Editor’s Note. Religious sects of Sunni teaching in Somalia are no longer interested in confronting extremists among their ranks. That is because they have become the new political, religious and business elites of Somalia. Now they aren’t limited anymore to religious scholarship and conveying the message of Allah. They are now more inclined to mind their worldly business. You won’t see taarigas (sects) fighting or bashing each other anymore in this country. The question is who would confront Al-Shabab or other extremists ideologically when the New Religious Elites of Somalia aren’t ready to sponsor God’s good message on earth? The article to follow is drawn from WDM archives. Take a read.

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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  1. I think you misread the situation. Generally the load voice with the Takbeer is part of the Eid rituals and the more you convey it loudly the better. The recitation is identical for all mosques 🕌 and the idea is to show gratitude to Allah, the Almighty for allowing us complete fasting at the day time and prayer at nights for the whole month. This issue has nothing to do to sectarianism or Tariqas as you have alluded. You may be right in the existing of different interpretations in other areas but as far as Eid Takbeer is concerned, there is nothing to fish out.


    1. In browsing the article, one may have the impression that the author isn’t clear about the religious traditions and importance of Takbeer in Islam, especially in such occasions. However, re-reading it may offer the reader the wider purpose and sense of writing the essay. Here the author describes what was happening in Garowe today as a prelude to the Tariqas’ problem in the country, and the need to take into account their destabilizing political factor in future political settlement.


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