Islamic moderation has enabled us to reassure the others and helped us to reserve a suitable place within the public work.
·Our principles are: faith, freedom, social justice, knowledge, work, solidarity, fraternity, equality, openness and authenticity.
·It's the first time in the Senegal history we constitute a movement. Its leadership is formed from both Arab cultural Islamic and French elites.
·Reform movement of Social Development in Senegal has been an active in Senegalese social work, philanthropy, economic, and cultural fields. This movement inspired its visions and ideas from a comprehensive reading in Islam. It is characterized with the spirit of age and benefits from the successful positive human experiences in the management of life affairs.
·The leaders of the reform movement belong to the moderate Islamic school. They have been affected by the experiences and mature intellectual projects that were inherited from the advocates of Senegal reformers, most of whom are graduated from Arab and Islamic universities and returned to their home countries loaded with the Arabic and Islamic culture.
·The Experience of the reform movement is rich and has a touched existence in the Senegalese society. Hence the importance of this dialogue with the foreign relations official in the reform movement and the Secretary-General of the Humanitarian Forum for Development and Education in Senegal Dr. Mohammed Said Bah to stand at its features and literature.
·The academician Mohammed Said Bah revealed in the first part of the dialogue the experiment of his party in depth, objective reading of the reality of his country and its regional environment, his efforts to establish an Islamic society where justice and equality prevails among the citizens,
preserving their dignity and provide a decent living for them.
Q- First of all, would you be so kind as to tell us about the emergence of the Islamic Reform Movement in Senegal?
- It's better to talk at the beginning about the social and historical events that accompany the birth of the movement. The reformers who depended upon the Islamic vision faced a fierce battle to find a place for themselves in the light of the dominance of the secular thought in Senegal. When the current generation received the Islamic leadership they moved in that narrow track which was defined for them. They were not allowed to approach from the power centers and decision-making pulpits for the public affairs with a constitutional text that prohibits establishing any movement or foundation upon religious, tribal or regional basis.
In the light of continuous and intensive efforts some of the Islamic action leaders in Senegal call for the necessity to converge upon a comprehensive project to the path of the country in the independence.
This move comes in 2000 with the success of the Senegalese people to overcome going out from the bottleneck and achieving historical achievements with a smooth and peaceful exchange of power under the leadership of Ex. Senegalese President Abd Jouf (Doyouf). It had a global echo.
In the light of this circumstance, the callers to study the country's conditions view that this is the right moment to create a platform that represent the moderate Islamic movement, following the example of the divine verse, "Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you."
Q- But how did you face the secular trend and constitute an Islamic entity?
There have been some debates among the preachers, people of the Islamic movement and the secular trend, but we soon overcame them, because they were not of such ferocity that we expected. So that it can be said that the internal challenges in the Islamic unity had perhaps more impact upon us from the opponents and the plan of openness that we adopted was Islamic moderation and to reassure the others. All this helped us a lot and enabled us to reserve a suitable seat within the realm of public work, where we were accepted quickly and became a component part of the basic components in the state.
Q- What are the intellectual fundamental sources from which you took your Islamic project?
- The movement reform for Social Development is characterized with at its inception with essential merits the most notably is that it has violated the established custom, which shows that the Senegal currents was established at its emergence with personal identity that means it was and still associated with a particular person that has the right of property to an extent that approaches to the "copyright reserved". While the emergence of the movement came upon the basis of the common Islamic intellectual and collective conviction. Therefore, if the leader of the movement goes, the project still exists. We have learned in Islam that Da'wah does not end or die with the death of people as it's a divine one and great divine message.
The other difference was that the movement's leaders view that the first step is represented issuing an intellectual reference document known as "the founding statement,". They included their reform vision through which they call the systematic axes. In the sense that their reform vision emanates from these axes. Through which they from their programs and they put from solutions and options at the social, economy, art and architecture and all fields of life, etc. We have summarized that in the following seven principles: faith, freedom, social justice, knowledge, work, solidarity, fraternity and giving an original component derived from the Senegal society values.
At a later stage of the movement emergence, the social program was prepared emitting from the founding statement and comprehensive reading to the reality in which we move and the interim and future requirements of the Senegal society with all its sects on the basis of the reform vision that we adopt. We put this program on the basis of the national partnership so that the movement is like a container that included everyone as long as the desire to serve the country and maintain the nation's utilities and its supreme interests is our common element.
Building the intellectual reference to our ideas we consider our part of the Islamic moderate movement family, which markets the Islamic project, which its builders constitute their visions upon compressive reading to Islam that accompanies the spirit of times and benefits from the successful positive human experiences in the management of life.
Q- What is the main differences between the reform movement and the civil society organizations working in Senegal?
The most important characteristic of our movement is that it is the first time in the Senegal history movement which its larders Arab-Islamic culture figures is constituted. After these Arab-Islamic culture individual in Senegal were considered the owners of marginal role.
This cultural and Islamic movement has given a unique situation in the reality of the public work which is characterized by the control of who holds the Western culture.
Q- Going back to the name of the movement: Why do you call it a reform movement for social development?
The goal - founding the movement - was not to create a traditional framework as much as our attention was focused upon a vision in harmony with the Islamic intellectual backgrounds from which the founders of the movement started. Here the eager to retain the concept of the movement for many reasons. The most important of the was to maintain the property and the dynamic of the sense of intellectual thought.
The second part of the movement's name, it was chosen to reflect its vision that the developmental pattern that has been tested from secularism attitude has failed because it did not take the primary dimension in this process, namely the social dimension. Therefore, we summarized our choice in the following trilogy: the reform as an approach, dynamic vision and social development in comprehensive of economic and charitable sense.
Q- What are the main objectives of the movement and its most reform programs?
The basic goal around which the moderate and partial goals go is presenting right Islamic alternative approach that replaces the common one which was tested in our country for fifty years and the result was more sufferings and loss the identity of the nation.
Of course, achieving this goal paths through a number of objectives, from them re-building the intellectual system from which Senegalese individual emits. Avoiding the valuable dimension from the public work and marketing of authenticity that means activating the national historical experience and investing the strength elements and achieving the Renaissance.
In addition, employing the religious dimension, as it's a strong incentive that has an enormous impact in the conscience and mentality of normal Senegalese national.
Our vision is based upon that any state must based upon justice and equality among citizens in rights, fortunes and protects the individuals dignity and provide them with decent living conditions. It will bring us closer to the state with Islamic specifications. Therefore, our battle today represents in rebuilding the state upon the basis of strong economic and intellectual independence that keeps the Islamic identity which expresses the will of the Senegal citizens and his specific culture and civilization.
This is the first part of the dialogue with Dr. Said Bah, which reflects the circumstances of the emergence of the movement and roles entrusted to it, its intellectual literature and moderate approach. In the second part of the dialogue, we will learn more about this Islamic experience.