Friday, January 26, 2007

Jewel from the Jewel

I read the document entitled, "The Gadabuursi Manifesto" posted by Dr. Abdishakur Sheikh Jawhar whom I presume to be none other than the son of the notable sheikh and scholar Sheikh Ali Jawhar, may Allah have mercy on his soul. If that is the case, then Dr Abdishakur is a jewel from the jewel (i.e. Jawhar ibna Jawhar).
I do not really know the writer, but what he and others have penned in the Manifesto shows that he is a statesman – a man of knowledge, experience, and wisdom. Like father like son, you may say.

Of course, the great Sheikh was not a person who was directly concerned with the art of politics and the affairs of the state, but he was certainly a man of knowledge, experience, and wisdom – qualities that have been shown by Dr. Abdishakur as he articulated his argument in the Manifesto.

knew the Sheikh when I was small more than forty years ago. I know and remember him as a precursor of Somaliland's modern universities and colleges. The man was in a class of men of whom we have very few. He was an itinerant scholar around whom mobile colleges would form wherever he went.

When I first saw the Sheikh, which was in the early sixties, I saw him in Burao where he would come once a year and stay for a long period, teaching at the Masjid Al-Jaami' of the city, his prestigious university hall, if I may say so. His lectures used to attract a great number of students, to an extent that the large mosque will remain half full long after the regular worshippers finished their prayers and left. A sheikh seated cross-legged on his chair, or in modern parlance, a professor on his chair teaching hundreds of enthusiastic and captivated students.

To this date, I vividly remember those scenes as if they happened yesterday. Fortunately, the tradition has not died out, and the same esteemed role that Sheikh Ali Jawhar played in that mosque more than forty years ago is now taken by a young scholar by the name of Sheikh Faisal Ali Farah, who pulls the same huge numbers of eager learners. So, the tradition goes on.
You see, the Sheikh was a great man with a great mission. He was not parochial, confining his activities to a limited area. He understood that his mission, as much as it is religious and educational, transcended social and geographical limitations. In this he follows a deep-rooted tradition and the footsteps of many great Muslim teachers who preceded him.

This is the example that we need in politics: men of great mission; and men with great vision – men whose principles and practice transcend the confinements of towns, tribes, communities, and countries. In short, we need good leaders. Good leadership, as we all know, does not only rely on innate qualities and capabilities but needs to be improved with continuous education and constant experience. Unfortunately, we have a small supply of good leadership today, while on the other hand, we have a wealth of good ideas around us, such as those expressed in the Manifesto.

Nonetheless, in spite of suffering bad leadership and in spite of the shackles of tribalism and nepotism that still plague the culture of our political elite, we, in Somaliland have shown some degree of political maturity that is rare to find in the rest of Africa. We have accepted the peaceful transfer of power to the other, enabling the other to rule freely and forcefully.

I hope this rare commodity can be preserved, enhanced, and developed as we draw inspirations from great men in our history such as Sheikh Ali Jawhar. By the way, jewels are precious because they are rare, so is good leadership.

Prof. Abdisalam Yassin Mohamed

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