Sunday, 22 April 2018

Tafsan 

 

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THEME: NASFAT, ALIGNING WITH GLOBAL DIVERSITY

 

TOPIC: GROWING NASFAT ON THE GLOBAL SCENE: THE CULTURAL APPROACH

Benedictions

 

Protocol acknowledgements

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates, Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me to crave your indulgence, even before I start the actual presentation to join me in joyful thankfulness to the Almighty Allah for the special favour of inspiring the formation of NASFAT as one of the Most Vibrant Muslim Organizations in contemporary times.

We also thank Him for the tremendous contributions NASFAT has made and continue to make to the promotion of the Islamic message in Africa and across the world.

 

Mr. Chairman, the theme chosen for this conference is not just laudable but strategically important; Accepting “GLOBAL DIVERSITY” and managing it is a key ingredient for the promotion of global diversity, peace and harmony.

 

The choice of the theme is a mark of openness and a progressive mindset in which diversity is not seen as a threat but rather as an opportunity for complementarity and solidarity across cultures. I therefore salute its Executive Council for the thoughtfulness.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the topic of my presentation as you may all be aware is: “GROWING NASFAT ON THE GLOBAL SCENE - THE CULTURAL APPROACH”

 

As I reflected on the topic, in terms of context, two issues which NASFAT is seeking to address came to my mind, namely:

 

 Stagnation in terms of growth in capacity and achievements.

 Narrowness in terms of sphere of operation

 Limitations of cultural barriers etc.
Considering that these create a serious setback in the operations of NASFAT as an organization, the urge for overcoming them by pursuing growth of global dimension is highly commendable.

Ladies and gentlemen, to address the topic however certain fundamental questions need to be raised.

 What does growing nasfat mean to members?

 What is the purpose of the growth being desired?

 Why on the global scene?

 Of what necessity is the cultural approach?
Answers to these questions and other related ones not raised in this presentation are very critical for meaningful outcome at the end of the conference.

 

GROWING NASFAT

Ladies and Gentlemen, the phrase to grow an entity could mean lot of different things to different people depending on the context or the lenses through which it is viewed.

 

But to anyone conversant with simple English language also knows that “To grow” something in common usage could connote among other things:

 To improve either quantitatively or qualitatively

 To expand or extend or widen in size

 To increase numerically

 Progress

 To advance etc.

 

According to one dictionary definition however, growth could be used to mean increase in size, value or strength. Going by this simple definition “Growing something” or growth in the life of an entity may have several dimensions. That is, it may have the dimension of incremental change physically in terms of size, both vertically and horizontally. But it could have a value dimension in terms of quality. It could also apply to the sphere of strength in the sense of ability, capacity and skills to withstand opposing forces and overcome challenges or exploring new opportunities for greater achievements.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen GROWING NASFAT therefore could mean introducing initiatives that in the long run will trigger a wave of incremental change in the spheres alluded to above.

That is incremental change in membership size, scope or sphere of operation, level or degree of accomplishment, performing beyond or within the limits of set targets. Viewed in its broad context therefore, “growing nasfat on the global scene signifies in my mind of an agenda setting or a new vision through which the hope of a great future for NASFAT could be actualized.

Ladies and Gentlemen, a critical study of the history of Islam reveals that, the Muslim Ummah form very small beginning grew into a powerful empire due to the visionary leadership exhibited by the Prophet Muhammad(S.A.W.). The history of Islam therefore could provide NASFAT a model of growth to follow.

 

The recount in the history of Islam, the story of the battle of the ditch (Khandaq), a war strategy that required the digging of a trench around Medina. According to the seerah, while digging the trench, the companions came across a huge rock they could not break. When the Messenger of Allah was informed, he undertook to dig himself. In the ensuing sparks of light that lit from the pickaxe, the Messenger of Allah predicted “I have been given the keys to Persia. Striking the rock the second time he declared in the light of the resultant spark “Allah is the Most

Great, I have been given the keys to Byzantium (Rome)”. This narration is an indication of an envisioned growth of an Islamic Empire.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen this scenario signifies to me the hope of a growing strength to confront opposing forces. Indeed, in the scenario of the Hijrah an enlargement of the sphere of influence and control by the Muslim Ummah was anticipated. It was in Medina, following the Hijrah that the political power and dominance of the prophet gained a firm root. It is similar vein that I seek to interpret what “GROWING NASFAT” on the global scene could mean and signify to members. As mentioned earlier, growing nasfat is an agenda for positive change that comes with abundant opportunities and prospects for greater achievement beyond the current status.

 

As you know “CHANGE” for a good reason is highly recommended in the Holy Qur’an where it says: “ALLAH DOES NOT CHANGE THE CONDITION OF HIS PEOPLE UNTIL THEY CHANGE WHAT IS WITH THEM”.

In this regard, ladies and gentlemen, GROWING NASFAT is a new vision to trigger a wave of new thinking which is a departure from conservative views, meaningless norms and traditions. GROWING NASFAT indeed implies breaking new grounds by extending the frontiers of organizational scope of operation and influence. It is a demand to step out of our comfort zones and like the Hijrah of the prophet, break away from the narrow geographical sphere of operation.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Guests, the desire and ambition to grow NASFAT should be viewed as a call to reform internal mechanisms including governance issues to ensure sustainability, loyalty and trust.

 

Finally in the desire to grow NASFAT the need to forge productive networks with international organizations should be considered critical. In the long run therefore, NASFAT should visualize a future of hope characterized by greater accomplishment, quality of service and greater influence in all spheres of organizational endeavor. To realise this great ambition, creativity and skills for mobilizing both material and human resources must be placed high on the agenda.

 

PURPOSE FOR GROWING NASFAT

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, a sense of purpose in every endeavour is a key ingredient for consistency persistence and determination. The divine plan to bring creation into existence did not happen without a purpose. In the Holy Qur’an we notice an indication of divine purpose in creation in the light of the following text: “DID YOU THINK WE CREATED FOR FANCY (PLAY? THAT IS WITHOUT PURPOSE)”? (Q23:115)
In a more direct purpose, Allah says: “WE CREATED NOT THE HEAVENS AN THE EARTH AND ALL THAT IS BETWEEN THEM FOR MERE PLAY”!!! (Q21:16). Indeed the creation of the human species did not happen without a purpose. Alluding to the specific purpose Allah says: “I DID NOT CREATE JINNS AND HUMANS EXCEPT FOR THEM TO SERVE ME”.

 

Drawing from the divine example as referred to above, it is legitimate to ask the fundamental question “WHAT PURPOSE DO NASFAT MEMBERS SEEK TO REALISE BY SEEKING TO GROW NASFAT ON THE GLOBAL SCENE?

Obviously, to pursue such a grand ambition, a deep clear sense of purpose is crucial for focus, consistency and direction. Purpose is the radar or compass that keeps an organization constantly guided in terms of direction. In the light of the above, Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, the purpose of NASFAT in seeking to grow on the global scene is something that needs to be carefully articulated and indeed shared by all members. In doing so, a couple of Qur’anic texts could be considered for context.

 

 “You are the best community ever raised for mankind; you enjoin righteousness and prohibit evil and you believe in Allah”.

 “O you, who have faith, bow down and prostrate yourselves and worship your Lord and do good that you may prosper”.

 

CULTURAL APPROACH

MR. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, diversity of culture has always been part of human experience across the ages. Culture therefore, is part of our humanness and closely linked to everyday life to different peoples of the world. Indeed, it has been argued that, human beings generate culture naturally. The Holy Qur’an, Ladies and Gentlemen, clearly and eloquently articulates the theology of the common origin of the human race while acknowledging at the same time, the practical diversity that gives distinctiveness to every section of the human race.

 

In highlighting the theology of the common origin of the human species, the Holy Qur’an says: “O MANKIND, BE DUTIFUL TO YOUR LORD WHO CREATED YOU FROM A SOUL AND FROM HIM CREATED MULTITUDES OF MEN AND WOMEN”
Inspite of the common Islamic theology of creation, it associates diversity of human species with the creative power and will of the Almighty. To highlight this point, the Holy Qur’an says:

 

“O MANKIND WE HAVE CREATED FOR YOU MALE AND FEMALE AND MADE YOU INTO NATIONS AND TRIBES ……” (Q49:13).

From the perspectives of these two Qur’anic texts, diversity as manifested in culture a thought patterns, and traditions are respected. It must therefore be underscored that Islam is culture friendly.

 

DEFINITION
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, culture gives distinctiveness and creates identity. It provides an immediate social context for a sense of acceptance and belonging. Its manifestations include among other things:

 Knowledge/skill
 Art
 Law
 Moral code/ethics
 Norms and systems of behavior
 Food/nutrition
 Dressing
 Belief systems

 

CULTURAL IMPERATIVE

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and gentleman, growing beyond the confines of Arabian Peninsula, Islam encountered different people with a variety of cultural traditions from Arabia to Persia, to Spain, Africa and Asia. The Islamic approach has been to harmonise indigenous forms of cultural expression with the Islamic sacred norms.

 

According to Dr. Farouk Abd-Allah “IN HISTORY, ISLAM SHOWED ITSELF TO BE CULTURALLY FRIENDLY AND IN THAT REGARD, HAS BEEN LIKENED TO A CRYSTAL CLEAR RIVER. ITS WATERS (ISLAM) ARE PURE, SWEET AND LIFE GIVING BUT (HAVING NO COLOUR OF THEIR OWN REFLECT THE BEDROCK INDIGENOUS CULTURE) OVER WHICH THEY FLOW”.

 

Contrary to this fact, we have witnessed in recent times the emergence and spread of culturally predatory Islamic ideologies hat are diametrically opposed to culture. A trend which is creating so much confusion and dilemma in the minds of most Arab followers of Islam.

PROPHET’S ERA
It is important to underscore the fact that the prophet lived and worked with people of different cultures. e.g. Salmanul Farisi, who was Persian, introduced the prophet to the Persian war strategy during ‘The battle of the ditch’. The fullest expression of the prophet’s respect and recognition for cultural diversity is indicated in the Hadith which says: “THERE IS NO SUPREMACY FOR THE ARAB OVER THE NON-ARAB NOR FOR THE NON-ARAB OVER THE ARAB EXCEPT BY DINT OF TAQWA (PIETY).

 

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the practical evidence of the prophet’s accommodation and toleration of culture is the story about a group of Black African converts who began to beat their leather drums and danced with spears in the prophet’s mosque during a festive occasion. When Umar attempted to interfere and restrain them, the prophet intervened by instructing Umar to leave them alone and noting to him that they were the “Sons of Arfidah” interestingly, the prophet invited his wife A’isha to come and watch the performance. This is an indication that the prophet cultivated openness and objectivity towards other cultures. Living by his examples, the companions also acknowledged the good in other cultures.

 

ISLAMIC JURISPRUDENCE AND CULTURE
It is pertinent to note Ladies and Gentlemen that, Islamic Jurisprudence is not anti-culture on the contrary, there is recognition for the tangible components of culture in the form of customs. Terminologies referring to customs in fiqh include terms like URF and ADA both of which are applied in law.

 

STRENGTHENING NASFAT THROUGH THE CULTURAL APPROACH

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, respected delegates, having set the frame for recognising cultural diversity from the perspective of Islamic Theology and Jurisprudence; I would now like to turn attention to the use of multiculturalism as a tool for strengthening NASFAT as an Islamic Organization.

 

I) OUTREACH/COMMUNICATION
Nasfat executives should explore opportunities for outreach to cultural zones outside its sphere of operation. It is important to extend some of the support service to areas in order to register a strong presence. Allah says: “BELEIVERS MAN AND WOMEN ARE FRIENDS TO ONE ANOTHER; THEY ENJOIN GOOD AND FORBID EVIL. (Q9:71)

 

II) EXTENSION OF NETWORK BEYOND BORDERS 
There is the need to explore possibilities and opportunities to establish contacts with individuals and groups that are open minded and progressive in thought. To start with, an effective and regular distribution of newsletters and educational materials could help.

 

III) CELEBRATION OF CULTURAL DIVERSITY
To achieve harmony between and among different cultures it is critical to appreciate different value systems/ignorance of the value systems of the different cultures can give rise to prejudices and mistrust.

 

IV) BRIDGE BUILDING
NASFAT in expanding its membership to embrace people of different cultures could be an important catalyst in promoting cultural harmony, solidarity and cooperation.

 

V) PROSPECT FOR GROWTH OF FINANCIAL RESOURCE
NASFAT should explore avenues within the various cultural systems for the mobilization of support. Investment opportunities should be explored through creation of business contacts for individual members and groups.

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Executive Council of NASFAT and indeed to the entire membership for the special honour.

 

May The Almighty Allah Bless Our Efforts.

 

Thank You.