishu and most of the Southern part of Somalia, some of their shortcomings had started to emerge in the form of numerous uncoordinated interviews given by some of their members to Aljazeera and other Satellite stations that demonstrated their lack of political savvy.  However, observers had hoped that these deficiencies would be easily rectified as the Islamic Courts sought the help of more experienced and competent Somalis who could take the lead in matters pertaining to foreign and the administrative affairs. This however, is yet to be realized.


Supporters of the Islamic Courts have hoped to see a different caliber of men who would not follow the path of many opportunists who had utilized religion as a means to attain power and eventually succumbed to human temptations.  For instance, Reverend Ted Haggard, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, one of the most influential Christian leaders in the United States fell from grace after being accused of an immoral relationship with a former gay prostitute. Reverend Jimmy Swaggart, another powerful man of religion, had also betrayed his followers by consorting with prostitutes. In addition, the molestation of young and unsuspecting children by some priests in the Catholic Church is yet another disturbing example of the misuse of religion. Even though most of these examples relate to Christian Ministers, Muslims are not immune to such temptations, and are similarly susceptible to sinful acts that are incommensurate with their pious images.   Although I am not accusing the UIC of such behaviors, one must question the fate and the whereabouts of the thousands of Moryans left behind in Mogadishu by the defeated Warlords. It is safe to assume that the same Moryans who devastated the lives of all Somalis, particularly the citizens of Mogadishu, are now part of the expanding UIC forces, perhaps manning the numerous battlewagons handed over to the UIC by the defeated Warlords.  Will the UIC bring to justice the born again religious Moryans if their victims identify them and demand justice for their sufferings? This million dollar question needs to be answered by the UIC leaders.


The intolerance portrayed by some members of the UIC has created concern in the minds of many.  In a nation of mostly nomadic pastoralists who hardly practice the basic tenets of Islam, and whose unmarried women folk braid their hair and let it flow over their shoulders on top of teasingly revealing “Guntinos” and “Saddex Qayds” that expose parts of their arms and shoulders in a gesture of freedom and femininity, the UIC will have a hard time selling their puritanical view short of mass murder and repression.   After all, like many other Muslim nations in the world, cultural values in Somalia override some of the non-obligatory teachings of Islam.


When Jesus came upon a woman who was about to be stoned to death for committing adultery, he saved her poor soul, by presenting her would be stoners with a challenge; that only non-sinners throw the first stone, upon which they all dispersed. This story illustrates the sinful nature of the human race and the danger of imposing a puritanical view on a country whose culture predates Islam by several thousand years. The UIC needs to bridle its zealot members and use compassion and education to spread their message.


Sheikh Yusuf  Indhacade

After following the activities of the UIC for a while, I became disturbed by the following facts:


  • Within the UIC, Sheikh Shiikh Yuusuf Maxamed Siyaad Indha-Cadde is a high ranking religious cleric, while most Somalis regard him as the epitome of evil who exploits poor farmers in his numerous ill-gotten plantations.  There are reports that even Adan Hashi Ayro, a prominent military commander in the UIC, refused to eat from a banquet thrown by Indha-Caddde in his honor when the latter visited Merca.
  • Although the UIC had promised to stop the export of Charcoal from the territories they control, a ship loaded with coal worth more than $500,000 and owned by a well-known Somali business man  in Dubai, was recently hijacked 95 kilometers from Mogadishu. This also illustrates that Piracy has returned to the South.
  • The recent murder of wounded prisoners of war in their hospital beds in Bu’ale, if corroborated, contradicts all religious norms.
  • There are credible reports about how some members of the UIC control the trade in foodstuff and pharmaceuticals between Dubai and many parts of Somalia, through predatory pricing and illegal cartels.
  • Many homeowners in Mogadishu are still reluctant to go back and reclaim their properties fearing reprisals although residents feel more secure now.
  • The military campaigns waged by the UIC and the recent siege of Baidoa, the seat of the TFG, are inconsistent with their commitments to peaceful negotiations

It is incumbent upon the good elements in the UIC to address these fears at ease, and to demonstrate to us a better leadership and unambiguous goals. We certainly do not want to be lead blindly down a dark tunnel with no clear goals and plans. The world has already experienced a number of theocratic states and the verdict is not positive at all. Let us all hope that Somalia would not become another bad experiment based on extremism and intolerance.  Millions of Somalis are spread all over the world and are learning to live with people of different culture and religion. Those of us who remain inside Somalia need to learn from that experiment and stop calling for theocratic and potentially repressive states that can only drive more millions to flee and seek refuge in other countries.


The UIC can play a constructive role in the future of Somalia by working towards a peaceful settlement of their disputes with the TFG. Neither the UIC nor the TFG truly represent the Somali people, and it is incumbent upon both of them to prepare the country for free and fair elections so that Somalis can choose their own leaders and their way of life.


Perhaps it is about time for (Somaliland) to come out of its self-imposed isolation and play a vital role in bringing the two sides together in Hargeisa away from the influence of foreign meddlers.


Jama Mohamed Ghalib’s dedication to a peaceful and united Somalia and Ahmed Silanyo’s recent remarks on extending a helping hand to the warring factions in Southern Somalia, create a beacon of hope in the minds of millions of Somalis who are wondering the whereabouts of their brothers in the North.   These prominent figures and other Northern politicians have a golden opportunity to play a leading role in averting the looming clouds of war that hang over Somalia; these ugly clouds could eventually destabilize the whole of Somalia.


Ali H. Abdulla
[email protected]


The opinions contained in this article are solely those of the writer, and in no way, form or shape represent the editorial opinions of "Hiiraan Online"

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