Islamic affairs minister redefines Ulema role
Morocco-Regional, Politics, 3/6/2004
Morocco's Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Taoufiq, said the Ulema (Islamic scholars) need to re-define their traditional mission and apprehend their role in the respect of Morocco's democratic choices and as a religious duty that is part of the respect of the community will while abiding by the goals of the sharia (Islamic law).
The official told ulema at a lecture marking the opening of the cultural season of 1425 (hejira year) at the "Dar Al-hadith Al-Hassania" school this new approach will frustrate superficial and shortsighted attitudes of those who deliberately or unintentionally make a misinterpretation of Islam.
He further argued that Ulema's new role will spare the nation the hazards of discord, in keeping with the tradition of predecessors who, in their books and thought, produced evidence to the pertinence of the Sunna (Prophet's tradition) prescriptions and their ability to fathom temporal realities.
Democracy, he went on, also requires that Itijtihad (jurisprudence) be restored in its tolerant dimension toward pluralism and diversity and that Islamic scholars accommodate the divergence of viewpoints and of behaviors, even divergence on religious issues while respecting the country's laws and priorities and the collectivity interests.
He also urged Ulema to integrate the principle of freedom as a synonymous of democracy, which, beyond its collective dimension, also implies individual freedoms.
However, he stressed, the concept of democracy has not evolved enough in the traditional corpus to the point of including the citizens' choice of their governors, far from a submission relation. From a metaphysical viewpoint, the minister said Muslims have approached freedom in the prism of their direct relation with the creator.
Ulema's integration in a democratic society is intrinsically linked to their active participation to moralizing democracy and lending it a spiritual dimension, he said stressing that the prestige enjoyed by the Islamic scholars makes possible their involvement in moralizing democracy and highlighting its convergence with the humanitarian values of Islam.
This new role, he stressed, will confirm the unique model under construction in Morocco, thanks to the status of Amir Al-Mouminine institution (commander of the faithful) which guarantees that Islamic scholars are actually part of the collective efforts to develop the state's structures, promote democracy, culture and science in order to open large perspectives before the mounting generations.
Ulema were also urged to fully comprehend the positive aspects of transparency in the management of Muslims' affairs as long as there are no explicit contradiction with religious teachings.
While Ulema used to apprehend their role within a specific field and sparse initiatives, they are presently integrated in the "Amir Al Muminine" institution, that entitles them to act within a comprehensive vision through the higher council and regional councils of Ulema and to harmonize their efforts, through their contribution in an experience for the success of which the moral support of Ulema is essential, the lecturer explained.
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