Monthly Archives: March 2017

Wisdom + Freedom = Peace

It was on 26/03/2017 that I shared a photo circulating in facebook with a content that put me to think about what I observe on daily bases through social mass media.

17457263_1859992934279455_8842301969000911742_n

I did a short time contemplation and came with something that I think is worth to be attained. It is good therefore to share what I was thinking while I shared this to my facebook friends.

Ignorance + Power = Tyranny

Eritrea is under a tyranny since independence – 1991, since the time EPLF controlled government power. I believe freedom fighters had little knowledge in governance but had huge power to control the country intact. This led them into ab absolute tyranny. Within a short time, people started to suffer. And since 2001 thousands are fleeing from the country to get freedom and live without threats.

tyranny
As a result Eritrea till now under a tyranny – 1991 -2017 – 26 years too much. So much suffering and so much poverty.

Ignorance + Freedom = Chaos

In the diaspora, we are also still ignorant on Civics and Governance but we have freedom:

political chaos

This is where we are now. So much chaos, so much freedom. There is no law. It is like living in a jungle.

But there is high possibility of growing something good out of this chaos. With this so much chaos, wisdom can immerge. And wisdom compiled with freedom can bring peace.

Wisdom + FREEDOM = PEACE

wisdom is peace

But there is always something coming from chaos. Who knows wisdom can be born.

Therefore I hope our ignorance to be gone for good and converted into wisdom in order to get the peace we want to live freely.

The secret is how to get wisdom?

If you want to shares your views on how to get wisdom, please your comments below in the comment section. If you did this, remember you are educating someone. And it will be the beginning of fighting against ignorance. Just leave some notes.

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2007: Voyage to Assab; Eritrea

Originally posted at a comment section of Awate Forum on 23/03/2017 under Gedab News title EASE Accuses the Eritrean Regime of Displacing Afar People

Afar People – I am proud for what you are doing and for what you are fighting for. In 2007, I had a chance to visit Assab two times that gave me a chance to explore Danakil area with in 14 days. It was an exceptional memory that has shaped my knowledge and determination on Eritrean beautiy. It was such a wonderful journey.

But my journey was not for anything else but trying to buy goods and then sell them at a higher profit back Asmara. This was what all it exposed me to the suffering of Afar People.

During my stay in Assab, and two nights in Tio and GelAlo, I could not believe what I saw.

I was there because I was trying to make a living by buying and selling goods to cover my empty pocket resources. During these days, I was in the national service and teaching in Hamelmalo Agricultural College. I had no salary. Hence, I took about 8000 Nakfa and went there to buy goods which were scarce in Asmara and Keren.

What happened then was a tragedy.

When I took the decision, I heard that those goods were available as the Afar people were able to take fish, the only resource they have at their disposal and in abundance in their front doors, and ship them with those old unsafe traditional small boats.

I decided to go as I was in school vacation – july

eritrea4280503_assabIt was a long journey with Sataye – two days of total 24 hours drive with a one night interval. The journey was good – Gel’alo – very beautiful area – I saw Ostrich galloping, birds flying and such a beautiful grassland area.

Tio was beautiful – with beautiful small shops – full of perfumes and other cosmetic goods.

Eritrean ostrich 2All along, we had four or five stops including Fero – where you can see Adulis.

The buy are of Zula was so beautiful to discover, while traveling along the sea side.

Assab – I cried from my bottom of my heart.

– I saw an abandoned city, full of Vultures
– I saw empty houses which are beautiful villas – previous occupied by high skilled workers of the port, refinary and government officials
assab10– I stayed in a No-Guest hotel, almost I was the only guest in a hotel of 100 or more geust bedrooms
– I visited to the port, old and ruined logistique houses, NO ship harbored except very few, not more than 10 small traditional boats, empty and no one around.
– There was almost no one around to say, STOP and asks why you are wondering around.
– I had good time in the beach that was previously reserved for government officials and were Haileselassie or Mengistu sought to stay and enoy during their visit. The beach resort was almost ruined, empty houses and most of the days, I was alone swimming there. In the late afternoon, national service (aka slavery) members were joining me after their forced labour work. I remember their were maintaining some houses at that time along the beach.

– I witnessed NO or almost empty markets for vegetables and others except very few goods imported from Yemen – like onion, a couple of kuntals, Potatoes.

– Tomato was very expensive and it was coming by bus, not more than 500 kg loaded in every bus arrival – per kilo it was 60 or 70 Nakfa – in Asmara it was 5 or 6 Nakfa, hence 10 times.

– Flour was there in the market, imported from Yemen -and I heard that there was a limit to be imported every week. Relatively it was cheaper than Asmara but not enough for the residents fo Assab.

– I saw soldiers along the beach, all along to the new hospital at high posts controlling any boat entering the sea. When I asked why, I was told that fishing is strictly prohibited in order to control smuggling.

eritrea4270504– It was hard to see people in bars, restaurants and on the streets except old people and few kids. And if you happen to meet some middle aged people, they are soldiers and non-Afar speajers.

– I visted the refinery – it was ruined, very few military camps were around

May I continue to list all what I saw – I think it is all a suffering.

hqdefaultIn Tio, GelAlo, Arefaile, and other small towns, I saw soldiers more than the local people. In restaurants, fish menu were very expensive, some expensive than you can getin Asmara. And when you ask why, it is not easy to get fish, gosh! And it is sad, most restaurants are owned by people who settled there from the highland – most former tegadelti -you hear more Tigrigna speakers sound and Tigrigna music than Afar language and Afar Music. It was a shock to me to see this much replacement of indegeneous culture and language by strange one.

Don’t ask me what happened with my business.

assab-harbourI am saying this because the first time I went there there was goods that arrived. All boats were prohibited from fishing activity and crossing the Sea to Yemen and import goods. Even flour importation – which was limited quota – was blocked. Price was high rocketed. And any car which was found to carry and transport outside Assab was confiscated by Ministry of Finance. SEcurityand checks was also enforced by military staffs.

assab170504_tioHence, I was broken – and seeing losing my money -already 1000 Nakfa gone for my first trip of 7 days stay, I bought washing ingredients and perfumes. I had to use another car for transportating my goods as the bus was not enough to carry goods of every passenger.

And when I visited Asmara and waited for the transporting vehicle to arrive, I was told, the car was forced to return back to Assab. And all these sensitive goods – by the standard of PFDJ Economic terms, like Cigarrette, white flour, and electronique goods were confiscicated. Mine was OK and a friend of mine whom I was acquinted with there helped me to retain it with him.

Then again I was forced to go back and use another means or sell the goods I purchased at a loss. I did and I bought some from Tio – just to cover some expenses. At the end, I lost 50% of initial money and 14 days gone for nothing.

However, it helped me to know Denkel and the great Afar people, it helped me to understand their suffering and deprivation of their rights to use the resources they owned for thousands of years.

I saw their small towns occupied by new settlers and their cultural heritage and language facing serious challenge.

ere_afar_kidSince then, the memory of Afar people and their suffering is resonating in my mind.

And now, I stand with Afar people, I support their legitimate struggle. No other is more prouder than Afar for their Eritreanness yet no one can take their freedom away and live in miser.

Fight for your rights, fight for your dignity

PFDJ is a a colonizer.

Get your freedom from occupation and suffering.

I am in solidarity with you. I am with you. I fight with you.

FREEDOM to Afar People

A contemplation of a freedom fighter

tes

*I think I could have written it better. But this is just a smooth flow of what it was coming in my head. I didn’t plan to go that far but my heart just said what it has to say. I hope I will improve it to make it a good speech or message of solidarity to EASE. For now, this is my hashing out my feelings and my stand of the Afar issue.

Self-talk: Eritrean Generation and their thinking

 

Originally posted at www.awate.com in the comment section

Under the comment section of Eritrean Youth: The Lost Generatoin written on 16/03/2017 I wrote a lengthy comment with an objective to see generation thinking. And it was initiated by a self provoked question and asked to myself, “why he is calling us the lost generation?” when he is not really communicating between the generations. And now you came with a new title, another title that we are trying to challenge.

It is good I think to divide/cluster Eritrean generations based on different stages of our on-going experience

1. Generation of Struggle 1961 – 1991

This generation is divided into three:

a. Ghedli Generation – those who joined the armed struggle

Is a generation that feels proud for doing something worthy. And by default, this generation beliefs that it is the legitimate mentor for all generations.

This generation Is feelings guilty now as it failed to make Eritrea and Eritreans the land of FREEDOM.

b. Generation that stayed at home and worked under Ethiopian rule

Generation with feeling of guiltness -for not joing the armed struggle- for doing nothing or cooperating with the aggressors. This generation feels illegitimate. The word, “Abey zineberka eka” – where were you? repeated and echoed by

This generation Is feelings has the feeling of losing or gaining nothing. Every now and then, you can hear them saying, GIDEFUNA ENDO BEJAKUM, SELAMNA HABUNA. NABRANA KEFIUNA ALO.” When they don’t have peace inside, they urgue you not to disturb their peacefulness.

c. Diaspora Generation 19991 – 1997

This generation has mixed feelings – one, there is feeling of ‘I did my responsibility by helping economically for the struggle. However, it became a worshipper of the Ghedli generation – this blocks the right to call for the rights it deserves. One can not be a worshipper and a challenger. Many consider themselves as loyal members.

This generation is in the verge of staying loyal and worhsipper derived by burning nationalism sentiments and feeling guilty for trying to suppress human rights of Eritreans living inside the country.

2. Generation of Enthusiasm

This generation – stayed at home when independence was achieved. Everything was fine and ready for building the nation – 1994 was a bench mark for this generation – When National Service was declared, everyone was happy to join. There was great enthusiasm to contribute what is needed for the Nation Building.

This generation is now re-organizing itself under the banner of “Local Community Associations – under a pre-requisite of NO POLITICS and NO RELIGOIN or whatever, just Cultural and Social affairs. And it is doing because of the same enthusiastic sentiment of doing something for the community – still National Service mindset

3. Generation of Institutional Building – 1997 – 2002

This generation was better equiped to build governmental institutions and fulfill professoianl demand. This generation sought Eritrea is at a better shape to have a constitutional government and relatively better governance.

Having witnessed government fractures and institutional liquidation, this generation is now trying to be a born-again professioanl expert in the domain of Eritrean Political Conflict Management. And many are are actively participating in the formation of Civic Rights Movement. They are hating politicians from time to time and they do not have trust on political organizations . You can this generation in many professional associations and civic societies of current movement.

4. Disheartened Generation 2002 – 2008

This generation has witnessed shuttering of the sailing of hope and institutional liquidation. It has lost trust of institution and presence of big walls in the forefront blocked everything from advance.

This generation has a simply burning heart. There is no way to go. But movements like Agazians can easily attract it.

5. Floating Generation 2008 – 2014

This generation have got nothing to worry about. He has witnessed a non-institutionalized government, which it took it as it is but OK, no enthusiasm, no institution, no profession. There is no system to rely on. By default, this generation is the most liberal generation. There is no base and there is no sailing of hope.

This generation generation cares less on what is going on. But there is a potential to divert them into an effective generation by pushing them up wards. Today, Regional sentiment is winning this group of generation. It might be danegerous but is a good sign.

6. Identity Search Generation – 2014 – 2020

This generation is listenin, watching, observing and building capacity at a speedy rate. A rate that can challenge everyone.

This generation is similar to Floating generation but needs proper educaton as it seems more eager to learn. .

In conlcusion, what the author of the article came with in this latest article is a continuation of his mischaracterization in the first one. Therefore, the is misleading and unrepresentative. Eritrean youth are not lost. We are always present but with a different thinking.

Eritrean Women as Victims of Sexual Assaults and Vulgarism: Let’s Defend for their Rights as human Being

I am bringing this to the attention of the public in defense of the rights of individuals for their rights as human being. I am witnessing on daily bases bullying and defamation of Eritreans through social media day in day out. Vulgar words and sexual assaults is becoming like a norm to silence individuals by violating their rights human fellow.
 
In this call, I am bringing the case of four Eritrean women who are constantly harrased, insulted and defamed by Aregai Hagos through his facebook and youtube channels.
 

For my primary call, I am bringing the case of four Eritreans who are constantly harrased, insulted and defamed by Aregai Hagos through his facebook and youtube channels.

No matter what they advocate for, their rights as human being should be respected.

I am calling Eritreans to join me in my plea for respecting an absolute human rights to be respected for these under mentioned Eritrean women. They are victims of sexual assaults and vulgar words, defamation and bullying. For some, it has extended for the last 3 – 4 years. Aregai Hagos is continuing his public assualt and insulting.

1. Elizabeth Chyrum

Elsa chyrum
A victim of Aregai Hagos for the last 3 -4 years

2. Lemlem Tzehaie

Lemlem Tsehaye

A victim of Aregai Hagos

3. Gual Ali Grace Mulugeta

Gual Ali

A victim of Aregai Hagos

4. Helen Kesete

Helen_kesete

Helen Kesete, a victim of Aregai Hagos

If Aregai Hagos has any claim as a victim, he can not justify what he is doing as a retaliation of a self-defense mechanism. He has to observe rule of law to bring them to court. If not, harassement is violation of rights of an individual for whatever reason it could be.

Some of his bullying records:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6IBUkLjeEw&t=11s
Aregai’s cyber attack on individuals, three years agao

facebook_aregai

In this facebook snapshot, Aregai Hagos has attacked Elizabth Chyrum on false accusations and insulted her based on identity . This video live release was viewed by over 32,000 viewers and shared 95 times. 

My Call

Dear Eritreans and anyone who is reading this message, I urge you to join me in defending the rights of these women.

If we continue to keep silent, the rule of the jungle will reign again.

Of course, there are other victims of sexual harrassement and vulgar words. However, in this case I am selectively bringing special cases for public attention.

These four women are victims of:

1. Direct and personal sexual assaults

2. Vulgarism

3. Bullying

4. Defamation

5. Insults

6. Identity and racial based attacks

7. False accusation

8. Labeling, etc.

And according to Universal Declarataion of Human Rights, their rights was violated. In Article 12, we read as follows:

Article 12.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Also, I urge the victims also to sue Aregai Hagos directly in any nearbye court as he is using social media to attack them.

I also call for the people and organizations to ask for facebook, youtube and paltalk use legal procedure to block this person from defusing his assaults to the public.

Not Nakfa but mountain Adal has strong message for today’s generation.

Not Nakfa but mountain Adal has strong message for today’s generation.

sep-1-2015-awate

On the other hand,

Nakfa is becoming a symbol of oppression for my generation.

Nakfa, today, no matter what has happened in the past, in today’s Eritrean mind set, it is is becoming a symbol of oppression, inflation, dictatorship and a false pride. It is a symbol of corruption and human trafficking.

Dear my fellow Eritreans, Nakfa was great two decades before, long time before:

  1. PFDJ was born in the heart of Nakfa (1994)
  2. A currency called Nakfa started to circulate in the pockets of every Eritrean citizen (1997)
  3. The border war broke out and Badme became the center of vicitimization (1998)
  4. G – 15, the heroes of Nakfa were arrested and inprisoned without communicado.
  5. Mietir became a center of torture and persecution
  6. GeleAlo and WiA became the prison center of University students
  7. Sawa became the beginning of a never ending suffering
  8. Sinai became the center of Body Organ marketing center
  9. Libya became a transit of hope
  10. Refugee centers in Ethiopia, Israel and Sudan became the sole haven place of desperate Eritreans

Nakfa is no more the center of pride today. It is a symbol of horor and persecution.

Dear my fellow Eritreans, my generation is not denying what happened in Nakfa. But, we are scrutinizing it under a experimental lab of, The end justifies the means.

Now, my generation is going back to 1961. We want to communicate with hamid Idris Awate. Awate , for us, is becoming a symbol of Resistance and Liberty. We are looking at Mount Adal. This mountain has rather a strong message for us today than ever before. It was not our intention. But, but PFDJ has forced us, to look back on who we are. We are categorically rejecting oppression.

Nakfa for us is a symbol of monopoly and intolerance. It is Nakfa that has eradicated ELF. Nakfa never embraced diversity. Nakfa for us is a symbol of Despotism.

Nakfa, for us Anti-FREEDOM. On the contrary, Mount Adal is symbol of search for liberty.

We are looking for Mount Adal, to inspire us, to inform us, to embolden us, to reconcile us.

Nakfa is becoming a symbol of:

  • Rejection
  • Monopoly
  • Oppression
  • Pesecution
  • Criminilization
  • Corruption
  • Abusing

The great historical achievements of Nakfa was gone with the birth of PFDJ. Nakfa was buried in Nakfa. Now, we have a nightmare wispering Nakfa.

If my generation rejects to honor Nakfa, it is not for the great historical victories but what is in existence today. Those historical days are there.

Dear my fellow Eritreans, do not be mislead. When we reject Nakfa, we are not rejecting our history. Our rejection is all what is present in today’s Eritrea.

Dear my fellow Eritreans, don’t be in a disarray. Do not think Eritrean Youth is a lost generation. We are present.

What we are doing is this –

We are hating nationalism and socialism. We are adjusting ourselves in a liberal world. We are changing our political ideology – from socialism and nationalism, to Liberalism.

If you are observing more civic organizations hatching today, it is nothing but a sign of liberal ideas. Eritreans are benefitting the freedom they got in the new world.

Of course, my generation is hating politics. Sectarianism and Ethnocentralism is much liberal compared to a non-organized and weak political organizational situation.

The reason we hate politics is not because our hate is conscious but it is a hate of PFDJ political persecution and domination.

Dear my fellow Eritreans, trying to organize today’s Eritrean youth needs much more liberal path.

The political organizations that exist in the opposition camp are either nationalists or Socialists. They need to adjust in to a liberal thinking that embrace Civic Societies.

Dear my fellow Eritreans, Eritreans are now starting to appreciate political situation of 1940s, 1950s. They want to create a liberal political path.

Of course, Agazian Ideology is not liberal but is benefitting from the environment we are living.

If we can, lets adjust ourselves. I know it is hard to be adjusted in to a liberal world but there is some hope.

Here is my challenge then:

By mixing rule of law and liberal thinking, there is a possibility of creating Liberal Democratic Environment. To achieve this, the Ghedli generation can stress on Rule of Law, and the new Generation on Liberal thinking..

Discussions: High Thoughts on Religious Issues – Part IV

This discussion was extracted from awate.com forum. I put it here as I found it interesting and many of my thoughts on religion issues are put there. It is good therefore to compile my thoughts and share it with people. Discussions was held between 08/03/2017 – 11/03/2017.

Comments were written under an article titled by “The New Wave of Muslim Preachers”

_____________________________

Mahmud Saleh

Selam tes and all

[Forgive me for this rather lengthy comment, the engagement level tes presented needs it. If you feel it’s too long, please skip it; you are not required to read it. Thank you]

Thank you tes. Like wise, I too really enjoyed your rejoinder, and found it to be full of helpful material. I was trying to restrain myself from commenting in area which I feel am not qualified to comment on, because your questions are specific and have unusual depth. I would want other informed folks who study the field to answer them. It’s a quite different matter to be a follower of a certain religion versus someone who is versed in the history of that religion. In Islam we say something in good faith and end it by saying “wo Allahu AElem”, meaning “and God knows better”. This is to mark the emphasis that man is fallible and makes mistakes in his endeavor. However, when you: a/ try your best in good faith; b/ you are aware of your fallibility and weakness, you are forgiven. Because the Quran says (and please excuse me for appearing to have seized the pulpit), anyway, the Quran says ” La yukelefu Allahu nafsen illa wes’Aaha” translation: Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear; that’s similar to the Tigrigna saying that goes “Chru b’AQma tGhgom”. Therefore, consider this an amateurish attempt to repay your expanded reply. It may not meet your expectation, it may not answer your questions fully, but it’s worth considering it.

I. Terminology and brief introductory notes

Terminologies:
Islam= submission to Allah (God)

I. a. Faith (Aiman); the ideation of the presence of God with all his describing qualities (not different from the other Abrahamic religions). This includes the belief in AlQaib (that which can’t be seen or comprehended by the human faculty).

Deen: religion

1.b. The first part of your question related to the relationship between religion and faith in Islam. Let me put it this way, and this is based on my feeble understanding. To a Muslim: Islam=Aiman=deen; the argument is that if you have become a Muslim, you have already believed in the essence of Islam (faith), and you would not be able to do that if you were not Mutadayn (religious). Becoming a Muslim, therefore is becoming a faithful, and to become a faithful, you will have to have tied a knot with your creator through the belief systems, languages, statements, texts, practices(Aqida/creed). Muslims pay more attention on individual endeavors and practices.

So, Islam comprises faith (Aiman), and practices (religious activities, some are duty-bound, others are additional.

1.c. The following points could summarize the religion:
1. Believing in Allah (God)- la sheriku lahu; no co-partner, no associate
2. Believing in angels (All previous Abrahamic religions’ angels)
3. Believing in the Holly scriptures, Jewish, Christian, and the last one Quran, which is believed to be the last Holy Scripture
4. Believing in all messengers that came before Islam, Mohammed (PBUH) is the last messenger
5. Believing in the day of judgement
6. Believing in Qadar (fate and destiny); however, man is bestowed with will and he is responsible for his actions.
II: A brief note on Islamic history
II.a. How the religion took form (I will avoid the vast history of the sociopolitical components that resulted in the dominance of the first Muslim community) = Once the revelation came to the prophet, he started talking about it, lecturing in market places and relatives. Slowly he garnered followers; those followers started writing his verses and sermons. Therefore the religion took shape through:

(i) compiling verses that were revealed to the prophet specifically from Allah through the agent of Angel Gebril (Gabriel), in different occasions. This resulted into the Quran. The Quran is believed to be the word of Allah.

(ii) The other component of the religion comprises Ahadith (Hadith for sing) which contains speeches of the prophet, some are confirmed as correct (saHiH) other are not confirmed (weak). These speeches, conversations, responses to inquirers, etc., were compiled in the years that followed his death. Also his daily practices (Suna) are considered part of this category.

(iii) The last part comprises individual scholars endeavor and contributions, opinions, deliberations, provisions….that don’t contradict the Quran and the confirmed Ahadith.

III. From a simple community of believers to conflicts/confusions and the rise of religious State.

From the start, there was a problem in designating as to who should be the successor of the prophet. That led to the Shia and Suna. That’s an area unto itself and I’m skipping it. The years following the death of the prophet saw fervent debates between the followers in exact intent of some verses, or Ahadith or practices/actions of the prophet, etc. These heated arguments deepened the knowledge of the religion, it spread it and gave it a solid foundation. However, in the process, it devolved into bickering and inner-fighting, which in turn led sects/dominions, doctrines (mezahb). In Islam there are about 5 major Schools of thoughts/doctrines). The conflicts eventually took the forms of congregations and led to wars and the desire to muzzle and subjugate opponents. Here comes the merging of State and religion, because each sect would need to defend its position, subdue the other side, and dominate lands and resources. The rest, we discussed it yesterday.

III. Is it possible to be a Muslim and secular.

This is my take and I would say yes, it is possible. Secular does not mean nonbeliever. Becoming a secular is a necessity, particularly in countries of diverse constituents. Secular, to me, means accommodating all adherents of diverse faiths in equal footing. Citizenship overrides all other identities. Citizenship demands that the political system becomes impartial to all sects. Secularism actually ensures that citizens will exercise their religious rights without the tempering of the state. Secularism ties the hands of the state from interfering in or favoring religions.

As I said earlier, considering its history, Christianity moved from State religion to secularism in recent past. Most constitutions of the Muslim countries are hybrid of Sharia and secular principles, but there is a heated debate going on in the Muslim world and the direction is promising. Already women are challenging openly Saudi authorities. Women were elected as prime ministers in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and India with the second Muslim majority .

VI. In Eritrean context:
We have no choice but to fight for a secular political system.

Thank you.

_________________________

tes

Selam Mahmud Saleh,

This is an enlightening and very deep. In fact more than I ever expected. It is very educationa. More than that it has answered most of quest and contemplation about Islam.

Just to share,

1. I grew – up near a mosque. I need to thank to the morning call for prayer that was aired from the mosque as my family were using it as an alarm. And luckily it is the most pleasant voice I ever used listen during all theses days.

Allahu Akbar, meaning God is Great!

2. During my visit to Cairo, I got to know an Egyptian whom we developed good friendship. He is a graduate from Al-Azhar University and his family are religious and decent. He introduced me to all his family. We spent good time to discuss about Islamic teachings, very basic but very insightful. We went together to a mosque and I joined him in his salat. He introduced me on how to make salat. It was great experience.

But some of his talk continued to resonate in my mind and that is – Islam is the last religion of humanity. I was always fascinated about world religions but this particular incidence had enforced my quest about Islamic teachings and beliefs.

My fellow up questions are therefore all dimensional. Enough about sharing.

Now, I would like to ask you further based on your equation.

You wrote, “To a Muslim: Islam=Aiman=deen; the argument is that if you have become a Muslim, you have already believed in the essence of Islam (faith), and you would not be able to do that if you were not Mudayn (religious).”. this is very important equation and the argument that goes with it is much stronger.

Here is then what I see the problem with Islam and I believe it is the source of all problems surrounding Islamic teachings.

The time one can not differentiate faith/belief from religion, there is a strong attachment of the beliefs and daily life. And since daily life is all influenced by politics, either the belief affects politics or politics affects beliefs. In Islam, I see both cases.

If so, can we conclude that it is hard to separate politics from Islam?

tes

_______________________

Mahmud Saleh,

Selam tes,

You have understood me correctly. And the argument that some Muslims make, particularly, the Selefists, is exactly the problem you mentioned. Now here are the silver lining (and please continue discussing this with your Muslim friends), these are just personal observations:

  • Muslims are as diverse. There are very conservative portion and there are moderate ones. Since rulers like to have the backing of the conservatives, for now they possess the means. But they are being challenged everywhere.
  • There is a pressure from the modern world, cultural, political, economic pressures. Saudi Arabia may claim to be a strictly Islamic Kingdom. It may be domestically Islamic (in order to continue the reign of the royal family), but its ties with the world is based on capitalist principles. Today, you can’t survive and prosper in the world if you are to apply strict Islamic principles in economics and what it entails of transactions. Saudi Arabia is investing in the Western markets. Western capital is sustaining its economy.
  • The majority of the youth and the middle class are calling for liberalized political system, i.e., democratic system.
  • There are already moves towards that direction as I have mentioned in my earlier posting.
  • There is a debate* among scholars on how to make the religion more progressive. Therefore, the current struggle is between reformist elements and the strongly entrenched conservative ones. As both of us have mentioned it, Islam needs reformation, and I think it’s entering that phase.
    * What’s interesting is: if you can tune in on Sudanese TV, you watch a lively debate of citizens about their government policies, about civic issues, human rights, they do elections (does not matter how clean they are, but the conception of “elected government is there”). Compare that with some openly secular governments, starting from our own PFDJ!! Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia have multi-party democracy. Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania have somewhat secular forms of governments; both Morocco and Jordan are ruled by constitutional monarchies, but they have elections, Unions, private newspapers…etc. All of the above are not admissible in the “selefist” definition of state. Iran, despite its Revolutionary Guard with its Supreme leader, does enjoy a fairly reasonable degree of openness.
    Anyway, also some purport the notion that there is Islamic State, in the truest sense, there is none. But rulers and their hardcore conservative elements who benefit from the states quo are using religion to stay in power.
  • The feasibility and viability of Islamic State in countries of diverse constituencies, like ours, is of course out of the picture.

________________________

tes

Selam Mahmud,

And all Awatistas are cordially invited to drop your opinion or take.

Very much appreciated. You know I have a thousand questions when it comes on solution oriented discussion. Therefore be patient and kind with me.

I am coming now to the Eritrean problems.

I do have an open qualms with Jeberti political movement, the Al-Nahda Party. I do not have any right to interfer on what they want to be as I believe it is their ultimate right to call themselves who they are. I am a strong supporter of rights to Identity, be it at individual level or group of people, as Amanual Hidrat prefers to call it social groupings.

My problem with Al-Nahda Party is on their aspiration that pushed them to form this party and their advocacy for political power by forming identity based political party.

The problem is:

1. They are basically identity based political party that wants to be recognized as such and compete like any other political parties for controling the government. This is OK as far it remains political. But I do understand that religion is also injected as part of the recognition process. This might give us a clue on religious inspired political program. I have watched some youtube video which are really worrisome. And I am afraid it might lead to ethnic based conflicts as political power is established to advance their primary agenda.

What is your understanding on this subjct matter.

2. I do understand that Jeberti people have a full right to be who they are. In fact, every Eritrean knows who they are. And if they believe that their rights is denied, is their struggle political right or human right issue?

If, it is political right, as they are working under Al-Nahda Party, it is OK but it might have some reactions that might lead into ethnic conflicts.

If it is human rights issue, I do believe that no matter what type of resistance they encountered, it is their absolute right to call themselves as they wanted and no one can take it that away. And if they really want to fight a good fight, I do believe that A Civic organization that promotes Jeberti Identity could be the best mechanism to break all barriers. and I don’t see any challenges to be faced.

I am bringing this because it is a political movement that has combined, religion/faith (according to a Muslim’s take as you testified), human rights issue and politics. And has a potential of creating political conflicts.

My basic assumptions are:

One:

a. A political party is a is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government.

b. A human rights group, or human rights organization, is a non-governmental organization which advocates for human rights through identification of their violation, collecting incident data, its analysis and publication, promotion of public awareness while conducting institutional advocacy, and lobbying to halt these violations.

c. Civil society is the “aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens.

d. Civil rights include the ensuring of peoples’ physical and mental integrity, life, and safety; protection from discrimination on grounds such as race, gender, national origin, colour, age, political affiliation, ethnicity, religion, or disability; and individual rights such as privacy and the freedoms of thought, speech, religion, press, assembly, and movement.

e. Political rights include natural justice (procedural fairness) in law, such as the rights of the accused, including the right to a fair trial; due process; the right to seek redress or a legal remedy; and rights of participation in civil society and politics such as freedom of association, the right to assemble, the right to petition, the right of self-defense, and the right to vote.

(Reference, wikipedia)

Two:

I do believe that Jeberti people have civic and political rights like any other Eritrean citizen. But I believe there is a difference between civic rights and politcal rights.

To conclude, Al-Nahda Party is a party that has a complex formation that has merged identity issue, religious(as per their claims) issue and political power. This might have a never ending conflict of political struggle.

These are my understanding.

My question is:

How far is religion separated from the Eritrean power struggle?

Of course, there are many cases that need similar synthesis but for today, I think this can give us a general take.

I thank you.

tes

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Mahmud Saleh,

Selam tes
I will skip issues related to AlnaHda party. Honestly, I don’t know it. As far as Jeberti identity question is concerned, you have the best understanding compared to other non-Jeber citizens that I have read or heard about. Most articles, comments and opinions are dismissal and patronizing. My take is simple. As citizens they have every right to raise and frame any issue that is pertinent to them as a community. If identity is one of them so be it. I have confidence in the community that the majority are as reasonable as I think I am and they are not going to let few militants to hijack their cause. I may continue later but for now, forgive, I will be busy. I hope others will help in educating us about Alnahda, and the Alnahda-Jeber link. The point you made regarding Civic vis-à-vis political is important. I’m sure there are better versed folks who could enlighten us.

You asked:How far is religion separated from the Eritrean power struggle?
I had it in my mind that I should give it a try, but then forgot to answer that question as I was rushing out.

How far, I am not sure. But from the configurations of the organizations, it is evident that religion is playing a great deal in Eritrean politics. It has always been there, from the political parties of the 40s-50-s, to the parliament, to the frictions between the leaders of Eritrean organizations, to today’s opposition parties. There are already parties formed on religious agendas. I think raising religious demands is not bad, But they will need to be propagated within the national discourse. When someone sticks to his religious demands, he should not forget that others will also do the same, which will lead to suspicion and stalemate. The other fact of Eritrean politics which, I think, is stronger than religion is regional, and ethnical demands. All these aspects will continue to be the defining characters of Eritrean politics for the near future. We need a national democratic framework that mitigate them.

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End of Part IV

 

 

 

 

Discussions: High Thoughts on Religious Issues – Part III

This discussion was extracted from awate.com forum. I put it here as I found it interesting and many of my thoughts on religion issues are put there. It is good therefore to compile my thoughts and share it with people. Discussions was held between 08/03/2017 – 11/03/2017.

Comments were written under article titled by “The New Wave of Muslim Preachers”

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Extracted as I found it the starting of the discussion topic that will follow then after

Mahmud Saleh,

Selam blink and esteemed awatistas

[This is inspired by blink’s reply that I was a Muslim because I was simply born to a Muslim family.]

The short answer is faith is for the believer, but you will be described according to your behaviors and actions.

As in all religions, children are born into the religion of their parents. The formative years are shaped up by the teachings of the institutions of religion in which they are raised. And that is one weak area religious zealots can’t answer when they claim their religion is better than others, which is the beginning of treating others as sub. If we take that as a TRUE statement, that means a child is destined [by his creator, by devine DEFAULT] to remain within a certain religious setting. Now, if one beliefs a certain religion is bad, and if he/she believes any child is predestined to follow a certain religion that the commenter sees as bad, then, is it the fault of the child that the child is following that certain religion? I think if one is after knowledge, he/she needs to go beyond memorizing scriptures and try to unearth the core tenets of a certain religion and the sociopolitical circumstances that had shaped it. For instance: many believe the Holy Scriptures were published somewhere in the heavens and were sent down [in a FedEx] over night. However, when you scrutinize them with open mind, in the name of finding TRUTH, you find the scriptures are results of compilations of oral traditions and fragmented scriptures (tablets), that tell the stories of that time as experienced by the people of that era. They tell history more than they tell divine messages and essences. They get encoded into the societies belief system and become the laws governing their relation with God and their relation among themselves and others. What makes Islam easy to research is that the Quranic verses were written as soon as they were revealed. Each chapter (Aya) came to answer a certain problem.
Their parallel political analogies would be proclamations, decrees and executive orders. Each of them either explains, calls into action, warns against something, etc. Hence, if you don’t check why and on what circumstance an Aya was revealed, and if you can’t understand its background, you may find in it conflicting and contradicting phrases and clauses that were said in other Ayas, where each of them had specific circumstances, in the first place. Muslims accompany the reading of the Quean with another field (tafsir= explanations of the Aya in question). And scholars (and I’m not one of them), explain or rather overcome these contradictions by saying that the latest supplants the oldest. Viewing it from modern viewpoint, some old verses are better than the latest. Different reformers tried to openly challenge the Scholar community, which is really a bunch of deeply conservative men who more than often become instruments of the ruling sect. I encourage you to search for the Sudanese reformer Mahmoud Mohammed Taha who tried to reconcile Islam’s teachings on individual and group rights, and particularly his criticism on how women’s rights were trampled upon. He says, Sharia law was meant””to evolve, assimilate the capabilities of individual and society, and guide such life up the ladder of continuous development” (Wikipedia). I find this quote summarizing the ailments of religions and particularly Islam. If anyone truly believes in the power of God, modern achievements, in all frontiers, would not happen without his guidance. Therefore, it seems to me God is calling for modernity. Our knowledge is advancing, science is cracking open many of the mysteries that many ancient minds boggled. Today we know why volcanoes erupt, why the lightening occurs, why tides rise and fall, the relationship between the heavenly bodies could be explained using provable scientific methods, our understanding of matter and the universe has made great stride just in the past 100 years, we know what it takes to make babies, etc. Today, we are so close to cracking the mystery of life. We are advancing so fast in both the macro and micro cosmos. While modern telescopes are enabling us to see what had happened 13 billion light years back, that’s we are able to see objects that are 13 billion light year away, microscopes and sub-particle labs are enabling us to go deeper and deeper into the micro world. In the micro world, we are entering Nano technology. We are able to chart and edit DNA. On the political frontier we have moved away from political religion. Most nations are adopting constitutions that separate religion from politics. The freedom of individual conscience is taking primacy over group think. Islam needs to modernize itself. Modernists such as Ustaz Mahmoud M.Taha were hanged by politicians who made religion an instrument. Both president Nymeiri and Atturabi, who was Numeiri’s justice minister at the time, saw Ustaz Mahmoud Taha as a political threat, and thus they had to use religion, accusing him of apostasy. The face of conservative Islam, and the father of Muslim Brotherhood, which produced the minds of AlQaeda (Aymen Azzawahiri), and which led to today’s ISIS, was an Egyptian religious scholar by the name, Sayyid QuTb. He called for the overthrow moderate Arab rulers. Jemal Abdulnasser accused him of sedition and of plottting to assassinate him. He was sent to the gallows. In both cases, reformists and conservative elements were hanged by rulers who used religion to some extent in justifying their decisions.

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tes

Selam Mahmud Saleh,

Though science may reveal what is secret, there will still be unanswered questions about beliefs and religious doctrines. I agree with you on the Scriptures. Those Holy Books are written and compiled by human being. But the power that let these words to be written will still continue to be mysterious.

And the search for this mystery will continue to enforce religious faiths of all beliefs. The more human being delves into scientific research related to faith, the more religions will continue to be produced. We can look into spirit Science today, it became a religion.

tes

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Mahmud Saleh

Selam tes
You said “I agree with you on the Scriptures. Those Holy Books are written and compiled by human being. But the power that let these words to be written will still continue to be mysterious.” I totally agree. And no doubt that there will continue to exist faiths. What’s funny is the more we know about the natural world and our place in it (including our bodies’ biochemical processes that sustain life , defend it, and terminate it in a predictable way) things get more interesting and point towards oneness. A naturalist may say that oneness could be explained using natural laws. A religious believer may ask who made those laws, and the debate will continue. Albert Einstein for instance put it this way: A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty – it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.

I would like to comment on your effort to try to understand the difference between religion and faith in Islam. Firstly, you are absolutely right that separating faith and religion simplifies the problem, and makes us grounded in reason rather than in blind dogma and prejudice. However, it may also get us in a deadlock if we try to analyze other religions from the vantage points of our own religious structures. In other words, if a Muslim tries to explain Christianity based on his understanding of Islam, and if he/she uses his understanding of the Islamic faith and its institutions as a yardstick to measure Christianity, he may be misled. Conversely, if a Christian sets out to tackle Islamic problems from his own understanding of how the relationship of the Church and the faith (religion/faith) co-exist and sustain each other, he/she will have difficulties in understanding Islam. Therefore, the solution is studying the religion in consideration on its own and defining it using its own properties. And I’m similar to you on this issue. I try to read the forces that shaped any social phenomena.

Now, to the point: As you know, Christianity has passed through phases of reformation. Today’s democratic principles and Bills of Rights, Universal Human Right Declarations, etc., are mostly the products of the evolution of Christianity. There are Schools in Islam. During the Golden days, there were many Schools of Thought that underwent heated debates in areas of faith and religion. As the State became religious and religion became politicized, rulers and the Scholars (Ulamae) who served them started going back to the early days of Islam and the life of the prophet (PBUH)cherry-picking, AHADITH (lectures, statements, replies, practices, etc) of the prophet that would suite the purpose of keeping the states quo of the ruler under whom they are serving. They started merging faith and religion where the religious institutions became the institutions of the state, and the State became the institution of advancing the religion.

The belief is straight forward: any one who recites the Shahada (witness)”There is no god but God (Allah) and Mohamed is the messenger of Allah” will be accepted as a Muslim. Then you have five basic pillars that uphold the faith:

The Shahada, as explained above, salat (five times prayers, paying alms (charity) to the poor (zakat), fasting during the month of Ramadan (if unable due to health, you are excused), and Hajj (if financially and health-wise possible).

A Sudanese Scholar (Anna’im, who was a disciple of Ustaz Mahmoud M. Taha) says that Muslim believers should call for secular state because they can only practice their faith freely under secular state, otherwise, he says, they will be forced to follow what the religious state or the politicized religion say they should follow. I’m free therefore I’m discussing this freely. If I were in one of these religious States, I would be accused of blasphemy. Many moderate and secular Muslims have been accused of blasphemy. In Indonesia, a country that had elected a female President, a Christian politician was accused of blasphemy when he told his constituents that “…politicians who quoted from the Quran to say they should not vote for a non-Muslim were lying to them. But he also told the fishermen to vote their conscience.” I have not followed the process but it was unlikely he would be jailed because he had a formidable Muslim support.
The point: Unlike Christianity, which went through reformations and revivals/enlightenment, Islam has primarily been insulated from huge earthquakes simply because it wrapped itself around the State. The state and the religion have merged. Even moderate Muslim States base their constitution on Islamic jurisprudence. The only Muslim country I’m aware of becoming secular was Turkey. For years, Turkey remained secular, however, under the current party, there is a real threat it might relapse.

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tes

Selam Mahmud Saleh,

It is the first time that I came to agree with almost all what you said except very few lines. But these lines will not hinder us from discussing further as we have agreed on strong points. Lets move on therefore.

As you have revealed perfectly, the merging of:

1. Faith and religion
2. Religion with State

Are the two common problems. I strongly believe as such. What I like most about secular world is that ordinary people have complete freedom to practice whatever faith they have or in whatever religious group they belong. The time a state declares its constituent based on religion or religious doctrine, the more it becomes conservative. And this conservative attitude blocks any type of evolution or transformation. More than that there is intolerance towards other groups.

For example, all the Islamic States have problem in this aspect. It is hard to swallow what is going on in Saudi Arabia. The state being Islamic, no other religion is accepted there.

The awareness that we need to develop in our Eritrean fellow is therefore differentiating faith and religion. I think Turkey’s modernization is good example.

A follow-up question:

1. Do you think it is possible for a Muslim to differentiate his/her faith from religion?
2. Can we categorize the different branches of Islam as religion? Like -Sunni, Shia and all other divisions?

tes

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Mahmud Saleh,

Selam tes;

My interest is the relations between religion and politics.The questions you posed are interesting. My knowledge in the area is limited. They need educated answers. I hope others will join in. As far as the political side of it is concerned, I have no problem discussing it. Someone who believes in another religion does not hurt me. A nonbeliever does not hurt me. A sinner does not hurt me. The person that hurts me is someone who tries to impose his/her interpretations of religion on me, it does not matter if that person is from my religion or from other religions. That’s why looking at faith as a personal choice is more competent with the 21st century.

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tes

Selam Mahmud,

I am also more interested on the political side. My approach is trying to be more methodological at its best. And so far so good.

Not mixing again between a Muslim politician and Muslim’s politics, I understand that there are Muslims who manipulate Qur’an to build their own fanatic political agenda. For example, ISIS uses exploited for a known ended objective of Qur’anic teachings to hire and control recruited* memebers.

Don’t mind me if I sound naive. I have ample references when I am delving into this subject matter: politics and religion.

For example, Eritrean Orthodox Church was and is an active instrument exploited by PFDJ to suppress religious freedom in Eritrea. I remember attendants of Sunday Schools, in Tigrigna, Bet- Timhrti Senbet aggressively attacking Pentecost adherents and to some extent against Catholic church. These attendants use a term, “Menafikan”, one who doesn’t believe on the core teachings of the church, and is considered an enemy. The politics of such labelling is beyond one can imagine. I was closely observing such bad politics and I think I have a lot to say in the future. But its effect is still alive and is affecting to a large extent Eritrean diaspora community. Let me address it in the future.

Saying that my curiousity of differentiating faith from religion is purely politics. In my opinion, if we are able to develop a wider understanding on the notion of faith and religio and there by able to differentiate them well, the probability of creating peaceful atmosphere is fairly easy.

I might not be knowledgeable enough but I could have categorized Islam as a faith and Sunni, Shia and other branches and school of though under Islamic faith as “Religions”. Doing this can help us to clearly differentiate their doctrine and teaching methodology. So far they are under the cover of Islam as a glo al religion and people are in a constant confusion.

For example, in Christianity, there are different churches pr religions. Catholics, Orthodox, Protestant, Jehovah Witness, etc. And further, just like Islamic school of though, each religion is further divided into sub religions.

FOR EXAMPLE, ORthodox Church is divided into Greek Orthodox, Coptic, Russian, Armenian, etc. Though the term ‘Orthodox’ put them in one religion based on their interpretation of Jesus Christ, the way they practice their rituals and way of life is different. For example, eating habits of porc meat.

As I can see in the discussions and from what I read, I think simimar conclusions can be made. Hence we might treat different branches of Islam as religions. And each religion to have different sects. Doing this can help us creating public awareness and develop a reconciliatory system that can minimize conflicts of continuous misunderstanding.

To conclude, my approach is purely political and searching a solution on what Saleh Johar has brought for us.

tes

* I said recruited because no one believes on their teachings except exploited for different reasons.

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End of Part III