Mauritania

The Supreme Islamic Council which is
composed of five members nominated by the President of the Republic. It issues
opinions on matters on which it is consulted by the President of the Republic.

?         The
Economic and Social Council which is requested by the President of the Republic
to give its views on draft laws, orders and decrees of an economic and social
nature and on bills of the same kind submitted to him. It may also be consulted
by the President of the Republic on any economic or social matter of concern to
the State.

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To sum up, Mauritania was first
inhabited by blacks and Berbers, and it was a center for the Berber Almoravid
movement in the 11th century, which sought to spread Islam through western
Africa. It was first explored by the Portuguese in the 15th century, but by the
19th century the French had gained control. France organized the area into a
territory in 1904, and in 1920 it became one of the colonies that constituted
French West Africa. In 1946, it was named a French overseas territory.

Mauritania became an independent
nation on Nov. 28, 1960, and was admitted to the United Nations in 1961.

Mauritania started its march toward
democracy in November 2006, when local and regional elections were held
throughout the country. Presidential elections followed in March 2007. None of
the 19 candidates won more than 50% of the vote in the first round, and the two
top candidates, Sidi Ould Sheik Abdellahi, a former government minister, and
Ahmed Ould Daddah, an opposition leader, faced off in the country’s first-ever
second round of voting. Abdellahi prevailed in the runoff to become the
country’s first democratically elected president.

Virtually all Mauritanians are Sunni
Muslims. They adhere to the Maliki Mezhep (understanding way), one of the four
Sunni schools of Islamic understanding ways. Since independence in 1960,
Mauritania has been an Islamic republic. The Constitutional Charter of 1985
declares Islam the state religion and sharia the law of the land.

Mauritania is a presidential
republic. The government bureaucracy is composed of ministries, special
agencies, and parastatal companies. The Ministry of Interior controls a system
of regional governors and prefects modeled on the French system of local
administration. Under this system, Mauritania is divided into 13 regions
(wilaya), including the capital district, Nouakchott. Control is tightly
concentrated in the executive branch of the central government, but a series of
national and municipal elections since 1992 have produced some decentralization,
and efforts to decentralize the government continue.

Mauritania’s bicameral legislature
is composed of the lower house (National Assembly) directly elected to a 5-year
term through universal suffrage, and the upper house (Senate) whose members are
elected to 6-year terms by municipal councilors. 

 

The Role of
Islam in Mauritania

First of all, Islam emerged in the
region of Mauritania with the first military campaign intervention Saharan
Africa from northern Mauritania first time with the Islamic Commander Habib ibn
Abi Ubayd ibn Uqba ibn Nafie, in the reign of Caliph Hisham bin Abdul Malik in
117 A.H.  After that, Islam spread
southward into West Africa, with the movement of Muslim traders and craftsmen
and later with the founders of Islamic brotherhoods. Although the brotherhoods
(Sufism and Tariqa) played a role in the early expansion of Islam, it was not
until the nineteenth century that these religious orders assumed importance
when they attempted to make religion a force for expanding identities and
loyalties beyond the limits of kinship. The relative peace brought to the area
by French administration and the growing resentment of colonial rule
contributed to the rapid rise in the power and influence of the brotherhoods.
In recent decades, these orders have opposed tribalism and have been an
indispensable element in the growth of nationalist sentiment.

The Islamization of Mauritania was a
gradual process that spanned more than 500 years. Beginning slowly through
contacts with Berber and Arab merchants engaged in the important caravan trades
and rapidly advancing through the Almoravid conquests, Islamization did not
take firm hold until the arrival of Yemeni Arabs in the 12th and
13th centuries and was not complete until several centuries later. Gradual
Islamization was accompanied by a process of Arabization as well, during which
the Berber masters of Mauritania lost power.

During the colonial time, France
tried to enter the Mauritanian education by creating new schools, supporting
the Mauritanian traditional schools (Mahdharas), even they tried to make some
agreement with some scholars to give them a lots of money and in return they
will give France opportunities to teach French language in their schools, but
no one even one scholar (Alim/Cheikh) accepted that, according to them it was
Haram to teach the colonial’s language or to let Muslims student to go to the
French schools. When Mauritania became an independent state, it was normal to
be an Islamic State because till it has 100% Muslim Pop. However, “Islam is the
religion of the people and the state.” 
Historically was the main gate for the west and center Africa in the
case of the spread of Islam, several Ulemas (Islamic Scholars) went to
different places, countries there for that reason and still the Mauritanian are
popular by their scientific and Islamist named “chinghity”, and the Mauritanian
governments from the independence till nowadays keep at the historical
responsibility towards Africa for example, every year especially in Ramadan month,
hundreds of Ulemas go by the states supports to all African countries to teach
Muslims Societies there and to spread Islamic knowledge there, this religious
responsibilities are organized officially by the Mauritanian Ministry of
Islamic Affairs.

From the political window, Islam is
the main factors of national unity, so it plays a vital role in a religious
society like the Mauritanian people, where every Political parties, civil
society organizations… etc. always try to keep their goals, visions, and agenda
related and take that in the consideration, because they know that society
cannot accept any kind of underrated Islam.

The Economic Issue

Economy, in all of its aspects, tries to find a
solution for what the economists name as “the economic issue”, which is, in
brief, “the reflection of the growing needs and the scarcity of the resources
that would meet those needs”. 

On the one hand, human being has several needs
because of their natural and innate desire for more, depending on a society’s
development or underdevelopment and changes and re-fashionings of lifestyles
make two sentences here, too much for one and living conditions from one social
context to the other, and also depending on the steady increase in population
and the decrease in death rates due to the steady development in health and
life standards. On the other hand, however, there is the scarcity of the means
available to satisfy all those desires and growing needs.      

Even though the means to satisfy these needs have
proven to be valid for other substantial uses (different uses for one single
means), they were never enough, as the economic issue kept popping in different
aspects. This can be generally summarized into the constant inability of these
satisfactions means to keep up with the growing needs. Thus hypotheses and
opinions striving to establish persistent and stable solutions have been
numerous due to differences in estimating and picturing the original source of
this economic issue in the first place. 

Socialism considers that the economic issue always
springs from the “contradiction between the production form and the nature of
distribution relations”. However, according to Capitalism, the roots of the
problem lie in the shortage in natural resources (because of the limitations of
land and the inability to expand it and increase its natural resources in order
to meet human needs). Thus, this is how these two profane approaches generally
perceive the economic issue.

 

Islamic Systems[1]

It is significant number of those who refuse to
adopt Islamic morals and practices as lifestyle, sometimes out of sheer ignorance;
at other times out of willful negligence. This repulsive and uncompromising
attitude is not reflected in other aspect of people’s life as it is in their
daily – political as well as economical – experience. Those who stick to this
attitude seem to forget, or pretend to have forgotten, that support of the
implementation of such solution are neither philosophizing about an Ideal
Republic nor they are trying to invent a dreamlike and imaginary world.
Instead, they are just rediscovering life principles that had once been the key
to bridging the gap between Theory and Practice within some Islamic systems
that colored all aspects of communal life: governmental, economical, and societal,
despite the different belief systems it contained, the different ethnic groups
it consisted of, the different geographical areas it covered, and the different
periods of time over which it exercised its rule.  

Islam is a set of rules and creeds.  Faith is its core creed; its rules and
cornerstones are formed by set of of Sharia Law systems which aim to organize
people’s affairs. The differences and variations within these systems of
relationships have engendered systems as different and variable as the
following:

The Social System: is the system that sets
the codes for the meeting between the two sexes: male and female during which
the type of their relationship and all of its outcomes are defined (Al-Nabhani,
p. 9); for instance, forbidding non-natural relations between a male and a
female (being alone together) or when the woman is able to demand divorce.
However, the business she can establish and the inheritance she can get falls
under the economic system.

The Government System: is the system which specifies the nature of the
state, its characteristics, rules, institutions, apparatuses, foundations,
together with the ideas, notions, and values according to which state affairs
are regulated, in addition to the constitution and laws which are implemented
by the state (Al-Nabhani, p.
13-15).

The Economic System: economy is about how to manage your money, how to
thrive, how to secure its sources and look for others (Economic Science), and
how to distribute it (the economic system). The economic system is therefore a
system that looks at how to distribute wealth among people according to their
perception of life (Al-Masri, p. 9 and Al-Nbahani, p. 57).

In a nutshell, objecting to the sovereignty of
Islamic Systems over daily life matters under the pretext of their inability to
be implemented or invalidity of the present day temporal and spatial contexts
is nothing but a claim that defies right and contravenes reality.  There is no room to discuss this issue here
but we have limited ourselves to just mentioning it out of respect for a system
that is now perceived as a historical achievement.

The Islamic approach – and Islamic economy is only
one of its specialized apparatuses – which prevailed from Hegira until the
overthrow of the Islamic caliphate in 1336 Hijri including & containing all
the ups and downs that it witnessed as it went through peace and turmoil. It
was alternately carried out by two authorities: The Governor and the Judge. The
governor was the decision maker, Imam and leader who must abide by Sharia law;
the Judge was the one who settles up disputes between conflicting parties and
the one to whom people could plead even against the Imam.

It has been successively reported through Hadith
Mutawatir that judges, since the time of the prophet, peace and blessings of
Allah be upon him, had been implementing Islamic Sharia laws in every aspect of
life, whether settling up matters in the disputes among Muslims themselves or
between Muslims and other people.  

The closest example to that are the judiciary and
courts records that have been preserved in Istanbul, Damascus, and Baghdad…
etc. The Implementation of Sharia generally revolves around five aspects,
namely, economy, society, education, government and foreign policy (Zayn, p.
401).

Explaining and extrapolating the Islamic
experience – in terms of government – is bound up by two dimensions that should
be observed. First, this extrapolation should not be inspired from the enemies
of Islam, such as Orientalists and their peers. Instead, it should be based on
what the Islamic Ulama (scholars) have themselves established in order to
preserve its essence and reality away from false misconceptions. The second
dimension has to do with imposing over-generalizations on an entire community.
It is methodologically wrong to judge a given community through individual
history or even through particular micro histories such as those of princes,
poets, etc… For example, judging the entirety of the rule of the Umayyad
Caliphate through that of Yazid Ibn Muawiya is both limiting and limited. The
same thing applies to any attempt to judge the Abbasid society through its
singers and poets as an era of debauchery and unjust rule. It is likewise very
limiting to judge the same society as ascetic and isolationist through one
single book such as Al-Ghazali’s Revival
of Religious Sciences.

From what has been previously said, we can
conclude that the success of the Islamic system manifested itself through two
prominent aspects, namely:

Islamic Intellectual Leadership which has made it
possible for Arabs to grow from shepherds to masters and leaders of nations and
from decadence to renaissance enlightened by Islam.

The Islamic Umma culturally, civilly and
scientifically pioneering the world for 12 century, thus proved the success of
its leadership, which is in itself a success of Islam  that attests to its eligibility to lead the
world. 

Given the importance of money specifically and
economy in general, Muslim Ulama (scholars) gave special attention to the conceptualization
of Islamic economy. Different definitions ensued out of this conceptualization,
and the most prominent are:

Some economic researchers define Islamic Economy
as “the economic doctrine of Islam in which economic life is regulated
according to the teachings of Islam by means of the methodological tools and
intellectual assets that this doctrine possesses and which are constituted out
of Islam’s ethical, scientific economy and historical ideas that are connected
to political economy or the explanation of the historical analysis of human
societies (Al-Sadr, 1968)”.

Some others consider Islamic Economy as “a guiding
and regulating force for economic activity according to Islamic guidelines and
economic policies. (Al-Fanjari, 1972, p.55-56)”.

Some other writers tend to believe that it is “the
set of general economic principles that we extract from Quran, Sunnah and the
economic structures that we construct upon those principles bearing in mind
historical and contextual change. (Al-Fanjari, 1972, p. 56 A)”.

Another definition is that it is “the set of rules
and Sharia laws that regulate money gain, expenditure and growth prospects (Al-Qahtani,
2002, p. 2)”.

On the basis of the previous definitions we can
conclude that the Islamic Economy is “a set of rules, regulations and tools
which are applied to the economic activity inside a Muslim society – as it had
already been applied throughout the history of Islam – to solve its economic problems
as regards production, distribution and exchange issues. This system also
includes all what is related to the distribution, ownership and handling of
wealth. Islam has introduced specific principles and codes that involve a
distinguished economic policy. These principles and this policy have been
minutely implemented during the Prophet’s, Peace and Blessings be upon Him, era
and to which the Khulafa Rashidun who came after him were fully committed. Muslim
rulers and Imams throughout the history of Islam sticked to these principles to
different degrees.

The political vision from
the Islamic perspective according to most Islamic scholars nowadays is based on
the three following principles:

Islamic reference:  based on
the Islamic political understanding as the only accepted resource, starts with
the Holy Quran goes through the Prophet PBUH’s speeches and narrations, and by
following the known Islamic scholars and figures Islamic thought. At the same
time when we accept the Islamic origin resources we take in our consideration
and believe that diligence is the renewal mechanism in religion and its paths
every time and place in Mauritania.

National affiliation: By this principle, Mauritanian means that being
from Mauritania or any other country does mean aiming to uphold them and take
care of the internal unity and security as well. Patriotism is a principle,
characteristic and goal, and build the past homelands renewal and rebuild in
order to serve the interests of the present and hopes for the future, and the
requirements of this affiliation protecting the national unity of the country’s
various races, categories and destinations, and rejecting all racism and
divisive calls or actions.

Democratic choice and
option: Finally, Mauritanians
Muslims society (100% Muslim country) agree that the Democracy is the best
chooses, pluralism and peaceful transfer of power is a strategic choose and opt
no hesitation in that, and reject tyranny and its justifications and
unilateralism and its justification also. We consider that democracy by
allowing the atmosphere of freedom and competition, control and transparency
valve development and progress and the Renaissance, and our peaceful takes the
origins of Islam and tolerance platform, and rejects extremism and violence, and
condemn terrorism whatever its source and all forms of abuse on the lives and
property of innocent people, whatever their beliefs, nationalities and ideas.

 

[1] . There is a great debate about the title
and the extent to which it corresponds with reality on the basis of whether or
not we can agree on what is meant by “economic Islam or Islamic economy
and whether an Islamic economy does actually exist.

“We are not concerned here with resolving this
matter nor with discussing it as much as we are interested in a quick look at
the most important features of this concept from the time-space mentioned, and
we will use” Islamic economic doctrine ” to refer to the application
of the general concept.

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