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Islamism, Arahism, and the Disintegration ofthe Sudan B. Yongo-Bure It has been more than 40 years since the Sudan gained self-government in 1953 and the colonial bureaucracy was replaced by Sudanese "Arabs." Since the country became independent in January 1956, 27 of those years of independence have been spent fighting some of the bloodiest civil wars in the world. The second such war is ongoing, and the human cost is already tremendous. True, the underlying issues of conflict relate to power and access to resources. But central to the conflict in Sudan is also the question of identity crisis by the ruling group who claim to be Arabs although the authenticity of their Arabness is doubted even by the real Arabs. Hence, they have resorted to use Islam and Arabic as instruments for validating their superficial Arabness. Through their persistent twin policies of Islamization and Arabization, they strongly believe that every Sudanese will eventually be converted into an Arab. For the most part, northern Sudan, where most of the people are Muslims and the urban population speak one form of Arabic or another, they have all been assumed to be Arabs. For the ruling group, their task of creating more Arabs lies in the de-Africanization of the southern Sudanese. Hence, immediately after the attainment of self-government, they embarked on the policy of assimilating the southern Sudan to the northern-Arab-linguistic, cultural, and religious norms. For them this was a natural and inevitable expansion of Islam and Arabness into southern Sudan and into the interior of Africa. This inevitability was best summarized by Professor Ali MazruiĀ©Northeast African Studies (ISSN 0740-9133) Vol. 1, Nos. 2-3 (New Series) 1994, pp. 207-222 207 208 B. Yongo-Bure in February 1985 in a conference in Khartoum when he predicted that: "In 100 years time the southern Sudanese will be calling themselves Arabs and they will strongly be supporting Arabism. After all, the Egyptians and the northern Sudanese were originally not Arabs but are now strong defenders of Arabism". He added that this process will continue throughout the Nile Valley up to the source of the Nile atJinja, Uganda. Thus, as a result of the use of Islam by the ruling group in Sudan, Islam has become so central to Sudanese politics that it has figured prominently among the causes of war and the difficulty of achieving peace. It is likely to be the main factor in the disintegration of the Sudan given the high human and material costs the country has incurred since independence, largely because of the use of Islam. The Status ofNon-Muslims in an Islamic State Under sharia, the subjects of an Islamic state are strictly classified in terms of religion or belief. At the top of the hierarchy are Muslims who enjoy full legal status under sharia; they have complete access to any public office in the state. The next class comprises those who believe in God in accordance with a divinely revealed Scripture (primarily Jews and Christians). Under sharia, this group is guaranteed the security of their persons and property and freedom to practice their religion, as well as some freedom to apply their own law in personal matters. In return this group must submit to Muslim sovereignty and pay a tax to the Muslim state as a token of that submission. As subjects rather than citizens of the state, they have no right to participate in the government of the state as a whole, although they enjoy a degree of autonomy in their communal affairs . Moreover, they are subject to other disqualifications under sharia. Other non-Muslims, who were assumed to be non-believers, were not entitled to the status of the Christians and Jews. They might be permitted to enter and remain in the territory of the Muslim state through special safe conduct. If they were allowed to stay for more than one year, they may be treated like the Christians and Jews, and as such be entitled to the benefits, and subject to the limitations of the status of these non-Muslim believers. Islamism, Arabism, and the Disintegration ofthe Sudan 209 But since, in practice, in an Islamic...


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