Monday, 29 December 2008

Microfinance Industry In The Gambia

I am looking for credible and reliable information on the micro finance sector in the Gambia. Anyone out there who has factual and suitable information on Gambias micro finance should please contact me. I will be grateful for that data. I am pursuing the information in different ways, so here i am making a personal plea for data. I will give credit were it is due in all remit of intellectual rules.
I wish to look into the Islamic acceptable form of poverty alleviation, since the existing micro finance sector deal in interest and that is forbidden for Muslims. If the Gambia can adopt the Bangladesh approach which is world famous and effective in reducing chronic poverty, yet Islamically complaint.
Contact me by email on suntou@btinternet.com or bolonba@googlemail.com.
you can electronically send me the info, or i can pay for postal sending.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

HAROLD PINTER Nobel prize speech. Thought provocking

If you love literature marvel at the writings of the late Harold Pinter. watch this video, it is his nobel prize for literature acceptance speech. The speech embodied his life and work. His final stance against the powers that be, their arrogance and apparent double standards. "there is one truth" he said.
http://nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=620

Friday, 26 December 2008

Generating Value through Absteenance

One thing that puzzle me among the Online Gambian community is the apparent lack of involvement of people in dialogue made easy by the Internet forums. Folks like me may be seen to be having too free time to waste, thus our continuous engagements online. Nothing is further from the truth.
I read once in Robert Green's little book on the wisdom of leadership that, "leaders can generate value for themselves by abstaining from public view". This is indeed true. But when the people engaging in dialogue are the average ordinary man and woman, i wonder why so many just read and say nothing? It is a fact that Gambians are hooked and regularly read news and other online discussions. Yet, folks with PHD, MBA, MSC, MA, BSC etc stay away being too important to engage.
Academic certificates doesn't equate knowledge. A PhD is not the end in itself, but the means to further academic institutions and recognitions. The scores of Gambians with PhD's tend to be more aloof than many, they tend to be less proactive in the community forums, why? The only answer could be because they see their PhD as the ultimate achievement in learning and thus they wouldn't want any nonentity to spoil their status or credibility. This is a wrongs and inept reasoning. Among top bloggers are renown professors who engage with people regularly, They educate and are at the same time educated by others.
Unless Gambians who believe they are educated start open up and engage with the masses, elitism will always be the order of the day. People want others to celebrate them, held them in high esteem yet they are unproductive with their minds to their fellow country men and women! How ironical.
The fact is whether you have Masters or PhD, is not relevant if it only benefit you and don't share what you know with others. You will do good and improve more if you share and interact with people of your background. They know you better and will challenge you succinctly in perspective. Yes, people can get personal, but which country's people don't?
I am all for dialoguing and interacting. I only started writing online two years ago. I enjoy it, and will God-willing scribble my little sense. You will generate better value and true professionalism by engaging rather than self-imposed absenteeism. Write whatever you know, people will benefit.

IT IS FRIDAY

Today is Friday, a day of Juma. May God make it easy for us all to attend the Friday prayers. We pray that this Christmas pass peacefully without any drink driving accident. May God guide the souls of all mankind into his eternal bliss.
Another sad merry go-round in Africa. The ignorant fools leading the way. The military junta in Guinea. I wonder whether there is a blue print that they can use to rule? Men that just descended from the barracks, with very limited educational background and absolutely very little diplomatic or professional training stirring a whole country. What is it that Guineans expect? Our case in the Gambia is perfect example. Yahya originally came for two years, now that is 15 years still he is angry over nothing. He has built in his mind that he and his tribe were victimised and denied access to everything in the previous regime. He still believes to remain in power without term limits will salvage and further push the masses into oblivion. That is a gross error of judgement. More Gambians are getting qualified and capable than before. No amount of exclusion or arrogance will stop decent people progressing.
It is Friday, a day Jammeh came upon Gambians. And also the Junta in Guinea. Lord save us from the evils of the African Army. Amen.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Jarabe or Diaraby. A mandingo love song.

As kids from Mandingo background, we are made to feel that our language is too stiff to accommodate jokes and triviality. And indeed Mandingo language is too unaccommodating to 'chanting talks'. Especially in the area of expressing love. Young mandinka boys employ all kinds of love verbs and adjective to express their love to a woman of their choice.
This claim is not general to every one, as some men can express themselves in whatever language and at whatever occasion. But the mandinka language and expressions are such that if you don't understand key proverbs and sayings, you may put yourself in a very uncomfortable situation.
Also, may be the difficulty for Mandingo boys to express their love to a women in mandinka can be due to the strict upbringing and cultural values. I am of course talking about my Provence's mandinka society, but i assume all mandinka communities has many things in common. Yet, if one attempt to say for instance to a girl, i Love you in mandinka; it will go as follows: hnla fita ila or Nyhee ikanu leh. This doesn't sound passionate. But in wolof instance, the words flow naturally and passionately, just like French is said to be more romantic than English.
But then the experts in Mandingo language like Janko and the like can reject the claims. They know words that can equally flatter a lady just like wolof can.
Yet Mandingo is not on it own in terms of rigidity, Sarahuleh also tend to be rigid. I remember in our childhood at primary school when we want to express our kid love to the sarahuleh girls, the choice of word is so difficult, it put you off expressing anything 'i love you'.
But expression in words can be handled by the masters of it. I came across a song by Ali Farka And another singer about expression of love in mandinka. here is the link.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=3l5KZVte6iY&feature=related ali farka
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=cdaJeGcNKIg oumou sankareh.
There are many Mandingo love songs, the version are mainly in the Diaraby or jaraby tune. Diarabe mean infatuated or extreme love. Like if you can't go without someone. A love that must work whatever it takes, whether it means cuting ties with ones family or Friends, the love must work. No wonder jaraby is always a hit. Although my curiocity is to satisfy an appropriate Mandingo words to once in a while express my undying love for my wife. I came across diaraby and also someone emailed the jaraby link for me to translate for him. The dialectical differences sometimes make it difficult to have an appropriate word, but then with time i will get the correct translation into English. Mean while, i say to my wife; Hne ikanu leh.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Mali Sarjo Version Three

The third version of Mali Sarjo bring the epic to a close. For me the epic involves reviving the childhood stories i was told. And it is tradition to pass on the little we remember. I have to give credit to an Australian Man who became equally fascinated with this Manden epic story. After reading the part one, he contacted me and ask that i look into other versions, which i did. After the version two, he again emailed requesting that i further look into more versions.
Indeed as a passionate Mandingo, i took it upon myself to satisfy a non-Mandingo's curiosity into this fascinating event. There i knew he may have heard a version that i am not privy to. At that point, i did what Bob Marley said, "bend down low let me tell you what i know". Intellectualism demands humility and research. I ask that he brief me of what he knows about the Mali Sarjo epic.
He narrated this version i am now sharing with you. His pen name is Drew. Thank you for narrations

Mali Sarjo
Bafula is a town in the west of Mali, were the Senegal river forms two tributaries. Bafula is said to be in the Kayes region, the heartland of both the mandinke and Khasonke people.
Once upon a time, in the bafula, a pregnant woman went to the river to do the laundry. All the women were doing as is the custom to draw water, to bath and do the laundry. This woman was carrying a child. A hippo befriended the woman and called; hey you woman! that child you are carrying if it is a girl, i will make her my friend and if he became a boy i make him my friend.
The woman drew water and return home. Soon she gave birth to a girl, the child began to crawl and walk.
Eventually the child came to the river to wash dishes. The hippo launched a jet of water and called out to the girl. Hey child! its you that your mother carried inside her. I vowed to her: I will make you a friend.
Tiatio the girl became a beautiful young woman that many great suitors start eyeing she turn them all down. In addition, her parents and contenders cannot understand the friendship between a girl and a male hippo. Her parents wonder how to marry a girl with such a strange and notorious friendship.
They consult with the elders, one of whom was a Sinbo, a great hunter, who himself was interested in the girl. After a while, it was decided they would kill the hippo. When this was announced, the girl threaten she would kill herself. But no one one took the threat seriously. The men went out to seek the hippo and they shot it. That day, Tiatio also died.
The song was composed: Hali koro te kani mila, bemow ye koro sila kanina (friendship between two men or two women is accepted, but when a woman and man become friends, this is badly interpreted).
The hippo is describe to be having white legs, and was well loved. Some other narrated that the hippo use to warn the villagers of impending dangers. Every one of Maniba cries were interpreted by the wise elders of the village. some say a french commander by the name Cauchon shot the hippo because he was constantly disturb by its loud cries.
Others say, the village head hunter Minangouron Diallo killed it but cunningly convince the people that Cauchon had done the killing.
In this version three, the village name became known and the time line seems to fall in the period of western advancement in Africa. The name of the girl is also mention. Those are revealing parts of the story.
This is the end of the version three.

GANDA FADIGA. A MARAKA MUSICAIN

Ganda fadiga.
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x5g1ph_ganda-fadiga-maitre-baba-kone-fanta_music
He is the older man speaking with a green kaftan and a kontin. He is more of a poet than a musician. he is speaking in sarahuleh. This man is influencial in the sarahuleh community, the wealthy will do anything for him to compose a song about them.

The marakas or sarahulehs love this man. he knows their history and traditions. He is widely travelled. he can equally sing in other malian languages. The clip is both malinke and sarahuleh beating, the sarahulehs prefer the kontin, a small handheld instrument with strings.

Friday, 19 December 2008

MRC Gambia

Folks, i am puzzle as to the role of MRC in the Gambia. People are flooding that research base daily and they are dying there. Is it a hospital like RVH or just providing an extra service to Gambian population? This needs to be assertained.
People start lining the compound as early as 3am in the morning, if not you cannot have any space to sit. folks before our people die due untrain doctors, someone need to clarify the situation. MRC is a charity and is not suppose to treat people as far i know, so why are people going there for treatment?

Dr Tariq Saeed lectures on Islamic Banking

video

This is a brief vedio on Islamic Banking. the quality may not be too good, but it will provide a quick qist into the subject.

MA LECTURES, BY DR MEHMET ASUTAY ON RM

video

A fantastic lecture on content research and design. A prominent lecturer in Political economy at Durham University and Markfield institute.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Tobaksi 2008 speech by 8 year old Sedou Jallow

Asalam mu alaykum

Praise be to Allah who deserve all praises

My name is Saidou Jallow

As you all know we gather here to celebrate Eid Adha (Tobaski) which is a very special occassion for all the muslims to praise Allah, to enjoy and to celebrate with families and friends.

I just want to remind you the importance of being together as ONE

We are meant to brothers and sisters
To love each each, be kind and caring
This is what brings us together

First we must love Allah, then ourselves
Our neighbours and others around us
To help relieve pain and stress

Being together and loving each other is what life is all about
Things get better when you are being thoughful of each others needs
Togetherness takes away all bitterness and hatred

For the meaning of togetherness, we must bond our hearts together
Having mutual respect and understanding for each other
Showing that you care each step of the way

Alone, I cannot change the world
Alone, I cannot build an empire
Alone, I cannot be remembered
Alone, I cannot fly like a bird to spread the word UNITY
BUT TOGETHER WE CAN

Remember behind the success of every community or society, there must be togethernes

You our parents lead the way then we the kids will follow you foot steps, surely we shall not lost our roots.

May Allah bring us together and guide us along the straight path AMEEN

Thank you for listening



Gambians In Coventry City Celebrate Tobaski










































































































Here are some of the Tobaski get-together pictures. The event was lively and joyous. The day was crown by a speech by an 8 year old boy. The event was to bring together regular attenders of our meetings and those who concern themselves with party modes. We are an inclusive organisation geared towards unitying Gambians and Senegalise people. Thanks

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

The fears in a Tribal society

In a recent posting at the Gambia L, I made a comment that, in the near future, a piece concerning our individual respective tribal competences will be written. The remark seems to raise eyebrows simply it will discuss aspects of our cultures or tribes that no one has attempted before. The writers who felt it unnecessary for me to embark on such a mission did that with deep care and concern. The vital point to note here for all is that, The key word is 'TRIBAL COMPETENCES'. This doesn't mean, what one tribe is competent at another is incompetent with.
Student of management can surely remember reading about the differences in management styles across ranges of racial or national boundaries. The Japanese for instance are known to be very loyal and committed to one job and one firm, whilst the American managers are quick to sack or fire their staff. The British are known to be very pompous managers whilst the Germans believe in Hard work and proven track records.
Some companies go across tribal lines to hire a person with different competence in turning over a failing company, Honda is a good example. A Japanese manager was replaced with an Irish-American if my memory serve me right. This is all due to different cultural and management styles. Sadly, Blacks and women managers are portrayed in a negative light due their management styles. Blacks and women they say tend to be 'too bossy' and 'power hungry' managers.
How did the the social scientist came to that conclusion? This is through studying different companies with particular types of managers. Yet we in the twenty first century fear what 'the minds' of others conceive.
I am well aware of prejudice and bigotry and seriously as a Muslim, that is the last thing that comes to my mind.
The 'social construct' of each individual is different. Even two Mandingos from different region in one country will have different social construct. A Baddibunka mandingo for instance may culturally value money differently to a Kobomka mandingo. Similarly a Senegalise Wolof may see marriage differently to a Gambian Wolof. Is writing or talking about this peculiarities sensitive? Yes, because our society is very rigid and sensitive. In India for example, they give jobs according to cast system. This is to avoid alienating the lower cast members. In Britain, the equal opportunity acts makes it possible for companies to employ people regardless of their race or colour. The interesting thing is, we have to start breaking certain moles respectfully and with care.
There is nothing call the TRUTH. Your truth is not my truth,. Even God gave us the opportunity to either worship or him not to worship him. Yet, we are told that our creation into tribes and races is not for us to ridicule each other but for us to be amaze by the power of God's creative abilities.
The dilemma in a tribal society is so great that anthropological exercise is made very difficult. This is why i only concentrate writing about Mandingo subjects. Surely no one will accuse me of being an anti-Mandingo. The fear is that some will start seeing me only in a Mandingocentrict dimension. Should that deter me from enjoying my hubby which is reproduce what i learn as a child? hell no.
Being connected to both FULBE and Mandingo, i can equally write about certain interesting fula custom, but that may land me into unpredictable waters. People relate and disconnect from people base on petty comments. It is hopeful that our world view broaden and become less sensitive to educational endeavours. I will put together what i know to be our tribal competences, i shall not mention a single tribe, it is up to people to guess what best describe their perception and feelings. I may got it all wrong, yet my conscience is clear. We are what we are due to many transformation and experiences, some positive other negative. I wish to comment about unifying paradigms. The axioms of successes and progress in a multi-tribal society. Feel me!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

FORBIDDEN HAJJ PRACTICES

An Interview with Badru Jafar a Kenyan student of knowledge on Islamic Principles and PracticeBy Suntou Touray

Pilgrimage to the Holy City of Mecca or Hajj as best known, is a pillar of Islam that many in the faith pray to fulfil at least once in life time. By permit of resources, some people perform the Hajj more than once. There are still others who provide the opportunity for one or more people apart from themselves. But the religion of Islam has restrictions about the Hajj particularly with money or resources that may not come from clean sources.

Suntou Touray caught up with Badru Jafar, a scholar of prominence on Islam from Kenya and now studying Islamic Banking at University of Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom. Mr Touray seeks to know what types of money Islam prohibits for use on Hajj. The eloquent scholar Jafar (BJ) explains what the principles are concerning use of unclean money. To share this valuable information, allgambian.net produces what Mr Touray tapped from Jafar’s vast knowledge of Islam’s fundamental practice, the Hajj. What is forbidden Hajj Practice?

Brother Badru Jaffar I choose to conduct this interview with you for two main reasons.
1. You are not a Gambian2. Your answers will be less prejudice towards inter-tribal practises peculiar to SeneGambia

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a Kenyan citizen. I hold BA in Hadith and Islamic Studies from the University of Madinah. Currently I am pursuing an MA degree at the Gloucestershire University, United Kingdom. Since graduation I have served in different capacities of religious institutions in Kenya. Secretary to the Majlis Ulamaa of Kenya (Council of Muslim Scholars), and Chairman of the Fatawa Committee (Religious ethics committee)

QA1. What is Hajj in short?

BJ. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam; in short it entails one making an intention to visit Makkah for specific rituals during the pilgrimage period.Ibn 'Umar narrated: Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (pillars): 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle. 2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. 3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) . 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca) 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

Q&A2. Who is eligible to perform Hajj?

BJ. Anyone who is financially able and healthy is eligible to perform Hajj. Financially able entails;- • Earnings and funds set aside for hajj are halaal (clean money.) • One should be free from debt• One should leave all his/her dependants financially able during your absence.

Q&A3. Why is Hajj not taken seriously by Muslim like Salah or Zakar? Is it due to culture or lack of understanding its importance?

BJ. Generally Muslims do not take Hajj seriously because in a number of Muslim communities the youth who form a significant population feel they are young and need ‘to enjoy life first, perform hajj, reform and remain steadfast. Another assumption is; Hajj is a privilege of the rich, therefore exclude themselves from Hajj. Of course if one can plan and target-save he becomes eligible.

Q&A4. As a person from the Gambia, Hajj I assume is seen as status symbol more than its spiritual significance. People go to much length in paying for their parents to perform Hajj. What sorts of money can one use for Hajj?

BJ. As enumerated in the previous question, the funds used for Hajj have to be halaal (clean money). Allah is pure and does not accept except what is pure. (...whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner) There are two preconditions for acceptance of any act of worship in this verse. One the act has to be salih or pure and two free from shirk or intending other than Allah in the act of worship. Performing Hajj with impure money renders the act impure and it will not be accepted. Seeking social status through acts that only Allah should be sought is a form of shirk or ascribing partners with Allah. This is also the case with pilgrims who seek the al-hajj or hajjat title are in bordering on shirk. Unfortunately, acts of worship like prayer, fasting and hajj have reduced to cultural symbols and have lost the religious rationale because of this. The resultant effect of this is we pray, fast and perform pilgrimage but do not get the desired transformation in our spirituality. The Prophet’s tradition narrated by Abu Hurairah: "Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven." These two intentions should always form the basis of our acts of worship. Performing hajj because it is an act of faith and seeking the rewards thereof.

Q&A5. If for example, a son earns money through illicit means, such as drug dealing, fornication and other unlawful earnings. The son later use that illicit money and pay for his father to go on Hajj, how is that accounted?. Is the father under any obligation to ask the son as to the source of the income before accepting the money?

BJ.
If the parents know their son or daughter is engaged in unlawful business they are obliged to ask where he/she got the funds. Otherwise if he or she is in halaal business or halaal salaried employment they are not obliged to ask. Turning a blind eye to the obvious neither absolves them from blame nor renders their Hajj acceptable.
Q&A6. Is it legitimate to pay for one’s parents Hajj trip without you being on Hajj? For instance, if one pays for his mother’s Hajj trip whilst him self hasn’t been on hajj.

BJ
. Yes one can prefer his/her parents over himself and it is an act birr waalidain or respect and honouring ones parents. What is prohibited is performing hajj for someone else e.g. your parents before performing Hajj yourself. The culture adopted by some Muslims communities to commercialise Hajj as seen in burdening one who intends to perform Hajj to hold purchasing gifts for the extended family.
Q&A7. On a more delicate question, can a president whose annual income is less than $50,000, hire a plane that costs the region of $100,000 selectively take his loyal supporters on Umrah and Hajj for purification whilst ruling with iron fist? The second part of the question is about the income that the president is using for Hajj. If that money is from public coffers, is that hajj legitimate?

BJ. Unfortunately some Muslims in positions of power usurp and embezzle public funds and time for their own individual benefit. Taking someone else’s property unlawfully whether private or public is haram (forbidden) and cannot be used to fulfil an act of worship. Apart from rejection of the act of worship a grievous punishment awaits him in the hereafter. (O ye who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities: But let there be amongst you Traffic and trade by mutual good-will: Nor kill (or destroy) yourselves: for verily Allah hath been to you Most Merciful!)

Q&A8. On different topic now, can an Imam in secular democratic country use his mimbar (pulpit) to condemn tyrannical action of his country’s president? If that Imam is seen endorsing the president is he obligated to also publicly criticise the president for human rights abuses and suppression of his people?

BJ. Imams have an obligation to advice the leadership and censure any wrong doing perpetrated by state and government. However, using the right channel is important. It might be appropriate to use the mimbar for some subjects and inappropriate for others. Scholars in the country are better placed to advice on the best approach.

Q&A9. Is human rights vital in Islam?

BJ. Shariah’s objectives as spelt out by Jurists include safeguarding human beings as defined by Islam. Human rights therefore, are an integral part of Islam. An example of human right is sanctity of life and right to basic standard of life. Preserving human rights is the obligation of the state and therefore, the state is held accountable for any breeches perpetrated within its environs.

ST. Thank you for your time and for sharing this useful knowledge .

BJ. Thank you may Allah Almighty bless us all.
Interviewer’s notes: The interview was conducted to highlight the significance of the fourth (4th) pillar in Islam. We shouldn’t look at Hajj as for the old and rich members of our community. Instead of going for holiday trips several times to the Gambia, it is better we also plan for hajj, as Muslims, delaying hajj incur us sin.
Also the societal pressure prevalent in our communities shouldn’t be something that bothers us. Dealing in illegal substance to fund the hajj trips of parents is unlawful and sinful. Let us pay for our parent’s hajj when Allah made the trip money available for us in rightful and legitimate ways. Again when our parents or family members come from performing hajj, the welcoming occasion usually turn into bidda or innovations diluting the whole purpose of hajj. People go at every length to buy cows and mark the occasion very extravagantly. Those acts contravene the spiritual journey of the pilgrims. May Allah grant us halal incomes and give us the faith to perform Hajj. Amen.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

MALI SARJO, A SONG AND AN EPIC STORY OF MANDEN

SOME SONGS AS TRIBUTE TO MALI SADJIO OR SARJO
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=txvl5MVN7c4&feature=related
http://www.musicme.com/#/SonghaI/titres/?play=8427721156441-01_09
Version two of the epic mali sarjo (Mandingo folklure) by Suntou Touray
Due to time constraint, the version of Mali Sarjo was delayed. To further the discussion and answer to private letters and request from the Jali community and others interested in Mandingo folklore, i present to you the version two. Just to clarify one issue, as a non-student of history, the research conducted is out of personal ineterest and may not satisfy some Jalis who are seeking both contextual and the high standard Mandingo story telling. I held my hands up from the beginning and apologise in advance if my style dissatisfy you. Mali Sarjo is an integral story in the oral history of Manden people; I was contacted a day ago by a western musician who was indeed pleased with the version one. He stated the wisdoms gain in that narration, to eliminate the suspense, here I present version two.
Manden Epic, Mali Sarjo
As passed on from our ancestors, the tradition to convey wisdom in manden culture takes the forms of story (talingo), strict codified teaching, secret male societies (kewulo) and the counter-part for women (bumba) women secret societies and many other forms of infusing vital codes of conduct and manners in future generations. Story to an average Mandingo is not just about the unverifiable nature of them, as it is near impossible to authenticate some of them, but it is about the central message hidden in the words. Language is a sophisticated mode of information transmission and stories become a sure way to unravel ‘what need to be known’.
Like other tribal communities, stories are also regarded as important periods for bonding between adults and young people. This is the same regardless of the language or racial group. The attempt here is to convey what really happen to Mali Sarjo (the hippo).
Mali Sarjo
In a place part of the dwelling In Manden, some say near present day Niger close to Mali lays a river. This river is not any ordinary river but different. In the sense that, the river attracts young people and women to its banks and waters. Well, you may start to wonder, all rivers attract young people and women. The uniqueness in Bafula (conjoin river) is that, two different taste of water flow into each other. The local manden people find this fascinating and uplifting.
In Bafula, the name of the river lives a Hippo. The Hippo is named by local people as Mali sarjo. Every Mandingo who comprehends the language and tradition understands what the verb Sarjo means.
A person or thing is referred to as Sarjo when the mother first gave birth to twins and then followed that by giving birth to a single child. What is relevant here is why the local people named a Hippo as Sarjo?
Well, to get an accurate answer one must first understand the world of the Hippo. That part will be left for another day. But the nature of the song story points to the people visualising a lonely hippo that goes out by itself and do the hippo things unaccompanied. Again, there is a Mandingo name for animals that moves on their own. They are called kunkiling tala (literal meaning, single head walker), More appropriately, a loner.
Just to elaborate on the title kunkiling tala, the word is also use more commonly on monkeys. There is a specific species of red monkeys, sulawulen. It is very common for adult males to regularly compete for dominance among the group, the deposed or overthrown dominant male is banished to look for new park to lead or move on its own.
The people must often be encountering the hippo to name it Sarjo by observation and deduction. Or they may recognised the hippo’s mother with twins and then later spot the mother after some time with another young hippo given birth on its own.
But for clarity and compactness, the relationship between the people and the Hippo is the key message in the song. What sort of relationship warrants numerous manden musicians to compose a song for a hippo?
It must be a very strong relationship one would guess. It is significant to pause here for a moment. The Maden like other tribes in Africa enjoy praise singing, infact a whole Jali industry is based on Batufa/ Jalo relationship. the late lead singer of Bembeya Jazz band Demba Camara once sang that "jamano kuma foo mou jalil leetati" the narrations of the events about the world should be left to the griouts.
Who is a batufa? A batufa is in short a patron, one who looks after the jali or other cast communities. To be a credible Jalo, you have to understand the lineages of your chosen Batufas. The more the song goes deep down the line of the targeted Batufa’s ancestry, the more gifts and presents a Jali is accorded. Famous jali’s with skilled knowledge about such trade is the late Lalo Kebba Drammeh, Sory Kandia, Sekouba Bambino, Foday Musa Suso, Fabala Kanuteh, Jali Nyama Suso, Jaliba Kuyateh, Kandia Kuyateh, Bamba Suso and many other renown Jalis.
The Jalis can be more appropriately label as the engines in a tribal society. They make folks tick! A famous incidence i narrated a while ago was a fatal error perpetrated by the chief of Jali to Almamy Samory. Samory was given many titles among them is Fama, Morro, Mbemba, Jawaro, Kele Mansa etc.
It is related that, Almamy Samory’s younger brother, who many would have heard the likes of Kandia Kuyateh, Sory Kandia, Salifu keiter and many other famous Manden speaking Jalis composed memorable songs about. The lyrics of a song that any manden jali can sing without hesitation is best labelled as Mandinkalu. That song is sung by all credible mandingo vocalist across time.
So the head of the jali’s in the midst of happiness and joy at the winning of a famous battle by Samory’s Army headed by his younger brother who was also his general became overwhelming for the jali community. Such occasion demands poetry, the power of the spoken word and how to imprint them in the hearts of men till eternity becomes all the more significant. Yes, caving words I mean.
There and then the lead Jali rouse to his feet and utter the famous mandinka praise word Jatta!! (lion). Everybody was delighted that such an accolade was given to Keme Burama . Keme Burama means a man who is worth a hundred men.
To shorten the whole episode, Samory was incensed, flabbergasted. “How can you refer to my younger brother whom I made a man to be the lion of the territory I rule? Is there any conspiracy going on that I needed knowing remarked Samory”?
Of course there was no conspiracy going on and Samory knew that very well. But he also knew, in ancient societies, title and names means everything. He wanted to see what other word or words the Manden Jalis can invent to surpass calling someone a lion. In fact many other tribes refer to their gallant men as lion. Samory wanted more from his Jalis not the usual stuff.
The Jalis were given an ultimatum, which is they either come up with a suitable word to praise Samory or lose the lead Jali. As the saying goes in manden, dola koro, dola kaira (one man’s meat is another man’s poison). Some younger Jalis wouldn’t mine replacing the lead Jali as this will put them in authority. But that day all the jali’s united.
Among the group of the Jali was the man who can neither sing nor dance. All he can do was increase the group and mimic the tunes. That is all he was known for. After several intense and hot hours, the lead Jali couldn’t think of any word to please Samory.
The insignificant member of the Jali group shouted Wuula! He saved the day, when the message reached Samory, he was delighted. Wuula means jungle or forest. The meaning here is that of the place where even the lion finds peace and safety. However brave and fearless a lion is, it must hide in the forest or jungle. Samory also became known as Wulabaa.

Back to Mali Sarjo.
The hippo swims and comes close to shores of the river. There visitors and women come to be very familiar and close to the hippo. People’s familiarity and love of the hippo became well known in many areas of the river region. The hippo they say became tamed and people friendly.
Sadly, the hippo died due to old age. Its death prompted overwhelming sadness and show of emotion. Regular visitors to the river missed the swims and displays of the of the hippo in thw waters. To remember Mali Sarjo, a song was composed to mark its death. The songs vary, but they all tribute to the sad end of the hippo. Aahn mali sarjo baafula ben mali sarjo.

I hope i at least expose some few things about the epic of mali sarjo. kuma foo mandiya.


Friday, 5 December 2008

sunnah fasting on sunday the 8th

Assalaam alaykum brothers and sisters in Islam

As we are exhorting ourselves in different ways to draw closer to Allah subhaanahu wa ta’lah, in these first ten days of the holy month Dhul-hijjah; I seek to remind each one of us to reflect and ponder over this hadeeth. The Prophet peace be upon him articulates the reward of fasting on the day of Arafah –this year’s Arafah is on Sunday 7, 2008-. The bounty is big indeed, remind all those who matter to you and be light to the believers.

Abu Qatada Al-ansari reported that, the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him said; “…three days' fasting every month (13-15 of the lunar calendar) and fasting the whole of Ramadan every year is a perpetual fast”. He was asked about fasting on the day of 'Arafa (9th of Dhu'I-Hijja), whereupon he said: “It expiates the sins of the preceding year and the coming year”. He was asked about fasting on the day of 'Ashura (10th of Muharram), whereupon be said: It expiates the sins of the preceding year. Muslim

May Allah bless you

Badru Jaffar Swaleh

Secretary, Majlis Ulamaa of Kenya

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

From God we come, to Him is our return. RIP Alhagie Jawara

Sorry that I am leaving so soon.
Man cannot go beyond what the creator has decreed.
Look after my children
Educate them in Islam and other beneficial knowledge
Tell your brothers, I entrust you and my children to there care
I have faith that there is only one God, only he is the master of every creature.
I haven't left much possession, but i depart with the love of you and the children.
In God i place my trust.

This was the final words of my sister's late husband who passed away yesterday. I pray that Allah accept him among his noble servants and grant him Jannah. He died with Tawheed and faith. He also died in the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah. May Allah make us grateful servants and genuine Muslims. Amen.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

VIRTUES OF DHUL HIJJAH

The comments below are that of a classmate of mine who is a graduate from the prestigious Madina University with Masters in Hadith studies. He is also the scretary of Kenya's Islamic Dawah Acadamy. A board member of Kenya's Community Bank which operates on Islamic banking principles.

Assalaam alaykum, As you are aware brothers and sisters we are in the first ten days of the holy month of Dhul Hijjah, in these ten days virtuous deeds are more meritorious than any other time of the year. Therefore, this is an opportunity to revitalize our iman. Reinvigorating our relationship with Allah subhaanahu wa taalah. This can be done through softening our hearts to allow us to benefit from the Quran and Prophetic traditions.
Making the best of optimum times where Allah seeks us out and supplications are more accepted. These are among the virtuous properties Allah has placed in these first ten days of Dhul-Hijjah.
Ibn Abbas narrates: The Prophet said, "No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these (first ten days of Dhul Hijja)." Then some companions of the Prophet said, "Not even Jihad?" He replied, "Not even Jihad, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger (for Allah's sake) and does not return with any of those things." Bukhari
Allah swears in Suratul Fajr “Wa layaalin ashr” to show the virtuous distinct features of these days. Ibn Taimiyyah among other Muslim jurists state that, the first ten days are the most superior days of the year. These calls for, each one of us to fill his days with different types of ibada to draw closer to Allah the Almighty who has blessed us with iman and health to witness these days.
Allah’s grace is not specific to a category of people, but it graces all those who earnestly seek Him. We can therefore, pray naafilah supererogatory prayers, fast, do dhikr recite the Quran, dua supplication, smile at other Muslims, give charity, feed the poor, visit the sick and the needy, greet each other, being good to our neighbors, parents, children, spouses, friends et cetera
Most important though, is to seek Allah’s forgiveness and to increase our virtuous deeds. May Allah accept our a’maal
Badru Jafar

note: it is highly recommended to fast on the day of Arafah which will be on Sunday the 7th of December. thanks

Monday, 24 November 2008

GLOBAL RECESSION AND THE GAMBIA

The Implications of The Global Recession for The Gambia bY SUNTOU TOURAY
Whether our government acknowledge it or not, the remittances to the Gambia help sustain countless of families. The fact is that, our economy as machinery is not mature enough to be affected by the global financial down turns destabilising developed nations at present. This is so because the tools employed by multinationals banks and financial intermediaries have no place in our economy. Financial products like Hedging, Swaps, Derivatives, Securitisation of bonds etc, cannot be practice at large scale in the Gambia. We lack the capital market facilities to intermediate between fund providers and borrowers. These inabilities make us immune from facing the full brunt of the recession affecting all developed nations.
The Domino Effect of the Financial Crisis:
Even though The Gambian economy from the government perspective will not be affected by the financial crisis, what we cannot avoid though are the indirect effects of global recession. The prices of imported goods will rise and this will directly affected all consumers.
The most vulnerable area of the global financial crisis for the Gambia and Gambians will be the reductions of aggregate remittances to the country. Gambians like other third world countries rely heavily on remittances from the developed countries. The remittances help families cater for their daily bread and other expenditures and leisure.
Citizens and residence in the developed nations are cutting spending and trying hard to save. The daily unprepared job loses affecting every sector of the developed economies will also include Gambians in the unfortunate debacles. The fear of job lose and the actual job lose makes people unable to undertake the extra responsibilities once carried out with ease. The reduction in remittances will translate into; families back home unable to afford basic necessities such as food, electricity, medicine, school fees, petrol and many other items.
For now, many will carry on doing what they do best, that is look after their kit and kin. The slowing of remittances also will impact on the overall spending in our economy. Credible sources had it that the bulk of Gambias civil servants who are the backbone of our country are heavily indebted through loans and overdraft mainly.
The Plight of Gambian Civil Servants:
Many Gambians aspire to work in the civil service as a show of patriotism and decent way to earn a livelihood. But in reality, the civil service was always a place to make ends meet in a very difficult way. The majority of civil servants fall within the grade 7 plus salary bracket. This translate in real terms to mean, they earn just over D2500 to D3000 (dalasis). This men and women have huge ratio of dependency and other commitments. The average house rent for a man and family will be D700 per month, excluding bills. A bag of rice now cost D800 plus. The basic ingredients for a house for a month can reach up to D1000. The amounts stated above exclude transport fares, school fees for kids, medical bill, electricity and water etc.
The salary is so low; civil servants have device new ways to make their life bearable. They open an account with local shop keepers, the shop keeper give them items required on daily basis and records the amounts. At the end of the month, nearly half of the salaries go to the shop keepers. Before the middle of the month, the civil servants will come back to the shops to buy on credit. This cycle continuous unending.
Those are the lucky civil servants because they at least expect something decent at the end of the month. What about the ones below the D2000 bracket? How do they go about taking care of their obligations? Yet we talk about eradicating corruptions! The root cause is poor pay levels and dis-incentives.
The top level civil servants are those in grade 11 salary bracket. These include directors, permanent secretaries, and other high level government employees. They earn over D7000 per month. Yet even this people needs the extra cash to make their position match their spending power.
The biggest income agent in the Gambia is evidently agriculture. It is the industry that majority of citizens are engaged in. This year’s forecast for groundnuts is not good, the prices are said to be low.
The next biggest economic agent is our ports authority. The strategic location of the Gambia makes the ports a major transit point for many goods across the globe. The third economic agent is none other than remittances. The commitment that Gambians abroad show to their country is immense. If that is not patriotism I don’t know what? The magnificent houses, the many Hajj trips, the helping of relatives, the donations to hospitals and schools, the funding of political parties etc. This is the legacy of Gambians abroad to their people back home.
The threat to jobs in the developed world will impact negative on the people back home. The availability of foreign currency in Gambians banks will be affected. Less people will be travelling on holiday from among Gambians and even among the regular tourist sector.
In these hard times, what is it that Gambians back home demands? From an observer’s point of view, it is paramount that the government take politics out of the civil service. Civil servants should feel secure in their jobs without fear of political victimisation. The salary is too low for the hassling and haranguing by APRC stalwarts.
Gambians abroad also demand the government respect their efforts and love for the Gambia. Political differences shouldn’t translate into branding us enemies of the state and label unpatriotic. We all help in building that country, if nothing; the government should stop harassing decent innocent citizens who express alternative views about the conducts of the government. What is democracy without the forum to express divergent views? No wonder Kaddafi call some democratic countries, “disguised dictatorships”.
Let unity, prosperity and faith in one God guide our actions. The Gambia where we all have in common. Fear rule should be a thing of the past. I pray that the global down turn leave us unscathed and that we come out it strong and vibrant.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

POSITIVE AND NORMATIVE ECONOMICS

positive economics with an Islamic dimension and conventional explanation: special emphasis to J.N.Keynes
Introductions:
When Keynes made the following famous statements, “while the ultimate goal may be to guide human conduct, the immediate object to be kept in view is knowledge of positive facts”.
The key terms in the above statements are ultimate goal, human conduct and positive facts. Since the question is ask from an Islamic economics point of view, a contrast have to be made in understanding the intentions of conventional great economist like Keynes, Schumpeter, Ricardo, smith etc. What was their key ideology and motivation about their understanding of positive and normative economics?
Keynes made it clear that economist are not moral jurist and cannot prescribe what people should do or abstain from. His words “economics as positive, abstract and deductive, while the other describes it as ethical, realistic and inductive”. The statement is incomplete but in essence what Keynes was making clear is that, no economist of the past divides economics as positive or normative. The rise of positive and normative is recent. That is why he stated above that the “ultimate goal is guide human conduct...” which means economics is not to be use as tools to preach moralistic dogmas but explain to consumers the choices available to them and how they can make best use of scarce resources.
Islamic economics on the other hand is base on the fundamental principles of the Qu-ranic teachings and the prophetic traditions. This implies that the well-being of man is safe-guarded from both materialistic and spiritual dimension.
Positive Economics with an Islamic economics aspects.
Islamic economics is geared towards the restoration of moral values to economics which will operate on clear shariah based principles. Economics justice is another hallmark of Islamic economics. Conventional economist don’t bother themselves with justice since the principles that guide moral conduct are religious and they the conventional economist try to distance from religious ethics, they cannot explicitly promote economic justice.
Keynes went further to state that, the function of economics is to investigate facts and discover truths about them, not to prescribe rules of life. Economics law are theorems of facts, not practical precept. Economics in another word is a science, not an art or a department of ethical enquiry. It is describe as standing neutral between competing social schemes. It furnishes information as to the probable consequences of given lines of action, but does not itself pass moral judgement or pronounce what ought or what ought not to. (Keynes,J,N 1896)
The line of demarcations is made very clear by Keynes from his above key note statements. Keynes postulated that economics is not to prescribe to people “what ought or what not to”. In short economics as a science shouldn’t interfere with people choices in life. Whatever is available in the free market is open to people’s private economic decisions. The moral dimension is not an issue for economist and economics as a subject matter. Islamic economics encompasses both as guide to mankind in his mundane materialistic choices and also by making available clear scriptural text of the Quran on what ought to be consume and ought not to be consume. “The what ought to be” are command to engage into an activity and the what ought not to is also a command not to take part in certain activities.
Islamic economics mix both positive and normative economics. The two has no distinction as such. Critics of Islamic economics may say, modern people are not interested in ancient scriptures dictating their role in economic activity, but the simple answer to that query is that, every sincere Muslim wish to live his life according to the laws of God.
Dr Umer Chapra cited Mark Blaugh with the quote that “there are growing numbers who suspect that all is not well in the house economics has built” and also he cited Nigel Lawson with the following quote “man is a moral animal and no political or economic order can long survive except on moral base”. (Chapra, U. 2000)
The two quotes highlighted the problems with conventional economics that is causing clear drawbacks in the world global economic environment. The absence of moral principles in conventional economics results in unethical practices which causes long term problems. Islamic economic offered a different solution to the problems of conventional economics.
According to Chapra positive economics means “efficiency and equity can be determine without value judgement, whilst normative reflect to a great extent, society’s vision of ‘what ought to be’”. The economics goals cannot be achieve without both positive and normative sets of principles. The discussions as to whether a society can be deem value free will continue for the foreseeable future. ( Chapra, U. 2000)
Zubair Hasan defined economics as a science, for it is a body of knowledge that systematically deals with causes and effect relationships in the ordinary business of life and searches for uniformities in human behaviour for establishing hypotheses, theories, and laws wherever scarcity of resources makes choice making the basis for action. (Hasan,Z. 2006)
That definition is very comprehensive. It encompasses all that individuals, businesses and society at large requires for their every day functioning. The aspect on uniform choices entails the concept of economies of scale, when many people want similar things, it production is economise through standardisation. Zubair went further to introduce the two key concepts that Keynes talked about earlier. The positive and normative aspects of economics. Zubair moreover added that “positive science deals with ‘what is’ of the economy and with the forces that govern factual situations”. Positivism in short deals also with evident matters in economics enquiry not ethical or moralistic questions. That is the significant failing of positivist since, as stated earlier no economy can operate effective on only value free basis. “Positive economics observes and state but does not suggest”. What is testable and apparent is what concern is with, not what ought to be. (Hasan, Z. 2006)
On the subject of normative economics, Zubair stated that it means, “economics discusses questions like ‘what should be’ produced, and how should it be distributed”. These complete the missing link in economic dogmas. Positive economics on its own will proof unproductive in a modern society. The observation of zubiar is significant in that, the current trend in environmental matters, global warming worries and concern for the general level of pollution by multinational makes normative economics necessary and unavoidable.
“if ‘what is’ is not what should be, the normative aspect of economics instantly raises the question of policy: what policy should correct the situation?”. (Hasna, Z. 2006). That questioning part of normative economics makes it similar in principle with Islamic economics. Islamic economics put forward arguments that are beneficial to human beings even if the cost is high but the social benefits are of significance. Conventional economics also adopts research and technology, and what is of acceptable methods in research are also of key interest to government and other organisations.
In conclusion:
What John Neville Keynes advocates as the central importance of economics goals in misplaced. Even though common people may not be interested with asking ‘the what ought to be’, the overall progress of economics as a science will be hindered if only positivism is promoted.
Both Chapra and Zubair postulated the connectivity between positive and normative economics. Moral guidance is required in all aspect of human endeavours. The concept of value free is losing momentum, as men as by nature are concerned mainly with self-interest. Moral and ethical guidance is much needed as well as scientific enquiry. A clear balance is necessary to make the world a better place and economics a subject whose interest will continue to fascinate people across every age.
Even Adam smith call for some form of moral principles in pursuing self-interest. Zubair cited Smith in the following words “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our necessities but of their advantage”. (Hasan, Z.2006) This statement enforces the believe that self-interest alone cannot regularise human well-being. It must be guided by moral ethics; this is why we have all kinds of professional ethical bodies. The global financial crisis is a testament to that. The loosening of the control mechanism causes bankers and financial intermediaries to take part in malpractices and fraudulent conducts.
Islamic economics is guided by both religious and mechanical principles. The problem of positive versus normative economics will have no place in it, the moral, ethical, financial and social are all equally implemented in economic activities.
Refrences
Chapra, U (2000). The future of economics: conventional economics. Leicester U.K, Islamic foundation. Pp 17-29
Hasan, Z (2006). Introduction to microeconomics: An Islamic perspective. Selangor, Malaysia: Prentice Hall, PP 3-9
Keynes, J,N (1890). Scope and method of political economy. Cambridge U.K, Botoche Books 1999. Available online at: http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/~econ/ugcm/3ll3/keynesjn/Scope.pdf. accessed on the 3rd of November 2008.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

The Narrow Road

The narrow road, the narrow road
Walk it with consent
Walk it with love and joy
Walk it with permission
Walk it in Godly sanctioning
The narrow road
A blessed road
A simple road
Manifested from the beginning of man
Respect it
Violate it not, don’t criminalise it either
The narrow road
Sweetness prevails
The after taste a rubber stamp
Tranquility
Affirmative memory din don don
Unforgettable
Dalandin punsandima (sweet diving pond)
Swim, swim
In the manners recommended by the lord most high
Salam it is part of
The narrow road, the narrow road
The elderly noddings
Sinma kudey, not Nghaba kudeh
Rules of engagement a matter of most

WITNESSES

Silent caring lot
Oousing and goousing
Heavy breathing and muttering fits
Sometimes pap pap
Facing by without a flicker
Stillness, calmness and painful-patient
Not because that is what was desired
The command became top down
The downers get all the slacking
The uppers continue the silent destruction
Few crumbs scattered here and there
Brains searching for solitude and freedom
Tranquillity disturbs the space! No credible speaker speaks of the harms
Noise is noise they say
Slowly all is socked in
Shocking unannounced deeds
Yes, when it touches you, the uncalled-for deeds
That time you speak and stand
So long, so long
We are all impotent witnesses
Battling the forceful news
Aah news of things we can’t believe
Yet, the news is partly true
Where is the comradeship and nationhood?
The blood of all is at stake
Witnesses! Comfortable are you?

Monday, 3 November 2008

Some excepts from Ibn Khaldun's book Muqadima

Courage is a cardinal virtue among country people, he observes. They have neither militia nor walls nor gates. They see to their own defence, bearing arms and keeping themselves on the alert at all times. In them, therefore, ‘daring has become a character trait, and courage second nature’. Among townsmen, however, this virtue is nearly absent since they are brought up in a state of dependence, sheltered behind their walls and protected by their militia and their governors; they are used to peace and comfort. In addition, their spirits are weakened and their courage annihilated by the weight of the constraints imposed on them by ‘governmental and educational laws’.15
Corrupt morals are virtually inescapable for urban dwellers. An affluent life leads to the search for pleasure, the appearance of new habits and of new needs. These become increasingly difficult to satisfy, particularly when dynasties decline and taxes become heavier. Townspeople use any means, good or bad, to cope, ineluctably entering ‘the ways of immorality’.16 In rural areas, on the other hand, a life of making do with necessities constantly calls for control over appetites. The vices and defects that can be acquired are few compared to those of townspeople, and country people remain close to their original natural state and are more inclined to good.17
Imitation is held by Ibn Khaldun to be a general phenomenon: the dominated always imitate those who dominate them. This is true of children vis-à-vis their parents, pupils vis-à-vis their Teachers, subjects vis-à-vis their princes and dominated nations vis-à-vis dominant nations; it holds true as much for custom and behaviour as for all aspects of civilization. Ibn Khaldun finds the 4 explanation for this phenomenon in the fact that the dominated believe in the perfection of those who dominate them.18
In all three examples the question of values and their transmission is no longer presented as an exclusively individual matter. The courage of rural folk, like the corrupted morals of Towns people and the phenomenon of imitation, do not depend only on subjective will, nor are they the result of incitement: they are the outcome of actual conditions.
As can be seen, without stating the matter explicitly or systematically, Ibn Khaldun deals with all aspects of the reproduction of values in Muslim society. He begins by assuming, in a sort of philosophical anthropological postulate, that human beings, who are endowed with the faculty of thought, organize their relations with the world and each other according to laws and rules that each individual learns through his or her own personal experience, and especially by impregnation from the family and cultural milieu. At the same time, he reveals deeper values, connected with the very functioning of society, whose reproduction occurs independently of individual wills.

Aspects of Islamic Economics

Suntou Touray, October 2008.
What is Islamic Economics?
Introductions:
The question on a face value seems very easy to understand but on close scrutiny, the question is very unusual. This is so because economics as a field or discipline is well defined and tones of text and resources are available on the wider subject.
The purpose of the question is to trigger a thought provoking analogy of comparative economics. When one asks what is Islamic this or that, the questions straight away implies faith-base concepts and key elements. To understand anything Islamic, one requires a certain amount of religious understanding of the Muslim world view and perspective.
To clearly demonstrate an understanding of the question, the term or definition of economics in general must be stated and then a specific explanation of the Muslim or Islamic understanding on economics.
Economics as a social science is define in many different ways. One such is the Penguin dictionary of economics. “The study of the production, distribution and consumptions of wealth in human society”. (Bannock, G; baxter, R,E and Davis, E; 2003, pp 114-115)
This simple definition is what economics is commonly defined with but other writers has their own explanation of what economics is. For this short topical essay, time and other limitations will not allow me to divulge further into the disagreements about the different definitions and explanations of economics. Conventional economists understand it in the secular concepts. This means the production, distribution and eventual consumption of goods and services are perform without any spiritual attachments or conditions. The means to produce say a bag of flower does not have to take account of how the original capital is secured to start the production facilities. Whether this is by bank loan at an interest or otherwise is of little or no importance.
There are two key economic concepts according to ken Ferguson, command economy, the market economy or a mixture of both. Islamic economic system can also be a mixture of both but not purely command. Command economy is where “resources is decided by a central administrative process” the central government allocate resources to sectors of the economy. Whilst the market economy is where the “the allocation of resources is accomplished by the forces of demand and supply”. The free market doctrines, no central government interference, the market regulate itself. (Kerguson, K; 2002, pp 2-5)
In all this brief explanations of economics, there is no religious or spiritual dimension postulated by the writers. This is because that has no bearing on the forces of economic functions.
Now then what is Islamic economics?
Islam is a faith based religion that teaches the belief in One God and that God through is prophets teaches man how to live a social responsible life with a spiritual and ethical dimension. The quran states that “everything on earth is created for man utilisation” (Al-quran 2:29). This declaration comes with a conditions of values, “righteous living” by which the wellbeing of man is safeguarded.
Men are advice to work and make a honest and ethical living, the quran states that “and the monasticism which they have innovated, we did not prescribe it for them”.(Al-quran 57:27)
Umer chapra further elucidated that every sector of the human society is regulated by spiritual means. He went further to state that
Actions in every field of human activity, including the economy, is spiritually provided, it is harmony with goals and values of islam. It is really these goals and values that determine the nature of the economic system of Islam. (Capra, Umer; 1996, pp 5-7).
What Dr Capra in the above commentary did is to make a clear distinction between the muslim world view and the western conventional economic world view. The Islamic economics in short takes its guidelines from the scriptures as explained by scholars and muslims economist.
These are the economic goal that Umer Chapra is referring to:
A. an economic well-being within the framework of moral norms of islam.
B. Universal brotherhood and justice
C. Equitable distribution of income
D. Freedom of the individual within the context of social welfare.
The above goal are a starting point according to Chapra, but they are a basis by which muslim economist can advance the course of the debate.
Dr Khushid Ahmad has sum-up the need for Islamic economics so accurately, it needs stating here. All other economic concepts adopted by muslim countries fail to yield any economic development. The package western economic policies also fail to have any impact in directing economic growth.
He went on to state the pattern by which Islamic economics can be adopted.
The first premise which muslims want to establish is that economic development in an Islamic framework and Islamic development economics are rooted in the value-pattern embodied in the quran and sunnah. And the second premise is that the approach clearly rules out imitativeness. (Ahmad, K; 1994, pp 6-10)
This above statement indicates the wiliness and attitude some Muslim scholars has towards directing the affairs of the muslim economic debate. Imitation has been a destructive element in the affairs of Islamic states, the government apparent inferiority concepts in their own potentials and ideals drove them to copy everything western whether good or bad for their value systems.
The capitalist and socialist economic orders fail the muslim world.
Tagi usmani have this to say on why muslims needs an alternative economic order free from the greed of capitalism and the lack of direction of communism.
The economic principles taught by the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam) are quite capable of solving the major economic problems faced by the world today. While they allow private ownership and market economy, they also provide a well considered system of distributive justice, which may eliminate the inequities and bring about a system in which profit motive works with the collective interest of the society. (Usmani, Tagi; 2008)
The main reasons of muslims wanting Islamic economy as their way of dealings is rooted in what Taqi Usmani referred to has, “the economic principles taught by the quran and sunnah”. Muslims are not satisfied with any economic principles just to get on with their every day transactions; they need an order than conforms with their faith.
Nejatullah Siddiqi on his part in the Islamic economic debate, highlighted the concept of Tawheed. He defines Tawheed as “ a coin with two faces: one implies that Allah is the creator and the other that men are equal partners or that each man is brother to another man”. (Siddigi, Najatullah; 1988,pp 4-8)
The above concept is talking about the relationship between man and God and man and man. This relationship should be based on honesty and ethical values. Man shouldn’t oppress another man. The overall over-seer is God the most high. Muslims with inbuilt God-consciousness will avoid deception, injustice and corruption in their everyday dealings. Whilst some aspect of capitalist ideals may look fair, but in reality they are tools for the powerful to oppress the weak. This is what the whole Riba system is about.
The Quran clearly teaches Muslims of certain economic behaviours.
Eat and drink of that which God has provided and act not corruptly, making mischief in the world (Al-Quran 2:60)
Another verse states the following: O mankind! Eat of what is lawful and good on earth and follow not the footsteps of the devil (Al-Quran 2:168). The Quran as the supreme source of information for Muslims further commanded: O you who believe! Forbid not the good things which God has made lawful and exceed not the limits. Surely, God loves not those who exceed the limits. And eat of the lawful and good that God has given you, and keep your duty to God in whom you believe. (Al-Quran 5: 87-88) cited by Chapra (Chapra,U; 1996, 6-7)
This above verses are just a few among the many Quranic injuction on believers every day dealings.
The prohibition of interest is key to muslims determine to find an alternative economics system. Interest according to Siddiqi is the root cause of instability, the key concept of “liquidity preference” is sternly criticised. Siddiqi further cited many renown muslim scholars who hold similar views among them, is Uziar, Mawdudi, Mannan. All those scholars linked the “the institution of interest occurrence to crises in the economic system”. (Siddiqi, N. 1988, 62-63)
Interest most be avoided by muslim at all cost, this ruling makes Islamic economic a necessity and a system that muslims must institute.
Conclusions:
Islamic economic from the above facts can be define as a system of everyday dealings that conforms with the Quranic teaching and the ways of the prophet of Islam. The economic mechanism that tries to avoid Riba, exploitations and unjust taxations. A system that don’t only allow the rich and powerful to dictate economic policies can be considered an Islamic economics.
All the writers cited above linked the Islamic economic principles with Quran and Sunnah whilst the conventional system doesn’t link the economic order with any faith or religion. Where has it may comment about moral values, this is not in the religious sense. Islamic economics links mans’ actions with his hereafter. The responsibility of catering for the needs of this life whilst bearing in mind the condition of meeting God. This makes clear distinctions between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Our actions are not just judge here, also in the afterlife. The Islamic economics thoughts gave rise to the Islamic financial industry which is now worth more than 1 trillion dollars in Assets and product value. The industry is growing at a rapid paste and the future is looking good. The global financial crisis has had little impact on the islamic financial sector, beacuse that industry forbid dealing in bonds and colaterised securities.

References:
Ahmad, K. (1994) Economic development in an Islamic framework. Leicester U.K, Islamic foundation. PP 5-16
Bannocks, G (2003), The penguin dictionary of Economics. Suffock, U.K: penguin books, pp 114-115.
Ferguson, K (2002), essential economics: a guide for business students. Hampshire, U.K: Palgrave macmillan, pp 2-5
Chapra, Umer. (1996), Objectives of Islamic economic order, Leicester U.K: Islamic foundation, pp 5-8
Siddiqi, M, N (1988). Muslim economic thinking: A survey of contemporary literature, Leicester, U.K. The Islamic foundation, pp 4-25
Usmani, Tagi (2008). The Economic Challenge for the Ummah: Restructing our Economic Systems, available at: < http://www.albalagh.net/Islamic_economics/economy.shtml> accessed on the 28 october, 2008.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Genuine Enemy

Genuine enemy
Happy you when the enemy is genuine
Nothing you do matter
The laughter is frown upon
The smiles disdainful and disgusting
The kindness and show of love
Result in the opposite outcome
Love! Loving! doesn’t matter
That is what the genuine enemy sees
Why be good when it is not noticed?
Why speak if the result is anger and violence?
Genuine enemies!!
Without them, emptiness prevails
Your smiles are a deception
Talk less of the spoken words!
They incite hate
Hate
Why be close to the genuine enemy?
With all the suspicions and unprovoked hating
Better have a genuine enemy than a deceptive friend
You always know their stand points
The worst genuine enemy is the one with political will
He uses hate wrongly
The public space is high-jacked
But other genuine enemies
Can be handled
Asabiyah wakabaliya
May the lord protect us all.

Monday, 27 October 2008

a comment by Jalang dembo on Islamic finance

Demba Jalang said...
Thank you Brother Suntu for an illuminating insight into Islamic Finance.One important thing that help insulate many Islamic Finance Institutions from the current financial crisis is the way debt is treated in Conventional (some may call it Western) Finance. Debt instruments are packaged in various fancy ways and traded in the market in Conventional Finance. To secure the "supposed" underlying value of such fictitious assets, holders resort to buying insurance and thus sell those policies in the market again. In short, these instruments do not have any asset of real value or fundamental backup. At a point the market basically strive on a bubble and burst situation. More crudely, greed mainly drives the market. From the Islamic Finance point of view, trading in debt/debt instruments is forbidden. Any dealing in liquid assets have to be backed by real assets driving the fundamentals on economic activity. There is no shortcut and no one get short-charged.Another basic difference between Islamic Finance and Conventional Finance in all spheres of operation (be it banking, insurance, etc.) is the role the institution play in carrying its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Yes, in a Conventional Finance sense, the Institution call build hospitals, roads and provide other charitable services, but in Islamic Finance, CSR is not only about that. An Islamic Finance Institution take care of their owners' and customers' interest as a guidance consul. For instance, in an insurance operation, there are both shareholders' funds and policyholders' funds. At the end of a review period, say Financial year for the company, after meeting claims, administrative expenses, reserves etc, both parties (shareholders and policyholders are entitle to any surplus funds and may be shared or retained in the company according to reset rules and guidelines. The is missing in a Conventional Insurance setup.A close study of the setup under the two models in finance (Islamic and Conventional) will show that there are clear differences between these institutional, not by only nomenclature.
25 October 2008 22:38

Prophetic statements on economic principles

I will labor to transmit a the statement of the noble Prophet of Islam with regards to economics and justice financial dealings.

1. it is difficult to deny the alignment of Muslim economic thought with free market economies. This is what Prophet Muhammad had to say about free market forces. "prices are fixed by God. He alone contracts and expands the means of livelihood, and I wish to meet my Sustainer having no claims of injustice being made against me in respect of blood and wealth".
1400 year ago, prophet Muhammad made it clear people shouldn't try to fixed prices and interfere in the market forces. God made it easier for people to afford commodities. Manipulating or hoarding good just to force price increase is sinful and haram. Thus Islamic economics takes its guide lines from the Quran and sunnah and contemporary economic activities that are not against the laws of God.

Friday, 24 October 2008

BRITISH MUSLIM HERITAGE SITE

http://www.masud.co.uk/
This site have many issues dealing with early British born Muslims. This are whites mainly who embrace Islam decades ago. some of the writings contain very brilliant poems and personal experiences.
Today, Muslims from Africa and Asia are feeling some how down beat about their Islamic identity. this is due to people having other more important reasons of being in the western hemisphere than spiritual journey. we are either seeking secular education, money and so on, to the extend that we don't share our heritage and faith to others.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

THE EPIC STORY OF MALI SARJO. NOT FOR UNDER AGE

The story of mali sarjo. BY Suntou Touray.
04/07/08
The forbidden relationship between a shy young man and his sister. This story is very sad indeed and the end result was the epic of Mali Sarjo.
The term Mali Sarjo is a name of a certain kind of hippo. An Hippo is refer to Mandingo as Maloo. Malo is an adjective for shame. The names just happen to coincide but Malo is living animal, a creature that lives in the rivers and lakes of Africa.
This story is believed to be a true happening. A moral dilemma and a very unusual relationship between close family. The closeness here cannot be underestimated. Whatever the real tail of this story is, it intrigues the entire mande speaking people.
Mandin is name for a region in West Africa, the modern day Niger, Mali, Gunea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Bukina faso etc. That whole area was populated by the Mande speaking people. Mandingo is tribe that has both mixes of traditional and Islamic cultures. The language among the mande people varies depending on the area were a group of mande people lives. There are common phrases and words with the same meanings but some sayings are completely different. It was among the mande people that the mali sarjo event occurs.
The nature of the story is very unusual. The mandingos are very cultured and principle. Every strata of the society operate on a strict custom and norm. The taboos are very much part of the layers of the society. Like every decent organise society, bed-fellowship between two blood relation is the highest taboo any one can break.
Well, this taboo was spectacularly undone. The perpetrators didn’t break that very untouchable and unthinkable taboo on simple grounds but out of concern and emotion. The journey is indeed an emotional epic.
The man
His sister
The shyness ,not able to express love to women, failing to disclose love to the woman of his dream
The local villagers
The expectations
The custom
The assistant of the sister to help boost the brother’s confidence
When the taboo is broken, the sisters pregnancy
The family meeting for answers, threats to kill her if the culprit is not mention. This version of the story is said to unreliable after several findings. But this version was mention to me several years ago, so to discard it without putting in the public domain for further enquiry will be academically and intellectually weak. A passion strong in me is to along the way research Madin history from a peculiar angle. It is a hubby, so comment on this version’s accuracy if you may. I have another version of the Mali Sarjo story. Time permitting, it shall be narrated.
The periods it happen, the prevailing custom
The final discussion between the sister and the brother
But his spirit couldn’t allow him to go any where
His turning into a hippo (malo). Finally the man who impregnate his sister committed ran away from their village out of shame and fear. He did that despicable act due to the fact he was in-confident to face a woman he loves. His lack of confidence made him confide his weakness to his sister, who volunteer to teach him the act of cohabitation so that the brother can have the confidence to face the woman of his dream. A tragic love story, let the sanyang kunda folks don’t have any funny ideas here. During the practice season, the brother impregnates his sister that once. He knew now what to do to face his love but alas, the events unfolding resulted in disaster.
When his sisters pregnancy became evident, she was confronted by her kabilo (family unit) to identify the culprit, she decline for several days whilst consulting with her brother about their next cause of action. He decided to flee the village and go away for good. But on his way to faraway lands, he decided to commit suicide due to the shame and implications of his actions.
The legends have it that, he arrived at a point where two different flowing water met. This is where a sweet water and salt water met, at that point he throw himself deep into the sea. This attempt was to kill himself, he didn’t die, rather he became a hippo or Mallo in mandinka.
From this epic came the song, aah mali sarjo bafula ben malisarjo’
The story is rushed due to wato. The other version later.


The conference on drugs part 2, by Dr Bilal Philips

Satanic Origin: Branding them as devised by Satan.
Allah identified the origin of drugs for humans to realize that they are weapons of their most avowed enemy, Satan. In the battle for human souls, Satan uses a variety of tools which he beautifies and makes alluring in order to trap human beings
Avoidance: Emphasizing the Prohibition by using Avoidance.
Allah’s use of the imperative ‘avoid’ makes the injunction much stronger and more comprehensive than it would have been had the word ‘prohibited’ been used instead. The implication here is that one should not only refrain from the consumption of drugs but also anything to do with their production and distribution should be avoided. Consequently, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Ten people are cursed due to intoxicants, the one who prepares it, the one for whom it was prepared, the one who consumes it, the one who carries it, the one to whom it is carried, the one who pours it, the one who sells it, the one who benefits from its sale, the one who buys it and the one for whom it was bought."
He further emphasized the importance of avoidance by stating, "One should not sit at a table at which alcohol is consumed." Furthermore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited Muslims from even keeping the containers in which alcohol was traditionally kept.
Success: Linking the avoidance of Drugs to Prosperity
In the above verse, the Almighty also made the avoidance of intoxicants a precondition for prosperity. People naturally desire success and wealth and they despise failure and poverty. Thus, Allah addresses the human psyche by promising success to those who avoid intoxicants. When the wealth normally consumed by addicts is recycled, the financial benefits to society are quite tangible. However, the social benefits to both the individual and family are even more priceless. Furthermore, real wealth, is as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said "richness of the heart and soul, and not an abundance of
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property." It is contentment which those who take drugs seek but never find, and that only comes from a sober search for God.
Ultimate success is paradise, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) informed that, "One who consumes drugs and does not repent will not drink it in the Hereafter even if he enters Paradise."
Sows Discord and Hatred
In these verses, the Almighty points out that Satan uses drugs to create enmity among people. It has been proven statistically that the majority of hate-crimes are committed by those under the influence of drugs.
Hinders Remembrance of God and Prayer
The Almighty warned of the most evil consequence of drug consumption; that it prevents people from remembering God and making regular prayer, which is their regular means of remaining in contact with God. Once the consciousness of God is lost, corruption quickly fills the vacuum and those under the influence easily commit the most heinous of crimes without any sense of shame or morality. Intoxicated people are very susceptible to the most perverse suggestions. They lose their shyness and moral values leading to some of the most incredibly evil acts.
Reports of drug-crazed fathers raping their own baby daughters, husbands killing their wives and eating them, and so on, abound in newspapers around the world. In one narration from the Prophet (peace be upon him) he was reported to have said, "Intoxicants are the mother of despicable acts and the greatest of major sins. Whoever consumes them abandons regular prayer, and rapes his mother or his aunt." Prayer is a deterrent against indecency and sinfulness, as the Almighty said (Qur’an) and it is the foundation of remembrance of God. Allah points out that the consumption of drugs breaks the believers’ main link with God and thereby destroys spiritual well-being. In order to further emphasize its danger to prayer, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The prayer of one who drinks alcohol will not be accepted for forty days and nights."
A Rhetorical Question
This verse is concluded with a rhetorical question, "Will you not, then, desist?" This grammatical construction creates the strongest possible threat. On hearing it, the Prophet’s companion’s response was, "We do, Our Lord: We do!" After hearing all the
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expressions of prohibition and grasping their implications, can an intelligent person ignore warning? This question addresses common sense and reason. It invites the thinking person to make the necessary steps to help remove this destructive channel from society.
History Repeats Itself
Descriptions of Madinah at the time when these verses were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) illustrate the impact that they had on the fledgling community there. Historians reported that the streets of Madinah flowed with wine, as containers were broken and poured in the streets, and even those who had cups of wine in their hands and others who had wine glasses at their lips, stopped immediately and emptied them in the streets.
The prohibition of drugs has remained a way of life for Muslims from that day until today. Though some elements of Muslim society have indulged at different points in history, and many modern Muslim governments have become lax and permissive, for the vast majority of Muslims, the production and consumption of drugs remains prohibited. In the West and East, governments of countries like, USA, Canada, Russia, etc., have at varying times in the 20th century and for varying lengths of time prohibited the production, sale and consumptions of alcohol, however, these periods of prohibition all came to an end. Drugs cannot be eliminated by legislation alone. Legislation is a beginning, it is a tool, but the will to implement the legislation has to come from the power of faith within the population as a whole. The various successful anti-addiction programmes, like Alcoholics Anonymous, which were developed in the secular West all require individuals trying to overcome their addictions to call on God, the Higher Power, to help them succeed.
by Dr. Bilal Philips Qatar’s Guest Centre
www.bilalphilips.com
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