Most people in the UK trying to figure out what is happening in Mali are almost entirely dependent on mainstream media outlets. But they all carry the same simplistic narrative.
The Western media tell us there are ‘good guys’ in the South, who adore the French for intervening.
They tell us there are ‘bad guys’ in the North. Some are ‘fairly bad guys’ – Tuaregs who were alienated for a long time, who have been manipulated by ‘Islamists’ but who could be part of a long-term solution.
Others are ‘really bad guys’ – variously described as‘Islamists’, ‘Jihadists’, ‘Rebels’ or ‘Extremists’. We are told they do nothing good and everything bad.
A Muslim viewing these events can apply certain principles, which avoid simply following the ‘good guys’ versus ‘bad guys’ narrative presented by a politicised and biased media machine in the West.
How should the Muslim view the recent events?
1. Muslims fighting Muslims is terrible in any circumstance.
The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) said: Abusing a Muslim is Fusuq (evil doing) and fighting against him is Kufr (disbelief). [Bukhari & Muslim]
So, whatever the root cause, when it comes to bloodshed on either side, it is a painful and tragic sight, and potentially disastrous for the participants in the akhira (afterlife).
2. Western colonial states intervening in Muslim lands is an unwelcome sight and unacceptable.
Some people may try to justify the invitation of states like France on one side or the other saying the people need the protection of an external force, as a matter of life and death.
This is dangerous in political terms and unacceptable from a Shari’ah legal perspective.
From Shari’ah: Allah (swt) says: And never will Allah give the disbelievers a way over the believers (Quran 4:141).
Politically: This conflict is not the first such intervention by Western colonial powers in Muslim lands – where they maintained a presence of troops or Western installed proxy-rulers in order to secure a way over the politics and wealth of those regions.
Moreover, we can recall the lies, deceit and abuses committed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere – as well as the huge death count.
Allah (swt) says: O Believers, do not take My enemies and your enemies as allies (Quran 60:1).
France’s history in North Africa includes the systematic killing of hundred of thousands of Muslims and uncountable cases of torture. The French claim the numbers of dead under their policies in Algeria were around 350,000 – but other estimates put the figures as well over 1 million Muslims. It is therefore inconceivable that France’s intervention is purely for humanitarian reasons – and Allah sets a clear limit, so avoiding a Muslim being duped by someone with enmity.
The Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said: A believer is not bitten from the same hole twice. (Bukhari & Muslim)
3. Keep a healthy scepticism about news reports from a politically biased Western media.
Allah (swt) says: Believers! If a faasiq (wrongdoer) comes to you with news, verify it, lest you harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful to what you have done. (Quran 49:6)
Much of the media carrying the events of Mali to us are not virtuous trustworthy organisations.
They show images of Malians celebrating as the ‘Jihadists’ are expelled from cities – just as they once showed images of celebrating Afghans when the Taleban were expelled from Kabul, and celebrating Iraqis when Saddam fled Baghdad.
They present casualties of the conflict just as they present information about deaths from drone attacks in Pakistan – that those killed are without doubt ‘terrorist suspects or insurgents’ – even though there is ample evidence that thousands of innocent civilians are killed. One respected news journalist showed the dead bodies of three teenage Malian boys – and described them as recruits who fought with the Jihadists. How she came to know this with certainty, she did not say – but the information was presented with certainty, and without evidence.
We are told the rebels are violent, oppressive and barbaric. The most recent crimes laid at their door are the destruction of graves and an ancient library in Timbuktu. But we were once told that Iraqi troops had killed babies in incubators in Kuwait – which was untrue.
4. Beware the negative caricature of the‘Islamic’ behaviour
The trick of the Western media is to conflate wrong-doing, accusations of wrong-doing and Islamic laws in such a way as to discredit the Islamic laws.
In Mali, we are told ‘Islamist’rebels enforce strict ‘Shariah’ law and oppressed and abused the people.
We have no idea if this is true or not.
If the either side committed wrong-doings or oppressed others, we should view it as wrong and not defend it.
But we should be wary to come out and condemn it, without being sure if it really did happen – in particular as the aim is to discredit Islamic laws and systems to the audience.
The same media carry very few criticisms of the criminal Saudi regime’s system or practices because the Saudi regime is a loyal ally of the West.
A Muslim does not need to defend any wrongdoings of any side (for which we have few reliable verifying sources) in order to oppose the intervention by France and its allies.
5. The problems exist due to the absence of a legitimate unifying power in the Muslim world – the Islamic Khilafah
Mali is an artificial construct of a colonial era. It was once a great centre of civilisation where the various tribes lived without conflict like that of today.
The Khilafah is the legitimate political authority – respected and recognised by Muslims – that arbitrated disputes between people. It rises above tribe, race and political faction.
In 1916, the French along with the British, dismembered the Khilafah in the Sykes-Picot accord – before fatally wounding it after World War I, leading to its demise in 1924.
The anarchy and chaos that has existed in the Muslim world post-Khilafah can be directly linked to the absence of a legitimate authority in the Muslim world. THe Khilafah is based on their beliefs, consistent with their values and rooted in their history.
Writing in the Times on 5thMarch 1924, Ameer Ali said of the removal of the Khilafah that “I fear the removal of this ideal [will] drive the peoples included in the vast Sunni following into the ranks of revolution and disorder.”
Sadly, his prediction has proved true.