His Majesty the King, Commander of the Faithful, Chairs Fifth Religious Lecture of Ramadan 1445 AH

His Majesty the King, Commander of the Faithful, Chairs Fifth Religious Lecture of Ramadan 1445 AH

His Majesty the King, Commander of the Faithful, Chairs Fifth Religious Lecture of Ramadan 1445 AH
His Majesty the King, Commander of the Faithful, Chairs Fifth Religious Lecture of Ramadan 1445 AH

Casablanca (MAP) – His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Commander of the Faithful, may God assist Him, accompanied by HRH Crown Prince Moulay El Hassan, HRH Prince Moulay Rachid and HH Prince Moulay Ismail, chaired, on Monday at the Royal Palace in Casablanca, the fifth religious lecture of the holy month of Ramadan 1445 AH.

The lecture was given by Ousmane Kane, Professor of Islamic Thought at Harvard University in the United States of America, on the theme of “Cultural and intellectual relations between Sub-Saharan Africa and the Greater Maghreb”.

The lecturer began his talk by referring to verse 13 of Surat al-Hujurat: “O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.”

In this context, he pointed out that these divine words contain six truths which concern all mankind and which can form the foundations of Humanity, namely that Man is a creature of God, that this equality in creation implies equality between men and women, that people, by divine will, have formed societies, based on mutual recognition guaranteeing coexistence in peace.

Kane noted that the choice of theme for this talk was motivated by an interest in making a comparison between Morocco’s historical and current role in strengthening cultural ties with the African continent, and the West’s drive to divide these two worlds.

These are the Greater Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa, he said, drawing attention to the difficulty of teaching Islamic sciences in Western universities due to the academic choices in force in these institutions, particularly with regard to the greater sub-Saharan African region.

He added that the roots of this regional distribution lie in the racist bias manifested by European thinkers during the Enlightenment, pointing out that this distribution (North-South Africa) is based on assumptions that ignore the historical truth, namely the role of Muslim doctrine, the Arabic language and the Malekite rite in consolidating ties between the peoples of the Greater Maghreb, the Greater Sahara and West Africa. These peoples, he pointed out, have maintained strong ties for many centuries in accordance with the recommendations of the Holy Quran.

The speaker pointed out that the legacy of Western colonialism has had a major impact on intellectuals and thought in Africa, deploring the fact that these assumptions about the history of African thought are unfounded and widespread not only in Western academic circles, but also among intellectuals educated in schools that teach Western curricula in Africa, particularly south of the Great Sahara. These intellectuals tend to believe that the production of knowledge began with European colonialism, he added.

Kane also noted that North Africans, in the Great Sahara and in the country of Sudan, have contributed greatly to Islamic thought, adding that the language of communication in North Africa is Arabic, and the place of this language in the history of this region needs no further proof.

He warned that this was not the case for the sub-Saharan region known at the time as the country of Sudan, all the more so as Sudanese Islamic studies for most of the 20th century remained unknown to the West outside the circle of researchers and specialists, stressing that the Sahara had never been a barrier to interaction between the different regions of the African continent.

On the contrary, he continued, the Sahara has always been a bridge between the north of the Greater Maghreb and the country of Sudan.

In the same vein, the speaker asserted that the Red Sea had been a bridge linking the Muslims of East Africa to the Arabian Peninsula throughout the centuries, also emphasizing the constant and close interactions between the populations of North Africa, the Sahara and sub-Saharan Africa.

These regions were linked by multiple trade routes, notably between the main centers of the Greater Maghreb and Sudan, known for its wealth in gold, explained Mr. Kane.

He also emphasized the mutually beneficial relationship between the peoples of North Africa and those of the sub-Saharan region, recalling that diplomacy had played a major role in promoting Sudanese-Maghrebian relations for centuries, as historical documents attest.

In addition to the Great Sahara, the speaker highlighted the crucial role of the Red Sea and Indian Ocean region as a bridge between East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula long before the advent of Islam.

He noted that the Atlantic Ocean was no obstacle to the dominance of African Islamic influence, in that African Muslims were involved in Atlantic trade, then under European control. They had thus not only transmitted Islamic culture to the two American continents, but also disseminated and enriched it, he said.

Kane pointed out that Moroccan historians have emphasized the great contribution of the African Ulema in the teaching of Sharia sciences (theology), noting that Moroccan educational centers, particularly in Fez and Marrakech, became a favorite destination for Sudanese students and scholars for centuries.

He noted, in this context, that the city of Fez was a recognized center of scholarship in the Islamic world during the medieval era, where a number of West African scholars distinguished themselves, including Abdallah El Barnaoui, who was one of the spiritual guides of the Sufi Sidi Abdelaziz Dabbagh.

African peoples and governments have preserved enduring relations with North Africa, he continued, noting that Sufi brotherhoods numbered millions of followers in the Sahara and sub-Saharan region, perpetuating strong spiritual and intellectual ties with North Africa, particularly Morocco, for centuries.

Muslim scholars have maintained constant contact over the centuries, knowing that the Great Sahara has certainly facilitated rather than hindered this kind of interaction, he added. This tradition, he added, has been preserved in various forms throughout the post-colonial period.

The speaker recalled that the Kingdom had set up numerous networks bringing together Ulema from Morocco and other African countries, such as the League of Moroccan and Senegalese Ulema. He also recalled the creation of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Ulema, as a pioneering institution in this field.

Given the close ties of religion, knowledge, brotherhood and affection that unite African Muslims, from Ibrahim El-Kanemi’s visit to the Almohad court, to the support given to the Moroccan national soccer team during the World Cup, recent colonial interventions can in no way make us forget our long history of fighting, teaching and learning from each other, he concluded.

At the end of the talk, His Majesty the King, Commander of the Faithful, was greeted by Mrs. Yenny Zannuba Wahid, President of the Wahid Institute of Islamic Research in Indonesia, Mrs. Azizah Yahya Mohamad Taoufiq El Hebri, former Professor of Law at the University of Richmond in the United States of America, Cheikh Mohamed El Hafid Al Nahoui, President of the Islamic Cultural Gathering in Mauritania and West Africa (Islamic Republic of Mauritania), Cheikh Mohamed Housseini Djamalilail, Advisor to the President of the Republic of the Union of the Comoros, in charge of Arab affairs, and Mr. Mbadinga Serge, President of the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema in Gabon.

The Sovereign was also greeted by Mr. Ahmad Mohamad Jad Allah, President of the “Ikadh” (Awakening) Center for Snoussi Studies and Heritage Revival in Libya, Mr. Omar Del Pozo Cadenas, President of the Granada Mosque Foundation in Spain, Sheikh Mohamed Madani Tall, Khalife of Sheikh Mountaga Tall (Republic of Senegal), Mr. Mohamed Arshad, member of the section of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Ulema in the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Ibrahim Coulibaly, member of the section of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Ulema in Gabon, and Mr. Mbadinga Serge, President of the section of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Ulema in Gabon. Ibrahim Coulibaly, member of the Conseil Fédéral National des adeptes de la Tarika Tijania in Mali, Sheikh Abdellah Mohamad Al-Mahi Ibrahim Niass, in charge of partnerships and external relations at the African Islamic Union in Senegal and Mr. Bashir Tahir Usman, Director of the Faculty of Readings at the Province of Bauchi in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.