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Somalia: A Glance At The Religious Groups
Back to the 70s when the military administration executed religious leaders when the opposed introducing a new law which say women and men are same and have the same rights in all levels of the society. The religious leaderís perspective was that women and men are not the same in every level. In order to shut this revolution up, the military administration executed all of them. This angered the general public because of the respect they had for the religious leaders and because of the religious and cultural background of the people.
From that period, the religious movements in Somalia have been taking different paths and levels. They even managed to survive under that military rule and existed with all odds during that period of time.
Takfiir Wal Hijra
This religious group appeared in the South especially in Mogadishu first and they believed all the people are infidels except the members of their group. They donít eat with the people, they donít socialize even with their relatives and they donít marry except from their own members; they even had their own market and little camps to live. Although they didnít take any violent action against the others but the faith that says all the people except them are infidels was a starting of an era that we will talk later.
The group did not exist longer and most of its leaders converted to other religious groups and declared their repent from the previous believe.
This group became the largest during the late 80s and even the most powerful in the 90s after the collapse of the central government in Somalia. The view of this group was to concentrate on educating people and teaching the religion as much as possible so that the change will come from the public instead of imposing it from the top. They have the most scholars and had thousands of audiences from all the levels of the society. The military rule carried out many actions against the group arresting its leaders and banning some from the public speech but every action from the government was giving them more support from the public who were tired of that administration and seeking a change. Some of the military officers were also the prominent leaders of the group. Nobody knows how they survived from the cruel punishment of the government at the time.
After the fall of the central government in Somalia the group introduced a military wing and took part some of the civil wars in the country. Many of its members were killed in the South and Eastern part of the country. They created military training camps in Southern and eastern Somalia as well as in Somaliland.
After the war with the current TFG President, Abdillahi Yusuf in Puntland, the group officially suspended its military bases and operations. This resulted an internal conflict where some of the members rejected the decision and continued to carry out their military operations against the UNISOM forces in the 90s and against the warlords until the current time.
Al-Ittihad was then weakened due to that internal conflict which resulted the group to be inactive in the recent years. In South, Central and Eastern Somalia, hundreds of its members joined other groups or formed new groups after they said were desperate of the groupís policy and actions. In Somaliland, most of the groupís members left and joined the Al-Wahda group to form a new group called Al-Tajamuí Al-Islami.
The group then merged with another groups and changed its name to Al-Iítisam Al-Islami and decided to focus on the religious teachings and the educational activities.
This group is totally against the previous group weíve just mentioned. Their view is to target the prominent figures of the society and focus on the current political and economic figures as a way to implement the Shariah law. They believe in taking part the elections and use the democracy as a path to the government seats to form a majority in the parliament and have a power in the decision-making body. They have some well-known scholars and have hundreds of supporters and members within the society.
The group is against any form of violence and believes in peaceful way to form the Islamic empire. Some political figures in Somalia are said to be members of this group.
Al-Tabliiq Wal Daíawah
This group is part of the large Al-Tabliq group based in Pakistan. They donít have a political will but they believe in bringing people into the Mosques and converting people to Islam. They move from one country to another, from one continent to other and from one base to another. They donít have borders and they go to the most dangerous places on the earth.
This group largely found in Somalia with same objectives. They donít interfere with the politics, the civil war and even with the other conflicts. They often face difficulties in some places where people cannot differentiate among the different religious groups working on the ground. Some of its members are often arrested and then released after they are verified their status. Some were even killed in the war torn city of Mogadishu.
This group is new to the Somali arena. Basically most of its members defected from Al-Ittihad Al-Islami group we talked earlier. Its leaders fought against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and they believe in Jihad. It is the most extreme group on the ground as they carry out a military attacks in Somalia. They are often described as the Al-Qaeda wing in Somalia.
We will talk more about this group in a separate article soon.