The Need for a Coherent Public Policy, Good Governance and Civic Management.

The Corona Pandemic has violently churned a relatively stable South African Muslim Community into an uncontrollable maelstrom which has flung into exposure the long embedded virus of its traditional and stagnant Muslim Scholarship.

This debris is flung into the air for all and sundry to see. In itself, a contagion primarily confined in the Madressa/ Ulooms for several decades, it has demonstrated a toxicity of the mind that has resulted in the dysfunctional conduct of Muslims, young and old in several sectors of civic life and society in general. A dysfunctional mind leads to a dysfunctional society. It is schizophrenic and hence hypocritical. Fatwas produced are irrational, square-headed and often with a clarity that is as thick as mud. A disgrace to the glorious Shariah and an embarrassment to Islam and Muslims as a whole.

South African Muslims need to wake up and make up their minds whether they want to seriously adhere to the basic values of Islam, of universality, of mercy, justice, equity, fairness, welfare and excellence.

The Corona gives us the opportunity to revisit the Shariah and its much needed role for ourselves in all aspects of our daily lives in the present century.

Islam is both faith and action. Faith without action is no faith. Action without faith is no sincere action. The two constitute two sides of a single coin. It’s about ethical behavior, both inside the mosque and outside the mosque. From this conduct there is no escape. How does one determine ethical governance, public policy and civic engagement within this holistic framework, whether one is in a Muslim majority country or a Muslim minority country?

For this approach, the Quran delineates a clear separation between political power and ethical behavior or piety. This separation between power and piety enables the establishment of institutions that check on the unethical behavior of governments irrespective of their alleged religious affiliation or their leadership.

Power in the Quran is defined as the ability to do absolutely everything. This power belongs to Allah Almighty alone. ( Al Maidah Verse 120). He is the source of power, the Giver of power and the Taker of power. He is All Powerful and His power is all encompassing.

Our power as humans is dependent on His power. Such delegation is based on our ability to exercise our skills, knowledge, resources and natural gifts with gratitude, to regulate the affairs of others, where appropriate, in ways that achieve the higher objectives of the shariah. Such delegation of power is not on the basis of being representative of Him as is misconceived by priests, monarchs, rabbis, bishops and molvis as no one has the right to claim that he represents God. This claim on pure logic is irrational and false as the motivation to promote public interests (al-maslahah), uphold human dignity (al karamah) and protect, preserve and advance life (al-ihya) do not require authoritarianism, tyranny or supernatural earthly beings.

Human power is limited by Allah’s grace. The human cannot alter the laws of nature nor change the direction of the sun and the moon, calm the seas or the winds. As Allah Alone is the Giver, He gives power to whom He wills, both to the believers, non-believers, the pious or the rebellious, the high or the low, the rich or the poor, the strong or the weak, the good or the bad, the local or the foreign, for such time as He alone Wills and in circumstances as He alone determines. That being so, it follows that non Muslims do not necessarily and exclusively fall into the category of dictators or oppressors as our very own examples to the contrary in Muslim lands, demonstrate. Nor is belief in God a condition for the grant of power.

When such self-centered piety complex is removed, we are able to see a clarity of thought and action. This thought and action is the protection of Islam and its basic values of justice, mercy, equity, fairness, welfare and excellence. Pride of power is to be met with Quranic ethics and intelligent dialogue as the Prophets did.

Public policy and ethical good governance as commanded in the Quran acknowledges actors with delegated power in both the government and civic domain. Our duty therefore entails that in the preservation of Islam, the six higher objectives of the shariah shall at all times be articulated through public policy and good governance with the relevant authorities so that we stand on that which is right and redress that which is wrong.

The consequences of the corona pandemic are here to stay with us for decades to come, geopolitically, economically, demographically, sociologically, educationally and morally. Bio-technology and information technology have surged and corona has given them a quantum leap. In humanity’s darkest hour is also the opportunity for humanity’s finest hour. Islam and the glorious richness of its jurisprudence, of universality, of inherent dignity of every human being and of our responsibility and accountability to harness nature with respect to it owns intrinsic value as a gift to us, not to be squandered and abused, is the answer to the many challenges that society and government will face in the coming years. For those who have the understanding of the Quran, the time has arrived.

Adv AB Mahomed SC
(Hafez Abu Bakr)
8th April 2020.
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