By Shamirah Abdallah
On the 8 of May, a lecture was held by the University of Hargeisa in the university hall. The university hosted one of the most prominent Muslim scholars and chancellor of the Islamic Online University Dr. Bilal Philips.
On standing on the podium and before a great number of people, including the students of the university and other people from the community, Bilal showed his gratitude towards the good work done by the government in the construction of roads. He then introduced his topic of the lecture – as “Change begins with me.”
The topic was based on his observations throughout the years he has been visiting Hargeisa, Somaliland and other parts of Somalia. During the years, Bilal identified four major areas that he thinks change must prevail to make the country a much better place, and then discussed them with the gathering.
The first area mentioned was about women being mutilated (FGM). Female circumcision, that is done as part of culture in Somaliland is more of damaging the female genitals than helping in some ways. He explained that if it is really needed to be done, then it should be done according to the teachings of the prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Not done in a way that could cause pain to a woman’s life for a long period of time.
Bilal’s second area of change in the society is mostly among the men in Somaliland which is “chewing of Khat”. Khat is a plant with the fresh young and green leaves of the Catha edullis shrub. The plant contains substances that cause excitement, loss of appetite and hyperactiveness. The drug, as explained by the scholar, destroys resources, disables human nature, kills the economy and separates families. “Somaliland cannot go forward without dealing with Khat,” said Dr. Bilal Philips.
Tribal discrimination came in as the third area of concern. Bilal quoted the prophet (PBUH) speaking vigorously against discrimination and said that, “Whoever calls to tribalism is not of us,” – meaning not of the Muslim Ummah.
Gabooye, for example, is one of the tribes in Somaliland that falls a victim of discrimination as they are regarded as the lowest class of the Somali society. Other tribes in the country want to have no associates with the Gabooye people whatsoever, not even marrying from them.
Dr.Bilal strongly discouraged this and reminded the gathering about the birth place of discrimination as began by “Shaitan”. When Allah ordered Shaitan to bow down before Adam, he refused and said to Allah, “I am better than him (Adam); you made me from fire and him from (ordinary) clay.” From there, the Shaitan went into disbelief and astray.
The last area was of corruption. Dr.Bilal disclosed that “In the 10 most corrupt nations on earth, according to the UN, Somalia, a Muslim country, is number one – something to be ashamed of. In the past, the Muslims were known for their honesty and trustworthiness but today, we are known for corruption.”
He concluded by saying, in order for the change we desire for to happen, we must understand the need for change, know who we are, follow our role model (Prophet Mohammad PBUH) and keep in mind that change begins with individual self.