The Role of the Amir al-Muminin
It is my privilege to present the text of a lecture that was delivered at a significant conference in Granada.
This is a very important matter and I think it deserves an introduction. When I entered Islam at the hands of Imam Dawud, the Imam of the Qarawiyyin Mosque, the matter was simple, there were the Modernists and the Traditionalists (who represented the Sufis somewhere in the middle). As I had taken Bayat with the enormously respected Shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib, rahimullah, in a way I was protected from these conflicts.
Today, everything has changed. Before the present social order could even be set in motion as the way to the future, a vast and highly expensive programme was launched by agents provocateurs backed obediently by the media, mounted in full view of the world. Something they had named before it happened. They called it the Arab Spring. It began under the clouds of war and swept across North Africa succeeding wherever it went, but stopping at the frontier of Morocco. Having created chaos in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia nothing stood in its way except the Marxist indoctrination of Algeria. What we failed to see, because we were in the middle of it, was the destructuring of states. Hidden under that was the arrogantly assumed idea that with this, the Islam of the Middle East would disappear.
It so happened that at the same time that this programme to abolish Islam was underway, the second part of the scheme was unleashed on Europe. This was the organised plan to invade Europe with 2 million refugees. Thus, in one move the Europe of states would disintegrate in the same way the inter-state structure of Africa and the Middle East would disintegrate. Suddenly in the midst of this, fully armed and centrally controlled, a military project had unleashed itself in the ruins of Iraq. Coming apparently from nothing, yet highly equipped, it clearly declared its outcome to reach Syria. This highly planned and sophisticated idea, which was years in the making, can only be seen as emerging phases of globalism.
Against this menace the Muslims have to recognise the enormous and resilient power of a religion founded 1400 years ago and is still spreading. As a world community we are bound together in the unassailable foundations, as defined by the Amir al-Muminin, King Muhammad VI of Morocco, as “The Madhab of Imam Malik, the Aqidah of Al-Ashari, the Tassawuf of Al-Junaid and the Imara of the Believers – the figure of the Amir al-Muminin who covers and protects the other three.” Thus the Amir al-Muminin stands guard over all the world’s Muslims. At the same time the Hajj, with its rites and rituals, is protected and defended by King Salman who sane Muslims recognise as the Guardian of the Haramayn, secured and unassailable in the hands of his inheritor the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
We can declare the Amir al-Muminin King Muhammad VI in Rabat and the Guardian of the Haramayn in the hands of King Salman, may Allah protect them both, as being our security as Muslims.
In the sublime words of the Quran, (Al-Anbiya, 91):
This nation of yours is one nation and I am your Lord, so worship Me.
The Role of the Amir al Muminin in Morocco in establishing the values that prevent extremism
Mohammed Al Yaadi
Ministry of Awqaf, Morocco
Granada, July 23, 2016
First I’d like to express my thankfulness and happiness to have been invited to this event. I am really glad to have been able to come. Being here means accepting an invitation, but it is also fulfilling a desire to visit this city, which I had long in my heart. The invitation to come I received already many years ago, then I could not come but this year finally I have been able to accept it with great satisfaction. I want to thank all who have had a hand in this invitation, all who have organized this event and this invitation.
I have not been able to prepare a written and detailed conference, because during Ramadan we are very busy; I am usually traveling to different countries in Europe; right after the Eid the preparations for Hajj are already beginning, so I have been very busy and have therefore only been able to write a few pages. But after my return to Morocco I want to put them in order and will send you the revised text inshaAllah.
The subject we will discuss today, is the project, the plan and strategy which exist in Morocco with regards to the Din and with regards to the great role the Amir Al Muminin, King Mohammed VI, may Allah protect him, has in it.
We can say that all this started in the year 2001, after the attacks in New York, when that heavy blow struck the awareness of whole world, but especially the consciousness of the Muslims, since they suddenly were in the centre of the international spotlight and they were attacked as prime culprits.
On May 26th 2003 we also had the attacks in Casablanca, which made Morocco think and reflect; the country then took some decisions which were related to changing the method, the way to see, to teach, to present the Din of Islam, to teach it to the people of Morocco right from its root.
The matter of the Din in Morocco is strictly and closely related with the Amir Al Muminin, by means of the contract of Bayat, which is binding. The Amir Al Muminin is the custodian of all matters related to the Din and its believers, thus we could say that Morocco has a political-religious system.
After the attacks of 2001 and 2003 it became obvious that the extremist thinking had been spreading in Morocco in a scandalous way, so we had to take measures against it. Thus we began under the clear and direct instruction of HM the King with the aforementioned programme to remedy this situation. The objective was to change the extremists’ thinking, the ideas of those fundamentalists to return to the correct and straight thinking of Islam, and this needed work and thinking.
Which are those critical points, these changes of views, those aspects we need to focus on in order to change that extremist thinking and exchange it for a correct thinking, to get back to the correct Din? I have put together ten points, which we identified with regards to the aspects of the Din. We have obviously also taken lots of other measures in all kinds of areas (economics, development, security etc). However the work in the field of the Din is obviously the most important and essential, since it is the Din which moves everything, which moves people, either in a positive or in a negative way.
First I would like to list these ten points, being the ten fields of our work, and then I will specify their details.
The First point is complete renovation, restructuring of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. The Second point is the restructuring and reorganization of all councils of Ulama. The Third is the qualification of the Imams and of the responsible people managing the mosques. The Fourth point is the establishment of an Centre for the Formation of Imams and of women with the capacity to lead in questions of the Din. The Fifth point has been the establishment of a TV and a radio channel called Mohammed VI, both are dedicated to the dissemination of the Qur’an. Point number Six has been the establishment of an institution to issue Fatwas. Point number Seven has been the reorganization of the structure of traditional education of the Din in Morocco. Point Eight consists in the revival and conveying new importance and validity to the grades of higher education of the Islamic universities like for example in the University of the Qarawiyyin and in Dar al Hadith in Rabat. Point Nine caters for all Moroccan communities living outside Morocco by helping them to get access to the correct framework of the Din. Point number Ten has been providing to Morocco’s neighbouring countries the opportunity to benefit from Morocco’s experience, allowing them to learn from we have acquired through this work in Morocco.
We could say that these are the most important points or areas of work which have been established personally by the Amir al Muminin, HM the King, in order to combat or prevent extremism and to protect the children and youth of Morocco from extremism and fundamentalism. At the same they establish the values of a correct Din, as the Middle Path, with the principles of Islam well founded, with tolerance and a correct understanding of the Din of Islam.
Now I would like to explain these ten points in more detail:
1. Restructuring of the Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs. Since it is this ministry, which conducts all matters of the Din for the Moroccans, within Morocco and abroad, the Amir al Muminin considered it the first task to change; being the central column of all aspects of the Din it was therefore the first area to revise. It was decided to extend the duties of this ministry to be able to extend its reach and be able to take on more tasks. Thus the Ministry of Awqaf has been reorganized since 2003, when this programme began, a process, which has continued until today. Its last activity report dates from February 16th 2016. And what do we read in this last report?
The Minstry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs is obliged to embark on the following tasks: It is obliged to work in spreading the correct, true and real values of Islam. It is ordered to transmit the message of the Awqaf and to preserve its identity. It has to preserve the soundness or integrity of the ‘Aqida as well as the unity of the Maliki Madhab and to revive the legacy of the Din, in relation to its Madhab and its ‘Aqida. It should spread to all mosques. It should construct new mosques. It has to take on the aforementioned traditional education of the Din. It shall embark on a policy of educating Imams and of the people managing the mosques.
This report issued on February 16th 2016 has increased the duties of the Awqaf by creating seven administrations under the orders of the ministry. Before 2003 the Awqaf had only three administrations, while now there are seven. So they have increased more than double in numbers. The aim of this expansion is to be able to direct more attention to the different fields, to each and every aspect, avoiding that, as it happened before, different tasks accumulate in one administration. Now each field has its proper administration, which allows to treat them in a more fitting way.
These changes took place with regards to the central organization. At the regional level Morocco has twelve branches, thus every region in Morocco has its own branch office of the Ministry of Awqaf. There are twelve main branches and each of it has its representative from the Ministry of Awqaf. Each representative has different officers, depending on the number of cities each region has. In the whole country there are 75 representatives. Apart from its organizational aspect this structure requires obviously a serious investment, human work and lots of staff. The government has taken on its necessities and has allotted the required capital and the needed staff. If we talk about staff, it is telling that in 2003 the Ministry of Awqaf Morocco had just a few hundred staff, while today it has to several thousands, working in the different fields. The idea behind this whole restructuring owes to the fact that the central plan developed in the head of the Ministry is being transmitted to all branches and to all villages throughout the whole country with great speed and clarity. So this was the first point of the Awqaf’s reorganization.
2. Renovating the Councils of ‘Ulama. The councils of ‘Ulama have been established during the time of HM King Hassan II (rahimahuAllah). In that time there existed 13 Councils of ‘Ulama. In the year 2004 their structure changed. When King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne they were increased to 19, later to 35. Today Morocco has 75 Councils of ‘Ulama. A mayor change regarding these councils has been to include women into these councils. Every council has to consist of at least 7 members; their maximum number may reach 11 council members. If we assume an average council number of 10 persons and having 75 councils in total, we may conclude a total number of council members of 750 persons. This reorganization of the Councils of ‘Ulama in Morocco has been an important step.
There is a Superior Council of ‘Ulama, which directs the other councils. This Superior Council, being the central authority for all, is directly headed by HM King Mohammed VI. This central Council consists of 4 boards. The first board is responsible for the guidance within the Din. The second board takes on the Islamic legacy. The third board takes care of studies, investigations and publications throughout all of Morocco. The fourth and last board deals with communication. Every one of these boards is led by an ‘Alim of the Superior Council.
The function of these regional councils is to bring about a spiritual security for Moroccans as well as protecting the values of the Din for the Ummah. In Morocco these values are well-known, being four: The first is the Madhab of Imam Malik; the second is the ’Aqida of Al Ashari; the third is the Sunni Tassawuf of Al Junaid; the fourth is the Imara of the believers, the figure of the Amir Al Muminin, who covers and protects the other three. So this point dealt with the restructuring of the Councils of ‘Ulama, whose function is to protect and preserve the spiritual security of Moroccans and of the four pillars of the Din which I have just mentioned.
3. Establishing an institution for the education and formation of Imams and guides in the Din, i.e. for men and women. In 2005 this institution was created, following a clear instruction of HM the King. Its aim was to create a group of well-prepared men and women to be able to teach and transmit the teachings of the Din in mosques, schools, even in prisons. The function of the Imam is crucial and he teaches a lot. Things have changed a lot compared to before, when everybody could come and say: “I know a part of the Qur’an”, or even “I have memorized the entire Qur’an” and so he could already become Imam of a mosque and start teaching in the way he deemed fit. Now this process has been revised and restructured, making sure that all Imams are well-prepared and have passed through this system beforehand.
Now Imams who have graduated in this institution obtain high posts as high level officials. One of the requirements to be admitted to this institution for the formation of Imams is – apart from having completely memorized the Qur’an – having obtained an academic grade from university. The number of women is very high, they almost make up 50% of theses institutions. Women obviously will not become “Imamas”. Although this institution is primarily known to form Imams its proper name is Centre for the Formation of Imams and Guides in the Din, so women educate themselves to become guides or leaders in the Din. It is no secret that during recent years the women have obtained better results than the men. The effect they made has been very good: many women who came out of these centres of formation have been able to transmit the correct and moderate Din to many people, both within Morocco and abroad. In fact many of them have left Morocco to different missions in foreign countries. The idea that women should participate in this project was HM the King’s. At the beginning there were people who were sceptical about it; but with time it became obvious that the results have been very satisfying.
The success of these new centres of formation soon became widely acknowledged; therefore some leaders of neighbouring nations asked HM the King whether they and their populations could also benefit from it? After having received such petitions HM the King responded generously, so today the following countries have such centres with their respective students: Mali, Tunisia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Chad, Niger and France; there also exists a programme to receive students from the Netherlands, Belgium and from Germany. Additionally there are some countries from Eastern Europe which have shown some interest to participate in it. This interest by neighbouring and other countries would not have been possible without the great success this institution has and the results it already produces.
4. Formation of Imams in the Mosques. This is a programme directed to the Imams who already had been in mosques (as opposed to the above-mentioned new Imams of the Centres for the Formation of Imams) in order not to have to sack them and replace them by new ones. For those experienced Imams we created a programme with the aim that they would apply certain ideas. This programme called “The Pact of the ‘Ulama” has been announced by HM King Mohammed VI (may Allah protect him) in 2008 and we began to execute it according to a plan created by the Superior Council of the ‘Ulama. ¿Which are the aims of this programme? Providing the Imams with knowledge of the Shariat, of the Din and of the Fiqh, which they did not have before. Strengthening their affection for the Din and for the nation. Creating a bond and a communication between the Imams and the ‘Ulama. Elevating their level of ‘Ilm, of knowledge and of Fiqh. This programme is carried out by conducting monthly meetings between the regional councils of ‘Ulama and the Imams. All Imams who had been working as Imams before , which amount to some 50.000 men benefit from this programme. All over Morocco a team of 1.500 ‘Ulama has been instructed to educate these Imams. We have a range of tasks and functions given to the Imams, strengthening the Madhhab of the Ahl As Sunna wal Jamaah, the ‘Aqida of Al Ashari, the Maliki Madhab, the respect for the social life, we also talk about the economy, we talk about the Baya’h and about other points, one has to take into account when educating the older Imams.
5. Establishing the TV and Radio Channel “Mohammed VI” for the dissemination of the Qur’an Karim. The idea of creating these channels came about after we realized the importance of communication in helping to create an idea and a conscience in the people. This initiative came from HM King Mohammed VI, in order to use the means of communication in a positive way for the Din. It is being given an importance almost equal to the importance, which the education of the Imams and leaders in the Din receive, since a TV channel may create a public opinion. It is based on the realization that the work, which is being done in the mosques and in schools should coincide with what people see on television and hear on the radio, So there had to be a tool, a media channel where Moroccans can have an alternative channel and would not feel obliged and tempted to follow the TV channels from the Middle East, which transport certain ideas, which you already know. Thus HM the King of Morocco established the Radio Channel in 2004 and the TV Channel in 2005. During the last 3 or 4 years these two channels, TV and radio, have become the channels with the highest number of audiences. They have been established about ten years ago and have already become number one in audience. All this shows that this had been a good idea, which covered a real need in Morocco and is thus playing a very important role in the Din today.
6. Establishing an institution to issue Fatwas. It is without a doubt necessary today to ask for a Fatwa on certain occasions. This task may not be left in the hands of solitary individuals, who go about it in their own random way. The Amir Al Muminin realized that he had to confront the matter of the Fatwas; it could not have been left free floating, with Moroccans looking for Fatwas in the most diverse places. Therefore this programme has been established under the authority of the Superior Council of ‘Ulama. This centre issues general Fatwas, dealing with matters of modern life, dealing with things, which affect the society in general, matters surging from today’s life, dealing with things that have not existed in the past, as opposed to the consultations about Fiqh, which belong to the Imams, whom we have just mentioned before. Since its creation some ‘Ulama have issued Fatwas covering these aspects of the Din and today’s life. This has protected Morocco in the most effective way from falling into the hands of individuals giving Fatwas. Part of thoses matters the Fatwas of our programme deal with are banks, Islamic funds and how they might be dealt with in Morocco. Another matter is the draw for all those Moroccans who want to go on Hajj. This draw is a new method, which has been permitted, based on a Fatwa, which was the only possible way, given the fact that Morocco has a number of people wanting to go on Hajj far higher than the number of Hajj visa given in Morocco.
7. Organizing institutions of traditional education. The traditional education has been applied for many years in different Qur’an Schools and Zawiyyas without ever being changed. We have now included some subjects as well as a follow-up of the students, who are still many today. When they now leave these traditional institutions they have acquired a grade by which they may have access to university.
8. Restructuring of the higher education in the Din. This took its central place in the Qarawiyyin University of Fez, which is considered being the mother university for the sciences of the Din. There existed other institutions in Marrakech or in Tetuan, which incorporated themselves into other institutions, while the one in Fez has come to be the mother university, under which there are different other institutions all over Morocco, like the Centre for the Formation of Imams or a School of the Reciters.
9. Approaching the Moroccan communities outside of Morocco. Integrating them in the Din. This is a programme running approximately since 2003. Every Ramadan some 600 Imams are being sent to different communities all over the world, primarily in Europe, in order to connect and create a bond between those Moroccans who live outside Morocco and their nation through the Din.
10. Offering the neighbouring countries the possibility to benefit from our experience in Morocco. This last point mentions the benefit of the neighbouring countries resulting from the experience of those Moroccans who live outside Morocco. The policies which have been applied in Morocco since 2003 and this programme which has started, had such a success, moved so many things and yielded such good fruits (like for example the Centres for the Formation of Imams and Guides in the Din), that there has been a lot of interest from Morocco’s neighbouring countries, asking Morocco to also benefit its neighbours from its experience. As we already mentioned before, many foreigners have joined Morocco’s Centres for the Formation of Imams and Guides in the Din. HM the King also founded a centre called Establishment of Mohammed VI for the African ‘Ulama, specifically created for ‘Ulama from African countries, which has been inaugurated one year ago. Its objective is no other that the leaders and ‘Ulama of Morocco’s neighbouring countries may benefit of our experience.
By establishing these programmes Morocco has – with great efforts – succeeded to avoid and distance itself from the tribulations and Fitnas into which many neighbouring Arab countries have fallen. Morocco has fought against many who have propagated extremist ideas and has eradicated them in their origin and roots, and has thus been able to establish a moderate Islamic thinking, based on mercy and love, which the Prophet of Mercy (sallalahu alaihi wa salam) has brought to us. All of this follows the Ayat in which Allah, speaking to His Messenger (sallalahu alaihi wa salam), says: (21:107)
“We have only sent you as a mercy to all the worlds.”