Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A Visit to Algeria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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When I visited Algeria, I found out that we can solve our problems without fighting each others like rams, by introducing the true moderate Islam and adopting the language of tolerance, forgiveness, humanity and kindness.

I found out that all strata of the Algerian people want Islam and love the Prophet’s approach – God prayers and peace upon him; that they have liberated their country to preserve its Islamic identity, away from slogans, partisanship and sectarianism. And I discovered that human beings can only attain their internal peace through faith and good deeds; no matter how much wealth they amass or how famous or dominant they become. For in the end, one leaves this life empty handed, and only takes his good deeds with him to meet Almighty God.

In Algeria, we sat with the Islamist groups; we talked the language of reconciliation – the approach of the Prophet whom God has immunized against sin and wrongdoing. We met in Algiers with a gathering of more than 500 mosque imams and preachers. We talked about Islamic Shariaa, the tolerance of the Islamic religion and how merciful it is. We called for people to endear Islam to others, not to put them off; for kindness, not violence; for humane treatment, not torture. We called for addressing people in simple language. We called for abandoning frenzy and complex language and the language of revenge and punishment and sitting in judgment in a [Spanish] inquisition style to judge people’s conscience and intentions.

We sat with the Algerian military, we found they all wanted Islam and each and every one of them wanted to save himself from God’s wrath and punishment. None of them wanted the wrath of Almighty God and Hell.

We sat with scholars of the [Islamic] Maliki doctrine or school of thought and recalled the saying of their Imam – Malik Ibn-Anas, who said: “Every one of us will have an argument and counter-argument, except [Muhammad] the Prophet and messenger of God – (Gods prayers and peace upon him).” We all were keen to return the [Islamic] nation to the true guide – the Koran and the Sunnah, not to this or that person’s opinion.

We sat with university professors and scholars; we talked about the need to preserve the identity of the Islamic nation and its eternally safeguarded message. All nations on earth like to preserve their principles and beliefs even when they are misguided; so how about preserving the right religion!

We sat with the Sufi sheikhs; we agreed that neither their word nor ours is conclusive evidence and that the only conclusive evidence is the Koran and the Sunnah, as God has said: “O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you, if you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is best and most suitable for final determination,” [Koran: Arabic: An-Nisa (The Women) 4:59].

In the district of Annaba, we sat with heads of departments, institutions and charitable organizations. We talked about faithfulness at work, perfection, God’s watchful eye, proper treatment of people and good deeds.

In Algiers there were lectures specifically for women. We talked about the role of the faithful, patient and God-fearing Algerian woman; her right for useful education and her role and responsibilities, her status and her rights and duties in Islam.

At the offices of Asharq Al-Awsat in Algiers we sat with ‘repentant’ Islamists, who came down from the mountains and laid down their arms. They said they were influenced by the ‘revisions’ that were made in Saudi Arabia with (Al-Khudayri, Al-Fahd, and Al-Khalidi), who said sorry, regretted what they did and repented. Their stories were broadcast on Saudi and other TV channels.

The general tenor of the Algerian message was that they area patient nation and victory makers; and that we and they are bearers of God’s message: “By (the Token of) Time (through the Ages), “Verily Man is in loss”, “Except such as have Faith, And do righteous deeds”, “And (join together) In the mutual teaching of Truth and of Patience and Constancy,” [Koran: Arabic: Al-Asr (The Time) 103:1, 2, 3].

The call from the stadium in Algiers to all Algerians was to raise the slogan ‘Let bygones be bygones’. We called on them to forgive and forget, heal the nation’s wounds, unite and stand together for reconciliation, for which the Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has called.

Thereafter was the call to the arms bearers in the mountains: “Lay down your arms; Lay down your arms, Lay down your arms.” Our Prophet, God’s prayers and peace be upon him, says: “He who bears arms against us is not one of us.” We said that Islam is easy, but some of us have made it difficult, simple, yet some of us made complex; beautiful, yet some of us deformed it; universal, yet some of us monopolized it. We are not guardians of Islam, we are its servants, and we are not judges among the peoples, but callers for mercy and humane treatment.

I found out in Algiers, after sitting with people of all persuasions, political parties and ideologies that all peoples are prepared to accept the right and moderate Islam – the merciful humane and kind Islam, provided it is not colored by anyone’s partisan, sectarian or selfish views. That is because some have formulated Islam in their image; colored it according to their whims, and introduced faith as they understood it; while what people want is the Islam which Prophet Muhammad has propagated, with its texts undistorted, and without the addition of further proof, for Islam is complete, as evidenced by God’s words in the Koran: “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed my favor upon you, “and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Koran: Arabic: Al-Ma’idah(The Table Spread) 5:3]

In Algiers, I found out that it is better to be oneself and not emulate someone else’s personality. At the University of Prince Abdul-Kadir al-Jaza’iri in the city of Constantine [eastern Algeria], I was asked to deliver a lecture – academic style; so I behaved like a thinker, and the audience started to doze off. Hours later, at Mentoury University in Algiers, I was myself; I delivered my lecture my way. I cited from the Prophet’s life history, from literature, novels and poetry and I even joked; the place was alive, the audience proactive, and we had a nice time. There and then I found myself; so be yourself and beware emulating others, you are a different person, unlike any other, for everyone is unique.