Terrorism and Extremism

Current Topics – Islamization of Sudan

JANUARY 1985 ISLAMIZATION OF SUDAN 39 Current Topics: ISLAMIZATION OF SUDAN By Dr. Syed Barakat Ahmad The Sudan is partly Muslim, partly Christian and partly animist. The majority is Muslim. President Ga’afar al-Numeiri has now followed President Zia-ul Haq and bought off the fundamentalist mullah to strengthen his losing grip. The non-Muslim south has started a guerilla war to assert its political rights and express its deep anger on the usurpation of its oil and water resources and the impo- sition of Islamic law. Alcohol has been banned for non-Muslims and the punishments under Islamic law also apply to them. At least eight persons have lost their right hands for theft. A Christian priest was punished for keeping alcohol. INSURGENT RAIDS The insurgents have shot down government helicopters and attack- ed police posts. They have killed western technicians and foreign workers. The American-run, Chevron Oil Company of the Sudan has suspended its operations in the south. A similar raid at the French- run Jonglei canal project forced the company to stop its work to recover swampland on the Upper Nile and to provide more water for the Sudan and Egypt. Both projects are vital to the Sudan’s bankrupt economy, which has an external debt of $8 billion. The insurgents are led by a non-Muslim, John Garang, who has a doctorate in Economics from Iowa State University. One-third of the Sudan’s 22 million people live in the south. They resent the northern (Muslim) domination, but were persuaded to try the autonomy which Presi- dent Numeiri had granted them. The imposition of Muslim law, however, made this autonomy meaningless. The Sudan is the latest Muslim country to start Islamization. Saudi Arabia (the judicial murder of Princess Mona and her husband) Iran (Jihad against the “non-Muslim” Iraq) Pakistan (Draconian laws against the Ahmadies) have already adopted the so-called “Islamic” law to bolster their unrepresentative governments. President Numeiri, who has been in power for 15 years, has survived numerous coup attempts. Now he has reached a point where he should follow President Zia-ul Haq and enlist the help of the mullah. Prof. Balraj Madhok’s program for a new Hindu party which he intends to launch and his attitude towards Muslims of India must be seen in the context of the so-called “Islamization” of the Muslim 40 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS JANUARY 1985 seen in the context of the so-called “Islamization” of the Muslim states. Prof. Madhok told newsmen in Madras that the new Hindu party would strive for a common civil code for all Indians, work for a Central law to ban cow slaughter and seek a total ban on conver- sions to Christianity and Islam and demand the abrogation of Article 30 of the Constitution which gives special privileges to minorities. If Sudan with one-third of its Christian and animist population can ban alcohol, is it unreasonable to expect that the Hindus should also demand a ban on cow slaughter? In fact Prof. Madhok’s effort to seek a total ban on conversions seems to be at par, if not more humane, than the so-called “Islamic” law of apostasy. In a very learned booklet Murtadd Ki Saza Islami Qanun main (Lahore C. 1950) (Punishment of Apostasy in Islam) Maulana Abul Ala Maududi has tried to prove that the punishment of an apostate in Islam is death, and Muslims cannot be given an op- tion to choose their religion. Prof. Madhok’s argument against con- version is that it amounts to a change of nationality and therefore he wants to prohibit it but he does not go as far as to prescribe death as its punishment. The founder of the Jamaat-i-Islami, the late Maulana Maududi, had already foreseen the logic of Prof. Madhok’s argument. He wrote in the same book: “In future whenever an Islamic state is established and the law of punishing apostasy by death is enforced and thus all born Muslims are kept by force within the pale of Islam then there is definitely the danger that a large number of hypocrites will be included in the body politics of Islam. They will always pose a danger of treason.” So to solve this problem of treason the Maulana who was a great scholar and statesman suggested a one-year notice to be served on all Muslims who wish to be declared as non-Muslims. In this manner “those who cannot be saved will be reluctantly separated from the society for ever.” But the initiator of Nizam-i-Mustafa in Pakistan, President Zia-ul Haq, as a practical soldier dispensed with the one-year notice and purified the Muslim society of Pakistan by expelling about five million Ahmadi “hypocrites” from the pale of Islam. IMPOSED LAW Imposition of Muslim law on non-Muslim is definitely against the teaching of the Qur’an. There is not a single verse in the Qur’an and there is no saying of the Prophet either which sanctions the imposi- tion of Muslim law on non-Muslim citizens in a state which is ruled by Muslims. Even the term zimmi (ahl aldhimma), for the non- Muslim citizens of a Muslim state has not been used either by the Qur’an or the Prophet. As D.R. Hill has observed: “The evidence _ points strongly towards the conclusion that the expression (zimmd) JANUARY 1985 ISLAMIZATION OF SUDAN 41 with its connotation of second-class status for non-Muslims, was not in general use at the time of early conquests.” The document signed by the Prophet and the Jews of Medina known as the Sahifa, and described as “the Constitution of Medina” by Hamidullah, grants the following rights to the non- Muslims signing that constitution: 1. The security of God is equal to all groups. 2. Non-Muslim members of the umma have equal political and cultural rights with the Muslims. There will be complete freedom of religion and all groups will be autonomous. 3. Non-Muslims and Muslims will take up arms against the enemies of the umma and will share the cost of war. Muslims and non- Muslims are sincere friends with honorable dealings and no treachery. (Ibn Hisham’s Biography of the Prophet pp. 341-344 Wustenfeld Edition). The Sahifa is a clear indication of the lines on which the Prophet was building the umma. It was a multi-religious community. EMPIRE BUILDERS Unfortunately soon after the death of Ali, the fourth Caliph of Islam, the Muslim state passed into the hands of empire builders whose main aim was conquest; propagation of Islam was only in- cidental. In fact some of the Muslim rulers discouraged the conver- sion of non-Muslims to Islam. The Muslim jurists under these Muslim empire builders developed an elaborate code of law to govern their non-Muslim subjects. This code did not derive directly from the Qur’an or hadith (practice of the Prophet) and even violated the Qur’anic intentions and its explicit wording. A pluralistic community like the umma, which the Prophet sought to build presupposes religious liberty. Toleration is not enough; liberty to practice and preach a dissenting religion to retain its cultural and ethnic identity and to follow and administer its personal law must be based on the idea of rights and guaranteed by the domi- nant group. In the umma it was not a concession but a right established by the Qur’an. The Qur’an lays down the ground rule for the administration of the umma: “For each of you we have prepared, according to the capacity of • each, a clear spiritual law and a manifest way. And if Allah had enforced His Will, He would have made you all one people, but He wishes to try you by that which He has given you. Vie then, with one another in good works, To Allah shall you all return: then will He inform you that wherein you differed.” (Qur’an 5:48). These verses being the last of the revelations, are a clear indication 42 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS JANUARY 1985 that (a) the umma remained a multi-religious community till the end of the Prophet’s life; (b) the different constituents of the umma were to be ruled according to their own laws; and (c) there was a clear line of distinction between the rights of non-Muslims and Muslims which were inviolable and the dominant group (Muslims) had no privileged position to interfere with them. FREEDOM OF FAITH The Qur’an and Hadith provide no punishment for apostasy. There are ten direct references to recantation in the Qur’an and none of them prescribes any punishment for it. In fact some Jews of Medina had made a practice of believing in Islam and then repudiating it. In one reference to this practice the Qur’an says: “Those who believe then disbelieve, then again believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them nor will He guide them to the way,” (4.137) An apostate cannot enjoy the luxury of believing and disbelieving if the punishment of apostasy is death. A dead man has no further opportunity to “again believe and then disbelieve”. Religious liberty, freedom of thought and expression are not ex- clusively modern concepts. Every prophet, religious leader and reformer needs them; his own mission depends on them. It is the established church and the institutionalized religion which does its best to stifle the freedom of conscience. Al-Kafirun, the 109th chapter of the Qur’an is the most forthright statement of Islamic concept of freedom of religion. Each verse in this chapter, which contains only six verses and thirty words, emphasizes in clear and definite terms the difference between Islam and non-Muslims. In ef- fect it says that “as there is absolutely no meeting ground between your way of life and mine (the Prophet’s) and we are in complete disagreement not only with regard to the basic concepts of religion but also with regard to its details and other aspects, there can possibly be no compromise between us. Hence “For you your religion and for me my religion.” (109.6) VWhat Maulana Maududi and Ayatullah Khomeini have preached and what President Numeiri and General Zia-ul Haq practice is not real Islam but a caricature calculated to defame and ridicule Islam. Numeiri and Madhok are two sides of the same coin. One deliberate- ly distorts Islam, the other takes advantage of that distortion. (The Hindustan Times, June 29, 1984.)