When Somalia’s central government collapsed in 1991 and civil war broke out, the consequences that followed were construed by the people as the wrath of Allah rather than a failure of leadership. Thus, religiosity drastically increased not just in private lives, but extended itself deep into the public sphere. Through refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, a few clerics on the Saudi Arabian payroll in the category of Da’wa, or preacher pay-list, rushed to the camps to “save the faith of believers.” They preached radicalism from religious books to poor masses and won favor by distributing small handouts of money once a year. A popular chant instilled the innocent people with baseless fear, “Fear from hell! Do not be a purgatory in hell!” When crisis and disaster struck Somalia, radicals mastered exploitation of the people’s hopelessness.
Almost 20 years ago, a group of so-called students from Somalia went to Pakistan’s “terror supermarket” as Fareed Zakaria called it, initially to gain skills for unfortunate Somalis in dire need. They sought education in medicine and engineering at Islamic University in Pakistan to treat people dying from curable afflictions such as water and airborne diseases and to build up rundown roads back home.
Swallowed By Jihadists
“Learn what [bomb-making techniques] enabled other civilizations to further the message of Allah” an instructor told them. Unfortunately, the students were immersed in a culture of murder and an artiﬁcial school of thought which is totally different from the one they left behind. They were told their forefathers had been practicing heresy and thus their parents marriage was out-of-wedlock according to their new Hadiths in Pakistan.
As they returned, masses celebrated. In a hasty return from a crash course in theology, they fathered a new cult whereby they demolished decorated tombs of our saints and erasing centuries old norms in a few years. The so called students had an obsession: to put Jihad to anyone that opposed their godfather Osama’s ugly dogma. Eventually their abstract creed triggered brutal terror that claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Somalis and continues to this day.
In the past, Somalis were kept together by common traditional values: respect for in-laws, intermarriage of various tribes, distant relationships, and generous hospitality for foreign travelers. Now, as Somalis are scattered all over the world, the differing cult ideologies dividing them are stronger than anything else that unites them. Somali women in Pakistan act like Pakistani women, even wearing a sari when they return. Somali clerics trained in Darfur wear a Jalabiya to not stand out in their society.
In the coming decades, many predict that Somalis will change their names to Alexander the Great etc. to assimilate as they have no national identity to be proud of. It was 40 years ago when Somalis were remotely adopted by Arab countries and began to hate their ancestral names for religious reasons. For instance, Warsame (which means the good news) is hardly heard today at Edna Adan Maternity Hospital. In Hargeisa, Raaqa and Adan are out of fashion to mention a few. Somalia’s proximity to the Red Sea has pros and cons. Islam’s differing interpretations remain problematic.
Somalia is not homogeneous in terms of bigotry. This terrorized nation has no formally trained Muftis to trust like other Muslim countries. As a result, the divorce of a wife can lead to a declaration of leaderless Jihad as there is no credible Mufti institution. There is an abundance of poorly trained clerics who learned Islamic jurisprudence while stranded in Yemen, the Saudi Kingdom, or in Ethiopian refugee camps. They can easily label a person of high intellect an apostate or renegade with no official council in charge of religious affairs in Somalia. These vacuums cultivate Somalian destructive forces.
Swallowed By Jihadists No More
After returning from the world of poverty, religious students built mosque-looking structures and chains of Madrasas. Somalia has begun to sprawl with alien schools with named after prophets such as Omer Binu Khadib and Ja’afar Binu; names that oblige our respect. However, nobody knows who is in charge, or where the construction funds came from. People don’t know where the Imam was trained, or even if he is qualiﬁed to lead prayer sessions to say nothing of lecturing kids about the culture. Little is known about what is going on. Somali cultural values have been washed away.
The children who graduate from the Madrasa schooling system are Saudi on the inside and Somali on the outside, but without the wealth of oil. They are tenuously possessed by the Middle East political crisis which is a three thousand year old problem beyond their borders. They wish to wage Jihad to defeat the Jews in the Arabian Peninsula. Their preaching mainly focuses on Jihad in its narrow sense: waging wars on Muslims and non-Muslims, combatants and non-combatants alike.
Moreover, Pakistanis began to travel to Somalia to disseminate their version of Islam to the local communities and to turn Somalia into “Somalistan.” A familiar religious division in Somalia has begun. The country had entered an era of faith united on little or nothing at the all. New ideas and principles developed out of nothingness. New Hadiths were found out. Like business outlets, mosques of various sects were inaugurated next to each other. Akhwan-run, Salaﬁ, and Al-itihad, mosques that have very little in common except the destruction of the local values, came into being.
When criticized about the multiple cults imported to operate in Somalia, a predominantly Sunni country, the chief masters of mainly wealthy denominations strongly argue that the Hadith from the prophet blessed Muslim division. “My Ummah (nation) will be divided into 75 sects; each one playing its rhythm; but only one will go to Heaven.” I think it was misquoted by terrorists to encourage over-division. Does Islam call for polarization rather than unity? Let’s leave knowledgeable readers to judge.
It was not an accident that Pakistan, a Muslim nation only since 1946, sent clerics to dictate to Somali people, followers of Islam for centuries, how many Hadiths re-emerged or were beyond their knowledge. Boys born in post-conﬂict Somalia were given peculiar names like Afghani and Salaﬁ to display their loyalty to their respected sects. Names are names. None is holier than the other. Qawdhan or Yalaxaw, pure Somali cultural names, are the same as Bin Khadab, a name in pre-Islamic history.
Nevertheless, there is so much optimism in the youth today as the AMISOM removed terrorists from Mogadishu and the wider south. Ahmed Godane is the chief terrorist in the horn and a replica of Sayyid Muhammad who was known as the Mad Mullah during colonial era. He is losing control of his territory, covering his ugly face with an Arabian turban to disguise himself from spy satellites. Furthermore his indoctrinated slaves, including Sheik Aways, have begun to lose faith in him and defect to Sharif’s camp for fear of US Drone attacks as well as Kenyan forces armed to the teeth and closing in to him.
It will be only days until Godanites, heaven-seeking believers of Godane’s trivial cult, will be a thing of the past. Much like his master Osama, the Godfather of global terror, Godane will vanish from the face of the earth or may be taken alive to his paradise, the Guantanamo prison, to experience US justice including solitary conﬁnement, water-boarding, and a dog love affair.
However will he, unlike his boss Osama, die in a cesspool listening to his baseless Hadiths calling for murder of starving Somalis? Will he die like his predecessor and source of inspiration, the Mad Mullah, who died as result of inﬂuenza according to western historians. Somali historians attest the Mullah died of malaria. His heinous crimes and beheadings made Somalis worldwide feel shame and turn their heads down out of disgrace.
Somalia is looked upon as an example of all evils. Their unprecedented loyalty to idolizing Godane made Somalis somewhat blind lovers of self-declared prophets. This is a pity. Many foreigners see Somalis as have-nots who chose to die in senseless Jihad games to entertain heaven. In return for their bloody sacriﬁces to their idol Godane, the so called legitimate caliphate of Somalia’s shores for Allah cried “anyone rebelled his nonsense; cheap doctrine will be purgatory in Hell.”
The sky does not rain blood nor does the earth shake for the death of brutal murderers such as Osama and Godane as the global terrorists they led their wives and blind followers to believe during Osama’s humiliating demise. His elimination made the world a better and safer place.
Somalia, including Somaliland, is submerged in an ocean of terror, but the Godanites days are numbered and business will be as usual. The feast to commemorate the prophet and the singing of religious songs praising the prophet Mohamed (PBUH) will be even louder than before. Highly educated western returnees whose religiosity is limited because they do not feel insecure or to please someone else have returned to Somalia when Shabab’s ouster is conﬁrmed.