A letter regarding the recent riots in Kaduna

uploaded 29 Nov 2002
from ramadhan.org

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

A letter regarding the recent riots in Kaduna

Recent riots in Kaduna and Abuja have led to the tragic deaths of over 215 Nigerians. As someone who has visited Kaduna in the past, I found the scenes from there to be devastating. The riots followed Isioma Daniel's insulting article in This Day newspaper in which she suggested that Prophet Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) would have chosen one of the Miss World contestants as his wife. Isioma's article was the latest in a vicious and ongoing campaign against Islam and Muslims.

In recent months, it had become clear that the Miss World pageant would be used as a central pillar of this campaign by turning it into a protest vote against the Sharia sentence passed on Amina Lawal who was convicted of adultery. Genevieve de Fontenay, head of the Miss France committee said, "The Miss France committee is joining the protests against Nigeria, which condemns women to death for adultery. These sentences are barbaric and unacceptable". Other contestants and their representatives voiced similar opinions and some even threatened to boycott the pageant, unless Amina Lawal was freed. Much of the critical comments attack Islam for condemning adultery as a punishable offence. Many westerners see this as a violation of the freedom of the individual - one of their articles of faith.

With regards to the stated belief that people should be free to commit adultery if they want to, this opens up a whole series of questions. For example why is taking heroin banned, but the use of alcohol glorified despite the many problems resulting from the latter's use? Why is bigamy banned, but adultery allowed, despite the problems of abortion, children growing up without a mother or father, as well as the emotional devastation visited upon partners of adulterers? When we examine adultery and illicit sexual relations it cannot escape the aware observer that it is one of the main selling points for magazines, newspapers, films and much of the entertainment industry, and a $7 billion pornography industry. Women are seen as objects with which to sell chocolate, dog food, or Cars, and the societal consequences of this constant marketing of sex is completely ignored. Consequently there is no major outcry over the 13 or so women who are raped in Britain every single day (UK Home Office figures 2000), or the female American soldiers who served in the Vietnam or Gulf war, 63% of who experienced physical and sexual harassment whilst 43% reported rape or attempted rape (Study by Yale University School of Medical Researchers 1998). These are glimpses of the outcome of the constant portrayal of women as sexual objects. Rather than feel ashamed, the West invites Muslims to adopt their decadent values and to suffer the same outcome.

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) reminds us:

فَإِمَّا يَأْتِيَنَّكُم مِّنِّي هُدًى فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ فَلَا يَضِلُّ وَلَا يَشْقَى وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَن ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَى

"Whoever follows My Guidance shall neither go astray, nor fall into distress and misery. But whoever turns away from My Reminder (That is, neither believes in the Qur'an nor acts on its orders) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection" [TMQ Ta-Ha: 123-124].

The very opposite of western decadence are the Islamic values and laws which forbid the exploitation of women for their sexuality. Islam views the preservation of the honour of the woman as a matter of life and death, which deserves the utmost care and attention. Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) laid down the role of the man and woman in society. Over 1400 years ago, it guaranteed women the right to inherit, trade, and vote. Rights which women in the west had to fight and die for in the 19th and 20th centuries. Islam also legislated the punishments the Islamic state should implement when these values are violated. As Muslims, we make no apologies for this. Indeed, there is no comparison between the sublime values of Islam and the decadence and social chaos of the Western capitalist way of life.

Many have commented that the riots highlight existing underlying tension over the adoption of Islamic Sharia law by northern states now referred to as 'Sharia states'. The actions of the Sharia states has led to local and international discussion and attack about the nature of Islamic law, the viability of Islam in today's world, peaceful co-existence between Muslims and non-Muslims, the application of Islamic law on non-Muslims and other related issues. We must respond to this attack and explain Islam as it is, without compromise as this is the path, which leads to the pleasure of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala).

Islam is a comprehensive system for life, not just a punishment system

Islam is the deen (way of life) revealed by Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) to Prophet Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam). It covers every aspect of life. As Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) informed us:

الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الإِسْلاَمَ دِينً

"This day I have perfected your deen for you, I have completed my favour upon you and have chosen Islam for you as your deen." [TMQ Al-Maida 5:3]

The debate and practice of Islamic sharia law in the Sharia states has focussed mainly on the judicial and punishment system in Islam with discussions revolving around cases of adultery, theft, fornication, appointment and training of qadis (judges) and similar maters. Islam is a comprehensive ideology, which has systems for all aspects of life. Amongst the rules of the economic system are rules relating to international trade, rules of partnership and company structures (mudharabah, mufawadha, wujooh, al-anan e.t.c.), sources of revenue (ushri, kharaj, etc), the gold currency standard, contract law, and many other rules. Amongst the rules of the social system are rules relating to marriage, divorce, maintenance, and many other rules. Amongst the rules of the ruling system are rules relating to the appointment of the Khalifah, the governors (wula), and the election of members of the people's assembly (Majlis al-Ummah) amongst other rules. It should therefore be clear to anyone who studies Islam that it is an ideology with its own unique systems for every aspect of life. A system, which is distinct from the Capitalist Democratic systems found in Nigeria and most of the world. So we must portray Islam as a comprehensive system for the individual, society and state, and not just a punishment system.

Muslims must show the validity of the Islamic system

The challenge facing Muslims today is to show the validity of Islam as a system that can manage the affairs of today's society. Discussing the Islamic solutions to the many problems facing Nigerians does this. So we should discuss how Islam's clear and unchanging definition of public property (Al-Milkiyyah al-Ammah) derived from the hadith related by Imam Ahmad stipulates that utilities and uncounted minerals (like oil) are forbidden to be transferred from public to private ownership. This is in contrast to the current capitalist system where NITEL, NEPA and other vital national assets are being sold off to a handful of Nigerians and their foreign partners in the name of privatisation. The privatised companies will in future hold the masses to ransom by charging exorbitant rates for essential services like water, telephones, and electricity, which they know people cannot do without. We should discuss how the Islamic injunction that currency must be based on the metallic standard leads the Islamic state to adopt the gold standard, and how this helps to arrest the continuous inflation and price rises which every Nigerian feels. We should contrast this to the current fiat currency system with its in built instability, contribution to inflation and domination by the US dollar allowing the US to manipulate other economies. These are some of the many issues we can discuss with a person in Owerri, Kaduna, Lagos or Abuja. This is similar to how Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) built awareness about Islam in the Makkah by exposing their practices whilst presenting Islam as an alternative. He (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) exposed cheating in the markets, the burying of daughters, the irrational belief in idols, and the political domination of the masses by the elite of Quraish. Similarly today, we must illustrate how Islam solves corruption, tribalism, and other problems facing Nigerians.

When I discuss with other Nigerians in Lagos, Kaduna, or Port-Harcourt, most of us complain about how our situation has stagnated or worsened under the latest democratic experiment (forgetting that Shagari's time was also a democratic experiment). This has even led some to long for a return to military rule. They fail to realise that both democratic and military rulers implemented the capitalist systems. Did both not allow the international institutions (Paris Club, IMF, World Bank) to dictate economic and other policies including loans, privatisation, and numerous Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP)? Did both not preside over the continued milking of the Nigerian Cow by the likes of Shell BP, at the expense of the masses? Both military and democratic rule allow the law making to be in the hands of a select few who legislate to serve their interests, and those of their backers only. Even the masses of the western world have woken up to this fact that democracy serves the interests of the few like George Bush and his friends at Halliburton, Carlisle Group and the Arms and other industries, which funded his election campaign. As a result the American and European masses have become disinterested in politics believing it to be a fixed game to which they are asked to give their pseudo participatory consent every 4 to 5 years. In such a climate, we Muslims are in a strong intellectual position because we are offering a tried and tested system revealed by the All Knowing Creator Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) i.e. the Khilafah, as opposed to the decadent western capitalist system.

The Islamic political and ruling system is the Khilafah.

The system of government in Islam is the Khilafah (Caliphate). The Khilafah is the global leadership for all the Muslims in the world. It is a single state in which a Khalifah is elected to establish the laws of the Islamic Shari'ah and to carry the call of Islam to the world. It is a ruling system that is completely different from any other ruling system such as democracy, theocracy or monarchy. It should therefore be clear that the Khilafah stands on its own and cannot exist within the democratic framework that exists in Nigeria or elsewhere. The Khilafah is a tried and tested system which existed for over 1300 years from its establishment by Prophet Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) in Madina until it was abolished in Istanbul in 1924, at the hands of the European powers and their agents. Whilst Europe was in the dark ages, the lands ruled by the Khilafah were the source of intellectual enlightenment, technological advancement, scientific discoveries and centres of learning which were laying down the foundations of modern day medicine, astronomy, mathematics, geography and other sciences. The Khilafah state existed in the time of the Khulafa Rashideen, the Ummayad, the Abbasid and Uthmani periods. This is the system that rulers like Uthman Dan Fodio emulated here in West Africa. The call for Sharia today must be the call for the Islamic political system, the Khilafah as this is the body that implements the Sharia of Islam.

Islam is applicable on Muslims and non-Muslims

Some claim that the Islamic system is applicable on Muslims only, not non-Muslims. This is incorrect. Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) reminds us:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

"We sent thee (Muhammad [Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam]) not, but as a Mercy for all mankind" [TMQ Al-Anbiyah 21:107].

The Islamic ideology addresses problems faced by humans whether Muslims or non-Muslims. The man or woman in Lagos, London, Owerri or Sokoto wants to live in safety, raise a family, to trade, buy a car, and to satisfy the many human needs we have. Islam lays out how to satisfy all of these needs, in a manner that results in tranquillity.

Since the birth of the Islamic state in Medina, non-Muslims have always lived as citizens of the Islamic state, enjoying the stability and security that it afforded. That is why there are millions of Coptic Christians in Egypt till today. That is why there are Jews in Istanbul even today, even though these cities were once under the rule of the Khilafah. Non-Muslims lived as citizens holding onto their individual beliefs whilst abiding by the Islamic laws in their societal transactions. After all, Christianity, Judaism and other religions organise man's personal life (e.g. morals, and his\her relationship with the Creator). However they lack detailed rules regarding economy, ruling and other societal matters. Islam on the other hand is a complete ideology, which organizes the personal as well as the societal life. Therefore the non-Muslim citizens never had a problem living in the Islamic Khilafah state.

Also, Islam has also detailed the rights of the non-Muslim citizens (dhimmi) in the Khilafah, and these are not subject to change according to the whims of the Khalifah (ruler). This is because Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:

من آذى ذميا فقد آذاني ومن آذاني فقد آذى الله

"One who hurts a dhimmi (non-Muslim citizen of the Khilafah), he hurts me and the one who hurts me, hurts Allah)".

Many of our forefathers were non-Muslim citizens who lived under the Khilafah, witnessed the justice of the Islamic system implemented over them, and then decided to become Muslims having realised that this was a system from the Creator of man, not from the whims of men.

Dear Brothers and Sisters

The call for shariah amongst the Muslims of Nigeria (north and south) illustrates our yearning to live according to the deen of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala). However, we must ensure that we do not become the tools of politicians who now back the call for Shariah because of their own leadership aspirations. The most important task facing us is to convince the society at large, especially the non-Muslims about the validity of the Islamic solutions implemented in the Khilafah system. This means that Muslims must study the details of the Islamic system and that we must discuss these with the non-Muslims, showing how Islam addresses the many economic, social and political issues facing Nigerians. Indeed, this is the work of Muslims the world over.

كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ لِتُخْرِجَ النَّاسَ مِنَ الظُّلُمَاتِ إِلَى النُّورِ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِمْ إِلَى صِرَاطِ الْعَزِيزِ الْحَمِيدِ

"A Book which We have revealed unto thee, in order that thou mightiest lead mankind out of the depths of darkness into light - by the leave of their Lord - to the Way of (Him) the Exalted in power, worthy of all praise!" [TMQ Ibrahim 14: 1]

Taji Mustafa Fombo
Member of Hizb ut-Tahrir