Since time immemorial, or as long as Somalis considered themselves people of faith, the Sheikhs and Mufties of different Sunny Sects have been in ideological war against each other. This is perhaps true in other Sunny Muslim countries. Like Christian World, there are multiplying religious divisions and subdivisions. The difference is that Christian nations had managed to separate the state from the church, after a long and bitter historical struggle. Lately, Western nations were bragging about the term “freedom of religion”, while after the incident of 9/11, anyone carrying a Muslim name is a suspect of terrorism. This is clearly in demonstration at immigration entry points, police checkpoints and discrimination in the workplace. Nowdays, the state and church can’t, by law, interfere in each other’s affairs in the Christian World. Here, the only exception, enjoying common leadership (Imam) is the Shia division, mainly led by Iran. However, many Sunny scholars or sects consider Shia Muslims blasphemous, a rebellion against common spiritual leadership inherited from the Caliphates that followed Prophet Mohammed (SCWS). Whatever the case is, the Shiates enjoy more unity than the adherents of Sunny teaching.

Today any political leader in Muslim countries is rarely secular. Most often than not, he or she belongs to a particular Sunny Sect, immediately inviting resistance and anger from other sects of different school of thought. As a result, there is always political fluidity and instability within countries of Islamic Faith. Is religion a dividing force and permanent factor for national disunity in the same way tribalism plays a critical role in societal contradictions?

Here in Somalia, SYL nationalism, the First National Party for independence, temporarily succeeded in halting tribalism, but failed to freeze religious sectarianism. Obviously, this sectarianism is rooted deeper in Somali society than all the evils of tribalism. Yet, national leaders don’t show any sense of urgency to address the issue for the sake of national cohesion, least they are branded blasphemous, or at least, secular, and hence not fit to rule in a Muslim nation, according to most Somali clerics -roughly translated Qur’anic verse: “those who don’t rule by Allah’s heavenly messages are among the strayed”. To avoid criticism, Somali law-makers are defensive by saying that Somali legislations are based on Islamic law.

Let us know what you think about the matter.

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