The 8th Conference of Sudanese Islamic Movement (SIM) has wound up with the observers dealing it extensive coverage, elucidation and analysis while I kept silent on it fearing what any misplaced word would engender or its intended implication would be misunderstood and confuse a public opinion that is already confused by consecutive events that inflicted the public arena. As Caliph Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with him, said: “Calamity is addressed with logic”, I also feared that the lessons that emerged from the convention of the conference would be obliterated or that we would miss their wisdom at a time in which we are most in need of extracting lessons from our gains and actions. Therefore, I decided that the least thing I could do is to free the difference from my own point of view, targeting, in this effort, justice for others and for myself and praying to God to guide me to the best of utterance and deeds and to make my utterance and deeds get the best of effect.
The first lesson we had in the Islamic movement was related to monotheism, that God is One with no partner and there is no power but He Who inflicts harm, brings benefit, gives, denies, grants and withholds. There is no Lord but He Who bestows and there is no god but He, Glory to Him, Who is worshipped and to whom the creatures submit. From this lesson we have learnt not worship the changing transient and not to fear men and to utter our views in a free conscience and an eye that does not blink.
We have been greatly exhilarated by the intrepid words Rabie bi Amir said to Rustum, the Persian Commander: “God has sent us to emancipate human beings from worshipping humans to worshipping the humans Lord, from tyranny of beliefs to the justice of Islam and from the narrowness of the present life to vastness of the present and hereafte"
We are proud to argue believers of other creeds with Holy Koran verse: “We have honored the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea…” We defy them to produce a similar text which honors, exalts and protects the human being.
We also put emphasis on the individual’s freedom of conscience as stipulated by the Lord of the people Who has granted them the freedom of choosing between atheism and faith, saying in the Holy Koran: “The truth is from your Lord; let him who will, believe, and let him who will, reject it.” And all will be brought to account before God on the Judgment Day. There is no provision that is as strong as this verse in establishing the principle of freedom on a firm foundation.
We have boasted against our rivals with the strongest ever provision establishing justice as a principle of governance, citing the Holy Koran verse that says: “God doth command you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due; and when you judge between man and man that you judge with justice …” that is, justice to all people, not only Muslims, rather than justice being served a certain group, tribe or entourage.
We have upheld that the most powerful element in Islam are its liberating powers, it is a faith that emancipates the individual from his whims and cravings, from his servitude to material and earthly pleasures and from the instinct of aggressiveness. It is a faith that emancipates groups and nations from humiliation, injustice, tyranny and corruption. The most effective factor that has attracted people to the Islamic movement is its adopting of these principles in a contemporary form; as people tend to uphold faith and lead a modern life without contraction.
These were the prime of concepts and principles that motivated the youths and elders to sacrifice their money and lives for the call to God throughout the past years of the Islamic movement. The call for revival of these great principles provided the background of the 8th Sudanese Islamic Movement conference: A strong belief in the principles, an overwhelming feeling of the need for catching up with the missing pledge and a high hope that the conference would provide a launching pad for a new renaissance.
The conference was dominated by a legal argumentation that concentrated on two articles of the Constitution. That argumentation was in fact a disagreement between two schools of viewpoints on SIM role- one upholds that the National Congress Party (NCP) can be a substitute to SIM and that the existence of SIM only creates a confusing duplication and that the two organizations could wrangle against each other, a matter which could have a reflection on the State. The advocates of this opinion cited documented cases, especially in the states, in which SIM members used their positions for competition and wrangling with the NCP and governments of the states. Some of them originated their viewpoint to the “leadership unity” for which they sought a legitimate origin. This viewpoint was once manifested in a call for full dissolution of the movement into the NCP and the government.
The other school advocates argue that the existence of SIM is genuine as it was founded under a collective contract that cannot be unilaterally revoked by an individual or a group. However, they concurred with advocates of the first school that the organizations should wrangle against each other and that work within the Movement should be placard for earthly interests gained through the struggle over power. They also opine that SIM is not a political party but is, rather, an incubator and a refuge to which its members resort to renew their thought and faith and to find in it the good example and high morals that remind them of the principles and values around which they have converged. The advocates of this second school of thought believed that the policy and community ills such as tribalism and regionalism can be cured only by affiliation to a thought supported by the power of revelation. They argued that the existence of the Movement is the guarantor against deviation of the power which derails it from its moral example.
The advocates of this opinion argued that, in order to qualify for discharging its roles, SIM should be independent of the government and its different effects and the multiple means of power and from the funding which entails command and reprimand and control. They advocated independence from power the power, rather than animosity against it as some people understood. Independence that makes SIM set its agenda, priorities, concerns and methods of action by itself. Independence that protects it from becoming an extension of the power and from turning into a body that gets active during seasons of briefings to its members in calamities and neglecting its functions for the remaining part of the year. It is a functional and financial independence that protects SIM from temptation towards public funds that tempts it into getting what it does not deserve, either legally or constitutionally. The independence and strength that qualify the Movement to take up a project, enunciate a vision, offer replies to contemporary questions and launch initiatives for confronting the challenges that face its community. In other words, it is the independence that enables it to assume its message of becoming an exemplary moral authority that expresses the Islamic values in governance and public life. In another respect which is extremely important, it is the independence that protects the State and its national bodies which serve the interests of all people and which the Movement does not consider as an organizational extension to it.
This vision of Islam spreading justice and emancipating humans and of its free, independent movement that is not subject to the State but does not wrangle and antagonizes it so long as the latter observes the Islamic principles, is the one that has captured the hearts of the participants in the conference and awakened their awareness from the bases to the states conferences. All these conferences have settled the dispute for maintenance of the Movement but under new specifications that cope with the historic stage and take into consideration the major changes that have occurred in the Sudan and in the world at large. There comes the Constitution which highlights and embodies this into reality and practice.
This mission was entrusted to a number of brothers who presented a draft constitution to the conferences of the states and to the general conference. During the debate on the draft constitution, the discord we have mentioned above has surfaced mainly focusing on two articles which took the greater portion of the time of discussion, while a third article, though important, took a short time of the discussion. These articles were as follows:
First, the article on election of the Secretary-General: the draft constitution provided that the election of the Secretary-General be made by the Shura (consultation) Council, although it has remained a valid, agreed upon tradition that the Secretary-General is elected by the general conference. This has been going on for years until the general conference of 2008. To justify this proposal it was argued that the Shura Council was the best platform for objection and amendment. But during the elections no objection or amendment was made during the meeting of the Shura Council. This measure has raised big question marks about the real intent behind the shift from the general conference to the Shura Council. Some people regarded it as a means for derogating the mandate of the Secretary-General, while others went as far as attributing the issue to the fact that the resolutions and elections of the Shura Council can be more controllable than those of the general conference. Nobody explained why the SIM has, during the past years, overlooked the wisdom of election by the Shura Council and preferred the general conference or why a promise for better elections through objection and amendment at the Shura Council was reversed and objection and amendment were suspended during the eventual process.
Another argument that was given on preference of the elections in the Shura Council was that the general conference would be a place for commotion and disorder, implying that it would be less guided than the Shura Council which we were promised would revive the Islamic Sunna of objection and amendment, although the Constitution has stipulated that the general conference is the highest body of the Movement and it is assumed that the body of the highest authority is the one that takes vitally important decisions concerning the Movement. The logic of this argument necessitates cancellation of the general conference from the Constitution or making it lower than the Shura Council.
The second article of controversy dealt with a new and quite strange paragraph. This was the article that provided for formation of a “high leadership” for the Movement, comprising the Secretary-General and a number of executive leaders. It is true that we recognize their credit as individuals; they were not elected by the bases of the Movement, but by other colleges which are not prt of the Movement. For instance, those will include the President of the Republic, his deputies and the Speaker of the National Assembly. It is clear that in this order, the organs and leaderships of the State have become part of SIM leadership without having been elected by SIM bodies and under SIM rules. In this way, the Movement has become more linked to the government than any previous time. Under this situation in which SIM Secretary-General become surrounded by a clique of men who are more superior and influential than him and, under those circumstances, he would not be able to make any initiative without permission from the higher leadership and be barred from reaching his Shura Council. The main problem of this proposal lies in mixing the positions of the independent Movement and the State. The erroneous belief of the inevitability of a conflict between the Movement and the State if they were not amalgamated is unfounded and unjustifiable.
The notion of the high leadership raises thorny legal and moral questions now that it has been officially declared that the President of the Republic has become chairman of SIM high leadership. The problem is that SIM is not formally registered until now. A lengthy discussion on this issue has previously been conducted within the Movement and the majority agreed on the need for an official registration. Now, according to this article, the President, who is the top guardian of the Constitution and the law and the symbol of the unity of the country, will become chairman of an unregistered group. This means, at least theoretically, that it will be open for other groups to form unregistered intellectual and cultural Islamic and non-Islamic movements and invite the President of the Republic to be chairman of their high leaderships. It will not be justifiable for the President to turn down requests by those groups, otherwise, his ethical duty as a fair ruler and an impartial leader for all of his people, will be weakened. It is difficult to enumerate the complications of this article, for instance, how can such an unregistered movement be regarded as a legal corporate body? And without having such a status, can it appear before courts of justice, conclude agreements, conduct negotiations and open bank accounts liable to legal auditing? I wonder why these difficulties were missed by SIM leaders who include senior jurists! This article will certainly lead to a legal situation that has no precedence in any country of the world. There are two examples that can be cited in this connection: The Presidents of Egypt and Turkey who both relinquished their partisan and organizational affiliation upon their election.
Third, the third article which provides that SIM jurisdictions include a political party in accordance with the law. This article also raises complicated legal and moral problems; first, the political parties law does not include a provision stipulating that the parties can be established by other parties, groups or organizations even if these parties, groups and organizations are legally registered. The parties law provides that parties are established on the wish of the founders without a mediator, an agent or a guarantor. This means that the people responsible for the part are its founders. The National Congress is a party that has been founded more than 10 years ago and it is illogical to make reference to that party in SIM Constitution, although it was not mentioned specifically. It would suffice to indicate that the Movement would pay allegiance to the party which serves its goals. This can be stipulated without naming a specific party, although nobody doubts that it is the National Congress Party (NCP); it is a matter of informal understanding between the two. And, in observance of the rights 80% of the NCP members who are not SIM members and may not desire to join SIM membership, the Movement has to submit its initiative for support by the NCP which will then agrees to it. But if the 80% of the NCP members get to know that their party has in fact been established by a group that they are not affiliated to and that their own party’s chairman is also, ex-officio, chairman of that group, their trust in their party will be impaired and the NCP legitimacy in the public arena will also be impaired. All these objections remain in effect in case the group is legally registered and the problem will be further complicated if these thorny objections target a group that is not seen or recognized by the law.
Addressing the participants in the general conference, I did not elaborate in criticizing those articles because I deemed that the priority is to say something that unifies the rank and heals the wounds. I tried to appeal to all people to look forward to having a free, independent movement, a movement that is self-confident and feel proud among the Islamic movements in the Arab Spring countries. I have cited the predecessors’ phrase: “My opinion is correct that may be mistaken” and added that I am prepared to submit to the other opinion if it is made by a wakeful conscience without being influenced by temptation and intimidation.
In spite of all this, credible testimonies by people who were not known for telling lies say that some organizational bodies intervened to influence the results of the voting and instructions were issued by the high leaderships of those bodies for voting for the constitution as a whole without amendment and for voting for certain persons. Before convening the general conference, it turned out from news reports confirmed by a famous message from the chairman of the preparatory committee, that coordination committees meet at levels of the states and below that level to adopt in the name of the leadership specific resolutions and persons the members have to vote for. These fears from intervention by the organizational bodies in selection of the members were supported by two resolutions for suspending the elections were made with regards to two states where such practices were made.
These fears have to be considered and confronted because they indicate grave deficiencies in the concepts and practices and show the shortcomings and crises which were long overlooked, neglecting resounding statements by Rabie bin Amir and the Islamic emancipation pledges, turning them into an echo coming out of the place and time. The firm bond that links members of a group supporting a certain call is trust which is guarded by commitment to justice, equal opportunities and absence of discrimination among the members of the group. These are the value which ensure getting together and in their absence there be no unanimity but, instead, dispersion and division. I have said on previous occasions that the basic function of the Islamic Movement is that it is an ethical authority and in absence of this function, the movement will have no justification for its existence and God, Glory to Him, would find other people for His call.
Many people have asked me about my decision of not running for the Secretary-General’s position in the Shura Council meeting, although most members of the conference supported my candidacy. It promised I would reply at the suitable time and this is the suitable moment to explain that I declined to stand as a candidate for two reasons – the first one was my objection to formation of a high leadership for the Movement because I believe that this was an obvious violation of the country’s constitution and laws and because, under this high leadership, the Secretary-General will not possess a real power that enables him to lead initiative of reform as he will move only in response to the interests and tools of the power. The second reason was that the atmosphere in the meeting of the tension and mobilization created by the organizational bodies through their imposed grip and instructions would not provide reassurance of fair and free elections that genuinely reflect the conscience and will of the Movement.
The Islamic movement that is loyal to the National Congress Party (NCP) is now passing through a critical turning point that coincides with a similar turning point for he entire Sudan. The Movement, which was founded more than 60 years ago, split into groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Popular Congress, the Sudanese Islamic Movement (SIM) and fundamentalist groups. SIM, in particular, possessing reins of power, can lead efforts for reconciliation between these groups as part of its endeavors for unification of Sudanese national forums. But in order to carry out this mission successfully, it should reinstate its legitimacy and efficiency by spreading trust and justice within its ranks firs, and by replenishing its credibility which was severely shaken as a result of what has occurred at the conference. My advice to those in charge of SIM, rather my demands are as follows:
First: Investigation into accusations leveled against its bodies for violating the pledges of impartiality and justice among its members, some of which we have mentioned above. The investigation should be conducted by a committee that is selected in consensus. Verification of whether those violations have or have not occurred will have an important impact on SIM future and efficiency and on how its members view it.
Second: Conducting an urgent, thorough legal study on the legal and constitutional violations I have mentioned with regards to the second and third articles of the constitution which was endorsed by the general conference in the form of summary measures, so as not to place the President of the Republic in a situation of having committed constitutional and legal violations.
Although I have made this statement to deal with what has occurred at SIM general conference, I have to indicate that the issue which should now unify the Sudanese people is about the crises and seditions that engulf the country. This makes it imperative upon the NCP and the Government, more than any time in the past, to lead the reform and unification of ranks, an act they could achieve only after proving their political and moral credibility. As for myself, I underline my personal commitment to work, in a positive way, the interest of the country. Whether I have elucidated my opinions from a party platform or departing from my relationship in the public arena, I will express, clearly and loudly, my viewpoints with regard to the political reform, national unity and good governance.
E N D