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:: Madinah Foundation :: Food for Though by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

:: Madinah Foundation :: Food for Though by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf



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Holistic Healing:Liver Cleansing

Holistic Healing #3392.6

KUWAIT UNPLUGGED: An Enlightened Society

KUWAIT UNPLUGGED: An Enlightened Society

Conference report: implementation of shariah in a democracy:The Nigerian experience

Conference Report:
The Implementation of Shari‘ah in a
Democracy: The Nigerian Experience
In This Issue:
1 The Implementation of
Shari’ah in Nigeria
4 Dimensions of National
6 Women in Islam - The Right
to Vote
7 CSID and Street Law Workshop
in Casablanca
8 Defining & Establishing
Justice in Muslim Societies
10 New Book: Woman’s Identity
and the Qur’an
10 American Muslim Icon Passes
11 CSID Membership Form
a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a
Muslim Democrat www.islam-democracy.org
Published by the Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID), Washington, D.C. Volume 6, No. 2, November 2004
The Center for the Study of
Islam and Democracy
(CSID) organized a
conference on “Shari‘ah in a
Democracy” at the Sheraton
Conference Center in Abuja,
Nigeria from July 7 through July
9, 2004. Over 300 people
attended the opening session,
chaired by Nigerian Chief Justice
Muhammad Lawal Uwais. The
special Guest of Honors were the
Vice-President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakr,
represented by Dr. A. D. Yahaya, Special
Advisor on Political Matters, and the
Governors of Kano, Bauchi, and Zamfara
States. Several other prominent guests were
in attendance during the opening session,
including prominent Qadis (judges) and
several academics and civil servants.
Professor S. U. Abdullahi, Vice
Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University in
Zaria, gave the welcoming address on
behalf of the Centre for Islamic Legal
Studies, CSID’s local Nigerian partner for
the conference. Dr. Radwan Masmoudi,
President of CSID, then welcomed the
guests and spoke about the need to reflect
on Nigeria’s experience with Shari‘ah. He
called for open discussion and for intellectual
examination of Shari‘ah practices in
In his welcoming
remarks, Chief Justice
Muhammad Lawal
Uwais summarized the
purpose of the three-day
event: “This conference
is concerned with the
implementation of
Shari‘ah in a democracy,
and in particular,
in Nigeria. Shari‘ah has been in Nigeria
for many years, even before colonialism.
With the coming of democracy in 1999
and the declaration of Shari‘ah, a lot of
interest has been shown on the implementation
of Shari‘ah. Some of this attention
has been positive and a lot has been
negative. This conference will examine the
difficulties of this implementation.”
In his address, the Governor of Bauchi
State raised a set of questions: “In the light
of globalization, how do we determine the
limits within which we will implement
Shari‘ah so that the rights of non-Muslims
are respected? How do we evaluate changes
in Shari‘ah without losing our distinct
identity as Muslims? What practical steps
can we take? Shari‘ah should not only
apply to the weak and poor, while we turn
A Nigerian participant speaking
about women rights in Islam
2 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
a blind eye to the rich and the powerful.
How can we create a spiritual policeman or
a spiritual judge?”
The Meaning of Shari‘ah
The first working session concerned the
meaning of Shari‘ah. The Imam of Kano
opened the session with a prayer and a
welcome greeting from the people of Kano.
Malam Ibrahim Sulaiman of CILS spoke
about the meaning of Shari‘ah. Dr. Abdul-
Aziz Sachedina, Chairman of CSID, gave a
presentation titled “The Role of Islam in
Public Square: Guidance or Governance”,
in which he spoke of Shari‘ah as a vehicle
to strengthen and improve human
relations: “It is important to keep in mind
that Islam did not come into the vacuum
of other religions. Islam came into being
when there were other religions already in
existence. Islam is relationships. There is
an ethical component that is extremely
important. Modernization has weakened
human relationships. Implementation of
the Shari’ah means to improve human
relationships at every level.”
Dr. Mohamed Habash, an Islamic
scholar from Syria, spoke about “The
Concept of citizenship in Shari‘ah”. After
him, Professor Malam S. Abubakar of CILS
argued that before we understand Shari‘ah,
we need to understand what religion is. He
also criticized the US position on Nigeria,
saying, “The Prophet came to bring about
a change not only for his time but for all
times. So for us the issue of the Shari‘ah is
a matter of responsibility.” Justice A. Orire,
Secretary General of J. N. I. Kaduna, was
the discussant of the session.
Shari‘ah and Good Governance
The second session concerned Shari’ah
and Good Governance. It started with a
presentation by Dr Sulaiman Kumo on
“Shari‘ah issues in Nigeria: Politics and
Legal Technicalities.” Syed
Mostafa Qazwini, director of
the Islamic Educational
Center of Southern California,
Los Angeles, spoke on
“Shari‘ah and Good
Governance”: “We in
America enjoy freedom that
we were deprived from in
our native lands, especially
freedom of religion and
freedom of expression. And
although we do not
implement Shari‘ah, we
implement the spirit of
Islam which believes in freedom and
equality. We enjoy good relationships with
the people of the book and this is because
we believe in the sanctity of human
beings.” Justice Mohamed Bashir Sambo
spoke critically of the discourse on
Shari‘ah and Democracy, saying that while
there is always pressure to conform Islam
to democracy, there is very little effort to
see if democracy can conform to Islam. He
asked: “Has anyone heard about divine
right? They will not speak about it because
everything in the UN is based on manmade
laws. Human rights, animal
rights—these are all in Islam. You preach
laws belonging to other nations but they
forget divine laws?”
In a moving paper presentation on
“Shari‘ah and Nigerian Legal System”,
Professor Awwalu Yadudu of Bayero
University stated three facts about Shari‘ah
in Nigeria:
1) That Shari‘ah was introduced by
popular demand, not by the military;
2) The Shari‘ah law is constitutional;
3) the Shari‘ah is implemented within the
context of the federal government but
not directly by the national government.”
Dr. Usman Bugaje, Chairman of House
Committee on Foreign Affairs, was the
discussant of the presented papers. He said
that some presentation were lacking depth
and were merely ceremonial. During the
question and answer session that followed,
many participants offered their candid
criticism of the speakers and the issues
The Ambassador’s Reception
The newly arrived US ambassador to
Nigeria invited the conference participants
to a reception at his residence where the
participants spent a fruitful time with
Ambassador Campbell and his staff.
Shari‘ah, Women and Minorities
The second day of the conference
started with a panel on Shari‘ah, women
and Minorities. Professor Margot Badran
of Northwestern University presented her
paper on “The Ongoing Tafsir on Men and
Women: Constructions and Practices of
Democracy and Social Justice”. She said
that while we tend to think of the women’s
rights in Islam as a result of Islam’s
intersection with modernity, there have
been people in the Islamic community
calling for greater women’s rights since
Islam’s beginning. Saudatu Mahadi,
Secretary General of WRAPA, Abuja
addressed the issue of “Women and
Shari‘ah”. Dr. Philip Ostein of the Faculty
of Law, University of Jos, addressed “The
Implementation of Shari‘ah in Democratic
Nigeria: A Plea for Deeper Study of
Its History”. The Sudanese Thinker
More than 200 Nigerian scholars, leaders, lawyers, and judges
participated in the three-day conference deliberations.
3 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
Muhammad Abulqasim Haj-Hamad called
for the critical evaluations of Shari‘ah
treatment of women and for freeing the
laws of Arab tribal traditions and biblical
influences that do not have a firm basis in
the Qur’anic viewpoint. Several Nigerian
women rights activists also commented
that while Shari‘ah does give equal
provision to women, often the implementation
does not.
Shari‘ah: Rights, Economy
and Society
Following a lunch banquet, the
afternoon session started with a presentation
by Professor Mohamed Al Hasan
Biraima, director of the Institute of
Islamization of Knowledge, University of
Gezira, Sudan, who addressed “The Role of
Freedom in True Implementation of
Shari‘ah Goals”. Those goals (maqasid alshari‘
ah) are for the securing of “self,
wealth, children, and the mind (knowledge).”
He said that we often focus on the
detailed legal aspects of Shari‘ah, but
Shari‘ah law must also encourage people
to be better Muslims. Professor Aminu S.
Mika’ilu, the former Vice Chancellor of
Danfodio University, Sokoto, spoke on
“Shari‘ah: The Socio-Economic Perspective”.
He spoke of three requirements:
In addition to eliminating interest
(riba), it is necessary to build institutions
for collection of zakah. This was responsible
for most of the failing implementations
of shari‘ah in Nigerian states. Such a
system would require a significant amount
of resources in the beginning, but will
be immensely beneficial in the end.
He added that states must, in
implementing Shari‘ah, bear in
mind their duty to ensure full
employment. “In the states that
practice Shari‘ah, you find the
highest level of unemployment,
illiteracy and disorganization.”
Professor Muhammad Tabiu of
the Faculty of Law, Bayero University,
Kano addressed “Shari‘ah and Human
Rights”, Malam Salisu Shehu of the
Faculty of Education, Bayero University
addressed the issue of “Shari‘ah, Education
and Social Orientation.” Professor TijaniAl
Miskin of the University of Maiduguri
initiated the discussion.
The Impact of Shari‘ah
The last session was about the impact
of Shari‘ah implementation. Professor
Ishaq Oloyede, Deputy Vice Chancellor of
the University of Ilorin, presented a paper
on “Private Implementation of Shari‘ah
in Southwest Nigeria”. Ishaq Kunle Sanni
presented a paper on “Independent
Shari’ah Courts in Oyo State.” Malam
Muhammad Babangida Muhammad
presented a paper on “The Impact of
Shari‘ah Implementation”, Hajiy Bilkisu
Yusuf addressed the issue of “Media
Reporting about Shari‘ah”. Dr. Baffa Aliyu
Umar of the Department of Sociology,
Bayero University presented a paper on
“Socio-Economic Impact of Shari‘ah
Implementation in Nigeria”. Muzamil
Sani was the lead discussant of the session.
Working Groups
The conference participants were
divided into the five working groups:
1- Politics and Good Governance
2- Economics and Finance
3- Women’s rights
4- Justice, Legal System, and Punishments
5- Minority Rights.
The participants spent five hours in
these workshops. During these brainstorming
sessions, participants developed
recommendations in light of the conference
panels and discussions. The groups
adopted several recommendations and
suggested some proactive steps for followup
after the conference.
The Banquet
Dr. Usman Bugaje, Chairman of the
Foreign Relations Committee at the
National Assembly, gave the keynote speech
at the conference banquet. Aly R.
Abuzaakuk, CSID program officer,
introduced the speaker as an enlightened
Muslim whose concerns extend beyond
Nigeria to include the world at large. Dr.
Bugaje gave an illuminating speech in
which he touched upon the role of
Muslims living in
a global world and
emphasized the
need for communication
Muslims and non-
Muslims and
between Muslims
Muslims should
understand the
context in which
they implement
Shari‘ah, and develop a thorough
understanding of Shari‘ah. Muslims must
equip themselves to face the challenges of
the twenty-first century.
The conference successfully engaged
Muslim scholars, from Nigeria and abroad,
on the key question of what Shari’ah really
means, and how an enlightened implementation
of Shari’ah can lead to a better
society and a better life for all Nigerians.
Discussions were frank, open, and illuminating
Usman Bugaje, Chairman
of the Foreign Relations
Note: A conference report is being prepared and
conference papers, communique, and
proceedings will be available on the CSID
website: www.islam-democracy.org
4 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
Dimensions imensions of National ational Security ecurity
Currently, the United States confronts
unique geostrategic challenges. The
admiration that America once
enjoyed on the world stage has been
shattered. That reality is hardly conducive
to American success in the war against
terrorism, or to the advancement of U.S.
national interests. Throughout much of
the world, one now encounters deep,
visceral, and consuming anger toward the
U.S. The truth is that the news for the
United States on the national security
front is very bad.
The war in Iraq appears unwinnable
militarily. Unless, perhaps, some 300,000
U.S. troops are dispatched to occupy Iraq
for several years. That is politically and
militarily impossible.
In Iraq, the United States is now
caught in a geostrategic trap. If the U.S.
withdraws from Iraq, civil war, or chaos, is
likely to ensue. Destabilization elsewhere
(Turkey, Iran, Syria) will more than likely
result. However, if the U.S. stays in Iraq, it
will continue to bleed. Resistance to what
most Iraqis now regard as an American
occupation will steadily increase, and
radicalization in Iraq and across the
Muslim world will deepen.
Iraq now risks becoming a viral
breeding ground for a new generation of
extremists. Kidnappings and car bombings
have become almost daily occurrences.
Surely, these developments do not contribute
to U.S. national security, or enhance
the effectiveness of the war against
Because of the territorial expansionism
of Israel especially under the Sharon
government, radicalization is spreading
not only in the West Bank and Gaza but
also in Egypt, Syria, Jordan and elsewhere.
Such radicalization can hardly be
considered a contribution to U.S. national
security, or helpful in the war against
The truth is that American national
security is eroding. It must be stated
clearly: the United States is losing the war
against terrorism. And it will continue to
lose that war, and American national
security will continue to be compromised,
until and unless changes are made in U.S.
foreign policy.
What is to be done?
First, the U.S. must recognize the
nature of the war in which it is involved.
In fact, this is not a war against terrorism,
which is a tactic, not a capital or country.
Rather, it is a war against a worldwide
Islamic insurgency. Tactics appropriate to
law enforcement are not appropriate here.
Rather, special operations, and greatly
improved intelligence capabilities,
combined with initiatives of such
non-governmental organizations
as the Center for the Study of Islam
and Democracy and the International
Institute for Political and
Economic Studies sponsored by The
Fund for American Studies, should
be the order of the day.
Moreover, the United States
must understand the motivations
of its enemy. To understand is not
to condone. Rather, understanding
is a weapon to enable the U.S. to
combat its enemy more effectively.
Unless we understand how our
enemy thinks, we will have no chance of
winning the war against terrorism.
Al-Qaida is not fighting America
because of "what it is," or because it enjoys
free speech and practices democracy. Co-ed
Ivy League universities, an independent
judiciary, and bikini-clad sunbathers are
not inspiring Muslim fundamentalists to
fly aircraft into buildings.
If not, what is?
The answer is simple. It is very specific
U.S. policies that enrage almost all
Muslims-whether they support the tactics
of al-Qaida or not-that are fueling the
international Islamic insurgency against
By Antony T T. . Sullivan
CSID Board Member
Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images
Explosions and violence are becoming daily occurrences and
threatening to destabilize the future of Iraq and the region.
Dimensions imensions of National ational Security ecurity
5 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
us. Unless a major policy reassessment is
undertaken, we are likely to face a war
without end. Unending war is surely not
good for American national security.
What are the U.S. policies
that so enrage Muslims?
F The American military presence in
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere in the
Persian Gulf.
F The American occupation of Iraq.
F The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan.
F U.S. support for the Israeli occupation
of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
F U.S. support for India in Muslim
Kashmir, Russia in Muslim Chechnya, and
Peking in Western Muslim China.
F Perceived U.S. pressure on Arab oil
producers to sell oil at below-market prices.
F U.S. support, ever since the end of
World War II, for repressive governments
“America seems to be
ubiquitous in the
Islamic world, occupying
territory, exploiting
resources, and
attempting to impose
cultural values.” n
which appear to be stable.
Graham Fuller, a former Vice Chairman
of the National Intelligence Council
at CIA, maintains that prospects for success
in the war against terrorism are slight.
Fuller writes: "I anticipate a worsening of
the relationship between international
Islam and the United States, based on
several factors: ultimately inconclusive
results from the War Against Terrorism,
[the War's] probable failure to end
terrorism, and…the greatly increased
resentment across the Muslim world
[against the U.S.] as [the War's] outcome.
This process may well result in more
terrorism against Americans
specifically…Such a situation will place
the United States in a deeply defensive
position across the Muslim world."
What is the bottom line?
Unless major changes are made in the
way the United States relates to the
Muslim world, hatred of the U.S. across the
world is likely to continue to metastasize.
Little inducement will exist for countries
to collaborate with the United States. And
U.S. national security will continue to be
undermined. Reassessment of U.S. policy
toward the Islamic world should be a high
priority for the incoming Bush administration.
CSID launched its Monthly Lecture
Series on October 27th. The first
lecture was given by Professor Louis
J. Cantori, member of CSID Board of
Directors, on "Islam, Democracy &
Development: Why Islam is not the
Problem." Professor Cantori discussed the
differences between the concepts of liberal
democracy and republican democracy. In
so doing, he stated that democracy does not
come in "one size fits all," and that the
culture or nature of society has to be
consistent with democracy if it is going to
work. Cantori recommended that Islam be
included in the republican democracy
model and should not be excluded from
the reformists' agenda.
In celebration of Ramadan, CSID held
a community Iftaar Dinner on Friday,
October 29, 2004, which included a debate
on "How to Improve the Image
of Islam in the United States."
The Iftaar was well attended
(over 100 people) by both
Muslims and non-Muslims
alike. Misrepresentations and
distortions of Islam in the
media were examined by two
invited speakers: Ms. Anisa
Mehdi, documentary film
producer and journalist who
reports on religion and the arts;
and the Chair of CSID's board
of directors, Dr. Abdulaziz
Ms. Medhi suggested that Muslims
become more involved in such fields as
business and the arts so that coverage of
Islam and Muslims could appear in
different sections of the newspaper. She
added that the proper use of language
would also improve the image of Islam.
Dr. Sachedina stressed the important role
that academia plays in correcting the
image of Islam since academics are called
upon by policy makers for expert advice,
and commentaries. He noted that the new
trend in academia is to seek Muslim
scholars to teach Islamic studies. He added
that Muslims can improve the image of
Islam by being more vocal against
oppressive regimes in the Muslim world
since these regimes breed violence.
CSID Events in October
By Layla Sein - CSID Conference Coordinator
A standing room only listened attentively to both Ms. Mehdi and
Prof. Sachedina.
6 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
Women in Islam:
By Asma Afsaruddin
CSID Board Member
Political rights for women are usually
assumed to have been born in the
modern period and as a consequence
of the rise of the modern nation-state.
Prominent among such rights is the right
to vote and hold public office, the most
graphic indicators of modern participatory
citizenship on a par with that of men.
Foundational discourses concerning most
religions and civilizations do not emphasize,
if acknowledge at all, the existence of
public, political space for women in the
pre-modern period. For Muslim women,
however, it can be persuasively argued that
there has been such a recognized space
from the very inception of Islam. Early
historical and biographical sources
contain valuable information that lends
much support to this position.
For example, the early converts to
Islam personally had to make a pledge of
allegiance to the Prophet Muhammad,
which signaled their formal entry into the
Muslim polity. This pledge, known in
Arabic as bay'a, was required equally of
men and women. The fact that the
Prophet took the bay 'a from all the
faithful, regardless of gender, as a prelude
to membership in the Islamic polity is
pregnant with political ramifications for
the contemporary period. The practice of
proffering bay'a to the political leader (or
withholding it to express one's disapproval)
remained standard procedure
throughout the medieval period, even
though it became more or less pro-forma
after the first century of Islam. Modernist
Muslims today see in the bay'a an early
precursor of the electoral vote, by means of
which their predecessors registered their
approval of the community's leader. On
the basis of this historical precedent,
modernists argue that Islam from the very
beginning had recognized the right of
women to "vote" by means of the bay'a
and thus their right to take part in
political decision-making alongside men.
Early authorities, like Ibn Sa'd (d.
845), record numerous instances of
women's public activities during and after
the time of the Prophet. These included
transmission of Qur'anic verses and the
sayings of the Prophet, running makeshift
hospitals in the mosque at Medina,
tending to the wounded on the battlefield
and sometimes even fighting shoulder to
shoulder with their male co-religionists. It
is well-known that women served as prayer
leaders as well, usually over other women.
roughly equivalent to today's office of a
city mayor. Throughout the pre-modern
period, wealthy women continued to
endow charitable foundations and
establish institutions of higher learning, a
consequence of their ability to inherit and
freely dispose of their wealth. Women also
played an active role in religious scholarship.
The fifteenth century Mamluk
scholars Ibn Hajar and al-Sakhawi
gratefully included the names of their
female teachers in their lists of prominent
scholars of their day and testified to their
extensive learning. The list of documented
female public activities could go on, but
the point has been made. There is nothing
in Islamic belief and history that inveighs
against women's participation in the
public sphere, including the political
realm. If anything, the early record shows
that Islamic principles of egalitarianism
and reverence for learning allowed women
considerable access to the public sphere.
The later gradual and relentless attrition
in the public rights of women is a
consequence of culturally conditioned,
androcentric interpretations of the
religious law, whose effects are still with us
today.When some ostensibly Muslim
countries today attempt to deny
women their political rights and
restrict their participation in public life in
the name of a reified Islam, truth is better
served by invoking the Islamic polity's
venerable track record of empowering
women in both the private and public
realms. It remains the responsibility of
Muslims everywhere to challenge the
ahistorical obscurantism that continues to
limit Muslim women's political rights
and citizenship today in various Islamic
“the early record shows
that Islamic principles
of egalitarianism and
reverence for learning
allowed women considerable
access to the
public sphere”
But Ibn Sa'd records one instance in which
a woman, Umm Waraqa, was appointed
the prayer leader over her entire, mixed
household by the Prophet. The Prophet's
widow, 'Aisha bint Abi Bakr, gave a public
speech in the mosque at Medina after the
assassination of the third caliph, 'Uthman
(d. 656) and led an army against his
presumed assassins. The second caliph,
'Umar b. al-Khattab (d. 644) appointed a
woman, Shifa' bint 'Abdallah, as the
public inspector of markets in Medina,
7 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
CSID & Street law
Workshop orkshop on connecting Islam &
Democracy in Morocco
The Center for the Study of Islam and
Democracy (CSID) in cooperation
with Street Law, Inc. has successfully
concluded the first seminar of their joint
program on "Connecting Islam and
Democracy" in Casablanca on 7-9 October
2004. The seminar was hosted locally by
"The Citizenship Forum" of Casablanca,
Morocco. It was attended by a selected
group of 23 religious, political, educational
and community leaders from
Algeria (11 participants including 4
women) and from Morocco (12 participants
including 3 women). The objective
of the project -which will continue for 16
months and is going to include Egypt and
Jordan- is to develop materials and
strategies that show the connection
between Islamic and democratic principals.
As a result of this project, we
envision that the participants will be better
able to discuss Islam and Democracy with
their constituencies.
CSID and Street Law have selected a
group of civil society leaders from Algeria
and Morocco and invited them to attend
the orientation and planning Seminar in
Morocco. A similar orientation and
planning Seminar for Jordan and Egypt
will be held in Amman Jordan on
December 10-12, 2004.
The seminar started on Thursday
afternoon by welcoming remarks and a
brief introduction from the three organizers;
Dr. Mokhtar Benabdellaoui, Director of
Citizenship Forum, Dr. Radwan
Masmoudi, President of CSID, and Dr.
Edward O'Brien, Executive Director of
Street Law. The Moroccan TV , Radio and
press attended and covered the opening
The first session was dedicated to
explaining the goals and objectives of
"Connecting Islam and Democracy"
project and the objectives of the orientation
seminar. The participants discussed
the major themes of the seminar: The
principles of democracy and their compatibility
with Islamic
values, awareness of
contemporary issues
related to Islam and
democracy, planning
for the introduction of
the program and the
dissemination of its
ideas in the two
The issues that
were introduced in the
seminar sessions were:
F The principles of democracy
F The structure of democratic
F Citizen participation
F Checking the abuse of
F Human rights and freedom
of expression
F Human rights and equality
Upon completion of the seminars,
two people from each country will
continue to work with Street Law
and CSID to write new textbook materials
for everyday citizen that show the connection
between Islam and Democracy. A
facilitators' guide that can be used by
community leaders will accompany the
materials. The remaining seminar
participants will have input into the
materials and will be asked to commit to
implementing strategies that promote
discussions about Islam and Democracy
with everyday citizens.
By Aly Abuzaakuk
CSID Program Officer
24 NGO and political leaders and democracy activists from
Algeria and Morocco attended the 3-day seminar
Participants from both countries engaged in thoughtful discussions about
the textbooks and the training program for their constituents.
CSID & Street law
Workshop orkshop on connecting Islam &
Democracy in Morocco
8 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
The Center for Islam and Democracy
(CSID) held its Fifth Annual
Conference in Washington, DC on
May 28 – 29, 2004. Twenty seven presentations
examining the concept of justice in
Muslim societies were highlighted in seven
panel sessions. CSID inaugurated an Open
Forum for Muslim Democrats from
Muslim world. About 200 scholars,
diplomats, government officials, democracy
professionals and academicians
attended the conference.
The Conference Chair, Dr. Akbar S.
Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic
Studies at American University, welcomed
the guests and encouraged frank and
honest discussions. CSID President, Dr.
Radwan Masmoudi, underscored the need
to establish justice in the Muslim world
and the world at large. He hoped that this
conference would help shed light on what
justice really means and how it can be
strengthened. He stated that “justice
cannot endure under authoritarian
rulers, and the dream of
a ‘just oppressor’ (al-mustabid
al-adil) is obsolete and toxic.”
Session One - Political
Foundations of Justice:
Kamran A. Bokhari, Howard
University, Washington, DC,
explored the “correlation
between the lack of an Islamic
political system capable of
dispensing justice and the
(current) general state of poverty of
thought among Islamists.”
Imad ad-Dean Ahmad, Minaret of
Freedom Institute, MD, highlighted the
need to understand why “sound governance
must incorporate Shurah and Ijma while
respecting justice as both a means and a
Abdel-Fattah Mady, Claremont
Graduate University, CA, further reinforced
the need to understand the role of Islamic
law (Shari’ah) in Muslim societies and in
establishing justice among Muslims and
non Muslims alike.
Session T Two wo - Economic Justice:
Paul Sullivan, National Defense University,
VA, began by saying that “Muslims
know [democracy] in their hearts. The
people in these countries desire democracy
because they have done without it for so
long.” As an economist, Dr. Sullivan
argued that the absence of economic
justice in Arab societies is attributed
mostly to poor leadership and governance.
Dr. Bart J. Ryan, Harvard University,
MA, analyzed the Indonesian economy in
light of the role that Islam will play in
democratic reform.
Norman G. Kurland, J.D., the Center
for Economic and Social Justice, VA, stated
that there is not enough focus on justice,
and that law is often unjust. Kurland
presented the “Just Third Way” as an
alternative to today’s two economic
paradigms: capitalism, and socialism/
The Friday luncheon featured Carl
Gershman, President, National
Endowment for Democracy; and
Alina Romanowsky, Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
Gershman emphasized that “American
Muslims can be a force for democracy in
their countries of origin.” Romanowsky
described the role that America plays in
supporting democratic reform in the
region by initiating workshops for women
hoping to run for political office.
Sessions Three - The
“Ambassador’ Ambassador’s s Forum” on “Islam &
Democracy Democracy: Four Ambassadors from four
Muslim nations - Morocco, Egypt, Turkey
and Jordan - analyzed democratic reforms
currently underway in their countries. After
the presentations, conference participants
had an opportunity to ask questions and
engage in discussions with the ambassadors.
Ambassador Aziz Mekouar of Morocco
examined the status of his country’s
democratization process. He spoke about
the economic and educational challenges
facing Moroccan society since 70% of the
population is under 25.
Ambassador M. Nabil Fahmy of Egypt
talked about the need for people in the
Muslim world to do more since democracy
is a process that develops gradually.
In his discussion about democratic
reform in Turkey, Ambassador Osman
Faruk Logoglu remarked that secularism is
CSID 5th Annual Conference:
Defining & Establishing Justice in Muslim Societies
By Layla Sein
CSID Conference Coordinator
Approximately 200 participants attended the conference’s various
panels and sessions.
9 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
a key condition for bringing about
genuine democratic traditions. He stated
that Turkish democracy did not come
Ambassador Karim Kawar of Jordan
focused primarily on Jordan’s need to
build the pillars of democracy:
education, human rights, freedom of press,
civil society, rule of law, and entrepreneurship.
The Annual Banquet consisted of a
keynote address by Akbar S. Ahmed on “The
US and the Muslim World at a Crossroads:
A Call to Reason and Cooperation.” In
examining the question: “Why Must the
West understand the Muslim world?”
Ahmed talked about the “war on terror”
and the need to understand the strengths
and weaknesses of Islam. He stated that
both parties must engage in a dialogue on
the role of religion, democracy, justice and
gender in society through conferences,
seminars and the dissemination of
The “Dialogue of Civilizations” award
was presented by CSID to Professor John L.
Esposito, University Professor at
Georgetown University. In his presentation
on “Post 9/11 Challenges to the Dialogue
of Civilizations,” Esposito explained that
the integration of religion in global ethnic
and tribal identity, along with nationalist
tendencies, is a political reality since the
fall of the Soviet Union, and will lead
either to a clash of civilizations or
dialogue and coexistence.” Professor
Esposito outlined the three realities that
define the post 9/11 period as being: a
global resurgence in religion, both in the
public and private spheres, the desecularization
of society and an emergence
of “civilizational dialogue.”
CSID presented the “Muslim
Democrat of the Year’ award to Professor
Abdolkarim Soroush. Dr. Hossein Kamali
accepted the award on behalf of Professor
Soroush, and read a statement on his
behalf. In his statement, the noted
Iranian scholar and activist said:
“Justice constitutes the key to formulating
such a notion of democracy that is not
only compatible but rather concomitant
with the teachings of Islam. We should
remember the Qur’anic injunction: inna-
Allah ya’muru bi al-’adl wa al-ihs’an (al-
Nahl/16:90) verily God commands justice
and doing good.”
Session Four - The Role of Social
Organizations in Promoting Justice Justice:
Orla Lynch, University College Cork,
Ireland, stated that Islamic fundamentalism
is the most significant challenge
facing the West since the post-Cold War
period. She argued that Islamic revivalism
and activism would be a more appropriate
term to describe this current phenomenon
and went on to trace its history and
evolution, first as a response to European
colonialism and then as a by-product of
the failure of Pan Arabism.
Moataz A. Fattah, Central Michigan
University, outlined the methodologies and
findings of an empirical study that he
conducted to determine whether attitudes
of ordinary Muslim citizens obstruct
democracy. Dr. Fattah characterized the
prevailing attitude of his subjects toward
the US as one of distrust as they felt that it
was not a credible promoter of democracy.
Mr. Babak Rahimi, European University
Institute, Italy, stated that Islamic
democracy should be based on a model
that emphasizes civil society. Rahimi
explained that the significance of civil
society is that it allows people and groups
to participate in the affairs of state and
check the power of the government.
Jennifer Bremer, University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill, examined the
importance of Islamic philanthropy. Dr.
Bremer asserted that it created a strong and
independent civil society whereby the elite
could challenge the authority of the state.
Islamic philanthropy also enabled the
upper middle class to strengthen its
linkages and networks with the poor by
demonstrating that society can meet their
needs without interventions from the state.
Session Five - Justice for Women
and Gender Equality Equality: Asma Barlas,
Ithaca College, NY, drew on her recent book
“Believing Women in Islam: Unreading
Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur’an”.
Dr. Barlas argued for a new Qur’anic
hermeneutics of gender equality. She
argued that since God is a just God, he
cannot encourage zulm (oppression)
against any group. Another crucial
argument for gender equality was her
question: How can women be equal in the
eyes of God, but not in the eyes of men?
Sarah Mehta, Ethics and Public Policy
Center, Washington, DC, spoke about the
status of Muslim Indian women. She
explained how Muslim women in India
constitute a “double minority:” first, as
Muslims in a Hindu-majority state, and
second, as women subject to patriarchal
religious traditions.
continued on page 10...
Akbar Ahmed, John Esposito, and Asma Afsaruddin
Ambassadors of Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, and Turkey
addressed the CSID conference.
10 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
Woman’s Identity and the Qur’an:
A New Reading
Author: Nimat Hafez Barazangi
Nimat Hafez Barazangi
CSID Board Member
continued on page 12...
An original and uncompromising
study of the Qur’anic foundations of
women’s identity and agency, this
book is a bold call to Muslim women and
men to reread and reinterpret the Qur’an,
Islam’s most authoritative source, and to
discover within its revelations an inherent
affirmation of gender equality.
Nimat Hafez Barazangi asserts that
Muslim women have been generally
excluded from equal agency, from full
participation in Islamic society, and thus
from full and equal Islamic identity,
primarily because of patriarchal readings
of the Qur’an and the entire range of early
Qur’anic literature. Based on her pedagogical
study of the sacred text, she argues that
Islamic higher learning is a basic human
right, that women have equal authority to
participate in the interpretation of Islamic
primary sources, and that women will
realize their just role in society and their
potential as human beings only when they
are involved in the interpretation of the
Consequently, a
Muslim woman’s
relationship with
God must not be
dependent on her
husband’s or
father’s moral
agency. Barazangi,
an American
Muslim of Syrian
origin, is a scholar, an activist, and a
concerned feminist. Her analysis of the
complex interaction of gender, religion,
and the power of knowledge for selfidentity
offers a paradigm shift in Islamic
studies. She documents the historical
development of Islamic thought and
describes how Muslim males have arrived
at the prevailing exclusionary positions.
The book offers a curricular framework
for self-learning that could prepare
Muslim women for an active role in
citizenship and policy making in a
pluralistic society and may serve as a
guideline for moving toward a “gender
Sherien Sultan, International Center
for Transitional Justice, NY, talked about
the “gap between the rhetoric of equality
and the reality of the profound inequality
that exists between men and women in
Muslim societies.”
Michelle Carla Morelli, a consultant
for the federal government, examined
“how historically, Moroccan women have
struggled to become active participants in
their country’s labor force. Moroccan
women face discrimination in the
workplace and home; this discrimination
hinders some women from being fully
accepted as true and equal employees in
the labor market. ”
Professor Ali Mazrui, State University
of New York, Binghamton, gave the
Hesham Reda Memorial luncheon keynote
address on Saturday. Dr. Mazrui spoke on
“Pax Islamica and the Pursuit of Justice
Between Force and Forgiveness.” In his
interpretation of the relations between the
Muslim world and the West, Dr. Mazrui
examined the practical and philosophical
aspects of these wisdoms: tolerance and
minimization of conflict; optimization of
economic well-being; celebration of
diversity and social justice; gender equity
as a global ethic; ecological balance and
respect for nature; interfaith dialogue and
the pursuit of greater wisdom and justice.
Session Six - Open Forum –
Voices oices of Muslim Democrats: Democracy
activists from several countries shared
their experiences while voicing their hopes,
beliefs and expectations. Muslim democrats
participating in this forum included
Ms. Neila Charchour Hachicha – Tunisia;
Ms. Fida Shehada – Palestine; Mr. Hamid
Aminoddin Barra - the Philippines; Dr.
Seyed Hossein Seifzadeh – Iran; Mr.
Mohamed al-Yahyai – Oman; and Shaikh
Muhammad Sodiq Muhammad Yusuf –
Uzbekistan. Abdulwahab Alkebsi, of the
National Endowment for Democracy,
stated that “since Muslim democrats are
American Muslim intellectual,
activist, journalist, writer, and
friend to all Muslim women,
Sharifa Alkhateeb, passed away Wednesday,
October 20, 2004 AD/6 Ramadhan,
1425 AH. Sharifa has been an advocate
for Muslims and more specifically
Muslim women nationally and internationally
for the last 35 years. She was the
creator, cofounder, and president of the
North American
Council of Muslim
Women (NACMW).
As an active and
effective grassroots
organizer, she was an
active member of many national and
international organizations, including
CSID. May the Almighty God bless her soul
and be pleased with her.
American Muslim Icon Passes
Sharifa Alkhateeb
a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a a
11 Muslim Democrat Vol. 6, No. 2, November 2004
Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy
2121 K Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20037
Phone: 202-942-2183
Fax: 202-628-8189
Board of Directors
Chair: Abdulaziz Sachedina
Vice-Chair: John L. Esposito
Akbar Ahmed
Asma Afsaruddin
Nimat Hafez Barazangi
Asma Barlas
Charles Butterworth
Louis Cantori
Radwan Masmoudi
Ali A. Mazrui
Joseph Montville
Louay Safi
Robert Schadler
Antony T. Sullivan
Svend White
Executive Committee
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by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
A Paper for the 5th Annual Conference of the Center for the Study of Islam and
Democracy: Defining & Establishing Justice in Muslim Societies
May 28, 2004 - Washington D.C.
Justice is an absolute standard for the conduct of human relations while
democracy is a formalism by which decisions are made. In modern times,
Western societies have had more success in establishing a degree of domestic
justice within a democratic formalism than have Muslim societies. Assertions
that this is because Islam is inherently unjust or undemocratic are fallacious. I
shall argue instead that Muslims face two special challenges.
Democracy is a contentious term with conflicting definitions. Although attracted
to the concept, the Muslim world has had insufficient familiarity with its nuances
and insufficient experience with its practice. We may compare the turns and
upheavals faced by the British in the centuries it took to establish their
democracy with the difficult and painful progress of Iran in establishing an
Islamic republican government. We may also compare the obstacles faced by the
Americans in moving from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution
with the constitutional issues facing the Iraqis today.
Muslims have preferred to take a personal rather than corporate approach to
social issues. While this has certain advantages over the Western approach, it has
had the undesirable consequence that Muslims have paid insufficient attention to
questions of sound institutional governance. The only serious modern corporate
institution in the Muslim world has been the state, but because it has been
unconstrained by sound institutional governance, the state has been neither just
nor democratic. I argue that by viewing shari`ah in the same manner that
Western jurists approached natural law, it is possible for Muslim legal scholars to
accept a formal role for democratic processes and in a manner consistent with
original conception of shari`ah. Finally, I shall show how such processes can
protect rather than threaten the centrality of the traditional sources of Islamic law
even as they offer hope to solve the problem of the inflexibility of Muslim
jurisprudence in modern times. Sound governance must incorporate shurah and
ijma` while respecting justice as both a means and a goal.
Justice is an absolute standard for the conduct of human relations while democracy is a
formalism by which decisions are made. Achieving the former within the structure of the
latter is a challenge for any society. In modern times, Western societies have had more
success in establishing a degree of domestic justice within a democratic formalism than
have Muslim societies. Assertions that this is because Islam is inherently unjust or
undemocratic are fallacious. I shall argue instead that Muslims face two special
First, although Muslims are attracted to the concept of democracy, it is a contentious term
with conflicting definitions, and the Muslim world has had insufficient familiarity with
its nuances and insufficient experience with its practice. For instruction we shall compare
the turns and upheavals faced by the British in the centuries it took to establish their
democracy with the difficult and painful progress of Iran in establishing an Islamic
republican government. We shall also compare the obstacles faced by the Americans in
moving from the Declaration of Independence to the Constitution with the constitutional
issues facing the Iraqis today.
Second, I shall argue that Muslims have preferred to take a personal rather than corporate
approach to social issues. While this has certain advantages over the Western approach, it
has had the undesirable consequence that Muslims have paid insufficient attention to
questions of sound institutional governance. The only serious modern corporate
institution in the Muslim World has been the state, but because it has been unconstrained
by sound institutional governance, the state has been neither just nor democratic. I shall
argue that by viewing shari`ah in the same manner that Western jurists approached
natural law, it is possible for Muslim legal scholars to accept a formal role for democratic
processes and that such a view is consistent with original conception of shari`ah. Finally,
I shall show how such processes can protect rather than threaten the centrality of the
traditional sources of Islamic law even as they offer hope to solve the problem of the
inflexibility of Muslim jurisprudence in modern times.
Because fiqh is only the human attempt to map the reality of divine law, differences of
interpretation in the formulation of the law is inevitable. Yet Islamic principles require
individual responsibility of each of God’s servants to the Creator. Thus, sound
governance must incorporate shurah and ijma` while respecting justice as both a means
and a goal.
I will waste no time arguing the popularity of democracy before a meeting of the Center
for the Study of Islam and Democracy. Instead I shall review the reasons why the
meaning of democracy has been so hotly contested. In its least contentious form, the
democratic principle is that legitimate rule requires the consent of the governed.
According to the Qur’an even Allah asked the children of Adam to assent to His Lordship
over them: “When thy Lord drew forth from the children of Adam from their loins their
descendants and made them testify concerning themselves (saying): ‘Am I not your Lord
(who cherishes and sustains you)?’”1 Once we attempt to move beyond that simple
conception of democracy, agreement on a definition of democracy becomes hopeless.
Must every individual consent to the choice of the leader? Such a requirement will serve
for very small groups or even for medium size groups at their initial formation, but
becomes impossible for groups of any large size. Does it mean that legislation requires
unanimous consent? Then nothing will ever be legislated. Even if we admit of a
representative democracy in which legislation is the function of a popularly elected elite,
those elite will rarely agree unanimously on any legislation of significance. Then shall we
permit the majority to rule in all cases? This is rightly called the “tyranny of the majority”
and will appeal only to crude populists with no concern for the rights of minorities or the
wisdom of the learned.
When we examine the democracies of the Western world, we see they come in a wide
variety of forms and flavors. Americans, with their two-party system have contempt for
the multi-party democracies because of the leverage those systems give to small splinter
groups. On the other hand, third parties in the United States condemn the two-party
system as a shared monopoly of power by which the elites exclude those with new ideas
and leave unrepresented the disenfranchised minorities.
Yet, we cannot deny that most Western countries have working democracies, which few
Muslim countries do.2 Since Britain and America are the most commonly advanced
examples of successful democracies, let us focus not on the details of their systems, but
on the history of their origin.
The creation of a working democracy in Britain was not due to the imposition of a
completed structure, nor was it an instantaneous epiphany. The establishment of the
British democratic system began with the Magna Carta in 1215 C.E., a document that
established the supremacy of the law above the king. The nobility that imposed this
concept on King John had just returned from the Crusades where they had witnessed that
the ruler of the Muslims, Salahuddin, was subject to the same laws as governed his
citizens. The British barons demanded that John submit, not to Islamic law, but to a
notion of an English traditional law that they imagined but until that moment had never
been explicit.
Significant as the rights established in the Magna Carta may be, they are far short of
anything we would call a democracy. While it established the rule of law as an abstract
principle and specified some particular limits on the king’s authority, that authority was
still very sweeping. It was 33 years before the House of Commons was established and it
was not until the 14th century that the current parliamentary structure was developed and
the feudal system began to erode as taxation of commerce and exports began to replace
the land tax. The tilt of the balance of legislative power from king to parliament remained
1 Qur’an 7:172 from the translation of Abdullah Yusuf Ali, The Holy Qur'an (Elmhurst, NY: Tahrikr
Tarsile Qur'an 1988).
2 The democracies of Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Iran have serious flaws, but they do work. Even
the democratic structures of Turkey and Pakistan work when not interrupted by military interventions.
a contentious and drawn out process, with frequent violent and authoritarian climaxes,
such as the reign of Oliver Cromwell.
Nor was the establishment of the free market and the protection of property rights a rapid
process. England developed an entrenched Mercantalist system supporting huge
monopolies and with strong protectionist tariffs aimed at sustaining an imperial system. It
was not until the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 instituted reforms inspired by natural
law and pro-property philosopher John Locke—himself inspired by Ibn Tufayl.3 Yet, as
late as 1815, Britain adopted the infamous Corn Laws preventing the importation of corn
unless the price of domestic corn rose to such a high level that the working classes were
faced with an unmanageably high cost of food. It was in the atmosphere of discontent
under these laws that the reform act of 1832 more fairly reapportioned representation in
the parliament and doubled the size of the electorate from 217,000 to 435,000—although
only one man in five yet had the right to vote and no woman did.4 The repeal of the corn
laws in 1846 delayed the enfranchisement movement, but could not stop it and by 1876
the franchise had been extended to “every male adult householder living in a borough
constituency” and “[m]ale lodgers paying £10 for unfurnished rooms,” a total of about
1,500,000 men.
If we look at Iran with a tolerance for extremely loose comparisons, we might see
parallels between Mossadeq and development of the British parliament, between the
viliyat i fiqh and Cromwell, between the English reform acts and the extension of the
franchise in Iran today. How strong the parallels are in the uneven development of these
democracies are may be debated, yet we should be impressed by the speed with which
Iran is going through its development compared to the timescale of the evolution of
British democracy. One should not read too much into this comparison, for obviously
Britain trod this road first. Yet it is unreasonable to be impatient that Iran is taking
decades to travel the road that took Britain centuries.
One might argue that it is not unreasonable to expect new nations using man-made
constitutions to solve these problems faster than those that, traveling the road first, had to
solve by an evolutionary process. Yet we must ask how much faster will a designed
constitution be? Surely the United States of America was in a better position to take
advantage of the mistakes of Britain than anyone, since the colonists were mainly of
British stock, well-versed in the history of that land, and comfortable with its culture—
more so than one should expect of Iraq or Iran. Yet, when the Americans sought to
rationally create a written constitution (unlike Britain’s unwritten one) they botched up
the first attempt. The articles of Confederation were adopted by Congress in 1777,
ratified four years later, and abandoned—to be replaced by the Constitution—in 1788.
There were twelve years between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
3 See G. A. Russell, "The Impact of the Philosophus Autodidactus: Pocockes, John Locke, and the Society
of Friends," The "Arabick" Interest of the Natural Philosophers in Seventeenth Century England
(Brill's Studies in Seventeenth Century England; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), pp. 224-265.
4 Glenn Evrett, “The Reform Acts,” (10/14/2002) http://www.victorianweb.org/history/hist2.html, accessed
Perhaps the Iraqis also will need two attempts to get their constitution right. However, to
be on an equal footing with the American Founding Fathers, the Iraqis would need to be
free to elect their constitutional representatives. Perhaps they also should be allowed to
elect their local and provincial governments even before a national constitution is
adopted, as did the Americans. Finally, we note that the American Constitution still
required amendment after 80 more years to give the vote to blacks, another 52 years to
give the vote to women, and another 41 years to give the vote to young adults 18-20.
Fifteen to seventeen year olds, adults under Muslim law, are already allowed to vote in
Iran.5 It is these young people who are the driving force pressing for further democratic
reform and liberalization. We note that the clause in the Iraqi constitution that gives
women 25% of the seats in parliament—a considerably larger percentage than enjoyed by
women in the U.S. Congress—received no objections from the Iraqi public.
We have elsewhere6 noted that Islam is a “nomocratic” system, in which law is
discovered, rather than a system of positive law, in which law is invented. There is,
however, no scriptural obstacle for democratic reform, since an elected legislature is one
means for settling disagreements over interpretation of the law. (Another means, well
established in Islamic jurisprudents, is the existence of competing schools of law among
which the individual is free to choose). However, there is a serious albeit indirect obstacle
to meaningful democratic reform in the cultural preference among Muslims for
personalism over corporatism.
What I mean by personalism is encapsulated in T.E. Lawrence’s observation that “Arabs
believe in individuals, not institutions.”7 The idea is that we will do business with people
we trust. An institution will be judged by the person at its head. It is for this reason that
Middle Eastern Muslims want to sit down and socialize with potential business
associates, while Americans don’t see why the need even to meet the directors of a
company in which they invest money, but are satisfied to read the prospectus.
The virtues of personalism are that it avoids bureaucracy, red tape, and the high overhead
costs that are associated with institutional record keeping and oversight. The problem of
personalism is that in relying completely on trust in the morality of the trustee, it neglects
the elements of procedural protections aimed at insuring good governance of corporate
structures, and too easily opens the door for corruption. In treating the head of state as the
owner of the state, it opens the doorway to tyranny.
5 Robin Rowland, “Iran: Facing a Demographic Revolution,” CBC News Online (June 18, 2003)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/iran/. Accessed 5/27/04.
6 See, e.g., Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, “Definitions of Democracy,” Muslim Democrat 1 #2 (Sept. 1999) , 2.
7 Quoted in Lawrence Rosen, The Anthropology of Justice: Law as Culture in Islamic Society (Cambridge:
Cambridge Univ. Press, 1989; the Henry Morgan Lewis lectures 1985), p. 14.
Personalism is the best way for dealing with small institutions, but public choice theory
has demonstrated why it becomes unmanageable in dealing with large organizations.
Consider the family-owned business. The workers, the owners and the managers are all
the same people. There is no conflict between their individual success and the success of
the business. A son, say, has too much incentive to avoid losing the respect of his father
to slack off or otherwise cheat the business. If he does act in ways that go against the
good of the family, the father soon knows it and acts as necessary. Compare this to a
large international corporation with thousands of branch offices. The stockholders, the
managers, and the workers are completely different sets of people. Their interests are
wildly divergent, and it is extremely difficult to detect when any one is working at odds
to the interests of the others. Thus, regulations and bureaucratic monitoring and
procedures are necessary.
Islam has heavily based its culture on precedents from the early ummah where
bureaucratic complications were unnecessary. To give an example, consider a problem
faced by modern zakat institutions when applicants resent having to fill out application
forms and give the names of references. They object that the Prophet (as) never asked for
application forms and references. They are correct, but they overlook the fact that the
Prophet knew the people whom he was assisting. He was their reference and he already
knew their situation.
The only serious modern corporate institution in the Muslim world has been the state, but
because it has been unconstrained by sound institutional governance, the state has been
neither just nor democratic. The modern nation state is the institution least amenable to
personalization. It suffers from the public choice problem of large corporations on an
even grander scale because of its sheer size. In addition it is divorced from accountability
in a way no business corporation can be because of its monopoly on the use force. Thus
the state can defend itself from criticism by controlling the media, the election process,
and the people themselves in ways no business would dare. Rather than avoid corruption,
such states repress those who would seek to take action to reform it. The only possible
way of limiting such a state is by the institutionalization of democratic processes that
guarantee the freedom to criticize it and peaceful means for attempting to change it.
I want to argue that there is a role for democratic processes in the original conception of
shari`a. To do so, we must clarify that meaning of shariah, which too often is confused
with the fiqh. Sharî`a literally means “the path to the well.” What does “the path to the
well” have to do with Islamic law? The path to the well is whatever it is as the Islamic
law is whatever God has made it. Thus, the fiqh is to th e shariah as a map of the path to
the well is to the path itself. It is a human conception of a divine fact. In other words the
shariah is like the laws of nature, eternal and unchanging, while the fiqh is like our
scientific theories, scholarly human attempts to understand the divine law.
Islamists who speak of “imposing the shariah” then are making an extreme error, since
the shariah can no more be imposed by man than can the law of gravity. And man has no
more right to impose a particular school of fiqh on others than he has to impose Newton’s
law of gravity as opposed to Einstein’s or vice versa. That is why the Prophet told his
companions: “It is incumbent upon those who are present to inform those who are absent
because those who are absent might comprehend (the message) better than the present
audience.”8 Notice how this is a forward-looking view of the shariah, in contrast to the
backward-looking view that denies the possibility that the shariah might be better
understood by later generations than earlier one.9 Within this concept of shariah,
democratic process can play a role in circumventing violence due to different
understandings of shariah.
In the end it is insufficient to fall back on generalities, asserting that we want to use
shurah and ijmâ’ to resolve our differences. We must formalize the rules of consultation
and consensus so that people may know how to use them and give their consent to the
processes by which we propose to implement them.
Such processes can protect rather than threaten the centrality of the traditional sources of
Islamic law even as they offer hope to solve the problem of the inflexibility of Muslim
jurisprudence in modern times. When violent means are relied on to resolve disputes
about the law, too many people end up believing that it is the law itself that causes
violence. This is what led Europe to abandon the belief in absolute law altogether and to
plunge into moral relativism. Those who want to give some humans the ability to dictate
to other humans what only Allah may dictate set the stage for a similar misdirected
rebellion in the Muslim world. Anger that should be directed against human tyrants is
turned against the Law and perhaps against Allah (saws) Himself.
Because fiqh is only the human attempt to map the reality of divine law, interpretation in
the formulation of the law is inevitable. Yet Islamic principles require individual
responsibility of each of God’s servants to the Creator. Thus, sound governance must
incorporate shurah and ijma` while respecting justice as both a means and a goal.
We may use the issue of women’s rights as an example of the problem and its solution.
Consider the difference between of Umar and the Prophet on the matter of hijab:
When 'Umar asked for the permission to enter [where the Prophet was meeting
with some Quraishi women], the women quickly put on their hijab. ... The
Prophet said, “These women who have been here, roused my wonder, for as soon
as they heard your voice, they quickly put on their hijab.” Umar said, “O Allah's
Apostle! You have more right to be feared by them than I.” Then 'Umar
addressed the women saying, “O enemies of yourselves! You fear me more than
you do Allah's Apostle?” They said, “Yes, for you are harsher and sterner than
Allah's Apostle.”10
8 Sahih Bukhari 1:67.
9 A critique of the backward view was presented at this conference by Kamran Ashgar Bokhari, “Poverty of
Islamic Thought as an Obstacle to Justice.”
10 Sahih Bukhari 5:32.
Discretion by managers and ministers is unavoidable, but a discretionary authority that
can deprive women of their right to khula divorce, as happened in Egypt11 requires
institutional safeguards. Political circumstances will affect the legal interpretations of
those empowered to interpret. The Islamist politicians in Jordan initially opposed women
voting, until they realized that they needed the votes of women in their own ranks to win
seats whereupon they decided that it is the Islamic duty of women to vote. The best
protection against a counter-productive corporatism is personal inclusion in the process
of establishing the governing documents. Involve women in the writing of the
constitutions and bylaws of Muslim organizations and states. This is no innovation as
women were involved in the transmission of hadith literature. Anyone who studies hadith
literature will clearly see the importance of the inclusion in the relative fairness of hadith
to women. Exclusion of hadith transmitted by women would substantially alter the
balance of the picture of the sunnah we have received. Example of Aisha’s correction to
those who said that the presence of a women in front of a man will invalidate his prayer:
“It is not good that you people have made us (women) equal to dogs and
donkeys. No doubt I saw Allah's Apostle praying while I used to lie between him
and the Qibla and when he wanted to prostrate, he pushed my legs and I
withdrew them.”12
We have argued for a reconciliation of the modern concepts of corporate governance with
the traditional Muslim preference for personalism. The traditional Muslim view that all
relationships are contractual is not antagonistic to good corporate governance provided
certain principles (that happen to be principles of good corporate governance are
To the largest degree possible, decentralize authority so that personalism in decisionmaking
is least subject to corruption. If the individual is responsible for all decisions that
affect only the individual, then no problem of public choice conflicts arise.
Where decision affect others in small groups allow all members of the group to
voluntarily and contractually set the terms of their interaction. Respect the autonomy of
natural groups like the family and only intervene when a decision may adversely impose
consequences on others outside the group or when a member of the group (for example
an infant in the case of the family) is unjustly harmed by a disadvantage of power.
Where decisions must be made in large groups obtain the consent of all members of the
group to a due process of decision-making. To this we submit the proposal of the Islamic
11 See, e.g., Amira El-Azhari Sonbol, The New Mamlukes: Egyptian Society and Modern Feudalism,
(Syracuse, NY: Syracuse Univ. Press, 2000), p. 184-186.
12 Bukhari, vol. 1, #498.
Rules of Order.13 All corporate structures whether governmental, civil, or commercial,
must be governed by rules that are fair, simple and understandable. Rules of
accountability must also be put in place.
Establish nation-states, like Iraq, on a federal structure so that the subsidiary groups,
whether geographical, ethnic, linguistic, or sectarian, will be autonomous and at minimal
risk of adverse intrusion. The laws of such states should not be biased towards
preferential treatment of large corporations which must rely on burdensome
accountability checks, so that individuals may elect to organize in smaller familiar groups
where personal trust will suffice.
The main problem with attempts at both democratization and liberalization in the
Muslims world has been that they have been long on generalities and short on specifics.14
The process of writing documents of institutional governance forces Muslims to deal with
13 Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Islamic Rules of Order, in preparation.
14 See, e.g., “Arab Leaders Adopt Reform Plan.... Or Do They?” Democracy Digest 1 #4 (May 28, 2004)
15 An example of a specific project in which the Minaret of Freedom Institute is involved is a proposal for a
workshop in Jordan for Iraqi civics educators by which we may encourage them to incorporate the ideas to
which I allude in my talk in the still-to-be-constructed civics curriculum in Iraq. All interested in this effort
should contact the Minaret of Freedom Institute at mfi@minaret.org.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Claremont's David Ray Griffin's *The New Pearl Harbor.*

For those interested in an important American philospher/theologian's conspiratorial take on the 9/11, a significant book is Claremont's David Ray Griffin's *The New Pearl Harbor.*
It received nice blurbs from John Cobb and Rosemary Radford Reuther. Also, the distinguished political scientist and scholar of international relations, Richard Falk, has written a useful foreward to the book.
The complete text can be found online at at least two urls:
Alan (This book may have been discussed at one time on this list.)
Dr. Alan Godlas
Dept. of Religion
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-1625

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Jinn as UFOs, aliens, greys, poltergeists, elementals, saints, demons, monsters!!!

Jinn as UFOs, aliens, greys, poltergeists, elementals, saints, demons, monsters,

Critical Islamic Reflections: Papers / Panels

Critical Islamic Reflections: Papers / Panels

Critical Islamic Reflections: Papers / Panels

Critical Islamic Reflections: Papers / Panels

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Politically Correct for Kids-If its Laughter you're after!


Politically Correct for Kids; -By William Brabant Via: Stan Kegel-

Your bedroom isn't cluttered, it's 'passage restrictive.'
Kids don't get into trouble anymore. They merely hit 'social speed bumps.'
You're not having a bad hair day; you're suffering from 'rebellious follicle syndrome.'
No one's tall anymore. They're 'vertically enhanced.'
You're not shy. You're 'conversationally selective.'
You don't talk a lot. You're just 'abundantly verbal.'
It's not called gossip anymore. It's 'transmission of near-factual information.'
The food at the school cafeteria isn't awful. It's 'digestively challenged.'
Your homework isn't missing; It's just having an 'out-of-notebook experience.'
You're not sleeping in class; You're 'rationing consciousness.'
You don't have smelly socks; You have 'odor retentive athletic footwear.'
You weren't passing notes in class. You were 'participating in the discreet exchange of penned meditations.'

You are not sent to the princip[al's office. You're 'going on a mandatory field trip to the administative building.'

Thursday, February 17, 2005

ملتقى أهل القرآن

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Ijtihad-New Ideas

The Chronicle of Higher Education Research


From the issue dated February 25, 2005

Who Owns Islamic Law?
Some liberal scholars want to open the explication of sacred texts to all. Others say the path to democracy lies elsewhere.


If all goes according to plan, Iraqi political leaders will gather this year to forge a new national constitution. It is easy to imagine many things that might shipwreck the process. Near the top of that
list: Will Iraq's political forces manage to find a consensus about what role, exactly, Islam should play in the public sphere?

That question has created deep tensions within Islamic reform movements for more than a century. Certain persistent strains of Muslim thought insist that an authentically Islamic nation must enforce Shariah -- traditional religious law -- in all spheres of life, from banking to inheritance to the performing arts. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, the assistant secretary general of an Islamist party in Bangladesh, recently wrote an essay celebrating democracy, but adding that "Islam does not accept the idea of separation of state from religion." Other Muslim activists, citing the recent unhappy history of Afghanistan and Iran, insist that lines must be drawn between mosque and state -- even if those lines do not look exactly like Western secular pluralism.

For outsiders, it is tempting to caricature this debate as a contest between Taliban-style radicals and Western-style liberals. (And there are indeed authentic representatives of both those camps in Iraq
today.) But the terrain is actually far more complex than that. There are dozens of strains of traditionalist and liberal thought in the Muslim world, each looking toward different conceptions of Shariah and drawing on different elements of Islamic history and jurisprudence.

Now a few prominent liberal scholars are aggressively promoting a concept that they believe can nurture democracy and allow an authentic Islam to thrive in the modern world. Islam can regenerate itself, these scholars say, if it returns to the principle of ijtihad.

The Arabic term -- which literally means "strenuous effort" -- has historically referred to the practice of systematically interpreting Islamic religious texts in order to resolve difficult points of law.
(In an oft-cited example, early Muslim jurists strove to interpret an ambiguously phrased Koranic verse about how long a divorced woman must wait before remarrying.) In the early centuries of Islam, ijtihad was confined to an elite set of scholars and jurists
(mujtahidin) with rigorous training in the religion's texts and laws.
Beginning around the 12th century, most Muslim communities restricted the practice even further: Some juridical schools declared outright that "the gates of ijtihad have been closed," while other regions limited the practice of ijtihad to questions of the family and everyday life.

Today's proponents of ijtihad take a far more expansive view. "There will be no Islamic democracy unless jurists permit the democratization of interpretation," wrote M.A. Muqtedar Khan, a professor of political science at Adrian College, in a 2003 essay. In Mr. Khan's view, political elites in the Muslim world have for centuries restricted the development of democracy and political accountability by hiding behind religious principles that they proclaim to be fixed in stone. Mr. Khan argues, in effect, for an end run around the entire traditional apparatus of Muslim jurisprudence.
Believers should instead, he suggests, look directly to the Koran and to the practices of Muhammad and his companions, and use their own efforts at interpretation to build ethical communities.

Mr. Khan is not alone in this general approach. He and four other scholars gathered at a 2004 conference on ijtihad, sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace. "Is ijtihad part of the expanding democratic culture of the Muslim world?" asks Muneer Fareed, an associate professor of Islamic studies at Wayne State University, who also spoke at the conference. "Or will it remain the forte of an exclusive group of intellectuals? These are some of the fundamental questions that people are asking today."

But other prominent scholars -- including some who share Mr. Khan and Mr. Fareed's urgent interest in pluralism and democracy -- have deep doubts about the ongoing conversations about ijtihad. Certain formulations of the ijtihad model, these skeptics say, are ahistorical and counterproductive. "Part of what hobbles their argument is that they're nonjurists," says R. Michael Feener, an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California at Riverside. "They're nonlaw people talking about law."

Instead, Mr. Feener suggests that Muslim reformers should embrace, not discard, the heritage of Islam's traditional schools of jurisprudence. Other skeptics point to a striking irony: The ultratraditional Salafist movements associated with Al Qaeda -- who are in some sense the polar opposite of the liberal enthusiasts of ijtihad -- use very similar language about scrapping the vast corpus of Islamic legal commentaries and returning to the original texts.

Worlds Away From Wittenberg

The reformist interest in ijtihad is not new. For more than a century, Muslim scholars and activists have cited the concept as they have tried to respond to the trauma of colonialism and its aftermath.
In his 1934 book The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Muhammad Iqbal, the poet known as the spiritual father of Pakistan, argued for transferring "the power of ijtihad from individual representatives of [legal] schools to a Muslim legislative assembly,"
which would build toward "spiritual democracy which is the ultimate aim of Islam."

The latest proponents celebrate a much more inclusive model of ijtihad. No jurist can single-handedly interpret Islam, Mr. Khan says. "My argument is that Shariah should be by shura," or consultation, he says. "We should all consult among ourselves and conclude what God is telling us. ... Interpretation of God's message is the quintessential quality of humanity. To take away from me my right to interpret Islam, you have to deprive me of my humanity."

Even non-Muslims, Mr. Kahn says, should be permitted to participate in the process of ijtihad. "Islam belongs to all of us," he says.
"It's not that Muslims own Islam, or that Muslim men own Islam, or that Muslim jurists own Islam."

Mr. Fareed cautions against making any glib historical analogies between ijtihad and Protestantism. "It certainly doesn't help to look for a Luther in Islam," he says. While Christian debates have historically centered on questions of doctrine and faith, he points out, Islam (like Judaism) tends to be consumed with debates about practice and ritual.

Among Muslim immigrants in the West, Mr. Fareed continues, debates about everyday practice -- such as whether it is permissible to pay interest -- have become very open and wide-ranging, thanks in part to the Internet. And as Western Muslims use ijtihad to debate such relatively quotidian questions, he says, they are also moving toward consideration of more fundamental questions about political structures and economic justice. Mr. Fareed hopes that these Western debates, couched within an Islamic vocabulary, will eventually provoke new kinds of conversations about democracy and political legitimacy in the heart of the Muslim world. (Last April Mr. Khan attended a scholarly conference in Saudi Arabia; when he returned, he wrote that he was, for the first time, cautiously optimistic that Saudi society was opening itself to "self-critical and reflective

Not all Muslim liberals, however, find the ijtihad model attractive.
A very different strategy for working toward democracy and pluralism is put forward by Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor of law at the University of California at Los Angeles. In Mr. Abou El Fadl's view, liberal Muslim scholars should revive, not dismiss, some of the longstanding threads of Islamic jurisprudence, looking carefully at historical cases in which Muslims have successfully built pluralist and relatively democratic societies.

Although Mr. Abou El Fadl's methodology is more elitist than Mr.
Khan's vision of ijtihad for all, he also maintains that it will ultimately be more liberal. He wrote in a 2003 essay that basing government around consultation and shura, as Mr. Khan and his allies suggest, could lead to majoritarian tyranny. "Even if shura is transformed into an instrument of participatory representation," he wrote, "it must itself be limited by a scheme of private and individual rights that serve an overriding moral goal such as justice."

Mr. Abou El Fadl adds in an interview that he finds Mr. Khan's framework extremely ill-disciplined. "Instead of making the effort to study Arabic and study the texts," he says, "Muqtedar Khan is simply throwing around terms like ijtihad and mufti and fatwa. ... This kind of thing is why there's such a vacuum of authority. This is why we have people like bin Laden going around claiming to be Islamic."

If, as Mr. Khan suggests, ijtihad is truly open to all -- even to non-Muslims -- then what criteria, Mr. Abou El Fadl asks, can be used to distinguish sound doctrine? "If everyone's ijtihad is as good as anyone else's," he says, "then bin Laden's ijtihad is as good as Muqtedar Khan's."

"In its pristine form, shura was consultation on a patriarchal or tribal basis," says Emran Qureshi, a fellow at Harvard University's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, who is sympathetic to Mr. Abou El Fadl's position. "It's difficult to tie a notion of modern democratic practice to that notion."

Mr. Khan, for his part, finds this position impossibly elitist. In a
2004 article, he charged that Mr. Abou El Fadl's model of liberal jurisprudence "allows the intellectual colonialism of Islamic legalism -- its tendency to engulf and marginalize other fields of study -- to subvert his quest for an Islamic democracy."

A middle ground of sorts is offered by Ingrid Mattson, a professor of Islamic studies at the Hartford Seminary. Ms. Mattson argues that there should be a wide scope for popular ijtihad, but adds that the process should be watched over by well-trained Islamic legal scholars. "The proper role of scholars and religious and legal specialists," she says, "is simply to point out when certain boundaries are being crossed. Not to dictate the process of ijtihad, but to monitor it in a way that is helpful and supportive of the development of society."

Political Convergence

All parties in this debate over ijtihad emphasize that their ultimate political visions are similar: They would like to see majority-Muslim countries develop democratic and accountable institutions, and to combine authentically Muslim cultural values with ample protection for individual rights and religious minorities.

Yet the devil emerges in the details. If even scholars with such harmonious visions find themselves tangled in argument, how much more difficult will it be for Iraqi political leaders trying to forge a new constitution?

Part of the difficulty, says Mr. Qureshi, is that "secularism" has been so thoroughly discredited in the Muslim world by Kemal Atatürk's ruthlessly anticlerical regime in Turkey and by the later secular-authoritarian governments in Algeria, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq.
Only in Iran, which has suffered under a clerical tyranny for decades, do reformers now commonly talk about secular pluralism.

The fundamental challenge for would-be democracy-builders in Iraq and elsewhere is the contested relationship between Islam and the public sphere, Ms. Mattson says. Where religious authorities and institutions once had breathing room from the state and their own spheres of influence, she says, colonial regimes brought everything under the heel of the government. (And their postcolonial successors have been happy to do likewise.)

The opposite dilemma sometimes arose in the early centuries of Islam, Ms. Mattson suggests. In certain communities at that time, she says, Muslim jurists were in a sense too detached from the state. They protected their independent spheres by "trying to stay out, to some extent, of what they considered to be the proper jurisdiction of the government or the ruler. And they also really did believe that politics was corrupting. ... So the jurists were sometimes very good at looking at the rights of individual slaves, yet they never really addressed the issue of the slave trade and its overall political and economic considerations."

This, then, is the dilemma for reformers today. Centrist Islamists and liberal reformers would like to develop a model in which Muslim institutions are independent from the government and vigorously inform public governance, but do not swallow all of society in a totalitarian project like the Taliban's.

"A postcolonial context requires new institutions," says Mr. Fareed, of Wayne State. "So a debate has been stirred. Will we simply remake classical institutions, or will we take into consideration the changes that modernity and colonialism have wrought on Muslim society, and engage in a new form of ijtihad to establish new institutions based on these changes?"

Eastern Winds

Mr. Feener, of Riverside, believes that there are exciting and productive debates occurring along just those lines -- but they aren't happening in the Westernized context that is touted by the ijtihad enthusiasts. Instead, he says, the most intellectually exciting place in the Muslim world today is Indonesia, where students are reading translations of "works translated from Egyptian and Moroccan thinkers. You find works from Iranian thinkers. You find translations of people working in the States, like Khaled Abou El Fadl. I would argue that Indonesians are discussing these writers more than anyone else in the Muslim world. ... They're also reading Frankfurt School types, like Habermas. People know them. People know these debates about civil society."

In Mr. Feener's eyes, however, there are important differences between these rich Indonesian debates and the ijtihad model put forward by Mr. Khan and his allies. In Indonesia, he says, "the basic approach that many of these folks take to Islamic law is by diving very, very deep into the historical tradition of Muslim interpretations. That is, they look at the debates that scholars have held among themselves over the last 1,200 years. The idea is to find places within the tradition -- variant opinions within the tradition
-- that can be further developed, because their day has come. Islamic literature preserves this diversity of tradition."

The push toward ijtihad, by contrast, neglects the richness of Islamic legal history, in Mr. Feener's view. "This has been signaled by many in Indonesia as a kind of arrogance," he says. "The notion that you can see clearly the will of God in the seventh century in a way that all of these distinguished jurists who came before you couldn't. ... Imagining that you and you alone can see what was going on in the time of the Prophet has historically lent itself to a kind of authoritarianism in Islamic speech."

Mr. Khan, meanwhile, insists that the most urgent danger of authoritarianism lies in entrusting Islamic thought and interpretation to an elite corps of scholars and jurists. "There are some serious issues that Muslims have to deal with," he says. "One of them is that they have to reach a conclusion that shura is binding.
Right now many scholars say, 'You have to consult,' but they don't really mean it. Shura has to be binding, otherwise the governance is not legitimately Islamic."

Mr. Khan acknowledges that his is very much a minority view. He is nonetheless excited about the current intellectual climate. "Two weeks ago I was at the Stanley Foundation and one-third of my audience was Muslims," he says. "Afterward we spent the whole night having a Muslim-Muslim dialogue. We disagreed about everything. But we did come to consensus on one point -- and that is that the discussions are getting more sophisticated. There is no doubt about it."

Section: Research & Publishing
Volume 51, Issue 25, Page A14
Copyright © 2005 by The Chronicle of Higher Education

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Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dan Heller's Photos of Timbuktu, Mali

Dan Heller's Photos of Timbuktu, Mali

Broadening BEE is Imperative and Can Be Rewarding

Broadening BEE is Imperative and Can Be Rewarding
Norman Reynolds

Last week Saki Macozoma defended BEE as adhering to the industry sector Charters and as having a range of objectives beyond ownership. More importantly, he called for greater innovation, “to broaden the base of participants”. If this were done, 2005 would see numerous BEE deals that should lead to the deracialisation of South Africa’s economy.

As Chairman of a Bank and a leading BEE player, Saki Macozoma might have been more open about current problems. His starting point is that BEE deals, if comprehensive, will drive company performance higher. There is no evidence for that as yet. Rather, current practice indicates that, apart from popular perceptions around the elite, BEE is beset with financial and especially institutional and economic costs and failures. The banks love BEE because they issue loans against exorbitant collateral provided by the parent company. They stand to buy up South African equity for a song – just as do moneylenders who grant relatively small loans for weddings and funerals as the short cut to low cost acquisitions of peasant farms etc.

Only six black companies took up 73% of all BEE deals in 2003 and some 73% of companies report that the short supply of suitable black candidates is a real handicap.[1]

An historic opportunity is being missed to grow all citizens into ownership, to endow key services and to back new ‘green’ and ‘future’ companies under an outpouring of co-operative rather than narrowly competitive behaviour. At present, much of business is confused, BEE is driving costs up, and investors are wary.

The correct starting point is to ask, “What can BEE provide the nation?” The promise is far, far greater than can be achieved by present practices.

The task at hand is to re-distribute the ownership of, at first and over 6 years, a quarter of all public and private company equity. The first information to know is that the total value of all equity is R2, 400 billion, or some R54, 500 per citizen or around R200, 000 per family. This is big enough to allow a new nation to emerge!

A quarter, R600 billion, that is R9, 000 per citizen or R33, 000 per family, must be re-distributed over the next few years. Present practice is not going to achieve this.

The various ‘Sector Charters’ point to some but not all of the following that should form the sole basis of BEE: -

1. The first obligation must be to employees – those who already run the firm / farm from Monday to Friday. A democratic Employee Ownership Trust model exists in South Africa and an Association is being formed. The democratic model is important for, if done properly, international expereince shows that employee ownership can drive companies some 7% to 11% or higher per year re capital, market share, employment growth and taxable revenues. This secures the repayment of debt created to buy shares – today’s main concern with BEE - and drives the economy wonderfully! Present policy, as with the grant to support new employee owners, does not distinguish between a democratic set up and the fatuous provision of individual shares that does not drive higher company performance. Employees do build up large equity stakes that add to their economic options and family security.

The only way to alter labour conditions on farms is to use the democratic Employee Ownership Trust model as that keeps present owner / manager intact whilst introducing a redistribution of ownership and the introduction of participative and progressive management. Add-on farm health and housing programmes do not break the shackles of the past.

2. Social Groups are acceptable – see the ICT Charter for instance. Schools, medical services, groupings of poor women, research institutions etc. can be endowed through Trusts, the Trustees of which require and oversee certain ‘use’ standards with the dividend flow.

3. Community Investment Programme. For those outside formal employment, a new reform movement is converting village and urban neighbourhoods into democratic property companies registered as Community Trusts owned equally by all adult member owners. This “community–as-business” approach builds the ‘second’ marginalised economy. Annual citizen ‘Investment Rights’ drive these bodies, replacing the inefficient expenditure of the consumption oriented social grants now ‘eating’ R60 billion per year. This corrects the breakdown of the village and urban community under a vast SMME programme that can build the equity of millions of the ‘left-behind’ citizens.
4. Renaissance Companies. These are companies we need now but do not have as yet. For instance, there is no national green energy policy / plan. Nonetheless, citizens want to see green energy promoted. Cape Town and Ethekweni Metros have recently announced the aim to have 30% of their electricity ‘green’ by 2020. This is a popular move backed by new technologies and demonstrated performance elsewhere. To do that, there will have to be a massive investment in the capacity to plan, implement and manage ‘green’ policies and energy generation.

It now appears that the relative pricing of conventional coal and fossil fuel energy will stay high and that ESKOM’s electricity price will surge as it builds new power stations over the next six years. Rather than plan for ESKOM to spend R170 billion in new conventional energy generation, with a little for foreign companies to fight over, South Africans should be able to set local energy generation and use goals, to build local green capacities to off-set the use of conventional power, and to introduce incentives and taxes to raise efficiencies and so to lower demand.

Next year, the formation of Regional Electricity Distributors will open the market to local solutions including the selling of surplus power by private parties to the ‘grid’. This could include households with a ‘rooftop’ solar panel system now popular, for instance, in Germany, where it generates 30% of all power (despite its wet weather), and in many other countries and communities.

Overall, the time is right to promote ‘green’ (invariably local) energy policies and programmes within a comprehensive package of ‘best practices’. These would act to lower the dependence on imported fossil fuels and the use of coal-based generation and thereby to reduce the large associated health and pollution costs.

A multitude of big and small companies can pass shares to such, preferably local, new ‘green’ or ‘future’ ‘Renaissance Companies’. Government should encourage this by providing, as for new employee owners, a grant that provides the initial operating income whilst the loan is being unwound and the dividend flow begins.

A special Renaissance Company could usefully partner and invest in Community Trusts so that South Africans as residents of poorer areas also benefit as new BEE owners.

South Africa must move beyond the outdated notion – pushed by the ‘oil’ clique around President Bush - that there is a trade off between environmental and economic priorities. Not true. A full ‘green’ energy programme will create a wide range of new, local high-class jobs whilst cutting costs to consumers, to industry, to society and to nature whilst growing the economy surely and sustainably.

The rough breakdown of new BEE ownership should be: -
Employee Ownership Trusts 60%
Social Groups 15%
Renaissance Companies 25%

Financing BEE
To support employee ownership and the take up of shares by social groups and Renaissance Companies, Government should require that present owners, holding R2, 400 billion of equity, provide a cover to these categories of BEE loans equal to 4% of their equity value. That would provide R96 billion a year to guarantee BEE loans that enhance company performance, social well being and the economy. That action would under-write the value of all present equity! It would also remove the banks from their present rapacious activity. The BEE loans they provide can be generated more efficiently and fairly and at no risk to the ‘broad-based’ objectives at the heart of BEE by dealing with present owners.

[1] Deloitte Human Capital, Business Day December 9th 2004, page 11.