An institution to fight extremism

Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema

17 JULY 2016,
Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema
Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema

Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema is an institution for cooperation, for the exchange of experiences and for the Ulema to make concerted efforts to fulfill their duty and turn a spotlight on the true image of the pristine Islamic faith as well as on its open-minded values, which are based on moderation, tolerance and coexistence. The aim is to make sure those values help us promote security, stability and development in Africa.

The Mohammed VI Foundation of Africans Ulema primary goal is to promote the values of moderation, tolerance and coexistence in Islam, and to provide the opportunity for Moroccan and African Ulema to know the real picture of the tolerant religion, that is Islam. The Foundation will work with all religious bodies to "spread the enlightened religious thought and deal with extremism theses, to face terrorism that some preachers peddle in the name of Islam."

The Foundation will work to preserve the unity of the Muslim religion, to promote the achievements of the people in the fields of science and knowledge and to protect the Muslim faith and the spiritual unity of the African peoples against all thoughts that undermine the sanctity of Islam and its precepts. The Foundation, through its branches in African countries, and together with other religious institutions, will play its role in disseminating enlightened religious precepts and in combating extremism, reclusiveness and terrorism - which our faith does not embrace in any way - but which are advocated by some clerics, in the name of Islam.

In Africa threatened by extremism preached by radical groups such as Boko Haram and AQIM, the foundation wants to be the vector of a tolerant Islam, that of balance. The authority's primary duty "to make known the real image of the tolerant religion of Islam and to promote its values of moderation, tolerance and willingness to coexistence," said the king in a speech to Ulema during the installation ceremony of the foundation.

Women scholars among African Supreme Council

The Supreme Council of the Mohammed VI Foundation for African Ulema is composed of 120 scholars from different 31 nationalities. Among the scholars of the African Ulema foundation, the Senegalese professor Ravane Mbaye, winner of the Ibn Khaldoun-Senghor Leopold 2012, the Malian historian Mahmoud Abdou Zouber, who is illustrated in the safeguarding of manuscripts of Timbuktu, Oceni Ismael Ossa, president of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs in Gabon, and Boubaker Doukoure, spiritual leader of Burkina Faso.

Women have their positions inside the council, they are 17 women: 2 from Chad, two from Senegal, one from Niger, one from Burkina Faso, two from Ghana, one from Mali, 4 from Nigeria and 4 from Morocco. It is the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs to provide the necessary financial resources. The creation is a new step in Morocco's strategy to help African countries to counter Wahhabi influence. Almost a year to the day after its creation by Dahir (Royal Decree), the Foundation's Board was installed on June 14 at the University Al Qaraouiyin in Fez, Morocco.

African Ulema foundation will organize religious teaching

The Foundation has two main objectives, recalled by the king in his inaugural address: "scientific supervision, through the contribution of Ulema into preaching based on the middle road, "and" organizes religious education to cut any attempt of indoctrination or preaching hatred for malicious interests. Mohammed VI is the chairman, and his Minister of Habous and Islamic Affairs Ahmed Toufik, is the Deputy Chairman.

While predominantly Muslim countries - including in Africa - are becoming more likely to worry about the growing influence of Salafis in their mosques and training centers, it is thereby recognized the King of Morocco to "avert discord (fitna) and promote security and stability as a paramount necessity emanating from the Shari'a."

This initiative therefore reflects research by these African countries, religious legitimacy able to counter the Wahhabi discourse. Under the Moroccan Constitution, the King of Morocco has the prestigious title of "Commander of the Faithful."

Kingdom of Morocco toward Soft religious control

Furthermore, and as has been amply underlined during the installation ceremony, the links are old and many between Morocco and sub-Saharan countries, whether religious or also political, commercial etc. A League of Ulemas of Morocco and Senegal in particular existed for thirty years.

After the inauguration March 27, 2015 an open training institute for African imams - the Institute Mohammed VI of training of imams, preachers - the Foundation marks a new stage in the Morocco's strategy for expanding its sphere more south influence. "We will also consider a milestone in our strategic direction to raise the relations of political and economic cooperation that unites Morocco with a number of brethren African states, at an effective solid partnership in the different areas", acknowledged the king of Morocco.