Somalia is a country that tends unfortunately to be associated with famine and civil war, rather than anything more positive, for that is how it most often appears in the Western media. It is also a country about which many Muslims know little; many may not even realize that it is a Muslim country.
Now, however, there is the possibility of peace in Somalia after many years, with the clan-based warlords having been pushed out of the capital, Mogadishu, and much of the rest of the country. It probably surprised people to learn that this has been achieved by militias linked to an Islamic movement, the Islamic Courts’ Union (ICU), which has created order and stability after many years of strife. Unsurprisingly, the ICU is opposed by the US and other Western governments, worried that the success of the ICU may be taken as inspiration by Muslims elsewhere.
We must pray that the ICU can consolidate their position and build on their achievements so far to provide long-term stability to Somalia’s long-suffering people. The fact that the ICU has emerged from the grass-roots of Somali community, and is largely integrated into Somalia’s clan-based social system, may give it strength and credibility, as well as creating problems that may undermine it later. We in the Ummah owe our brothers and sisters there, and the Islamic movement there, the same support as we try to offer the movements in Palestine, Kashmirand elsewhere; even as we keep our expectations realistic, given the appalling situation in Somalia and the external challenges that Somalis and the ICU face.