An Open Letter to President, Musa Bihi Abdi: Our Religious Affairs Should be at the core of our sovereignty

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Your Excellency, this year, the sighting of the Eid Al Fider New Moon has exposed that the Somali speaking region of the Horn of Africa is govern by a group of uncontrolled Wadaads, with the exception of Djibouti where the government is fully aware of the sensitivity of the matter and maintains full control of its religious affairs.

In place where Muslims are the minority or Islam is not the religion of the State, entrusting religious affairs to private sheikhs to make the day- to-day decisions is understandable.

However, in Somaliland where the Constitution explicitly states that Islam is the Religion of the State, we should take full control of our religious affairs without any interference, collusion or consultation with unknown and uncontrolled clerics in Garissa, Mogadishu, Baydhabo, Addis or Nairobi.

The conflict in the Muslim world over the sighting of the Muslim new moon is not new. Countries in Asia like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia have long ago adopted the Astronomy theory. They consult astronomical predictions and also use powerful Telescopes and other sophisticated equipment to determine the new moon ahead of time. Pakistan, Inia, Bangladesh have recently followed suit.

In the Arab world, they use a dual system of Naked EYE Sighting and Astrology and powerful Telescopes etc.

But the decision is also always vested with the Local Authorities.

It is obvious that the NEW So-called Somali-Speaking Sheikhs of the Horn of Africa are under the influence of elements of the other Muslim World who strongly oppose the adoption of Astronomy in decide the New Moon, which determines the dates of Ramadan and Eid Holidays etc.

In other words, the now obsolete conflict between traditional sheikhs and the more science-oriented Sheiks in Asia and Arab World has been exported to the Battleground of the Somali Peninsular – albeit without our knowledge and/or consultation.

Whatever the system used, the entire Muslim world accepts the notion of sovereignty and independence of each country. Every country has its own committees and decides on all its major religious issues like Ramadan and Eid holiday etc.

Somaliland cannot be an exception. Our decisions should not be influenced a Sheikh calling from Nairobi or Mogadishu.

In countries like Djibouti that may not be in a position to have sufficient number of Ulima, they link major Jurisprudence questions to major Islamic Fatwa centres in Cairo and Makkah etc.

Here in Somaliland, we have become part and parcel of the NEW So-called Cross Border Somali-Speaking Sheikhs. But ironically, nobody consulted us about joining this vague Grouping.

On the eve of Ramadan, Somaliland Minister of Religious Affairs,  Sheikh Khalil, told the nation that he has referred the decision of EID AlFidr to regional Ulimas in overseas territories…. Consequently, the recent developments have exposed the need for setting up an Islamic committee that should be intrusted with such important decisions.

This week, our decision on Eid Al Fidr was based on Naked Eye Sighting by one person in Ceerigabo who could be infiltrated by forces unknown to us. We should not be naïve to this level, given the hostile atmosphere around us, and in light of our not so remote history and experience.

It was obvious that Somaliland decision on the EID Holidays was actually made by group of unnamed Sheikhs in the Somali Peninsular staying in place far apart from Borama to Hargeisa, Burao, Garoowe, Mogadishu, Garissa, Nairobi, Jijiga and Addis – it’s a vague virtual world -no control, no sovereignty and no actual names.

Mr President, without going into more details or adding my own person opinion vs the issues at stake, I strongly believe that the decisions on religious affairs are part and parcel of our independent and sovereignty and should NOT be decided by people outside the control and jurisdiction the State.

In this context I would recommend setting up of the following:

Setting of Committee of Leading Religious Ulima who should be Somaliland citizens.

We could link our major Jurisprudence rulings to the recommendations issued by the major Islamic Fatwa Centres as follows:

Majma Al Buhuuth Al Ismaliyah Bil Al Azahar.

Majma Al Fiqh AlIslami Makkah.

Any decision agreed upon by the above two major Islamic centres of today should be adopted in Somaliland. This will do away with the current confusion and also any potential meddling into our sovereignty and independence.

By Hassan Abdi Yousuf

Geopolitical Analyst

Hargeisa, Somaliland

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