It sounds like a fresh victory day of Islam in Garowe today, modeling Bilal in the dawn of the religion. Unsynchronized refrains of “Allah The Great” rocks the City from every corner. The local mosque imams seem to compete with better sermons and religious knowledge. Some recite the Qur’anic verses in traditional Somali fashion. They call themselves “Sunna Wal Jamaaca” religious scholars. They are bent on making the religion user- friendly with a blend of suffism and references to cult of religious personalities in Somalia and beyond. Others read out the verses in typical arabic accent, sounding even better than native Arabs in their deliberations. They consider themselves more scholarly than the untravelled home-grown traditional Sheikhs. They practise more fundamental approach to Islam and strict adherence to the Book. Some people accuse them of pursuing hardline position in a Sunni society with liberal religious views, while the fundamentalists allege others of not strictly following the proper teachings of Islam. These sectarian religious groups avoid each others’ mosques or places of worship, a clear indication of how far they are irreconcilable, and how deep their contradictions run. In general, these religious rivalries aren’t new developments. Divisions and subdivisions of sectarian nature in Islam have been existing since the death of Prophet Mohamed (SCWS). Our current concern is that this country is too fragile to handle these destabilizing religious contradictions.
The various styles of reciting Qur’anic verses coming from every city in Somalia’s mosques sound amplifiers are microcosm of internal struggle and religious sectarianism that has been growing steadily in Somalia for the past four-five decades. This fact is one of the most crucial dimensions in Somalia’s body politics today. The fact that it is overlooked and underestimated when deliberating on Somalia’s national and regional issues is a fatal academic and political miscalculation. Resolving Somalia’s political conflicts along the path to national reconciliation must take into account the religious factor, societal problems posed by religious sectarianism or “Tariqa” conflicts.
Eid Mubarak to you all!
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