By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, Morocco, April 9, 2012
Whenever I am on my way to the mosque on Fridays, I do not feel as spiritually uplifted as when I am about to listen to Sheikh Ennahari’s sermons. When I enter the mosque prayer hall and sit down to listen to the sermons delivered by other so-called sheikhs, I usually spot some people moving restlessly as if they were about to fall asleep, some others gazing into space, unaware of what is happening around them, and some others, including myself, find the issues discussed in the sermons monotonous, for our ears have been attuned to them for years now. Some of the boring issues touch on car accidents, the state constitution, the throne’s day, etc. The issues are crucial, but the mosque isn’t the right place to get acquainted with them.
Isn’t the mosque the right place where sermons should mainly revolve around the common good of Muslims, including the impact of corruption, social injustice, abject poverty and beggary, homelessness, education, patience, unfairness, health, immoral festivals, etc? As for praying, fasting and pilgrimage, even young Muslims know a lot about that and they can be broached on only from time to time. People attend the mosque to have spiritual rest from the burdens of life and stay in closer touch with Allah (GOD). But the majority of sermons are free of spiritual feelings, and the only Sheikh whom I know of preaching in an enthralling and uplifting manner is Ennahari. Regrettably, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has dismissed him and banned him from preaching. The reasons are self-evident, and among them is the fact that the Sheikh attracts Muslims more into real Islam.
It goes without saying that the main reason behind the Ministry’s decision to dismiss the Sheikh was that he castigate Moroccan artists, like Dounia Batma, Moroccan ministers for their grave mistakes, the license-granting economy, sport strategies, the Moroccan media, social ills and all the concerns that mean a great deal to Moroccan Muslims. In others words, he harshly criticizes evil which is an inevitable, intended part of the government. The latter gets offended by the Sheikh, and receives almost nothing in return for his truth-filled sermons. The fear that motivated his dismissal is the increasing disgruntlement of Moroccans towards the evil brought about either directly or indirectly by their government. A large number of Moroccans listen to him and attend the mosque where he preaches in hundreds. That is why the government, together with the ministry of religious affairs, fears possible harm if Moroccans blindly turn against the phenomena their sheikh has criticized.
We, followers, of the Sheikh Ennahari conspicuously understand from what has befallen that the priorities of Religious Affairs Ministry doesn’t consist in raising Moroccans’ awareness about the disservices and injustices done in the name of the government, and evil spread by some senior officials and other important people. The priorities of the ministry lie in showing Moroccans the way to perform their ablutions, to pray five times a day, to fast Ramadan, etc. Fortunately for the ministry, this is what virtually all Sheikhs teach in their sermons, and nearly everyone already knows about that. People only need to practice them. Yet what matters more and can have a more healing impact on society is what Ennahari dares to broach upon; it is the fact that Moroccans aren’t leading a dignified life as Islam has always shown, sought, and taught throughout Islamic history.
Moreover, the Sheikh usually attracts Moroccan’s attention to the reasons behind their misery. As we all know, this is definitely what the current government and previous ones have always feared to happen. Unfortunately, the Moroccan government rejoice in seeing Moroccans attend festivals, listen to Dounia Batma, watch our so-called Atlas Lions playing football, paying Eric Gerets highly, spreading illiteracy, etc. No one but Sheikh Ennahari undauntedly mentioned this. Therefore, it is not surprising to see him as the only one among thousands of sheikhs to have been dismissed. As for other Sheikhs, they have preferred keeping their lips seals or preach nonsense like the infamous Skeikh Zamzami.
The current government has set among its plans the freedom of speech, but it can’t help breaking it. Ennahari’s dismissal is a case in point. At the very least, Ennahari doesn’t even express opinions so as to be respected, but rather he tells the plain truth about what Islam says about the evil tearing our beloved Morocco. His dismissal can only be justified by the bad intentions of the Ministry in question to de-voice this free, outspoken, daring, and frank voice. Why hasn’t the ministry dismissed other sheiks? Or is it because Ennahari is the only one that doesn’t serve the intentions of the ministry? One of the intentions of it is that Sheikhs must never go beyond what is decreed from the government and must never criticize the society’s ills regardless of whether Islam teaches this or not. They must blindly read the sermon papers from start to finish.
The attribute that characterizes this real Sheikh from fake ones is that he undauntedly points his fingers at any kind of evil either committed by ordinary people or by the authorities themselves. The government is, therefore, afraid this might spark Moroccans’ anger and uproar, particularly that the Sheikh is somebody whom they hold in high estimation. Whatever truth he tells, they trust him and take action in response to and become closely involved with his sermons. For instance, in the aftermath of the dismissal, a number of his fans wanted to protest against the injustice done to him, but the Sheikh was wise and bold enough to dissuade them from that. Aren’t Moroccans in need of a real Sheikh like him to speak on their behalf, blame those behind their misery, and calm them down with reassuring Hadiths by the prophet and some Quranic verses?
To our dismay, the Sheikh who enlightens us through his lively, persuasive, novel, and intriguing sermons has now been barred from preaching what the ministry in question doesn’t practice. His dismissal isn’t a shock to us for the simple reason that the man is more or less the only Sheikh well-versed in politics, and the events and festivals occurring in the country, such as Amina Filal’s case and International Women’s Day. Contrary to his excellent, religious way of public speaking, other Sheikhs are hibernating and stagnating in their remote mosque, either because they have no slightest idea of what is going on with regard to the changes Morocco is witnessing or they have chosen to keep silent for fear of meeting the same destiny.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs has never endorsed and encouraged Sheikhs who deeply affect Muslim listeners with their compelling sermons that teach them about their right to live in dignity and welfare, their right to revolt against those in the ivory tower who are behind devouring the nation’s fortune, the fact that many artists are continually tarnishing the image of the Islamic country they live in, the trivial leisure and bad habits that have dashed the youth’s hopes. Ennahari does all this in an immaculate emulation of the Egyptian sheikh Abdelhamid Kichk. It is to the disadvantage of both the Ministry and the government to have citizens who hold the same views and principles as Ennahari does.
Frankly, I am going to breathe a deep sigh of relief when I receive a reasonable explanation from both the Minister of Religious Affairs and Abdelilah Benkirane, the bearded head of the government, who think that the current government is Islamist compared with a previous one. Truth be told, I can’t see any Islamism there. Is Islamism dismissing the sheikhs who tell the truth, be it sweet or bitter?
Omar Bihmidine is high school teacher of English. He obtained his Associate Degree at Choaib Eddoukali University in 2008. His writings take the form of short stories, poems and articles, many of which have been published in Sous Pens magazine, in the ALC magazine in Agadir, and in the late Casablanca analyst newspaper.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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