ISLAM @ 170 SYMPOSIUM
Organised by Muslim Centre for Justice and Law and Uganda Muslim Network, UMNet)
March 02, 2012
MUSLIM RESPONSE TO THE GLOBAL CHALLENGES OF POPULATION, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND VIOLENT EXTREMISM
MUHAMMAD MUSOKE KIGGUNDU, PhD
Department of Humanities and Language Education,
School of Education
Tel: +256 752 644841
The paper begins by presenting the current global challenges of population, Domestic violence and violent extremism and provides details of the three (3) mentioned challenges in the Ugandan context. Reflection of the role Islam in responding to these challenges has also been given in respect of the challenges. The paper concludes with recommendations for future action in the field of Ugandan Muslim responses to the challenges of population, Domestic violence and violent extremism. The paper finally gives the presenters personal appeal to the stakeholders.
Soghayroon (1977, 1981) explain the first arrival of Islam in Uganda as having been through the Northern part of Uganda by the Sudanese Muslim factor. This should have been few years before the eminent and firm reception of Islam in Buganda in 1844. (Kasozi 1986). The presentation therefore takes us through way back 170 years of Islam in Uganda.
GLOBAL POPULATION CHALLENGE
Currently, the would claims to have a population of over seven billion and 43 million people (www.prb.org)
To many population statisticians, it appears that this number explains a big population explosion, hence a difficult job to plan for such a big population. However, much as the numbers may be taken to be high, it is common knowledge in the economics of the world that a big population explains the presence of a big market. In this regard, questions may arise as to whether the numbers reflect the purchasing power. But all in all, the mathematics of addition proves it that 2>1.
Uganda has a population of thirty three (33) million people (www.muslimpopulation.com/africa/) so many scholars, politicians and civil society organizations, do present the 33 million people’s presence in Uganda as a big problem.
A number of reasons given include; employment, young age and the unproductivity of the aged. Whatever the case, it all comes back to the country’s planning committee which has to identify a system that can engage the population to become productive.
The Muslim of Uganda are now 35% of the entire Ugandan population (http://www.muslimpopulation.com/africa/ ) This so far is the biggest percentage ever reported because all the earlier reports were putting Islam at either 10% or 12% as per 2002 Uganda National Population Census.
To the presenter of this paper, 35% Muslim population is instead an opportunity for the Muslim Community in Uganda to progress in education, economic sector and in politics. This opportunity can only be understood if we consider the role of Islam in the responding to these challenges.
First, Islam recommends taking care of the Muslims irrespective of the numbers. This should be in terms of giving education to the Muslims in this country to enable them be responsive to any demand in any sector of the economy.
Though many people believe that education is an expensive venture, it is the only direction the Muslims have got to take because even if they stayed on without taking their children to school, ignorance is more expensive as they finally loose out in every sector due to the inability to perform as their education level is low. The education provision is a basic duty for all Muslims as recommended by Prophet Muhammad that search for knowledge / education is a duty to Muslim men and women. Further more, he recommended distance should not be a reason for not acquiring education, because one should go as far as China so proved that the profitable education is found their.
The Quran also reiterates the importance of knowledge / education where by it reflects the value and position of those learned as not equal to those who are not learned. All the Quranic verses and hadiths of Prophet Muhammad were not restricted to a small population or to a small period of time, but some thing for all times.
Providing education to the Muslims is possible if the Muslim Community can reconsider their development strategy and direction which should reflect collectiveness in putting resources together aimed at providing education, employment and guidance.
We shall remember that in the forties fifties and early sixties, a wave to boost the Muslim education was headed by the late Haji Prince Badru Kakungulu and this led to the construction of many Muslim founded schools which include schools like Kibuli S.S.S., Nabisunsa Muslim Girls School, Nkoma S.S.S. these schools have since given a big boost in the production of a Muslim educated group that has since been evident in politics, education and commerce. This group includes the likes of the late Kafumbe Mukasa, Hon Jaberi Bidandi Ssali and Hon Ali Kirunda Kivejjinja in politics, the late Dr. Sulaiman Kiggundu and the education giant Prof. A.B. Kasozi the current chair of the National Council for Higher Education
Today so many Muslim educationists, politicians and scientists are evident but most of them products of such guided development projects.
Remember, numbers play a great role in every sector. An example is the political power via the votes; where one vote per person counts. This can be used as a venue to support those who are interested in providing the Muslim interests in this country. Organizing the Muslim community with no selfish interest is another avenue for the promotion of this still small population to have education and effective participation in many productive ventures which include training based on talent. This can be attained by encouraging the Muslims of Uganda to contribute to a central planning committee for the National Guidance of the Muslims of Uganda. This contribution can be monetary, material, service and think tank type for building practical ideas to promote the people.
Currently no country beats China which still has the biggest population.
I therefore, suggest that the challenge we have is not about the numbers but development. Note should be taken that a Muslim person should be grounded in the basic Islamic values and the secular education to enable him/her perform with little or no bias. We need more people.
THE CONCEPT OF VIOLENCE
Haan (2008) asserts that, violence not only takes on many forms and possesses varied characteristics, but also that the current range of definitions creates controversies concerning the question what violence is and how it ought to be defined. Since there are many kinds of violence (Reidel and Welsh, 2002) violence is studied from different actor perspectives (i.e. perpetrator, victim, third party, neutral observer). Existing literature presents a variety of definitions based on different theoretical and sometimes even incommensurable domain assumptions (for example about human nature, social order and history). Haan (2008) argues that, the concept of violence is notoriously difficult to define because as a phenomenon it is multifaceted, socially constructed and highly ambivalent.
In the Anthropology of violence Riches (1983:8) defines violence as “an act of physical hurt deemed legitimate by the performer and illegitimate by (some) witnesses”. This definition is limited to physical forms of violence, and omits the non-physical forms of violence. One of the most frequently quoted and reprinted definitions of violence has probably been formulated by the philosopher Garver (1968) who contends that one cannot comprehend violence if one thinks of it as necessarily physical or as necessarily illegal. In his view, a successful account of violence has to: (1) “Make it clear that violence is a matter of degree; (2) Can be social, institutional as well as personal; (3) Can be psychological as well as physical, (4) Has moral implications when it is social that are radically different from those that it has when it is personal, (5) Can be legal as well as illegal, (6) Needs, when it is social, to be discussed in conjunction with the law and justice” (Garver, 1972:39).
Garver further contends that persons can be violated either with respect to their bodies (physical violence) or with respect to their ability to make their own decisions (psychological). To Garver, violence is considered as the disempowerment of persons. Similarly, Galtung (1988) conceptualizes violence as anything avoidable that impedes human self realization. Human self realization is in turn conceived of as the satisfaction of human needs, including physiological, biological, social and psychological/spiritual needs.
Galtung identifies four types of violence: first, classical violence, that is, deliberately inflicted harm, including not only war, but also torture, ‘inhuman or degrading’ punishment, subjection to mortal dangers and crime; second, `misery’, seen as the deprivation of basic material needs; third, ‘repression’, being loss of freedoms of various kinds, particularly freedom of choice; and fourth, ‘alienation’, the deprivation of non-material needs for relations with society, others and oneself, resulting in loss of identity.
Galtung further makes a distinction between direct violence and structural violence by stating that while direct violence is caused by the harmful actions of identifiable individuals against others, structural violence results from features built into the structure of a society, with no identifiable actor at whom to point blame, but argues that structural violence is avoidable in the sense that society could be structured differently so as to avoid these negative happenings. Examples of structural violence that have been clearly manifested include slavery and apartheid.
Another inclusive definition of violence was presented by Henry (2000). According to Henry (2000) a more inclusive, integrated definition of violence is necessary, which replaces the term ‘force’ with ‘power’ and takes a more comprehensive view of harm. Violence is thus defined as “the use of power to harm another, whatever form it takes” (Ibid: 3).
In this case, harm is not only physical pain and suffering, it “can also occur along many dimensions beyond the physical to include psychological or emotional, material or economic, social or identity, moral or ethical. Within each dimension, the harm can be of two kinds: ‘harms of reduction’ and ‘harms of repression’ (Henry and Milovanovic, 1996:103):
- Harms of reduction remove something from a person’s existing status as a human being. For example, physical harms of reduction produce bodily pain or loss (of blood, organs, limbs, physical functioning);
- Material harms of reduction remove some of the person’s economic status (property, wealth, money);
- Psychological harms of reduction have destructive effects on the human mind and weaken a person’s emotional or mental functioning (such as in post-traumatic stress syndrome);
- Social and symbolic harms of reduction lower a person’s social status (by violating their human rights, sexuality, social identity);
- Moral or ethical harms of reduction corrupt standards of concern for the well-being of others (as in hate, pressure to cheat).
On the other hand, harms of repression reveal how the exercise of power acts to systematically limit a person’s capability to achieve higher levels of accomplishment along any of these dimensions (ibid:116). Violence, then, is the exercise of power over others by some individual, agency, or social process that denies those subject to it their humanity to make a difference, either by reducing them from what they are or by limiting them from becoming what they might be (Henry, 2000).
Violence is multifaceted and exhibited in a wide range of contexts. It may, for example, be distinguished in: youth violence, gang violence, school violence, street violence, teen violence, dating violence, intimate violence, domestic violence, work place violence, urban violence, interpersonal violence, random violence, racist violence, media violence, and systemic violence (Hamm, 2004). Violence can be physical (aggression, abuse or assault), but it can also be verbal (bullying, humiliation or intimidation). It can be overt or covert like in language and literacy, abstraction, interpretation and representation (Valier, 1997). Violence can be individual or collective, interpersonal or institutional, national or international, symbolic or structural. The context may be private or public and the victims may be family members, acquaintances or strangers.
Krug et al., (2002) in the World Health Organization (WHO) Report on violence and health defines violence as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, mal-development, or deprivation. Within this general definition, the report further divides violence into three sub-types according to the context in which it is committed:
- Self-directed violence in which the perpetrator and the victim are the same individual and is subdivided into self-abuse and suicide.
- Interpersonal violence which is violence between individuals, and is subdivided into “family and community violence”. The former category includes child maltreatment; intimate partner violence; and elder abuse, while community violence is broken down into acquaintance and stranger violence and includes youth violence; assault by strangers; violence related to property, crimes; and violence in workplaces and other institutions.
- Collective violence refers, to violence committed by larger groups of individuals and can be subdivided into social, political and economic violence.
Cross-cutting each of these categories are the four modes in which violence may be inflicted, namely: physical; social; psychological; and deprivation.
In Uganda, domestic violence is a big challenge which is now on the increase in many Muslims and non Muslim families in Uganda. Indeed this is a big challenge because it destroys the productivity of any given type of population.
Domestic violence touches every member of the family; children, parents and relatives due to the fact that the effects flow in a chain form from one person to another. The causes of domestic violence range from the eroded religious and cultural values, poverty, selfishness and mistrust. These explain the domestic violence we have in Uganda. Marriages are broken after violent physical fights between husband and wife, and at times children have also had it rough with parents when money becomes a factor in question. Sometimes, a mother is left homeless with her children as a result of a commercial transaction when a husband exchanges a marital home for money.
Many Muslim families have abandoned the Islamic values that primarily protect every member of the family. It is now common to go to a Muslim family and find no prayer- mat. We are all aware that prayer according to Prophet Muhammad helps one to keep away from evil. More still, the Quran maintains:
“Oh you, who believe, seek help from patience and prayer….” (Q. 2:154)
This verse teaches us much about the importance of prayer as a source of relief and comfort in case of trouble. Unfortunately, many Muslim families have abandoned prayer.
This is a very sensitive field of study and requires more time than I have been given here. My humble request therefore, that I present a general picture about this section. And I request that another forum be organized by the Muslim Centre for Justice and Law to discuss this global issue. I appeal to the donor community to respond positively when contacted by CMJL at the time of organizing the forum to address violence and extremism.
Islam is a creed of peace and has never been a religion that espouses violence, the murder of children or the indiscriminate killing of innocent men and women.
The Quran 5:9 says:
“O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for God, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear God. For God is well acquainted with what ye do.”
Muslims in Uganda have been preoccupied with propagating their faith through Mauled festivities which are not very different from the traditional African festivals.
However, they can put up a spirited fight in the name of Islam if a mosque is pulled down, pork is served in public amenities or if any of the Islamic public ceremonies is interfered with.
Nevertheless, Uganda has also been invaded by acts of extremism due to the external exposure. The recent July 11 2011 attack at the Rugby ground in Kampala, while watching world cup tournament is clear testimony of injustice on the innocent civilians. This is an eminent example of the existence of such acts of violent extremis. The most important thing we have to bear out of these violent extremists using Islam as a weapon or catch word. But at the same time one need to find out as to why these people behave like this and they choose to use Islam.
Some preachers have advanced the view that the persistent oppression of the development world to the Muslim world has brought this into existence. According to Esposito (2002, p.22) Osama bin Laden was an Arab nationalist and not a fighter for the cause of Islam. He says.
What the United States has tasted today is a very small thing compared to what we have tasted for tens of years. Our nation has been tasting humiliation and contempt for more than 80 years.
Osama’s words have nothing to do with Islam but a concern of protection of his country and sending away the intruders.
A number of recommendations can be tried out in an attempt to respond to the challenges faced by the Muslims in Uganda and the following have been identified for trial;
Sharing information is the number one recommendation because on it depends dissemination of relevant information both for guidance and protection of the Muslim humanity in Uganda. This information should be distributed to the faith based Muslim organizations for distribution and guidance of the Muslim population. Here I should say that the Muslim center for Justice and Law should play a great role because it’s at the centre of the Uganda Muslim Network.
Strengthening the role of leaders
A community with no leadership lacks direction and we should not let the Muslim community in Uganda go without recognizing leadership. It’s the leadership which has the responsibility to steer the Muslim Community to different directions of development. These leaders should be credible and dependable with a vision to promote the community.
Strengthening cooperation with the law enforcement
The law enforcement section of the government of Uganda should also be at the center in terms of controlling domestic violence. There should be a liaison officer at every Muslim faith based organization to manage the domestic violence and related issues.
Helping the community learn the basics of the faith
Many self styled sheikhs are still causing havoc to the Muslim Community in Uganda. They claim a big following which in the end gets into misguided activities for the interest of a Sheikh. The most important thing should be to teach the Muslims the basics of Islam to enable them differentiate between what is religious and otherwise.
Provide proper teaching of Islam in schools
The government of Uganda should get involved in support of the training of teachers to be recruited in primary schools for effective and proper teaching of the faith of Islam to avoid Islamic extremism.
Muslims who receive secular education without sufficient knowledge of their religion are potentially dangerous. They can easily Islamize their secular tendencies and end up doing more harm than good to their religion.
Here the ministry of Education should be emphatic on the teaching of IRE In secular schools. If this is not done, there is a great danger because by nature of Islam in the absence of the universally recognized interpreter of the holy Qur’an and the traditions of the prophet, irrational interpreters of the sources of Islamic Law can end up giving a wrong direction to Islam.
The Uganda Muslim community should establish a National Planning Committee to guide on development projects of the increasing number of Muslim youths. This committee should also monitor the expansion rate of the Muslim population in Uganda to enable them provide employment not only in the cities but also in the villages.
Economic dependency cannot allow local Muslims to develop original ideas and to choose the course of action. This is because most of the time they depend on donors to run religious activities in Uganda. Such dependence may lead to adopting certain ideologies given to them but with a hidden detrimental agenda. Therefore, there is need for the development partners to turn an eye to supporting different development projects of the Muslim community in Uganda.
Muslim network services
Services of the Muslim Network in Uganda should be effectively used. An outstanding contribution to organizing Islamic events has been demonstrated here today by the Muslim Center for Justice and Law. This organization has managed to bring together the stakeholders in this forum to enable us chat a way forward for Islam in Uganda. I believe MCJL has the ability to change the direction of those who have been misguided by providing legal, religious and community based advice to our people.
My personal appeal to all Ugandans is that we should stick to the basic principles of our faiths to avert a crisis of violent extremism that has become a killer disease in the world over. Violent extremism has no boundaries in terms of race, colour, religion and continent. Armstrong (2001, p. xi) contends:
One of the most startling developments of the late twentieth century has been the emergence within every major religious tradition of a militant piety popularly known as fundamentalism. Its manifestations are sometimes shocking. Fundamentalists have gunned down worshippers in a mosque, have killed doctors and nurses who work in abortion clinics have shot their presidents and have even toppled a powerful government.
ESPOSITO J. L. (2000). Uholy War Terror in the Name of Islam. Oxford University Press.
ESPOSITO J. L. (1992). The Islamic Threat Myth or Reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
GALTUNG, J. 1988. Peace and Social Structure: Essays in Peace Research.
GARVER, N. 1968. What is violence? . The Nation, 209, 817-822.
GARVER, N. 1972. How to think
HAAN, W. 2008. Violence as an essentially contested concept. Journal of Criminal Law, 20, 27-40.
HAMM, M. S. 2004. Apocalyptic violence:The seduction of terrorist subcultures. Theoretical Criminology, 8, 323-339.
HENRY, S. 2000. What is school violence?An integrated definition. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 567.
HENRY, S. & MILOVANOVIC, D. 1996. Constitutive criminology. Beyond post modernism, London, Sage.about violence (book review). The humanist. Copenhagen: Christian Eljers.
KANYEIHAMBA G.W. (1998) Reflections on the Muslim Leadership Question in Uganda. Kampala: Fountain Publishers.
KASOZI A.B. (1986). The Spread of Islam in Uganda, Oxford: Oxford University Press
KRUG, E. G., DAHLBERG, L. L., MERCY, J. A., ZWI, A. & LOZANO, R. 2002. World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva: World Health Organization
SOGHAYROON, I.E. (1977). The Sudaneese Movement Factor in uganda. Khartoum: Khartoum Unoversity Press.
VALIER, C. 1997. On the violence of censure. In: SUMNER, C. (ed.) Culture, Violence and Censure. London: Taylor and Francis.
YUSUF, A. The Holy Quran: English translation of the meanings and Commentary. King Fahad Holy Qur’an printing complex, Al-Madiinah