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The political thought of a Sudanese democratic thinker

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Book Review - Al-Khatim ‘Adlan’s Ma al-Manfa? Wa Ma howa al-Watan?

The Political Thought of a Sudanese Democratic Thinker (1949-2005)

By Mahgoub El-Tigani

Dec 29, 2008 — With words of gratitude to Bakri AbuBakr, the Sudanonline’s manager-general that initiated and helped to develop with many others the idea of publishing al-Khatim Adlan’s collected works, Manshurat Madarik published Ma al-Manfa? Wa Ma howa al-Watan? [Literally: What is exile, and what is the Homeland?].

Suggesting a major characteristic of ‘Adlan social and political personality, Elyas Fath al-Rahman designed an artistic cover for the book in black and white. Amnesty International’s researcher, al-Baqir ‘Afif, emphasized in his introduction of the book ‘Adlan’s supra ethical agency. Both cover and introduction remind readers with George Lukacs’ blend of humanism and revolutionary thought. We will return to this thought in subsequent commentaries.

In this series, we will present with commentaries sections of al-Khatim works on Sudanese thinkers, as published in Ma al-Manfa, including ‘Abd al-Khaliq Mahgoub, Hassan al-Turabi, John Garang, and Sadiq al-Mahdi. We will also comment on ‘Adlan’s works on philosophical and political themes, including the Machekos peace agreements, the NDA-GoS Cairo agreement, thoughts on Sudanese women writers, and other issues.

al-Khatim “Adlan “was a thinker with an integral life philosophy,” says ‘Afif. “He lived in harmony with himself, his cosmological vision and its principles to the last moments of his life.” This self-integrative universality “was somewhat strange in specific aspects not understandable, even to his closest acquaintance. His philosophical praxis on the matters of existence, the meanings of life, and the place of man in the cosmos, was not acceptable by many relatives that wanted him to refute [this world outlook] in his dying days.”

‘Adlan appreciated the position of his critics “because he knew they belonged to a society engrained in religion; a socially backward simple community whose members bore oversimplified conceptions of religion, the day after, paradise and hell, and the good end of a person’s life. He knew they were decent people who thought of him in good faith thinking that if he repeated certain [religious] statements they would guarantee redemption of his soul.”

At this point, Baqir al-‘Afif comments: “These relatives did not know that [‘Adlan] spent all his life doing the tasks of the prophets, the awliya [the people of God], and the reformers. Like them, he was altruistic: devoting his life for the sake of the powerless ones that God blamed the ones who wouldn’t defend their cause… Like them, he was not concerned with the worldly pleasures of life. He came to life as a poor person, and he passed away a poor person. Like them, he lived his short life in purity.”

Khatim ‘Adlan “did the best of his amicable diplomacy to convince these critics to respect his own preferences in life. “Because he was strongly committed to the personal freedoms of people and the right of individuals to determine their own fate by free choice, he never wanted to impose his own perceptions on the others. Equally, he wanted the others to respect his own options.”

2 - Unresolved Disputes with the Communist Party

“There is no Sudanese communist party in Sudan today. There is not a communist program” (p. 226). “The Communist Party is not the only sacramental shrine to perform political prescriptions: The Land of Sudan and her affiliations are wide open. One can be patriotic, progressive, and struggling for justice from outside the communist party,” said ‘Adlan (p. 264).

The key to understanding major aspects of the persona and political thought of ‘Adlan was well expressed by the artistic cover of his selected works, Ma al-Manfa, by Elyas Fath al-Rahman, which indicates, in black and white, a clear image of ‘Adlan’s principled integrity, openness, and ability to rethink rigidities of ideology, as well as his firm stands to support the politics of social change by the side of the poor vis-à-vis abusive structures and functions of the State in the service of production monopolistic ownerships.

‘Adlan’s purity of soul, creativity, broad knowledge of Arab literature, Islamic philosophy, and Western liberal thought, in addition to workaday activities in humility with the impoverished populations of Sudan, blended his world outlook with strong concerns for humanity. This rich intellectual background colored his writings with an optimistic belief in the possibilities of transformation and change for the advancement of the poor on the basis of organized voluntary work versus all forms of coercive conservatism or revolutionary centralism.

The unique background of ‘Adlan intellectuality is highlighted to explain part of the hostilities that developed between him and his lifetime counterparts in the Communist Party who stressed strict methods of bureaucratic formalism to avert the persecutory policies of anti-democratic regimes, especially the Nimeiri and the NIF governments. The latter forced the former, including ’Adlan, to practice only underground activities for long periods of time.

Admitting his shared responsibilities, as a member of the central committee of the party, in these problematic situations, al-Khatim, however, criticized the primary and the secondary effects of the party’s bureaucratic closure that touched deeply in his words upon the well-being of the party with respect to the “renewal of its life, leaderships, and new generations of the youth and women; that the party should give, not take” (pp. 266). He would then reject the continuity of protective methods, resign, and call in press conferences on the party to apply “new approaches” to “democratize” its organizational settings and political performance.

Because ‘Adlan had been deeply opposed to all types of authoritative controls by his own mode of critical thinking, this genuine liberalism gravitated perhaps naturally to emulate the personality and thought of ‘Abd al-Khaliq Mahgoub, his most beloved charismatic mentor of the party, whose life exemplified the kind of leadership and intellectual prowess that ‘Adlan always cherished, in earnest, to promote his own career.

’Abd al-Khaliq most admirable competencies included his liberal, open-door, and elastic re-formulation of revolutionary doctrines in close response to the pressing needs of people and the interacting dynamics of society. That the Mahgoub successors, however, raised the young charismatic ’Adlan to the highest ranks of the party, early in 1992, should be fairly accredited to the decision-makers of his party.

Responding to interviews with the press in the years following his resignation from the party in 1994, al-Khatim announced elaborately his own refutations of the communist thought, which had been earlier discussed inside closed circles of the party. In these renunciations, ‘Adlan claimed that scientific empirical data replaced the fundamentalist communist philosophical and dialectical assumptions. The communist utopia ceased to exist when it posited itself as “a stage” that would end an endless evolution of history. Marx himself was ‘a fanatic dogmatic young man overwhelmed with pursuit of the absolute justice; a dreamer who wanted to make a communist transition from capitalism’ (pp. 235-36).

Al-Khatim ‘Adlan refutation of communism rejected both hypothetically and practically any possibility of a communist society in the future. This finding was largely shared by many communists in the aftermath of the defunct Soviets. ‘Adlan insisted further that the Sudanese version of Marxism, which projected a transition form, a “national democratic stage” of social, economic, and political development to “a higher stage of socialism” followed by “communism,” never took place or would come true any more on earth.

The alternative, envisioned ‘Adlan, must bring about a new philosophy of socialist thought based on well-thought empirical programs, new styles of party administration, and new democratically elected leaderships (pp. 220-40). The alternative will not occur without “advanced democratic methodologies.”

The Ma al-Manfa selected works emphasized al-Khatim divergences from the communist renewals of The Program, the party’s envisioned future by ‘Abd al-Khaliq Mahgoub before Ja’far Nimeiri and his dictatorial junta assassinated him in July 1971. In spite of al-Khatim critique of the communist failures to “re-establish momentum with the popular movement, renew the party life and leaderships, etc.”, careful analysis might well reveal major “objective” convergences are quite available in between the party’s distinguished thinkers, Mahgoub, Nugud, and ‘Adlan. We will discuss these aspects in the next review.

3 - Convergences between Mahgoub, Nugud’s Renewal, and ‘Adlan

There might have been many reasons for al-Khatim ‘Adlan to pursue significant divergences from party lines. Based on his black-and-white style of political activism, he was destined to act liberally, apart from all bureaucratic rules, to wage public criticisms against the state of affairs, ideology, and political performance of the party. Predictably, his confrontationist move ended up his party membership, only to bring to being HAQ, a new off-shoot of the “National Democratic Stage,” to recall the communist conception, by the mid 90ies.

It might be inferred, reading over Ma al-Manfa that, what inspired ‘Adlan by the thought of ‘Abd al-Khaliq was definitely “’al-Juraa’ al-Fikriya” [intellectual boldness, visions, and decisiveness] (see pp. 76-77). These are competencies that ‘Adlan highly attributed to the former secretary general of the party, while repeatedly accusing his successors of missing them (see for example, pp. 87; 230; 236).

Although speaking highly of Nugud’s popularity, ‘Adlan criticized ‘Abd-al Khaliq successor’s intellectual performance: “He is dogmatic, hesitant, and is short of intellectual boldness. He wouldn’t play the leadership’s intellectual role; i.e., to act decisively with clear views, even if a decision results in error” (p. 262). Nugud’s initiative back in the early 90ies to renew the party and the difficult Task of transforming the 50 years’ communist body into a fashionable socialist entity in the Sudanese political arena, however, suggest a different view from ‘Adlan’s evaluation.

‘Abd al-Khaliq’s firm commitment to the needs and aspirations of the poor impacted ‘Adlan thinking throughout his political life, irrespective of formal membership or non-membership of the party. According to research on the Communist Party confrontations vis-à-vis the succeeding governments of Sudan, these characteristics had been largely shared by a great many leaders and members of the party whose principal mission had been founded and entrenched over long years based upon similar intellectual origins and political struggles.

The party’s socio-economic and demographic milieu was mostly composed of urban workers, junior state employees, and small businesspersons, besides a smaller size of supporters among agrarian groups, Bedouins, and seasonal workers. A wealth of intellectual contributions in all lively issues of the Sudanese politics, socio-economics, cultural and aesthetic life by many members or supporters from the varying ranks of these party sources stand on equal grounds with the high quality of ‘Abd al-Khaliq thought and ‘Adlan’s sophistication. Omer Mustafa El-Mekki, Joseph Garang, al-Gizouli Sa’eed, for example, among several other thinkers, stand out as bright examples.

This widely public accumulation of intellectual activities made of the Communist Party an influential learning institution despite its small voting size compared to the intellectual works by the other large-scale constituencies of the Umma and the DUP.

In Nugud’s Renewal of the CP Program, reference was made to the party’s official documents, conference materials, central committee sessions, and the ‘Abd al-Khaliq On the Program masterpiece that Nugud partially incorporated in his project to renew the party. The task of renewing the Program was a complex mission. It involved careful thinking on the party’s need to maintain the positive struggles and outcome of the past, without losing sight of the challenges of the present, or the required projection of the future.

From the most part, the reader might see in Nugud’s Renewal the same language of ‘Abd al-Khaliq Program. The reader will find the concepts of working classes, surplus value, Sudanese revolution, and democracy cultures, etc. albeit with a most interesting attempt to use them within a revised frame of contemporary thought.

The purpose of such revision, as Nugud asserted, was to meet the age’s challenges and concerns: "The Program is a concentrated version of the general aims and indicators of the direction of development and the political and social struggle. It is not a ready-made protocol or model of application," explained Nugud.

‘Adlan mentioned that “Nugud was absolutely unable to offer a clear definition of socialism [in his Renewal] because he rightfully negated the notion of socialism as the State ownership of the means of production; and affirmed that socialism is the collective ownership of the means of production” (p. 277).

Apparently, however, the conceptual difficulties of superseding the concept of socialism, as well as many other communist outdated definitions by workable contemporary perspectives constituted one reason why Nugud’s handling of the Task was meant to incite more discussion, not to offer final directives or ready-made solutions (see the complete work of Nugud’s Renewal for more details).

4 - Continued Convergences between Mahgoub, Nugud’s Renewal, and ‘Adlan

A task of special interest to a large number of Sudanese intellectuals and the others concerned with social change in the Third World Countries is to assess the extent to which "the direction of development and social struggles" might transcend a party’s foundation. How much success Nugud Renewal actually achieved is a major question whose answer remains to be seen. It is as Nugud himself wrote: "The judgment and final word is reserved to the standards of science, practice, and the will of peoples and the working masses."

On his turn, ‘Adlan insisted consistently in the al-Manfa (pp. 37; 83-93; p.220-) that democratic reforms by widening up popular participation in the intellectual life of party, rather than entrusting the secretary general and/or other high-ranking leaders with the Task of renewal is the only possible Way to guarantee effective change in the development of party structure or orientation.

Ma al-Manfa included illuminating statements by al-Khatim, then Chairperson of the HAQ Executive Committee. Important renewals were succinctly pointed by the Chair with respect to the notion of “diversity,” “the orientation towards sisterly political alliances with the social movements of rural Sudan in Darfur and the South,” and a serious emphasis on “party democracy” and “a strong civil society.”

In this writer’s opinion, the most significant national action program was articulated by the strong emphasis of the HAQ Leader on the need to “gain confidence of the Southerner, in general, and the Southerners in the North, in particular. This [magnificent move] must start with the treatment of the southerners displaced people in the camps, workers in factories, students in universities, and intellectuals in the clubs and in the Press in a Way completely different from the persecution, humiliation, and segregation they have been continually suffering.”

What a grandiose national democratic commitment!

‘Adlan sent with this powerful call a clear message of a possible national unity to the whole Nation: “This [new treatment] requires the commission of all political forces, government or opposition, to provide the minimum services and the [full] citizenship rights [to the Southerners]” (pp. 40-41). Needless to say, the comprehensiveness of this national scheme should definitely embrace all persecuted ethnicities or religious groups of Sudan, as ’Adlan elaborated in other parts of the Manfa.

Equally importantly, HAQ emphasized in the Executive Committee’s address “the unity of Sudan” on the basis of the full enjoyment of social justice, human rights and civil freedoms. Also, ’Adlan called [in another address] on the convening of a “national conference for the forces of the New Sudan, which is required to form a comprehensive democratic program for the upcoming democracy” (p. 192).

The HAQ top executive affirmed the well-known “national democratic” concepts and struggles: “development, modernity, and progression,” “loud voices of the working groups to the right to work with fair wages and the attainment of basic needs,” “women’s emancipation,” and “society liberalization,” etc. (pp. 33-44). Noted, however, were the avoidance of “class” “national democratic stage” and the other historical concepts of the mother party.

Regardless of the non-continuity of HAQ as a unified body, due to unresolved leadership disputes and other negativities slightly mentioned by ’Adlan in the book, HAQ opted under ‘Adlan’s leadership for more liberalization of the philosophical tenets of the communist party, namely the Marxist-Leninist doctrine and the centralized decision-making processes that al-Khatim consistently criticized as a stifling Stalinism of party democracy and progression.

Despite a fresh approach to deal with social backwardness, political regression, and economic underdevelopment, HAQ apparently retained main contextual premises of the Sudanese socialist thought (the contradictory conflict between pauperized labor and exploitation relations, and the need thereof to apply emancipation methods).

Hunted by a socialist ghost, namely the impacting ideas of the founding former communists, HAQ appeared as an intelligent attempt pressing for the “renewal” of the “mother party” with reformative organizational and administrative measures, albeit from outside the communist body itself, rather than a new political organization based on a fresh school of thought.

Khatim’s pleasure with the reformative democratic adoptions of the new Constitution of the Communist Party (pp. 238-9) indicated further his genuine, liberal, and steadfast critiques of the party’s bureaucracy.

Wasn’t it possible for party leadership to have accommodated all these convergences, timely?!

5 - Unresolved disputes with Hassan Turabi and the Brotherhood Indoctrinations

Although deeply-rooted in the Western conservative capitalism of Hegelian philosophy, the Western anti-capitalist Marxist thought passed the ordeals of developing the German Divine Right of Kings to an Acquired Right of Working Classes by revolution.

The highly industrialized capitalist societies of the West, however, tolerated hardly the up-side-down doctrines of Marx in the less industrial Russia and Eastern Europe for only less than a century. By the 1980s of the 20th century the last page of the Western totalitarian communism (State monopoly of power, wealth, and popular movement) went to the grave with the complete collapse of the Soviet political satellite.

Advanced capitalism continued untransformed in Europe, the United States, Japan, and the Asian Tigers with a few adjusted forms of labor relations that benefited creatively from the defunct anti-capitalist European systems of labor and health social security programs, the Russian space scientific revolution that culminated most recently in the capitalist-controlled unprecedented information revolution, in addition to a human rights’ conditionality versus repressive regimes.

Unfortunately, the nowadays old socialist Russia and the teenager China capitalism support unwisely the world repressive regimes (including the NIF rule) in thirst yearning to compete with the centuries’ earned Western advanced capitalism, irrespective of "the comradeship” principles that once ruled the Euro-Asian socialist relations with Third World Countries.

The less industrialized, overwhelmingly agrarian or Bedouin societies of the East experienced their own political Tasks by ideological ordeals to transform the European colonial capitalist States in the former economically backward, culturally alienated colonies, to acceptable forms of nationalist rule. And yet, the complexities of these adjustments have been extremely difficult.

Short of consistent democratic freedoms, the concluding results of perpetuating the colonial legacies by conservative bodies of authority and wealth, as well as imposing quasi-socialist or some nationalist transformations by military regimes fell short of embracing key indigenous particularities of the East. Reactionary indoctrinations by the emerging Islamic Revolution worsened the situation by terrorist backward systems of capitalism (as in the NIF-China oil alliance and the NIF-Russia/China arms sales), to say nothing about the international chaos of the Taliban medieval Sultanate or the al-Qaeda chaotic Brotherhood.

With strong condemnation of the Western capitalism indifference to Third World cultural and religious concerns, or the long-standing pressures on democratically-elected governments to comply with external dictates above nationalist interests (as occurred to Sadiq al-Mahdi’s government by the World Bank), the secularist, socialist, and liberal forces of the East must share the blame in the prevailing state of underdevelopment and the chronic development failures of their nations.

Fair words of encouragement and appreciation, however, must be bestowed upon the Sudanese, Arab, and African secularists together with the Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or other thinkers who struggled with great intellectuality and organizational zeal to favor programs democratically projected to develop the indigenous economic and cultural entities of societies via high levels of moral and political struggles. All aimed to modernize States basically founded on Western colonial legacies short of the contemporary demand and challenges of the good life.

It goes without saying that the ingenious Program of ‘Abd al-Khaliq Mahgoub (1971) shines out in this regard, much ahead of its time.

Particularly important, the liberal change-agents of our under-developed nations and their Western and Gulf financiers concentrated most "modernization" plans on relatively “easy” development projects (for example the irrigated lands of Gezira, Managil, and Rahad the NIF Brotherhood has completely destroyed by now) at expense of developing the sealed-off swamps of the South (before the oil boom) in the words of Joseph Garang (1969), or the negligent development of the North Sudan Sahara and its drought-hit lands.

Both of the Sudanese conservative and progressive urban-based mentalities failed to influence, in any consistent manner, the vast majority of the rural population that continues to suffer economic, political, and “social backwardness” under a state of the “over-simplistic conceptions of religion,” Baqir al-’Afif mentioned in his touching introduction of the ’Adlan’s Manfa.

It was the intimidating, anti-democratic, wealth-and-power-thirst Brotherhood’s Movement, however, that drew heavily upon the inhibiting difficulties of secular movements to pre-empt the noble Cause of social advancement by a State-led dehumanizing offensive. The Brotherhood abused, above all, “the over-simplistic conceptions of religion” in the rural areas. Empowered with unethical totalitarian powers, the Brotherhoods would successfully pity the rural populations against the secularist, socialists, or liberal thought (even if this thought uplifts the banners of faith in peaceful and progressive terms to develop the spiritual and material interests of the poor).

The Brotherhood terrorist indoctrinations lined up the farmers and Bedouin communities to support backward politics by well-organized financial policies (generously spent by the NIF uncensored military and civilian rulers). These indoctrinations disrupted the cultural values, spiritual commitments, and mechanical solidarities of the rural societies by the highway activities of the government-sponsored PDF and the lawless Janjaweed militias in Darfur and South Sudan. Acting effectively on primordial ties, ethnicities and religious beliefs, the Brotherhood junta blinded the consciousness of many rural groups, which had been previously only occasionally approached by the urban-centered secular parties.

6 - Continued unresolved disputes with Hassan Turabi and the Brotherhood

Khatim ‘Adlan held that the Communist Party “respects the religious beliefs of the masses by party constitution. A great many communists were made to account for insults to the peoples’ beliefs. I believe this stipulation is completely positive. We were all committed to it. The political community in which we enjoyed a long age never testified to insults from our part to any religion or belief. My [critique] is true, nonetheless, when al-Turabi, for example, exploits religion to mislead the laymen for worldly gain,” (p. 256).

The negligence of rural populations, however, continues to act as an inhibiting factor to the secularist plans to modernize the country. Lately, ‘Adlan addressed the issue of religion in his al-Wasatiya ideas [not included in al-Manfa] that aimed to accommodate religion as a tool of political enlightenment, not an instrument of political power.

In another interview with Akhbar al-Yoam, ‘Adlan said, “As a social thinker… I know that I cannot remove the influence of religion or the role that religion plays as a huge moral incentive in the life of people or the life of society. All I am saying is that when people practice worshipping, or social civil transactions, or deal with issues of conscience, honesty, and piety, they would then move on as pious people” (p. 255).

“But when the issue [of religious practices] moves from social programs to political programs and to political disputes, people will then become normal social actors who might be inspired by their religious values. This inspiration cannot bestow on them a sacred status… I have been calling on a complete role for religion to play in the matters of consciousness and the elevation of ethics to new levels; empathy, forgiveness, and love. All is required; and all is applicable... To abuse religion, however, as an umbrella to exploit people or to justify suppressing, killing, mutilating, or battering people has nothing to do with religion,” emphasized ‘Adlan (p. 256).

Earlier in the 1950s and the aftermath, ‘Abd al-Khaliq Mahgoub paid condensed attention to the Muslim Brotherhood’s dangerous aspirations to uproot the indigenous structures of Sudan and the neighboring nations by anti-democratic religious indoctrinations. The communist leader scrutinized the Brotherhood’s ill-planning, and unmasked its terrorist content with deep, decent, and critical thought (see his Afkar hawla al-Akhwan al-Muslimeen).

‘Abd al-Khaliq saw through his critical insights the Brotherhood ideas as a potential evil, a fast-growing cancer to monopolize power and wealth by violent seizure of State powers. The visionary thinker stepped forward in his known “Juraa’ Fikriya” to battle the Brotherhood plans in their infancy at the time the Umma, DUP, and other political players watched the avaricious “cancer of the Akhwan" silently or, worst than that, supported the Brotherhood political Islam against all secular and liberal activities.

It wasn’t until the occurrence of the 1989’s Turabi/Bashir NIF Jihadist seizure of power in close collaboration with the Sudanese, regional, and international Brotherhoods (followed by the aftermath atrocities of the ruling NIF and its allies in Sudan and other nations) that the Sudanese political communities and the International Community began to realize the validity of ‘Abd al-Khaliq thoughtful predictions since the early 1950s on the disorderly plots of the Brotherhood’s politics.

In harmony with his critical thinking and liberal principles, al-Khatim (pp. 139-146) negated the political fatawi of both Sayed Qutb and Hassan al-Turabi that condemned the separation between religion and politics and promised all people rejecting their ideas with a burning hell. Here ‘Adlan affirmed that “Our principal disagreement with Turabi is that he converts the fundamental right of political freedom to a wasteful ideological debate that never will unify people,” (p. 144).

Even with religious citations that clearly indicate the wrongful emulation of specific situations in the history of Muslim societies, one wonders who of the Sudanese would ever again trust such fatawi with the injustices they wrongfully generate. The Holy Qur’an orders the believers to think before they act, lest they become "like a donkey, which carries books" without knowing what they are. That is why ‘Abd al-Khaliq stressed in Afkar hawla Al-Akhwan Al-Muslimeen the fact that “God want His servants [believers] to learn, think, and reason what they do before they decide or act.”

For the vast majority of a billion or more non-Brotherhood Muslims throughout the world, the crisis of the Brotherhood fatawi, including Ben Laden and al-Zawahri war threats to destroy the West on behalf of their self-imposed Islamic ‘Umma, is indeed horrendous. In Sudan, the fatawi examples included a fatwa by the so-called El-Obied ‘Ulama that supported in the early 1990s the NIF governor Sayed Al-Hussaini to massacre hundreds of the Nuba people in Southern Kordofan because they refused to subscribe to his political Islam.

By the ‘Ulama blood-thirsty fatawi, the NIF government incited and escalated wars in the regions of Sudan, demolishing agricultural crops and destroying the churches of the Nuba Mountains and the South, as well as the al-Khalawi [schools of Islamic learning] of Hamashkoraib in Eastern Sudan. True, the rebel groups committed, on their turn, serious human rights violations in the war zones (see detailed reports by Human Rights Watch). None of these warring groups, however, committed such atrocities as the NIF rulers did by the ‘Ulama war fatawi. Moreover, the SPLM/SPLA responded positively to human rights’ pressures to release many captives of war and to mend up by the churches’ mediation war hostilities among their own peoples. The NIF never did

7 - Still, continued unresolved disputes with Turabi and the Brotherhood

Guided by irrelevant medieval fatawi on the Sudanese society and social life, the NIF indoctrinating racism went as far as killing or torturing citizens in cold blood all over the country in an unprecedented reign of terror. Led by Turabi fatwi, the NIF sought to strengthen Arab Islamist domination with promises of a granted paradise to the killers of the innocent Southerners and the innocent Darfurians. The massacres of peaceful protestors in Port Sudan and the Nile Province comprised a stretch over of the notorious Jihad fatawi.

Ironically, the recurring fatawi of the early 2000s by ‘Ulama al-Sudan, a government paid jurist body, would condemn those of Turabi on inter-faith marriages followed by a traumatic ‘Ulama fatwa to murder all Sudanese thinkers, including Turabi, his supporters, and the opposition intellectuals if they ever dare to criticize the al-Bashir ruling Brotherhood! These intra-conflicts, nonetheless, moved no eyebrows: “Beggars cannot be choosers.” And ‘Adlan would firmly distrust the Turabi thought, whether in unison or in divorce from Brotherhoods (see pp. 127-135).

The Brotherhood disciples of Turabi, namely al-Bashir and ‘Ali Osman, learned the lessons their “admirable” leader had earlier inculcated unto their souls over long years of treacherous plotting to frustrate the Nation’s yearning to a lasting peace and democratic rule. First, the “insincere disciples” used the aging Sheikh to usurp the political power. Second, they removed him from authority. Subsequently, they implemented effectively his authoritative tactics, abusing as well the so-called ‘Ulama to destroy his political influence and all possible foes.

These wicked strategies and others are typical methods of the well-recorded terrorist strivings of the Umayyad-Abbasid middle-ages Caliphates that the Brotherhoods superimposed with extra-violence in the opening decades of the 21st century upon our society and state, as well as struggling with unrelenting armed conflicts to establish similar Taliban Sultanates in the other largely Muslim communities of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Understanding Islam is not solely based on the fatawi or any scholarly opinions by a monopolizing stratum of jurists, as erroneously disseminated in the media by Islamist ideologues in the absence of enlightening thought. The issue is much deeper. It is the knowledgeable, conscientious mind of every single Muslim that finally counts. True, there might be a need for a fatwa on a personal matter in accordance with faith. But all issues of the political life that touch upon the interests of citizens, irrespective of faith, race, or status must be indiscriminately guaranteed.

In an eloquent critique of ‘Abdullahi ‘Ali Ibrahim’s claim that ‘Abd al-Khaliq “supported the idea of an Islamic Constitution in Sudan,” ‘Adlan strongly affirmed: “Mahgoub launched with great intellectual integrity a merciless critique of the al-Akhwan al-Muslimeen [Muslim Brotherhood] ideas… ‘Abd al-Khaliq never was a preacher of the Islamic Constitution in any moment of his life… He was a strong foe, as well as a deeply knowledgeable discussant against that Constitution and its State…”

“‘Abd al-Khaliq stands were well-known. His parliamentary interferences from inside the Constituent Assembly were well-documented in the protracted battle against the Islamic Constitution… How could ‘Abd al-Khaliq be a preacher of socialism, justice, secularism, and communism if his dreams would virtually end at the entrance of a religious state?” (pp. 76-79).

8 - Still, continued unresolved disputes with Turabi and the Brotherhood

The Sufi Islam of Sudan, as exercised by a plethora of religious turuq [sects], resembles the popular version of the Islamic religion the bulk of Sudanese Muslims adopted since the advent of Islam in the country. There are a few historical records, however, that documented the origins of Sufi Islam in Sudan, notably the Tabaqat by Mohamed Wad Daif-Allah.

Many Sudanist and Islamist scholars believe that the forgiveness and peaceful co-existence of al-Sufiya in the Sudan had been deeply influenced by the flexibility of Islam, which incorporated nice spiritualities of the monotheist religions, especially Christianity, and the African ancient religions and cultural beliefs. Unlike the rigid, dogmatic, and culturally-biased Muslim Brotherhoods’ political Islam, the Sudanese Sufiya antagonized the foreign doctrines of the Brotherhood with everlasting hostilities.

Regardless of political collaboration between the NIF, the Umma and the DUP Sufi-based political groups in different periods, the 17-year Brotherhood repressive rule alienated the bulk of Sudanese Muslims and their Sufi groups, including the Khatmiya and the Ansar, by the Jihad wars, State corruption, and almost complete destruction of the country’s sovereignty and international relations via the miscalculated alliances of the NIF rulers with Ben Laden, his Qaeda, and the other sections of the International Brotherhood Movement.

Ma al-Manfa contains some of the strongest criticisms of the thought and political activities of Hassan al-Turabi and ‘Abd al-Wahab El-Effendi (pp. 125-176), as well as sharp disagreements with the writings of Alex de Wall et al on the Islamic movements of the Nile Valley and the Horn of Africa (pp. 333-342).

Since his early political career, al-Khatim ‘Adlan’s humanism, political awareness, and commitment to human rights and civil freedoms motivated him to launch persistent campaigns in hundreds of public forums at the University of Khartoum, public meetings, and political forums in defiance of the Brotherhood ideological and political ills. ‘Adlan critique of al-Turabi and El-Effendi, his close disciple and academic spokesperson, exemplified the irreconcilable position of ‘Adlan with political Islam.

‘Adlan stressed, for example, the fact that “al-Turabi was not able to defend his practices in the [dictatorial] times of Nimeiri, or even after the overthrow of his regime, regardless of the Turabi’s possession of 5 daily papers that almost controlled the available media space with lies and fraudulent allegations against all political parties” (p. 164).

Rejecting further El-Effendi’s attempt to justify al-Turabi’s practices, ‘Adlan emphasized al-Turabi atrocities “are indefensible: how can storage of millet, the people’s diet, be justified when the vast majority of people are famine-stricken? How would accumulation of wealth be defended while the vast majority of people are crushed by want? How can suppressive Emergency Laws be applied in the name of the venerated Prophet? How would the Turabi Bayaa’ [political allegiance] of Nimeiri, as Imam of the Muslims, be defended?” (p. 164).

In his critique of Alex de Wall and ‘Abd al-Salam Hassan analysis of the Islamic Movements in the Nile Valley and the Horn of Africa, al-Khatim said, “The two writers assumed that al-Turabi is ‘a religious revivalist; possibly a liberal and… a unique Islamic thinker, according to El-Efffendi assertions’” (p. 338). ‘Adlan, however, was unhappy with “the method Alex de Wall and Hassan adopted to evaluate Hassan al-Turabi as a liberal leader because their method was greatly lenient” (p. 340).

Moreover, “the testimonies published in de Wall’s book negate at full length al-Turabi’s liberalism… [because] he participated in two military coups; was an indoctrinator of the bloodiest war in the history of Sudan versus the SPLM…; and a supporter of the Shari’a rules of the Nimeiri rule, despite the poverty of their texts and the [extra-judicial] execution of Mahmoud Mohamed Taha” (pp. 338-340).

Khatim ‘Adlan resolved in a decisive conclusion: “The contemporary political and ideological literature has already begun to adopt democracy, transparency, integrity, and human rights. [To assure readers], contemporary politics has surpassed the practices that belong to the Ages of the Inhitat [decay], being the political and ideological thought that Turabi supports” (p.165).

9 - John Garang, National Unity, and a New Sudan: A word on media campaigns

Al-Khatim ‘Adlan’s strong support to the SPLM/A determination to fight the NIF offensive regime subjected him to a wave of criticisms and media scandals that aimed to destroy his intellectual image and the political autonomy and moral integrity of his group so much as they aimed to weaken the SPLM/A in political and ideological terms.

The Arab-speaking hate groups International Brotherhood media specialists, highly-paid English-speaking Sudanese-European Relations Council media mercenaries, and a flock of NIF “opportunists” and “hypocrites” worked hand in hand to undermine the poor media activities of a Movement forced to busy itself from 1989 up to the early 2000s with the life-or-death tasks of survival in territories daily bombarded by the China oil-financed air force and the other Russian tanks and lethal weaponry of the Government of Sudan (GOS) armies, in addition to workaday defense duties to repulse the savage government militia attacks on the innocent citizens of the South (the same acts of genocide have been largely replicated in Darfur by the Brotherhood ruling regime).

By the early 1990s, following the national mourning of the auspicious Sudanese Peace Agreement (1988) that fell short of a final approval by the elected government of Sudan due to the June 89’s military coup, the premeditated Brotherhood’s unprincipled War of Genocide and the GOS treacherous war-aimed “peace” negotiations by the NIF rulers forced the SPLM/A leader to appeal directly in a most touching humanitarian address to the United Nations Human Rights Commission and the International Community to stop the 50 years or so destruction of South Sudan by governments of the North, especially the Brotherhood ruthless dehumanizing war mongering ideologues, army commanders, and their militias’ war lords.

It is true that the People of Sudan and the International Community appealed consistently to the warring parties to end the war as a disastrous activity with a lasting just peace. The Brotherhood media campaigns, however, failed to persuade readers to equate the motives and objectives of the two wars, or to beautify the GOS globally condemned War of Genocide versus the SPLM/A indigenous War of Defense. John Garang message was crystal true to the NIF war mongers: “to make peace, you must stop all transgression.” Until they were pressed to make peace by the international treaty-body, the NIF transgressors were used to reply arrogantly: “to make peace, you must first surrender!”

Unlike many politically blinded amateur critics of the ongoing war politics, Al-Khatim ‘Adlan, the experienced war and peace critic, would never fail to see the realities of the war-peace relations between the offensive killers of Sudan and the defensive forces of South Sudan: “We will not need to tell you [John Garang] about the deception, tricks, and treachery of your partners in the [peace] agreement; you know them more than we do” (p. 193).

There are many journalists (for example, Mahgoub Mohamed Salih and Mahgoub Osman of the Al-Ayyam Journal and Nuraddin Medani of al-Sahaffa Journal), as well as the southerner scholars who criticized firmly the shortcomings of the Movement, including mischievous behavior by SPLA top leaderships or regular soldiers in good understanding of the need to encourage human rights reforms, rather than emphasizing only the negativities of the Movement.

Differently from the SPLM/A critics (who pursued every possible campaign in the Press and/or utilized every inch in the Media Space to ridicule the SPLM/SPLA and to destroy the image of its leaderships, in name, with a special emphasis on John Garang de Mabior, compared to a few generalized mention of the NIF genocists), the black-and-white principled ‘Adlan would emphasize in the clearest words possible: “the governments [Garang fought] were not interested in peace; it suffices to mention the present-time government whose top priority, when it assumed political power, was to end the problem of “rebellion” in six months” (p. 351).

Focusing on the early 1990s performance of the Movement, Peter Nyaba, himself a SPLM leader, criticized the SPLM/A political and administrative conditions that contributed to the 1991 split in his book The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan: An Insider’s View (1997). In review of this work, Laura Nyantung Beny affirmed Nyaba was “very critical of both the ideological and methodological shortcomings of the Movement. The SPLM/A leadership was virtually unaccountable for its mistakes and abuses of power, a culture of fear having developed around it” (South Sudan Review: vol. 1, Issue 4, March 03).

Unlike the media mercenaries or the amateur critics, Beny (2003) affirmed the Nyaba criticisms of the Movement in the early 1990s adding these important policy-oriented questions: “Now that several years have passed since the book’s publication, we should ask… What specific measures have been taken to strengthen civil society and the respect for human rights by the SPLM/A? How successful have such measures been? How can southerners overcome the powerful internal and external forces of disunity for the sake of a common aim? How might southerners as a group hold individual leaders politically accountable to the South for self-centered behavior that continues to impose deep and lasting harm on the entire community?”

The CPA regrettably avoided clear stipulation of prosecuting all individuals accused of committing human rights violations in the years of “hostilities.” It is not possible, however, to shut the doors of judicial prosecution at the face of victims in the present time: now governing the Government of National Unity (GONU) and the GOSS, the CPA Interim Constitution allows possible legal prosecution of all violators of human rights by law.

The Brotherhood-controlled government of the North, which regrettably gained an upper-hand status over all of the Sudanese democratic political forces by the Naivasha exclusionary negotiations, must be placed under the strongest pressure possible to comply with the CPA Interim Constitution. Equally importantly, the GOSS should be strongly urged to utilize all its political legitimacy and Authority to come to terms with all southerner peoples to advance the Cause of peace and development in the South.

10 - “My Dear Brother Garang, the political valleys of Sudan are pregnant with mines”

John Garang statements to the People of Sudan after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in addition to previous pledges before and after the CPA by Salva Kiir, Pagan Amum, Yasir Arman, and other SPLM leaders testified to the Movement’s serious intention to abide-by the Interim Constitution of Sudan, which confers strong obligations upon the Government of Sudan and the Government of South Sudan to rule in accordance with human rights norms.

Up to this point, the actual application of the CPA provisions by the competent authorities indicates that the State commitment to the CPA is very poor. Let us recall, for example, the most recent massacres of innocent citizens by the armed groups of the two governments in Malakal, which reminds us with ‘Adlan’s deep concerns about the NIF post-Naivasha plans in South Sudan.

This is a situation for which a principled campaign is persistently needed to press on the CPA governments to implement the constitutional provisions on the civil freedoms and human rights as a top priority, to the maximum degree possible, with a view to expand international human rights norms in all spheres of Authority and the Civil Society. To help the country achieving this goal, a national conference is urgently required for both government and opposition forces to guarantee national participation in the CPA implementation.

Responding to another insider’s view on the SPLM/A by Lam Akol, al-Khatim noted that “Lam Akol’s handling [in his book] of the SPLM should be tackled with intensive caution. Akol had not only abandoned the Movement; but he joined the government…, became a minister, a wage-earner, and a friend of the “heartless” rulers, as he depicted in his book” (p. 346).

Recalling the strong armed resistance of the Brotherhood terrorist rule by the SPLM/SPLA troops, the HAQ Chairperson expressed his deep respect and admiration to the Leader of the SPLM/SPLA, John Garang de Mabior, in a letter addressed to him after the signing ceremony of the Machekos Protocols in July 2003:

“My dear brother, HAQ has continuously expressed unwavering solidarity with the SPLM/SPLA heroic struggles to establish a New Sudan based on equality, democracy, progression, and social justice… With the approval of the Machekos Protocol… the peoples of South Sudan and the marginalized regions have made a historical achievement after which Sudan will never become as it once was, as you eloquently said in the signing of the protocol” (p. 189).

“We are certain the signing of the agreements is the first step in the path of peace, justice, and democracy. Although the peace agreement is a partnership between the SPLM/SPLA and the Government of Sudan, the role to be played by the SPLM/SPLA in the sustenance and advancement of the agreements to accomplish their ultimate goals is incomparable with the role and interests of the National Islamic Front” (p. 190).

Khatim ‘Adlan then mentioned “some of the challenges that the march [of peace] has to face out with exceptional leadership abilities that you have consistently mastered.” The challenges included: 1) Disseminating the agreements by the indigenous languages of people; and 2) exerting real efforts to gain full support of the non-participant parties by a national conference that shouldn’t be led by the National Democratic Alliance.” This latter statement reminds us with Nyaba resentment of the SPLM/A partnership with the NDA “fragile alliance that southerners should not place too much hope in the sincerity of the northern opposition.”

It is indeed important for the South to consolidate its own unity via South-South peaceful and democratic consensus. In the light of the ongoing steeping failures of implementing the SPLM/A peace agreement with the NIF ruling regime, however, this writer contends that the continuity of the agreement hinges on a real strong alliance between the northern opposition, both the NDA and the Umma Party, with the SPLM/A versus the NIF Congress Party rather than any unilateral or bilateral agreements.

Addressing himself to the SPLM/A leadership, ‘Adlan stressed furthermore these strategies: “… 3) unifying the New Sudan forces into a national consolidated body, as a top priority; 4) conducting a broad discussion among all Sudanese professionals and intellectuals to support the country and the marginal areas in collaboration with the SPLM; 5) undertaking close cooperation between HAQ and the SPLM; and 6) establishing a unified alliance to frustrate the deception and treachery of the SPLM “estranged partners” (p. 193).

Finally, Mohamed al-Khatim asserted to his dear brother John the fact that “Our country entered by your struggles a new era of peace and reconciliation. Democratic rule, social justice, the respect of human rights and the recognition of diversity become possible targets of implementation for the first time… Still, the road is rife with challenges; the political valleys of Sudan are pregnant with mines” (p. 194).

‘Adlan, however, criticized the bilateral partnership of the peace agreements. He was aware “the regional and international powers recognized the fact that who makes war, makes peace. That is why they negotiated with the government and the SPLM. In other words, involving the others in the peace negotiations might complicate the problem or renders impossible the agreement itself…” (p. 266).

“The political parties should put the blame on their own inefficiency… They should take advantage of the general democratic climate to mobilize people, deepen democracy, and be prepared for a real democracy based on free national elections… the NDA is gone… What is to be done if we want a real democracy is that each party must disseminate democracy into its own body and reconstruct party programs to renew its life” (p. 266).

Would they?!

‘Adlan was gravely opposed to the NDA because he was affirmatively certain that the NDA failed to live up to the public obligations and the fundamentalist commitments of which toppling the NIF dictatorship and restoring democratic rule constituted the top agenda. Moreover, the NDA rejected the membership of HAQ for partisan reasons (pp. 218-19).

In his opinion, the al-Merghani-Taha agreement (Jeddah: 4 December 2005) was a real NDA failure “reflected in the disproportionate withdrawals of the NDA principles… al-Merghani claimed he had been delegated by the NDA partners to finalize agreements with the ruling regime. This claim was protested by some of the NDA partners who believed al-Merghani representation was delegated only to his DUP… al-Merghani acceptance of the NIF partisan army and security forces, without any reservations, made the heaviest loss” (pp. 208-9).

We will return to the NDA in Commentary 14, our concluding notes on the book.

11 - Why is Sadiq al-Mahdi silent about serious accusations?

Al-Manfa included important commentaries by al-Khatim ‘Adlan on the political conflict between Sadiq al-Mahdi, the prominent leader of the Umma Party, and his deputy Mubarak al-Fadil, the former secretary general of the National Democratic Alliance, who - following a party dispute with the Umma leadership - was also dismissed from his own party. Mubarak then announced the establishment of another Umma group with which he became part of the NIF ruling regime.

A little while before the dispute, Mubarak El-Fadil accused Sadiq al-Mahdi of “running the Umma affairs by oligarchy and sectarian arrogance over blind loyalties of some laymen” Also, he accused the Umma Leader of “humiliating the opponents and corrupting the party resources by nepotism and briberies” (pp. 287-88). Here, ‘Adlan thought that the silence of al-Mahdi about these serious accusations “would be considered defaulting defense or admission of the alleged allegations” (p. 288).

‘Adlan believed that “the accusations seemed to be true to a great extent: Mubarak, for instance, mentioned that a conflict had earlier erupted in the party with respect to a report prepared [about the party] by ‘Abd al-Rahman Nugd-Allah, a distinguished leader of the party, and signed by 40 party leaders and many cadres. Despite of the fact that al-Mahdi talked many times about the report, he did not approve it” (p. 288).

“The political past of Sadiq al-Mahdi testified to the occurrences of personal preferences, instead of party decisions: “In 1988, the Umma-DUP coalition government reached an impasse. Assuming that the NIF had chosen to co-exist with the country’s liberal democracy, al-Mahdi did not hesitate to party with the NIF in a new coalition. Notwithstanding, the NIF was strongly determined to destroy the coalition (p. 132). As alleged, Sadiq established the coalition government notwithstanding the collective rejection of Umma leaders and membership” (p. 289).

‘Adlan informed that “Sadiq al-Mahdi was already aware of the NIF military coup. As a Prime Minister he was expected to fail the coup, which he failed to do. I had personally asked al-Sadiq about his awareness of the coup: He wasn’t able to deny it; nor was he able to negate his inability to foil it. Perhaps he wasn’t sure enough to stay with the sister ideologues, who wanted to overthrow his democratic government, or to carry on with the secular opponents who upheld democracy and were satisfied with his premiership with a view to weaken his political foundation. It was inevitable: the Sadiq’s Hamlet situation produced all those tragedies that hurt the whole country…” (p. 289).

In his black-and-white politics and ethical fairness, ‘Adlan concluded in these statements: “We wouldn’t be respectful of ourselves, or leaderships, or Homeland if such heavy allegations would be surpassed in silence. The negligence of such issues while still talking about democracy and institutional activities is nothing but sickness… Sadiq would not be salvaged from this dilemma and his great embarrassment without an honest confrontation…” (p. 290).

On the other side, “what Mubarak al-Mahdi reiterated about the attempts to reform the Umma Party, irrespective of al-Sadiq resistance, and the strong appetite to enforce the reforms should’ve moved Mubarak to devote all his time for the process of reformation. This process must be based on the self-critiquing of Mubarak practices in the [third] democracy; such reforms might elevate the Umma to a new secular, non-sectarian horizon” (p. 291).

“Mubarak El-Fadil al-Mahdi, however, has not chosen this path. Instead, he made a disastrous mix-up between the party reforms on one hand, and his membership of a totalitarian Authority in both foundation and orientation on the other. The Authority he joined accepts allies only as beggars. It comes closer to the allies only to destroy them. Mubarak political competencies are known to all those who worked with him. But competencies must be party with wisdom; a party that most regrettably hasn’t materialized” (p. 291).

Khatim did not mention the popular facts that Mubarak El-Fadil, the former minister of interior in al-Mahdi’s democratically elected government (1986-89) was first entrusted with the ministry of industries. In less than a year, his performance led to a series of wasteful confrontations in the country’s trade with Egypt, in addition to allegations of corruption politically prosecuted against Mubarak but Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi protected his minister from their legal prosecution.

Mubarak was then entrusted with the top security tasks of preserving the country’s democracy as a minister of interior and a member of the National Defense Council. He, not only the prime minister, should’ve taken the necessary measures to foil the coup, or at least to resist it. The “competencies” of the former minister of interior, however, enabled him to escape the country in a great hurry, just a few hours before the NIF elements closed the port.

In his term of office as minister of interior affairs, Mubarak collaborated with the NIF opposition to mount hostilities against key national democratic activities by the Sudanese intellectuals and democrats that aimed timely to prepare the country for a lasting peace with the SPLM/SPLA.

Two politicians, in particular, launched severe attacks in the Constituent Assembly and the Press against the university faculty and the unions’ peace advocates who conducted serious talks with the SPLM/SPLA at the Ambo Forum in Ethiopia. The two aggressive opponents who accused flatly the Ambo decent participants of high treason and urged the Constituent Assembly to put them on trial were Mubarak El-Fadil, the minister of interior, and ‘Ali Osman Taha, then NIF parliamentary leader. There is much to say, however, about the “political in-competency” of both leaders.

12 - Al-Mahdi counterbalances: Islamic thought, democracy, and modern rule

It is true that in the Third Democracy, al-Mahdi was not able to act decisively, in time, with respect to the major issues of 1) abolishing the Nimeiri Shari’a Laws despite his intellectual rejection of the laws; 2) approving expeditiously the Sudanese Peace Agreement; 3) reinstating the army of professionals and skilled workers the NIF-Nimeiri coalition unlawfully purged; 4) divorcing the Umma Party from its historical victimization by his brother-in-law Hassan al-Turabi to be able to remove the Brotherhood’s ideological rivalry and corruption viruses inside the Umma body; as well as other failures.

Sadiq al-Mahdi, however, has been accredited because the Umma-led Third Democracy: 1) salvaged the country from the Nimeiri famine and starvation by high yielding agrarian productivities, which the NIF coup would dwindle later in wasteful arms sales for the sake of terrorist adventures and disastrous wars; 2) ratified main instruments of the international human rights norms, including the political, economic, and cultural covenants of the Bill of Rights; 3) allowed a broad exercise of the freedom of expression and the Free Press; and 4) negotiated, developed, and finally approved the Sudanese Peace Agreement among other accomplishments.

Evaluating al-Sadiq political performance only with respect to the Third Democracy will do little justice in the assessment of four consecutive decades of his political leadership. These years contained the post-independence executive, legislative, and judicial struggles over difficult development inhibitions of the autonomous Sudan in cultural and political terms (not an Unruly Sudan, as Charles Gordon believed).

Within the restricted possibilities of this “impossible mission,” evaluating al-Mahdi premiership should pay full attention to the State programs to stabilize democratic rule, unify the Nation, and maintain the rule of law in compliance with international norms. It is not possible, however, to interpret the complexities of these dilemmas without due consideration to the cultural values and spiritualities of rural Sudan, the largest arena of social change that the urban-based critics and evaluators often ignored.

The continual ascendancy of al-Sadiq to match vibrant political experiences with scholarly contemporary thought should be critically encouraged, rather than the one-eyed relentless emphasis on the negative critiquing of his political endeavors and intellectual contributions by my friend, the Republican thinker Omer al-Garay.

The main difference between Sadiq al-Mahdi and the two Umma-NIF leaders, Mubarak El-Fadil and ‘Ali Osman Taha, is that, al-Sadiq and the mother Umma Party refused unequivocally in a heroic and most admirable stance ((precisely like ‘Abd al-Khaliq Mahgoub and his communist party) to dissolve their influential autonomous community into the Nimeiri good-for-nothing Sudanese Socialist Union (1970-1985).

Most importantly, Sadiq al-Siddiq al-Mahdi and the Umma Party rejected vehemently any political partnership with the NIF rotten governance of Sudan, the biggest sin that both Mubarak El-Fadil al-Mahdi and ‘Ali Osman Taha miserably shared.

In truth, Mubarak “competencies” were hardly recognized by the NDA rainbow partnerships, which finally dismissed him from leadership of its Secretariat (this embraced the DUP, SPLM/A, CP, SLM, the East Front, Legitimate Command, SAF, Sudan Workers’ Federation and the other unions). The Umma abandoned its seat in the NDA Leadership Council; but the party continues to honor the NDA Fundamental Agreements.

Much worse, ‘Ali’s “competencies” have been authoritatively invested via the June 89 military coup in the entrenchment of the terrorist Brotherhood governance. ‘Ali, as well, succeeded Turabi in the sensitive tasks of supervising the State-International Brotherhoods external relations.

Sadiq al-Mahdi is a distinguished thinker whose works signify decades of scholarly efforts to come up with a Wasatiya thought, namely the doctrinal possibility of making a political marriage between Islam and a regular democracy. Neither Mubarak El-Fadil, nor ‘Ali Osman ever dared to approach in intellectual terms the kaleidoscopic complexities of this encyclopedic project to modernizing Islamic Thought.

It is an ambitious project that has been diligently pursued by sophisticated scholars all over the world representing varying schools of thought in different periods of time (‘Abd al-Khaliq Mahgoub; Mahmoud Mohamed Taha; Ismail al-Farouqi; Faraj Foda; Nasr Hamid AbuZaid; Rodwan al-Sayed - to mention a few).

These scholars stressed the possibilities of building up civilized co-existence between Islam and the East-West North-South religions, philosophies, and societies, as well as the co-existence of the Muslims and the non-Muslim populations of the same nations in democratic polities versus the doctrines of unequal-existence or the indoctrinations of non-existence by the political Islam or the non-Muslim hate groups.

It goes without saying that the intellectual thought and the political leadership of Sadiq al-Mahdi are both challengeable. Notwithstanding, the successful list of challengers would most likely exclude the dismissed NDA secretary general who abandoned his mother party to join the NIF hateful terrorists, or his Authority friends, ‘Ali Osman Taha, Omer Ahmed al-Bashir, and Hassan al-Turabi that represent the top accountable tormentors of the peoples of Sudan, to say nothing of the unabated crimes of their ruling Brotherhood against humanity in Darfur.

Sadiq al-Mahdi’s negative politics included a notorious constitutional violation of the Communist Party’s legitimacy by the mid 1960s, added to dragging hostilities with the South liberation thought and movements.

By the mid 80s, these negativities, however, have been rationally revised by the Umma Party: the relations with the communists and the labor unionists have been progressively mended by the collective struggles of the March/April 1985’s Uprising, which toppled the Nimeiri-Turabi authoritative rule, up to a point of appointing top communist experts in the Umma-led succeeding government, besides the 1990s partnership and close collaboration with the NDA to overthrow the NIF rule.

The Sadiq-South relations have prominently changed by the breaking agreement of KokaDam (at the intersection of Ambo and the al-Merghani-Garang Sudanese Peace Agreement). Furthermore, the Umma renewal conferences, in exile and home, criticized the party’s semi-Brotherhood policies towards the South, and opted for the enhancement of sisterly relations between the liberal South and the Umma Islamic democracy.

The Umma is one of the two largest voting constituencies of the Sudan, according to the country’s records of democratic elections (the other one is the al-Merghani-led DUP). The Umma-Brotherhood “strategic alliance” created the constitutional crisis that precipitated in the 17-year tragedy of the May dictatorial rule.

The repeated Umma-Brotherhood alliance resulted in another heinous 17-year dictatorial governance. As repeatedly evident, al-Sadiq renewed alliance with the same Turabi and the same Brotherhood posits the frightening possibilities of another victimization of the Umma by the notorious Brotherhood, which might extend, once again, to encompass the whole Nation and neighboring States.

The NDA refused to accommodate the Turabi-influenced NIF opposition faction as a political partner. Apparently, the Umma would not follow suit for fear of the delicate concerns of the party in Darfur in which the Justice and Equality rebels maintain close relations with Turabi and his Popular Congress opposition group.

The bare facts are unfortunately stark should the post-Naivasha elections (as scheduled in less than a year’s time from today) bring about renewed Umma-Brotherhood alliances. Sudan, the people and land, would be destined to live another ordeal, a possible legitimizing victimization against the State and society by any renewable strategic or even tactical alliance of al-Sadiq and Hassan al-Turabi.

Here, it must be stressed that the possibilities of carrying over these longstanding Hamlet relationships - to borrow al-Khatim’s eloquent depictions - to an all-out Umma-Brotherhoods’ alliance versus a possible secular-democratic alliance by the NDA/SPLM/SLM is hardly exterminated.

This writer appreciates ‘Adlan’s political hopes on the possibilities of a springing secularization and democratization developments into the great Sudanese democratic body of the Umma Party. Sadiq al-Mahdi, the distinguished, democratic, and experienced leader of the Umma community, notwithstanding, should indeed think and act decisively to set apart his dear people, for good, from any further marriages with the political Islam or the other list of the Brotherhood destructive plans

13 - Sharpening fame despite disproportionate mention of women thinkers

In general, reader missed the Sudanese women in the ‘Adlan’s Manfa, except for a few women he personally mentioned, including his spouse Tayseer Mustafa, the mother of his sons, and Fatima Ahmed Ibrahim, “an amicable person” (p. 264).

Reader, however, finds in the Al-Manfa selected works the thinker’s deep concerns with the Cause of women advancement in society and politics; slightly mentioned compared to the heavy mention of males all over the book.

Contemplating the “madness of nations,” (pp. 311-19), ‘Adlan spoke bitterly of the deteriorating conditions of children, “including 2 million children, mostly girls abused by commercialism vice” (p. 314).

Ending civil wars in Sudan will help to redress the disasters of war and the social backwardness of the country: “it will stop the discrimination between females and males, and the children born out of wedlock; the child labor and the recruitment of children in armies; besides the provision of asylum to vagrant children, and the eradication of female circumcision” (p. 318).

In his press conference on HAQ, ‘Adlan projected far-sighted strategies anticipating “the presence of women in the arena of action, emancipated from chains of suppression and marginalization” (p. 37). Similarly, he stressed the need to renew political parties by measures “creating the opportunities to empower a new generation of the youth and women” (p. 266).

Addressing himself to John Garang on the post-Niavasha New Sudan programs, ‘Adlan called on “all Sudanese professionals, economists, oil experts, physicians, educators, engineers, attorneys, activists on human rights and women issues, nurses, … to discuss… the types of assistance they are able to offer to the Sudan…” (p. 193).

Interestingly, the selected works embraced a significant interview by al-Khatim to the Sudanese short-story writer Layla Abul‘ala. The interview as conducted by ‘Adlan indicated his deep appreciation of the writer’s high level of literary expression; added to her deep insights on the complex East-West relations, and her thoughtful handling of the situation of adopting Islamic faith in the West.

The interview helped to show the writer’s aesthetic exposure of many dimensions of art in the context of the East-West ideologies and cultural values. In this connection, Abul’ala explained aspects of her literate writings on the learning potentialities as well as the confusion of belonging to different cultures with respect to Easterners brought up in the West, Westerners reared in the East, or individuals with Sudanese-Egyptian nationalities like the writer herself. A special emphasis was placed on the feminist struggle to promote the women’s status in the male-dominated world (pp. 271-281).

The themes discussed in the interview indicated the urgent need to highlight the Sudanese women’s intellectuality in the areas of the literary work whose aesthetic productivity testifies to the artistic creativity and refined humanism of women writers.

Layla responses to the interviews thought-provoking questions indicated further the unresolved antithetical relationships between dynamic forces of modern society: the females and males; the West and the East; spirituality and secularism; the endless interactions between the physical and moral entities of the human gathering.

“The West, represented by Bryan and Ray, sees in the Sudanese women a strange gender, a peaceful securable oasis. This is [articulated] only in the beginning. That is why they felt the shock when the same women challenged their values, even their whole lifestyle,” explains Layla Abul’ala (p. 275).

With these words, as well as other intriguing statements, the short-story writer presented a real image of the Sudanese woman - strong, integral, and self-assertive personality; an image that continues to shock the Westerns and the Easterners who confine the status of women in the negative role of doing domestic services. This prejudiced thought has been excessively sinking into the bottoms of frustration and estrangement, the more that women manifest their will to excel in the worlds of power and creative works.

Layla and Khatim remind readers with the participant observations of Carolyn Fluehr-Lobban with a great many Sudanese women in the Three Towns Capitol a few years before the implementation of September laws (1984).

Mihera [i.e., Carolyn] admired the "independent, self-assertive personalities" of the women. She spoke about the women’s liberality in the public life and their sacred privacy in the home. Who said that these women think of themselves as inferior to the men, exclaimed Mihera who put the blame of the false images of women inferiority on the ignorance of Western reporters.

In the absence of information on the women’s creative works, one assumes there must be many unknown women of the caliber of Nawal El-Sadawi, a most distinguished progressive pioneer of raising awareness on the women’s internal worlds, aspirations, and political determination.

Abul’ala has already won many prizes for her artistic works. Still, millions of readers have not yet known about her short stories. The thought-provoking questions of al-Khatim ‘Adlan and their bright replies made a good job informing the world about her collection. By interview, the rising fame of the Sudanese-Egyptian Layla Abul’ala has competently juxtaposed the shining fame of her counterpart, Nawal El-Saadawi.

14 – Conclusions

O Ye Sudanese! O ye International! Akhwan Yousif: how would thee sustain Home?

It was popularly known in the late 1960s that Ja’far Nimeiri, an officer decorated with armed forces medals for “bravely fighting” State wars against his own nationals, the indigenous warriors of South Sudan, made an unsuccessful attempt to seize political power in the midst of a constitutional crisis in the North in which the government purged elected members of the Parliament for partisan reasons in gross violation of the Constitution.

Those days, Nimeiri was an admirer of the Communist Party and the Secretary General of the party ‘Abd al-Khaliq Mahgoub. A modernist entity propagating social change programs in a society strongly influenced by the political illiteracy of reactionary conservatives, the CP was a pioneering party, which elevated distinguished southerner intellectuals to top party ranks and insisted in a peaceful settlement of the civil strife by autonomous rule to the South within a unified democratic Sudan. These party politics constituted political blasphemy by the conservative rulers – a trend ever since shared by the dictators of Sudan even though Nimeiri and Bashir signed subsequent peace agreements with the South under immense national and international pressures.

The whole Region was rampant with new ideas in defiance of the old decaying colonialism and a new emerging imperialism. Standing, in principle, by the side of sweeping liberation movements all over the former colonies under the leaderships of strong African, Asian, and Latin American parties, the Sudanese CP was exceptionally noted for consistency in both interior and foreign policy perspectives. It was a stubborn nationalist autonomous group that resisted all kinds of military usurpation and Authority suppression inside the country based on self-assertive stands in the International arena vis-à-vis the Cold War rivalries.

The Americans were unhappy with the Sudanese communists, regardless of their nationalist democratic programs that antagonized mainly the foreign support of national repressive regimes, rather than dogmatic enmity of the West. ‘Abd al-Khaliq Program, for instance, called on “mutual cooperation and concerns for peace and development between Sudan and the West;” but the World Bank never listened. Later, the WB would equally subject Sadiq al-Mahdi’s government to irrational hostile pressures.

The Soviet Union, which was equally displeased with the Mahgoub-led independent party, expressed hostile criticisms to the CP during and after the massacres of the party in July 1971 by the Nimeiri junta. Ironically, the Soviets put the blame on the CP reluctance to collaborate closely with the May “Revolution” at expense of the party national democratic programs. The Soviets did not want opposition groups to play down the May junta as “a petty-bourgeois military coup” in the words of CP secretary general. This Euro-Asian Soviet shameless pragmatism would replicate itself decades later with the Capitalist Russia support of the June 89’s “bourgeoisie military coup” in full collaboration with the quasi-Capitalist China. Lured by oil monies, both countries adhered silently to the conspiracies of silence, or supported openly the Bashir dictatorship versus the Sudanese democrats and the International Community.

The Sudanese-international relations were not based on imperial desires (as the Brotherhoods International decided since the 1980s to experiment in the laboratory of Sudan). The Sudanese nationalist foreign policies were founded on the centuries’ friendly qualities of the People of Sudan, the ancient diplomacy Richard Lobban’s Historical Dictionary of Nubia mentioned between Nubian Queens and the Roman Empire; the rational diplomacy of peace and development exchanges Mohamed Ahmed Mahgoub, Ahmed Khair, Jamal Mohamed Ahmed, Farouq Abu Eissa, Mohamed Omer Bashir, Francis Deng, Mohamed El-Mekki Ibrahim, Ibrahim Ayoub, Nuraddin Manan and others pursued.

Let us forget at this point about the international terrorism crises al-Turabi and Taha created by usurpation adventures from inside Sudan across the international borders; the wasteful crisis officer Omer Bashir created and developed against the UN Security Council most recently; and the crisis of crisis-resolution that Mustafa Ismail Osman announced to resolve the crisis in Lebanon.

… … …

The CP admirer Nimeiri was fascinated with the consistent struggles of the Communist Party versus the authoritative governments of Khartoum of which an Umma-led government dismissed him by mere suspicion together with Khalid al-Kid, an army officer well-known for his democratic orientation inside the army. Months later, the Nimeiri Revolutionary Council of the May coup (1969) asserted that the Sudanese post-independent governments “tore apart the potentially unified million miles Nation to a field of civil war, unconstitutional banning of elected parliamentarians, and a faltering economic State.”

June 30, 1989, the Sudanese would hear from the Omdurman National Radio brigadier Omer al-Bashir denouncing the al-Mahdi’s democracy “that no one wanted” and justifying his coup “by the failures of the democratic government to respect international human rights and to make good foreign relations with Central Africa!”

What a liar!

In a few months of assuming the highest political, legislative, and executive powers of the country by the May military coup, however, the admirer of the 60s progressive struggles against the Arab Presumptuous Mentality (PAM) of Sudan conservative rulers never hesitated to persecute with State powers the very communists he once admired, including ‘Abd al-Khaliq Mahgoub, Joseph Garang, and al-Shafi’ Ahmed al-Sheikh whom he brutally hanged, and Mohamed Ibrahim Nugud, al-Tigani al-Tayeb Babiker, Yousif Hussain, Suliman Hamid, al-Khatim ‘Adlan, Shaffi’ Khider, and the other intellectuals of the party who have been forced to resist the anti-democratic rule in hiding or behind prison walls.

How much hate, envy, or psychopathic jealousy the admirer colonel had been really accumulating just to massacre these thinkers, while wickedly pretending to appreciate their political charisma, is a question opened for the scientific explorations of political analysts and psycho-social therapists.

… … …

Soon after this tragedy, the Brotherhood politics indicated a continuity of the same mannerism: Omer al-Bashir, an unknown army officer, in close alliance with Osman ‘Ali Taha, crowned Hassan al-Turabi, their Islamist ideologue, a sole mentor of the high jacked State. Unlike the short-lived unhappy marriage between the CP and the Nimeiri Authority, the sold-out armed forces, treasury, and legislative powers by the unknown Brotherhood officers would secure 17 years of despotic rule to their power-thirst ideologues.

In a short while, however, the admirer brigadier and his civilian party members would purge the admirable Sheikh and persecute his aides (perhaps deceptively, as ‘Adlan and many Sudanese writers noted).

… … …

In the years 2005-6, two distinguished Sudanese thinkers Mohamed Al-Khatim ‘Adlan and John Garang de Mabior passed away respectively. De Mabior, then a triumphant nationalist peace leader over the war mongering century’s longest war in Africa, lost his life in a helicopter crash. Millions of the supporters that had earlier received de Mabior at the Khartoum Airport, a few days before the crash, disbelieved the government’s dim story about the accident. Many thought that the Akhwan warring regime must have known better why a promising national leader like Garang might be removed from Authority by conspiracy.

Apart from liberal thought and empirical studies, this writer is strangely inclined to recall a Sudanese indigenous wisdom that is deeply rooted in the Sufi traditions of our society: recalling Akhwan Yousif [the Brothers of Prophet Joseph] who threw him down into a remote well to preserve the love of Prophet Jacobs, their most beloved father, many people actually wondered: who of the envious ones, then, might have overthrown Garang from a flying copter?

The charismatic personality of Al-Khatim ‘Adlan, the other distinguished thinker, was unquestionable. He was a possible successor of the party top leadership. ‘Adlan was aware of the party leaders and members “that wanted to assassinate [his] political career” (pp. 203-4). Was ‘Adlan’s black-and-white sharp criticisms of bureaucratic authorities a source of the irreconcilable conflict that finally hurt both thinker and party, leading, as it did, to the tragic resignation of the popular activist and the hastily establishment of a short-lived HAQ to the detriment of the historically recognizable mother group?

… … …

Looking back at the ‘Adlan collected works, reader is compelled to comment on the tragedy of Hamlet once again: the tormented prince the genius Shakespeare created to illustrate the dilemma of alienation and split of the human mind in the bewilderment of undecided allegiances. Here, it is inescapable to blame the Hamlet Cold War East-West relations that gave the kindest eye to the Third World repressive governments and the blindest eye to their democratic protestors.

Having excluded the Sudanese democratic forces from peace agreements, the Naivasha talks and their resulting treaty stand in same line of short-sighted strategies threatened by the Hamlet partner, the Brotherhood rulers, who want to build and destroy, implement and freeze the agreement at the same and one time!

Let us pause for a minute: what prosperity could have happened in the history of Sudan had the Cold War powers paid deserved consideration to the nationalist autonomous thought and the development planning of ‘Abd al-Khaliq whose assassination by the ignorant admirer stormed the winds of protest in the enlightened West before an emphatic East?

What intellectual flourishing environments Sudan and the neighboring nations could have developed based on healthy East-West peaceful relations in trade, technology, and cultural learning, according to the Program instead of the wasteful emphasis on military pacts and the craze of arms sales by repressive regimes? Who benefited most of these sales? And who perished by the genocidal use and abuse of the war toys?

Khatim ‘Adlan put it succinctly: “America is an economic, military, technological, and intellectual power… These facts are articulated in international politics because it is basically founded on power; but [international politics] must also be based on rightness… We will stand against America if it uses its power to victor overbearing forces of evil. We will praise America if it utilizes its power for goodness, especially the good of peoples” (p. 223).

The noble persons of ‘Abd al-Khaliq, Garang, Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, and al-Khatim ‘Adlan martyred “fighting” with ideas and moral stands in the battles of reform versus savage regimes fighting democracy and peace by coercion and crimes against humanity. That is why the West post-Cold War human rights conditionality and the freeze the US Government and other Western nations imposed on the Brotherhood military coup in Sudan are highly commendable: arms never have been used to make peace; but the bullets were shot only at the chests of the democratic movements whose noble sacrifices aimed, in essence, to eradicate totalitarianism.

… … …

There are so many themes of epistemology, political modernity, diversity, and creativity that al-Manfa provokingly stimulated through the burning intellectuality of al-Khatim ‘Adlan. We will stop at this point, however.

… … …

Sometimes in the mid 1990s, thinker ’Adlan contributed with some of his most critical works on the future of socialism. (This part requires careful research in a separate thesis). Interestingly, ‘Adlan introduced al-Wasatiya concept into the present-time politics of Sudan vis-à-vis the NIF fundamentalist suppressive indoctrinations that abused the religion of Islam by non-democratic rule and did a great harm to the tolerant modes of the Sudanese social life. (This part is worthy of detailed analysis in a separate work).

‘Adlan critique of the NDA is worthy of a special analysis. Briefly in these concluding remarks, this writer feels the political impact of the thinker on a new generation of Sudanese democrats and brave writers. It suffices to mention at this point the black-and-white message addressed by Muna Awad Khugali in the sudaneseonline site to the NDA parliamentarians in the Brotherhood-led Government of National Unity - the government failing the CPA implementation by the SPLM/NDA non-matched lazy activities versus the NIF/Congress destructive offensive. Muna asked these NDA leaderships: “What have you accomplished so far?!”

Al-Manfa exempts no body of ‘Adlan’s criticisms: the Communists are asked to allow new leaderships to carry out new party programs if they want to democratize their party, and to clarify the facts about the July Rectification Movement (1971); Sadiq al-Mahdi is asked to clarify accusations against his political person despite the opportunism of Mubarak El-Fadil that aimed to liquidate the Umma (p. 247); Mohamed Osman al-Merghani is asked to justify his withdrawals from the NDA principles in favor of the NIF rulers; SPLM/A is asked to put to task her New Sudan programs in firm commitment to democratic rule.

Besides his condemnation of the opportunist splitting groups of Mubarak El-Fadil and the group of al-Sharif al-Hindi against their own mother parties, the Umma and the DUP (p. 247), ‘Adlan would say nothing to the NIF but that it should indeed “go to Hell.”

… … …

The publication of Ma al-Manfa is breaking news. Manshorat Madarik and al-Khatim ‘Adlan Center for Enlightenment (Cairo: ISBN 17182/2006) will do justice to the intellectuals in Sudan and global thinking if they continue to publish the other collected works of this knowledgeable writer.

Farwell, Socialista!

May the Almighty Lord shower your soul, Munadil al-Kadiheen, with His Eternal Love and Oft-Living Mercy!

* The author is a member of the Sudanese Writers’ Union. He can be reached at emehawari@hotmail.com.



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