Fifth of his name, the previous King Muhammad was revered for securing the Moroccan independence from French colonial rule as well as his devotion to his people. He was deeply loved by his people which has, with the movement of time, reflected itself on the two following inheritors of the throne after him. His son, Hasan II, not expected to be able to fill the shoes of his father ruled for 38 years and became known for his charisma and masterful oration and wit. In the midst of an era when monarchies in Libya, Egypt, Iraq and Iran fell to socialist and other revolutions, he prolonged the life of a 300 year old dynasty.

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Having a very clear understanding of the world his kingship was surrounded by, he was a skilful ruler of a turbulent country in a troubled region for nearly four decades, he modernized and democratized Morocco as rapidly as was feasible; considering the political and social unrest fostered by extreme Islamic fundamentalist propaganda that began to lay roots in that time.

It must be understood by the reader at this point, that every ruler is faced with the difficulty of his time. Hasan II had fashioned himself for the time in which he lived. A time when a large portion of the Muslim world had abandoned the traditional boundaries of Islam for the promise of a nationalist project that it may put them on par with their colonisers complete with constitution, anthem and flag. Dictatorships sprung up in every state and were lauded over by the West as the precursor to the end of Islam in the Middle East. A project that has not ceased up to now. His reign has to be reflected upon with this in mind and what the order of the day called for. In his 1993 book ‘Memory of a King’, he admitted that 60 per cent of his decisions had been wrong. But politicians and military dictators come and go as history shows us time and again, but kings stay and are looked at under the shadow of those that came before eagerly awaiting the light to appear. There can be no blame on the predecessor. Thus self reflection is a kin to men that hold real authority whilst those that borrow authority are able to live in the denial that is afforded to them.

For us as Muslims, the role of the ruler is to uphold and protect the five pillars of Islam. It has been the contract of every dynastic ruler up to the rightly guided. It is the divine mandate of Allah to his slaves. Enjoin the Right and Forbid the Wrong. It is when this contract is broken, that the winds of change begin to blow.

THE BAYYAH

A resident of the northeastern Moroccan city of Oujda, on the border with Algeria, kisses the hand of King Mohammed VI (L) 19 October 1999 during his first visit to the economically hard-hit region. Oujda survives with contraband between the two countries. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE)

A resident of the northeastern Moroccan city of Oujda, on the border with Algeria, kisses the hand of King Mohammed VI (L) 19 October 1999 during his first visit to the economically hard-hit region. Oujda survives with contraband between the two countries. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE)

On his death on July 23rd 1999, his son, Muhammad VI received the Bayyah (pledge of allegiance) in the throne room and 7 days later his rule was announced to the rest of the world. He began his reign by continuing the with the reforms that his father had started toward the latter part of his life. The time of heavy-handedness was over. Now was the time for reconciliation and building. King Muhammad revisited the kingdom’s Northern Province, where Hassan II quashed a revolt in 1959 and had not visited again after. King Muhammad paid an 11-day visit to the kingdom’s poorest province, people turned out in their hundreds of thousands to hail the new king, healing the divide between the Rif and Rabat, the capital.

On August 21, Moroccans celebrated the birthday of King Mohammed VI. The occasion comes at a time of glaring contrast between the North African kingdom’s ongoing development and stability on the one hand, and the massive bloodshed wrecking the Arab world on the other. In Morocco today, there is a revolutionary new constitution, fine-tuned to the aspirations of the population. Women are on the way to achieving their due status and rights. The Arab Muslim majority population celebrates the country’s hybrid, Jewish minority and Berber heritage. Jihadist groups — even as they gain unprecedented power in Syria and Iraq and threaten Africans from Egypt to the Sahel — are hard pressed to harm the kingdom thanks to the vigilance of the Moroccan police.

Only three and a half years ago, the idea that Morocco would evolve differently than its Arab neighbours did not seem, to many observers, to be a foregone conclusion. High hopes had been placed on “Arab spring” states, then in the midst of overthrowing their rulers. But the real story of Morocco, harder for outsiders to perceive in 2011, lies in the reasons why the country bucked the revolutionary trend: King Mohammed VI had been working since the beginning of his reign to address young people’s concerns before they had even voiced them. By the time the protests had begun, the country was well on its way to realizing freedoms and opportunities which Arabs across the region are still a generation away from attaining. The monarch built on the legacy of his late father, Hassan II, but also broke with it — reconciling the kingdom’s traditions with the 21st century, and tackling daunting social challenges which had gone largely unaddressed.

THE IMPACT OF 9/11

As Mohammed Al Yaadi of the Ministry of Awqaf in Morocco at an in important conference in July this year in Granada, Spain put it, the project, the plan and strategy which exist in Morocco with regards to the Deen and with regards to the great role the Amir Al Mumineen, King Mohammed VI, may Allah protect him, all started in the year 2001, after the attacks in New York.

“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.”

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THE AMIR AL MUMINEEN

He went on to say that the establishment of Islam is inextricably linked to the presence of the Amir al Mumineen, standing as it were, as the custodian of the Deen in the land. Terror attacks in Morocco showed that extremist ideologies, which were always present but under the present global political climate, now had started to spread throughout the kingdom. When what most rulers would do is crack down violently against the extremists, HM the King had realised that the only way for these ideologies (such as the Khawarij-Isis/Boko Haram) to take root in the first place, is that the correct Deen was not being taught and established in the land. This needed a clear programme of implementation based solidly on the Fiqh/tradition.

THE MADHAB

The foundations of an Islamic Community, are the Madhab; The Aqidah; the spiritual tradition of Tasawwuf and the Amir that establishes and protects the boundaries of the other three. The Madhab in most of North and West Africa is the Madhab of Imam Malik. Imam Malik, Rahimullah teacher of Imam As Shafi’I, Rahimullah, And close confidant and contemporary of Imam Abu Hanifa, Rahimullah, also lauded as the Amir al-Mumineen of Hadith by Tirmidhi, Sahih & Muslim, was from and lived all his life in Madina. Being a Madinan, his methodology was based solely on the Amal of the ahl al Madina (the actions of the people of Madina) which is the basic foundation of all Madhabs.

THE AQIDAH

The Aqidah of Imam Abul-Hasan Al-Ash’ari, Rahimullah, emerged during the third century after Hijra. Unlike the Madhab (tradition on the implementation of the Shariah), where there can be differences of opinion, in the Aqidah there cannot be any differences of opinion. The Aqidah is the understanding of our beliefs being Muslims. The Aqidah is very clear. It is based on Quran, Sunnah, and the fatwas of the Sahaaba and Ulema after them. By it we have the correct way to understand who Allah is, what creation is, what was, what is, what always is, what will happen and what all of this relates to one another. Without which we would all be lost and Islam as a Deen would no longer exist. The Aqidah of Ash’ari, is accepted unanimously by all Scholars of Islam as the correct understanding in Islam. The scholars of Islam all adopted this stance of Imam al Ashari on the matter after him, it was employed in this defensive manner that has been the position of Islam right up until the present age.

TASAWWUF

The establishment of Islam in South Africa, and especially in Cape Town, began with the Sufi’s. Islam grew in South Africa as the country grew from the Cape to the Zambezi. So it can be established that the real legacy of Islam in South Africa is Tasawwuf and the many circles of Dhikr around the country where Muslims gather for the worship of Allah. So it is with Morocco. There is a rich history of Tasawwuf in the Maghrib that has given the Muslims in this region a great resilience. It therefore can be seen as the very tool that has strengthened Islam in Africa for over a thousand years. Tasawwuf, meaning the way of the Suf (literally ‘wool’) referring to the people of the Battle of Badr, who wore patched, woollen robes which was a sign of their poverty. It is the inward path of Islam which sole purpose is to unite the heart of the believer with Allah. Imam al-Junayd, Rahimullah said about Tasawwuf, “It is supplication together with inward concentration, ecstasy together with attentive hearing, and action combined with compliance [with the Sunnah].” This spiritual practise was at the heart of every great Muslim nation and strengthened them.

By the use of these as the foundations of the Muslim community, HM King Muhammad has had great success not only in the region but throughout Africa in working to uproot the extremist ideologies of the Khawarij. As Al Yaadi continued, “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 Deen? “

THE WAY FORWARD

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HM the King, Commander of the Faithful, donates 10,000 copies of Holy Quran to Mosques in Guinea-Bissau

At the conference Al-Yaadi put together ten points which HM King Muhammad had identified and established to strengthen since 2003 as a ground plan for the way forward.

  • The First point is complete renovation, restructuring of the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. The idea behind this 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.
  • The Second point is the restructuring and reorganization of all councils of Ulama. The function of these regional councils is to bring about a spiritual security for Moroccans as well as protecting the values of the Deen 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.
  • The Third is the qualification of the Imams and of the responsible people managing the mosques. 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 success of this programme has received petitions from Mali, Tunisia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Chad, Niger and France, students from Netherlands, Belgium and from Germany that all want to participate in it and as a result have been working with Ulama from around the world to introduce such programmes in their countries.
  • 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. 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.
  • 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. 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.
  • Point number Six has been the establishment of an institution to issue Fatwas. 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. No fatwa can be valid unless under an Amir, whom by his authority is able to enforce it.
  • Point number Seven has been the reorganization of the structure of traditional education of the Deen in Morocco. Some subjects as well as a follow-up of the students have been added so when they now leave the traditional institutions they have acquired a grade by which they may have access to university.
  • 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, which is considered being the mother university for the sciences of the Din, so that smaller schools may be incorporated into it.
  • Point Nine caters for all Moroccan communities living outside Morocco by helping them to get access to the correct framework of the Deen.
  • 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. 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.

“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 Deen, as the Middle Path, with the principles of Islam well founded, with tolerance and a correct understanding of the Deen of Islam.”

We ask Allah, Glory be to Him, to bless and protect the Amir al Mumineen, and to expand his efforts in the revitalisation of the Deen and may he have success by Allah and that all of his affairs and family are seen to and that He, Glory be to Him, surrounds him with the best of people for this work. Insha’Allah. Amin. We call on our Ulama, to support his efforts so that we may integrate with our brothers in the North in this most important work of the Deen of Islam.

By. Nabeel Abdalhaqq