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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Pluralism – faith, nation

PLURALISM RELIGIOUS & POLITICAL

Four Good pieces on pluralism. Pluralism is simply developing an inclusive attitude towards fellow beings, religions, cultures, political parties...

Professor Nanji Speaks on Pluralism and its Contents
Drawing upon two parables in the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Epistles of the Brethren of Purity), Professor Nanji shared the group’s approach to social organisation. In the first story, a King, in order to educate his sons, creates a palace.The palace is adorned with various branches of knowledge available at that time - on the ceiling were representations of the cosmological and the astronomical sciences, on the four walls the different sciences, and in the courtyard the geography of the earth. Religion, i.e. din, in this model appeared as one dimension in the make-up of the world and a contributor to good governance, but was not necessarily perceived as an overarching dominant realm in society. It was, in fact, related to the other dimensions and informed them.

Who were the Indian Prophets?
If we can look at the religions from a point of view of distilled wisdom and think about how organizations function, invariably we come to the point that when anarchy prevails some one in the group speaks up and makes sense, and a consensus is built to move forward. As far as I know in both Bhagvad Gita and Qur'aan, the wisdom expressed is that when there is adharma - or people are not being righteous, then God says, some one will appear from among them to fix the problem and to every nation, every tribe God has sent messengers (shepherds?) to bring the message of goodness. It is not a surprise that the same wisdom sprouts in every corner of the world, whether connected or not.

Zimbabwe: Unity - Key Tenet of National Values
It is a good piece on pluralistic governance. Here are a few abstracts.

Zimbabwe is fortunate that from its birth in 1980 its Constitution has underscored the importance of political pluralism. However, it is abuse of a nation to exploit the democratic spirit to undermine national values and politically mislead and divide the nation. Political pluralism in the context of national values merely means differences in political approach to governance and not in national values.

The reason behind this is that politics organises the nation, and thus manages the economy by creating an enabling environment for the economy to prosper. The economy has its own dialectics; for economic production to take place the various industrial sectors have to satisfy labour, for without its satisfaction there is no dedication to work and consequently no meaningful production. It implies therefore that in order to achieve national harmony, tranquility and development, all the nation's departments should unite and work in sync.

The awareness by every individual member about the common characteristics (common ancestry as Africans, our clearly defined territory and importantly our common historical experiences -- especially of nearly a century of racially-rooted colonial oppression and our revolutionary resolve to challenge it and create an independent state) should generate the will to unite and work together for the sake of the nation. So when individual members, classes, ethnic groups, organisations, institutions, etc, work in antagonism, it implies that the mutual awareness and indeed the affirmation of these ties would have been abandoned and national unity crumbles.

Gujarat Elections 2007 :: Congratulations to Modi
As my commitment to pluralism gets stroNger every day, in the words of Ray Bradberry, all sorts of things happen, providence moves in and paves the way.The Gujarat Election and the victory of Modi has been a very patient process to me in the last few days. The haunting question remains, when will we shed the barriers and look to people as humans? What animal lives in us that we can shamelessly rejoice violating other people's rights? The answers have not been easy.

We have got to move forward with a corrective and comprehensive policy. Forgiving was the best possible option available to bring some sense back to the community. It is written below


Full articles below

Mike Ghouse
http://www.mikeghouse.net/
http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/
http://www.worldmuslimcongress.com/


http://www.iis.ac.uk/view_article.asp?ContentID=109142
Professor Nanji Speaks on Pluralism and its Contents
December 2007

The Director of the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), Professor Azim Nanji, spoke on ‘Pluralism and its contents’ at a seminar on 23 November 2007 at Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC). The seminar was the last in the series ‘Possibility of Pluralism’, which discussed pluralism and its specific relevance to Muslim societies.

Other speakers in the last seminar included Professor Rajeev Bhargava, Senior Fellow and Director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies; Louis Greenspan, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at McMaster University in Ontario and Professor Abdou Filali-Ansary, Director of AKU-ISMC.

In his talk, Professor Nanji provided an example of a group of scholars in tenth century Basra who, in his view, wrote about issues related to plurality of religious interpretations in their own context. The group, known as Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Brethren of Purity), had written a series of 52 epistles in which they explored arguments about what ought to be the foundations of a society that took knowledge seriously. He framed the question the Ikwan were engaging with as: “If a society is to start from the premise that knowledge should be a foundation, what should be the form of that knowledge?” Further, he noted that the group was also “interested in the fact that the Muslim world in the 10th century had become very cosmopolitan, after three centuries of expansion and growth and conversion.”

Drawing upon two parables in the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Epistles of the Brethren of Purity), Professor Nanji shared the group’s approach to social organisation. In the first story, a King, in order to educate his sons, creates a palace.The palace is adorned with various branches of knowledge available at that time - on the ceiling were representations of the cosmological and the astronomical sciences, on the four walls the different sciences, and in the courtyard the geography of the earth. Religion, i.e. din, in this model appeared as one dimension in the make-up of the world and a contributor to good governance, but was not necessarily perceived as an overarching dominant realm in society. It was, in fact, related to the other dimensions and informed them.

Professor Nanji referred to another story in the Rasa’il, which explored the problem of human existence in a diverse habitat that humans shared with other creatures. In this account, which occurred in the form of a debate between men and animals, the exchange involved each non-human species providing a case as to why humans should not be as privileged as they ordinarily were. Although humans were found guilty of many things, they were eventually recognised worthy of their position because of their two unique qualities: capabilities of self reflection and self-correction. In Professor Nanji’s view, through this story, the Ikhwan suggested that human beings must recognise that they share the planet with others and are accountable for the way in which they share the resources of the world, but also how they interact with other beings for the good of all.

Professor Nanji concluded by stressing the importance of creatively drawing upon Muslim, as well as human heritage in general, to find ways in which issues of human organisations have been approached. Some of these approaches, he believed, may illuminate and aid in resolving our current challenges. The appropriation of the Ikhwan, he suggested, was one example and must be seen as an invitation to continue with this process.

Who were the Indian Prophets?

Posted:

Could it be that Sri Ram, Sri Krishna, Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster and Confucius were Prophets of God? This is not a new question and has been asked many times before. As I argue further that while we cannot proclaim strictly based on the Quran and Hadees (as they have not been mentioned by name) yet based on these very sources we tend to move towards possibly accepting them as such.

There is a well-known Hadees that there have been 1,24,000 Prophets sent by God in the history of mankind. But in the Quran only 25 have been mentioned by name. When this is joined with the Quranic verse that ???to every nation We have sent Messengers" various interesting corollaries emerge. But before that let us go through a few verses of the Quran on this topic.

And there is a Guide for every people (13:8)

There is not a people to whom a warner has not been sent (35:25)

We sent not an apostle except (to teach) in the language of his (own) people, in order to make (things) clear to them. (14:4)

And, indeed We have sent Messengers before you; of some of them We have related to you their story and of some We have not related to you their story (40:78)

The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one (of them) believes in God, His angels, His books, and His apostles. "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles. ( 2:285)

It is very clear from these that wherever there was human habitation Prophets were sent. Further it is very clear that obviously they spoke in the language of the people to whom they were sent. It is also clear that only a few have been told in the Quran and others have not been mentioned. It is but natural that the All Merciful God would endow every section of humanity with His Guidance.

The above understanding has been a classical understanding though not that well understood by the common people. The 25 Prophets mentioned by name in the Quran were all from the region of Middle East where the initial audience of Quran was present. They have been mentioned as part of moral stories that are around them in the Quran since the people there already had heard about many of these Prophets. But at the same time the Quran repeatedly mentioned that these are only some of the Prophets.

So what about the rest of the world? We know that in the Indian subcontinent and in China each have had around 20% of the human population for quite some time. Similarly there has been human habitation in the Far East, Africa, in Australia (through the aborogines), South America (Mayan and Incatha civilization), native Indians of North America, the ancient Romans and so on. Going by the Quranic verses it is quite apparent that Prophets of God would have been sent to all of these places. (See the last section of this post about the human journey through the ages as understood by the genographic project)

Again a Prophet appearing in India would have spoken Sanskrit, Pali, Bahmi, Telugu, Tamil and so on. In China he would have spoken Chinese. In Africa Swahili, Zulu, Malagasy, etc. In Korea or Japan it would have been Korean or Japanese and so on and so forth. The stupendous variety of the human disposition and celebration of the same is at various places in the Quran. The below verse clearly states that a multi-cultural world is a part of God???s plan.??

"O people! Behold, We have created you from a male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes to that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware." (49:13)

Similarly though there are only four divine books that have been mentioned by name in the Quran -Bible, Torah, Zuboor and Quran - there is a Hadees that there have been around 110 divine books in the history of mankind. The same point is corroborated by these Quranic verses??

Say: "We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to God (in Islam)." (2:136)

Without doubt it is (announced) in the mystic books of former peoples. (26:196)

???For each period is a book (revealed). (13:38)

Based on all this understanding, from the Islamic viewpoint, there is absolutely no doubt that many Prophets came to India and some would have had books assigned to them. The point of contention can never be that whether any Prophets came to India. The point is only that who those Prophets were.

In a place like the Indian subcontinent, which has had around 20% of the world population for quite some time, there would definitely had been many Prophets. If there are 1,24,000 Prophets throughout history then definitely there would had been hundreds in the Indian subcontinent alone. The Hadees citing the number of Prophets is sometimes mentioned to be relatively weak but there is another Hadees in which the Prophet said that the club of Messengers is like a splendid palace. The palace was completely ready with only one brick missing and he came as the last brick which completed the palace. The analogy of the Prophet to the club of Messengers to a splendid palace is pretty apt as a palace would need thousands of brick to stand instead of just a handful.

Maulana Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, in his book Seeratun Nabi, wrote ???According to the teachings of the Prophet, it is necessary to believe that in countries such as China, Iran or India there have appeared Prophets before the advent of Prophet Muhammad. No Muslim can deny to the people in these lands, the truth of the faiths, ascribed to the mentors venerated by them" (emphasis mine). Shah Waliullah, the noted theologian from the subcontinent, had the opinion that the Quranic reference to the Sabaeen community was in fact a reference to the Hindus of Aryan origin.?? Also many Indian ulama in the past have accepted Hindus as the ???People of the Book???.

I am making an attempt to see the possible Prophethood of highly venerated figures in Hinduism. Some Muslims may ask how does it matter since by the logic of progressive revelation we are anyway following Islam and supersede the earlier revelations. The point is that whatever one may personally believe there is another point in the Quran where God says that ??? make no distinction between one and another of His apostles???. So whatever one may believe in from the Islamic perspective, it becomes important that we take care to refer the possible Prophets with respect and understand that the diversity of religious traditions around the world would have had divine origins.

This is important in having a better understanding, inter-faith dialogue and tolerant and respectful coexistence with various people across the globe. We do not agree on many things about Hazrat Isa (Jesus Christ) but we give him the highest level of respect. Similarly in the case of Hazrat Musa (Moses) we do not agree with the Jews on many things yet we accord him the highest respect. This facilitates relationship and co-existence with divergent religious viewpoints. Even if we disagree with others yet we respectfully agree to disagree.

Based on this if we try to understand the different religious traditions it is important to deconstruct a few things. We need to go beyond our fixation on languages and move towards a deeper meaning.

The classical Islamic understanding is that Islam was not ???founded" by Prophet Muhammad but instead revived by him for the last time with a new Law. In fact we believe that he proclaimed the Primordial Religion back out of the moral confusion that had crept everywhere. We believe that all the Prophets preached Islam and the followers were Muslim. There are two words here that need to be looked into. ???Islam" and ???Muslim". Both are Arabic words. ???Islam" means ???submission??? or ???peace??? and ???Muslim" means ???one who submits???. But now what would the name of this Primordial Religion had been when a Prophet was preaching in India or China or Africa or Korea? Not ???Islam" because that is the Arabic word and the Quran itself says that the Prophets preached in the language of the people. There should be some corresponding words in those languages.

Similarly as I have earlier argued, the name of God would not be Allah as that name of the Almighty was prevalent in the Middle East alone. He would be called by other names in the various languages that proclaim His Omnipotence and Beauty.

Prophet Muhammad said ???I came to clarify morality??? and the Quran asks him ???Say: ???I am no bringer of new-fangled doctrine among the apostles???" (46:9). Both point to the fact that the Prophet came to revive the same Primordial Religion but with a new Law.

With this understanding I make some attempts to try to see who could possibly had been the Prophets in India. My disclaimer is that I am just putting forward some observations for further thought. One of the Hadees of the Prophet is that there are three signs of Prophets; first they worked as shepherds in their childhood, second that they married (with perhaps the only exception of Jesus Christ/Hazrat Isa) and third that they used perfume. Their working as shepherds during their childhood was God???s way of building leadership capabilities for their later life role.

One of the names that come up immediately is of Sri Krishna. From the Hindu traditions we know that he worked as a shepherd where he would take care of the buffaloes. We also know that he had various marriages. On the third point I am not aware. Over and above this we know that there is the Holy Book of Hindus, the Bhagwat Gita that is linked to him. One may say that the Hindus consider him to be God incarnate so how could he be a Prophet. That point from the Muslim point of view does not take away anything as the Christians have a similar belief about Jesus Christ and yet we consider him as a Prophet and accord him the highest respect.

So is it that what I stated above really a new thought? Not exactly. When I was a kid, I heard a speech of the world renowned Nadwi Islamic scholar and a Padma Vibhushan awardee, Maulana Ali Miyan, in which he mentioned that Sri Krishna and Sri Ramchandra could have been Prophets of God but we cannot say for sure as they are not mentioned by name in the Quran but we should take their names with respect and there is a good possibility that they actually were Prophets.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, a Sunni Path scholar, wrote in the context of the possible prophethood of Sri Krishna, Gautam Buddha and Confucius ???It is very probable that many of the great religious figures of other traditions were true prophets". Mazhar Jan-i-Jana, an eighteenth century theologian and mystic, regarded both Sri Krishna and Sri Ram as Prophets of God and Vedas as divinely inspired. The same we can say of Maulana Hasrat Mohani???s thoughts (who was a Deobandi scholar and a member of India???s constituent assembly) whose annual Haj pilgrimage never completed until he visited Barsana in Brinda Ban for Radha???s darshan. He wrote various poetries in praise of Sri Krishna???s childhood. Also some ulama in the famous Firangi Mahal of Lucknow held Sri Krishna in great respect.

I found a Hadees but I am not sure of its authenticity, as I could not relate it to a well-known collection of Hadees. It claims that Prophet Muhammad said ???Kanna filhindhi nabiyyun asvadhul lavni ismuhoo Kahina" meaning ???A Prophet appeared in India. He was black in complexion. His name was Kahina". This is reported to be mentioned in the book 'Firdowsul Akbar' by Hazrat Thylami. If this is true, which I could not find a way of ascertaining, it quite clearly mentions about Sri Krishna who had a dark complexion and was in his childhood lovingly called kanha.

Similarly there would have been many more such personalities throughout the Indian landscape that will give similar indications. I read one paper, which argued that Prophet Nuh (Noah) was a Prophet in India. It is interesting to note here the similarity of his with Manu mentioned in Hindu traditions. The descriptions of the rain and the Great Flood described for Manu and Prophet Nuh are strikingly similar in their details. As so is the similarity in the names Nuh and Manu.

Some Muslim scholars have been of the view that the person mentioned as Dhul' Kifl in the Quran is actually a reference to Gautam Buddha as the word means 'of Kifl' and since the phonetic sound 'pa' is not part of Arabic language it is actually a reference to 'of Kapil' which is the shortened form of Kapilvastu. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad was one of the prominent scholars who was of this view and he so mentioned in his Quranic commentary Tarjiman ul-Quran. Similarly many scholars have given reasons as to why Gautam Buddha's teaching??focussed on??personal behaviour instead of focussing on God.??

There is another name that I have often found linked together which again I am not sure of but just mentioning as something that I observed but I dont find more basis to it. It is the mention of Brahma with Abraham or Ibrahim. The more striking part is that Sri Brahma???s wife is Saraswati and Prophet Ibrahim???s wife was Sarah. If you look for the name Saraswati you would find that it is actually the join of Saras and wati where wati means woman. Though we know that Hazrat Ibrahim lived in the Middle East yet I mention here something which I observed striking.

I believe many of these thoughts that have been explored in quite detail in the past history of our land need to be highlighted to increase our understandings of each other. Islam has often been accused of not respecting diversity. Is the concept of plurality really alien to Islam? I leave with a few verses of the Quran as some food for thought. These are the normative verses of the Quran on plurality which are ignored by the extremists and the critics who both pick up very contextual and specific verses from the Quran and make an offensive attempt to use them in a normative discourse. I can hardly think of a text more than a millennium old, which would be so liberal in this thought at a time when the thought of racial supremacy was the norm.

Mankind was one single nation, and God sent messengers with glad tidings and warnings (2:213)

Unto every one of you We have appointed a [different] law and way of life. And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you. [Vie], then, with one another in doing good works. Unto God you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ. (5:48)

If it had been your Lord's will, they all would have believed - all who are on earth. Will you, then, compel the people, against their will, to believe? (10:99)

For had God so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community; however, He lets go astray that wills [to go astray], and guides aright him that wills [to be guided]; and you will surely be called to account for all that you ever did! (16:93)

And had thy Sustainer so willed, He could surely have made all humanity one single community: but [he willed it otherwise, and so] they continue to hold divergent views. (11:118)

And do not abuse those whom they call upon besides God, lest exceeding the limits they should abuse God out of ignorance. Thus have We made fair seeming to every people their deeds; then to their Lord shall be their return, so He will inform them of what they did. (6:108)

1,24,000 Messengers - Making sense of the number

If we really believe that Reason and Revelation take us to the Ultimate Truth together then this rejoinder may help us further.

The human genographic project which is tracking the genetic footprint of human migration through history has thrown up some very interesting results. It shows that the humans lived first in Africa and started their migration from that abode some 60,000 years ago after already living in that region for more than 100,000 years. But then how did they move to such such wide-apart land masses as Americas and Australia which are separated by oceans. The answer is the continuous tectonic plate shft that is happening.

As the picture shows below, the land masses of Americas and Asia were joined together near Alaska and the Australian land mass was just 100 km away from today's Sumatra and that was intervened by various small islands. This as well as the lower sea levels around 50,000 years ago allowed the humans to move throughout the earth land mass leaving Antarctica. But after that these land masses broke and shifted away from each other.


(Source: https://www3.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/atlas.html)

The first set of migrations happened on two paths taking humans across the Middle East and way upto Australia as early as around 55,000 years ago. When the sea levels rose and the land masses separated the Australian section of the humanity was separated altogether from the rest of the world upto modern times.?? The second migration happened around 35,000 years ago with the humans moving across to most of Europe and Asia and going as far as the cold areas of Siberia. The next significant achievement was the migration of humans from the Siberian area to the Alaskan area around 20,000 years ago which again got separated from the rest of the land humanity when the ice age receeded and the ocean levels rose.

These numbers may appear just numbers but to really fathom this extent just imagine that according to this study the last 2,000 years of human presence is just 1% of the total time humans have been on earth! These sections of humanity kept on moving searching for new lands with abundant hunting and food opportunities. At the same time they would have had their spiritual lives guided by various Great Souls. It takes some contemplation to understand the complexity of this journey of our ancestors who went bare foot (when horses were not yet domesticated) and took 40,000 years to cover an area which we can today in a flight of fifteen hours!

Ganesha On Indonesian Currency

Posted:



Earlier, during my unsatisfactory interview with the chief minister, Narendra Modi had said: "In Indonesia, which is a Muslim country, they have a picture of Ganesh on one of their currency notes. Why can't India's Muslims be more like that?" At the time I did not answer. But it struck me later that Hindus are a minority in Indonesia, just as Muslims are in India. If you were to follow Modi's line of thinking, the accurate parallel would be for India to put an Islamic symbol on one of its notes. [Edward Luce, In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India , page 256]






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Zimbabwe: Unity - Key Tenet of National Values

http://allafrica.com/stories/200712240545.html


Toyindepi M. Musiyiwa
Harare

IS IT not ironic that while we celebrate 20 years of national unity, disunity reigns in the key sectors of our nation? For almost a decade now the simmering tensions between Government on one hand and the opposition, labour and business on the other have fragmented the functioning of a nation as a unit exacerbating the economic and political problems in the country. In this article I intend to proffer the view that national unity, as it is aptly called, is not sectional (in terms of colour, tribe, ethnicity, gender, class, organisation, etc), but is national in tone.

As we encounter an intransigent economic situation, it is high time that Zimbabweans thought more in terms of national values than sectional interests, if normalcy is to be restored in our nation. Indeed while exactly two decades ago, Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu, the political parties which liberated this country from colonialism through an armed struggle, rightly decided to bury their differences and unite for the sake of the nation, in practice they largely dealt with the political and tribal aspects of national unity.



However, being the most sensitive and easily volatile department of a nation in many societies the world over, the political sphere needs to be always handled with shrewdness and acumen. At independence the drama of ethno-political consciousness was an overt threat to the newly born nation. Consequently, President Mugabe and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo should be greatly commended for their political foresight in resolving one of the obstacles that could have permanently jeopardised the destiny of Zimbabwe in its infancy.

National unity is holistic as the nation itself. It transcends all sections of the nations in both their horizontal and vertical manifestations. It pervades all the political, religious, cultural, economic and social aspects of a nation. I will limit my discussion on unity to the political and economic departments of Zimbabwe since the other spheres seem not to pose serious problems to the nation at the moment. In any nation, political performance and economic performance have a dialectical relationship. Normally if a nation is politically stable, its economy develops. Similarly, if there is an economic crisis, the politics of the nation becomes turbulent.

The reason behind this is that politics organises the nation, and thus manages the economy by creating an enabling environment for the economy to prosper. The economy has its own dialectics; for economic production to take place the various industrial sectors have to satisfy labour, for without its satisfaction there is no dedication to work and consequently no meaningful production. It implies therefore that in order to achieve national harmony, tranquility and development, all the nation's departments should unite and work in sync.

They are all vital in the effective operations of a nation's political economy. But what makes the sectors of a nation work in sync?

The awareness by every individual member about the common characteristics (common ancestry as Africans, our clearly defined territory and importantly our common historical experiences -- especially of nearly a century of racially-rooted colonial oppression and our revolutionary resolve to challenge it and create an independent state) should generate the will to unite and work together for the sake of the nation. So when individual members, classes, ethnic groups, organisations, institutions, etc, work in antagonism, it implies that the mutual awareness and indeed the affirmation of these ties would have been abandoned and national unity crumbles.

As a social organisation a nation is one of the most difficult organisations to run. This is so by virtue of the fact that in most cases it comprises people from diverse backgrounds; cultural, ethnic, religious, class, political, racial and other affiliations and identities as is the case with Zimbabwe and indeed the majority of nations the world over.

Relevant Links



Southern Africa
Zimbabwe





But then, in spite of all these different identities in contradistinction to each other, members of a nation still need to live together and collaborate in pursuance of the meaning of their existence. They need security to protect themselves from threats to their existence. They yearn to live peacefully and enjoy life. To achieve these, the members of a nation have no choice but to forego some of their individual and sectional interests and prioritise national interests.

They have to commit themselves to national values first, and their personal and sectional values second, if the project called a nation is to work and guarantee their incessant quest for their nation's advancement. It is from a nation's values that its constitution is designed to provide a framework within which that nation, in all its various sectors and departments, would work. Thus the activities of every sector are always under the spotlight of national values.

Alternatively, every organisation in a nation justifies its existence and operations against national values. If that justification fails or is seen to be inimical to national values that organisation can only engender discord within a nation. In other words every sector, organisation or an individual member in a nation has a responsibility to work for the good of a nation and not otherwise. In this case a nation is analogous to a family or clan; its members (parents and children or clansmen and clanswomen) are expected to perform their tasks for the sanity, harmony and prosperity of the family.

Toyindepi M. Musiyiwa
Harare

IS IT not ironic that while we celebrate 20 years of national unity, disunity reigns in the key sectors of our nation? For almost a decade now the simmering tensions between Government on one hand and the opposition, labour and business on the other have fragmented the functioning of a nation as a unit exacerbating the economic and political problems in the country. In this article I intend to proffer the view that national unity, as it is aptly called, is not sectional (in terms of colour, tribe, ethnicity, gender, class, organisation, etc), but is national in tone.

As we encounter an intransigent economic situation, it is high time that Zimbabweans thought more in terms of national values than sectional interests, if normalcy is to be restored in our nation. Indeed while exactly two decades ago, Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu, the political parties which liberated this country from colonialism through an armed struggle, rightly decided to bury their differences and unite for the sake of the nation, in practice they largely dealt with the political and tribal aspects of national unity.



However, being the most sensitive and easily volatile department of a nation in many societies the world over, the political sphere needs to be always handled with shrewdness and acumen. At independence the drama of ethno-political consciousness was an overt threat to the newly born nation. Consequently, President Mugabe and the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo should be greatly commended for their political foresight in resolving one of the obstacles that could have permanently jeopardised the destiny of Zimbabwe in its infancy.

National unity is holistic as the nation itself. It transcends all sections of the nations in both their horizontal and vertical manifestations. It pervades all the political, religious, cultural, economic and social aspects of a nation. I will limit my discussion on unity to the political and economic departments of Zimbabwe since the other spheres seem not to pose serious problems to the nation at the moment. In any nation, political performance and economic performance have a dialectical relationship. Normally if a nation is politically stable, its economy develops. Similarly, if there is an economic crisis, the politics of the nation becomes turbulent.

The reason behind this is that politics organises the nation, and thus manages the economy by creating an enabling environment for the economy to prosper. The economy has its own dialectics; for economic production to take place the various industrial sectors have to satisfy labour, for without its satisfaction there is no dedication to work and consequently no meaningful production. It implies therefore that in order to achieve national harmony, tranquility and development, all the nation's departments should unite and work in sync.

They are all vital in the effective operations of a nation's political economy. But what makes the sectors of a nation work in sync?

The awareness by every individual member about the common characteristics (common ancestry as Africans, our clearly defined territory and importantly our common historical experiences -- especially of nearly a century of racially-rooted colonial oppression and our revolutionary resolve to challenge it and create an independent state) should generate the will to unite and work together for the sake of the nation. So when individual members, classes, ethnic groups, organisations, institutions, etc, work in antagonism, it implies that the mutual awareness and indeed the affirmation of these ties would have been abandoned and national unity crumbles.

As a social organisation a nation is one of the most difficult organisations to run. This is so by virtue of the fact that in most cases it comprises people from diverse backgrounds; cultural, ethnic, religious, class, political, racial and other affiliations and identities as is the case with Zimbabwe and indeed the majority of nations the world over.

Relevant Links



Southern Africa
Zimbabwe





But then, in spite of all these different identities in contradistinction to each other, members of a nation still need to live together and collaborate in pursuance of the meaning of their existence. They need security to protect themselves from threats to their existence. They yearn to live peacefully and enjoy life. To achieve these, the members of a nation have no choice but to forego some of their individual and sectional interests and prioritise national interests.

They have to commit themselves to national values first, and their personal and sectional values second, if the project called a nation is to work and guarantee their incessant quest for their nation's advancement. It is from a nation's values that its constitution is designed to provide a framework within which that nation, in all its various sectors and departments, would work. Thus the activities of every sector are always under the spotlight of national values.

Alternatively, every organisation in a nation justifies its existence and operations against national values. If that justification fails or is seen to be inimical to national values that organisation can only engender discord within a nation. In other words every sector, organisation or an individual member in a nation has a responsibility to work for the good of a nation and not otherwise. In this case a nation is analogous to a family or clan; its members (parents and children or clansmen and clanswomen) are expected to perform their tasks for the sanity, harmony and prosperity of the family.

It became a centripetal force that united Zimbabweans in the nationalist struggle in spite of their diverse ethnic, regional, class and cultural backgrounds. Had the land reform programme not been implemented it would have been difficult to talk about Zimbabwe as a complete nation; those who perished liberating it who have died in vain. Debates would be raging now whether it was necessary to fight for nationhood in the first place.

National values, as the case with Zimbabwe, are equally important during the fighting for and the aftermaths of the birth of a nation. The nation has to assert itself among other nations of the world by being able to coherently organise itself, deliver what it promised and continue to promise its ever-expectant members and more importantly defend the national independence and its gains.



This is where most Developing World nations have found themselves numb, jittery, and at crossroads and the unity they forged during the struggle to win independence put to the test.

As highlighted earlier, for a nation to achieve its goals and satisfy its citizens, its various sectors have to commit themselves to extremely high levels of unity, unity to which they are emotionally attached because it is being drawn from or in other words is actually part and parcel of the national will.

Thus whenever a nation is in crisis, due to internally or externally or both-induced factors, it becomes imperative to go back to the drawing board and read aloud what our values do say. Yes, by consensus we may alter them here and there to suit prevailing conditions and pressing issues at hand but their central message that we should be a united sovereign state, determining our own affairs and working together for the good of the nation are too sacred to be revised and shall (for any nation) remain infallible as long as the concept of nation remains sensible in matters of social organisation. The mutual awareness and affirmation of these values should generate the will that unites us in every sector for our national endeavours to succeed.

As we commemorate 20 years of national unity but in the context of economic and political challenges, there is need to reflect deeper and broader on our unity and ask ourselves whether we are genuinely united. For the past eight or so years the behaviour of some Zimbabweans shows that national values have been thrown into the dustbin. This is not the first time we had political squabbles between the ruling party and the opposition, but the way today's opposition played its political game and the consequent economic crisis, is a clear dramatisation of the lack of national unity and commitment to national values.

In theory opposition politics is quite necessary for the healthy operations of a nation because it destroys the myth that only one political party has the capacity to govern a country. As stated earlier a nation is the most complex and difficult social organisation to run. Thus when a party emerges and convinces the electorate that it can run the country and therefore achieve its goals better than the party in power, such a party is naturally welcome. Zimbabwe is fortunate that from its birth in 1980 its Constitution has underscored the importance of political pluralism.

However, it is abuse of a nation to exploit the democratic spirit to undermine national values and politically mislead and divide the nation. Political pluralism in the context of national values merely means differences in political approach to governance and not in national values. As emphasised before, democracy enhances and enriches the means by which a country governs itself, offering its citizens the opportunity to select from a list of parties the one they think is suited and capable of delivering the services, achieve the goals and maintain the interests of their nation. Therefore, the criterion by which the people measure the political genuineness of any party that emerges in their nation is to evaluate the party's temperament and commitment vis-à-vis national values and interests.

Earlier on I referred to the fact that running and maintaining a newly born nation has been quite challenging particularly in post-colonial Africa and indeed among most Developing World countries. This appears so because in these formerly brutally-colonised countries, national expectations are emotionally and extremely high. They greatly shape the national psyche, coming as they do from the original promises that fuelled the nationalist anti-colonial struggles.

Unfortunately and in most cases, because independence was only partially granted in the form of flag independence devoid of economic freedom, today most African nations are still struggling without or with little success to transform the socio-economic life of their citizens for the better.

Many African countries have been hoodwinked by their former colonial masters and today by global capitalism to leave the resources of their nations at the mercy of multinational companies and other capitalist institutions.

It happened in this country at independence and in the 1990s through the IMF-sponsored Economic Structural Adjustment Programme.

It is this firm grip on the resources of former colonies that the erstwhile colonial masters do not want to lose. Again unfortunately on our part western powers know that there are many of their sympathisers among us so eager to auction their national values at the western imperialist market.

After their pockets have been stuffed with dollars, euros and pounds, they are persuaded to form political parties which preach another gospel, intended to confuse, dilute, divert and thus trivialise our national values and pursuits. The gospel is a subtle one at the beginning, its falsehood decipherable only to a few while the rest are swayed and mesmerised by its high-sounding verses.

Eventually when it becomes reality that after all it was a counterfeit revolutionary gospel, they are disillusioned, exhausted and hopeless. Such is the unpredictable terrain of our revolution right from its origins in the 1950s, varipo vanoyambutsa dindingwe. Yes, they are right among us who stealthily go by night to remove the devil from the cross we thought we had nailed for good during the day.

This is the genesis of the current political polarisation and economic problems in Zimbabwe which has given rise to higgledy-piggledy behaviour in the various departments of the nation. The disunity between these sectors compels us to no other alternative but to invoke national values and demand patriotism from people in these sectors.

The divisions and squabbling between Government on one hand and the opposition, civic society, business and labour on the other are clearly not within the interests of Zimbabwe as a nation.

The latter's solidarity in pursuance of an externally-conceived regime change programme is a clear demonstration of a conscious disregard of national values. Its political agenda in many ways cuts across the grain of the nation's history of the struggle for nationhood and a negation of the gains independence has provided so far. In short its behaviour challenges national values.

Isn't the regular arbitrary increase in prices of all commodities and failure to produce even after accessing loans from Government through the Bacossi facility demonstrates business' refusal to unite with Government in addressing the current economic problems? The financial sector is also behaving as if there is no nation within which it operates.

The RBZ Governor's revelation that some bank employees are working in cahoots with cash barons and baronesses to fuel the parallel market and consequently depriving innocent citizens from freely accessing their hard-earned cash only reflects the level to which wayward behaviour has reached in this sector. While it is a key sector in the smooth function of the economy, it has unfortunately become a stubborn hindrance to the efforts to turn around the economy.

While indeed the opposition solidarity can justifiably be condemned for being a conduit of western imperialist forces, doesn't it boggle the mind to hear that some top Government officials are actively involved in unethical behaviour which results in the country losing hundreds of millions of US dollars annually? The nation is currently anxious to see the success of the land reform which has this year been blessed with good rains. Ours is an agriculturally driven economy and the reforms in agriculture are thus pivotal in reviving the whole economy.

But when some people purport to be championing the agrarian revolution when in reality they are diverting agricultural inputs (fuel, fertiliser, seed, chemicals, etc) to the parallel market, it is again shocking to say the least.

It raises fundamental questions about such people's commitment to the nation's current agricultural reforms in the first place, let alone national values. Are they not worse than the opposition when they externalise precious metals sold on the very western markets whose countries are championing regime change and have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe? It is hypocritical and reactionary behaviour par excellence.

They are undermining President Mugabe's anti-imperialist campaign in defence of Zimbabwe's sovereignty he has relentlessly and successfully waged both at home and at various fora abroad? Their tendencies are clearly destroying the nation's historical revolutionary unity. For how long shall they be left to sabotage the economy with impunity? When is their judgment day? Parallel marketeering has strongly gripped the hearts of many in this nation. But to demonstrate that we are a nation committed to its values, urgent measures must be taken to deal with this nefarious behaviour otherwise the current attempts to rectify the economy will come to naught.

The war against inflation cannot be won when business hoards and sells commodities on the black market. Neither can it be won when certain individuals hoard cash for profiteering purposes through black market transactions.

There is no commitment to national unity in that kind of behaviour. The quicker we realise that such actions only serve to destroy the institutions and systems of our own nation, the better. The faster we become conscious of the fact that such actions jeorpadise the future of Zimbabwe and the patriotism of its posterity, the better.

The behaviour shown by the sectors of our nation, some institutions, groups of people and individuals, show that there is no unity in the attempt to counteract the economic challenges bedevilling our beautiful nation.

Hence while we celebrate 20 years of the signing of the historic Unity Accord, it should not be seen only in political and tribal terms, but from a holistic perspective where it permeates every sphere and facet of our life as defined by our national values. We have no option but to unite in all sectors and sub-sectors by foregrounding and re-committing ourselves to national values and interests for the sake of the very nation we won through great human sacrifice, a nation whose failure to function only serves to plunge us into more catastrophes and embarrassment.


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Gujarat Elections 2007 :: Congratulations to Modi



Mike Ghouse, December 24, 2007


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Congratulations to Modi for winning the elections, he now has an opportunity to win the heart of every Gujarati regardless of his or her affiliation.

Before the elections, I wrote about forgiving as an act of kindness and praischit to ease every Gujarati into a moral comfort zone and look forward to bringing comprehensive progress; material, moral and spiritual to all its citizens

The Jain community sets an examples of practicing one of the most beautiful principles, “Michami Dukadam”, meaning forgiving and asking for forgiveness. This helps clean the slate of the mistakes one has made and help clean others slate, so every one can start the year with a clean heart. Why should one do that? Simply for purification of one’s heart and soul and live an enriched life. Nothing beats the feeling of being a good human being.

Hate, malice and anger eat away one’s peace of mind. It has to be brought to an end for living a serene life.

My appeal to every Gujarati is to pause and seriously consider the option of forgiveness. Let it not hinge on others doing it first or not doing at all, the forgiveness benefits the forgiver more than the forgived. Be selfish and reap the benefits of forgiveness and see your own demeanor become admirable.

Be good to yourselves and your soul.

I have selected a few pieces that extol him, as well as those turn the amber light on and those that and vindictive. In an open society, all the cards have to be put on the table to understand the full picture and play a decent game.

It's time to show large-heartedness, says Modi

Figuring out Gujarat

NRIs raise a toast to Modi's victory

I'm jewel in India's crown: Modi

Narendra Modi and Adolf Hitler

Modi's Victory: Portents for Indian Democracy

Time to build an inclusive Gujarat: British NRIs to Modi

If Modi wins on Sunday

Mike Ghouse

To read the articles: http://www.mikeghouse.net/Articles/Gujarat-Elections-2007-Congratulations-to-Modi.asp

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