A Comment on El-Affendi’s Article, Mahmoud Taha:Heresy and Martyrdom by Dr. Omer El-Garrai

A Comment on El-Affendi’s Article, Mahmoud Taha:Heresy and Martyrdom by Dr. Omer El-Garrai

01-21-2015, 04:47 PM

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Title: A Comment on El-Affendi’s Article, Mahmoud Taha:Heresy and Martyrdom by Dr. Omer El-Garrai
Author: عمر القراي
Date: 01-21-2015, 04:47 PM



Paltry and Partial Paper

No doubt, Dr. Abdelwahab El-Affendi, a Sudanese professor at Westminster University in London, deducted a considerable time from his busy schedule to read the ideas of Ustadh Mahmoud Mohammed Taha (1909-1985) and the history of his movement in Sudan.  This attitude, regardless of the consequences, is appreciated as a credit that many intellectuals fail to attain. However, a lot of the information he obtained probably from the book recently published by Abdalla Albashir titled, “Mahmoud Mohammed Taha and the Intellectuals”, was deliberately tarnished to look contradictory or bizarre. Though he conceded that some parts of Taha’s idea are difficult for him to grasp, El-Affendi did not contemplate these ideas patiently or pose his reservations in forms of questions. Instead, he issued his negative judgment without a hint of hesitation. His article revealed his dual personality that embedded two discordant characters. One exemplifies an active liberal democrat criticizing dictatorship and fanaticism as in “Who Needs an Islamic State” #_ftn1[1] and the other reflects a typical member of the Muslim Brothers (MBs) group who accused other Muslims of heresy following the tracks of his leader Dr. Hassan El-Turabi. #_ftn2[2]

Discrediting Heroic Actions

El-affendi started his article by an account of the fights that Ustadh Mahmoud Mohammed Taha encountered. This includes the British Colonial Regime, the sectarian parties, Hassan Turabi, the leader of the MBs and the Islamic traditional scholars (Ulamma). None of these civilized disputes was personal or for material benefit. They were either in the course of defending Islam or Sudan. Instead of praising the stand of Taha in the face of the colonial regime as the first political prisoner,  and considering his critique to the wrong Islamic conception of Hassan El-Turabi, which resulted in the existing ‘Ingaz’#_ftn3[3]regime that El-affendi is now censuring bitterly, El-affendi, due to a reason far from justice, called this heroic actions (turbulent life)!!

When Ustadh Mahmoud steadfastly climbed the platform of the gallows, and the guard uncovered his face, the judges and shouting mob were stunned by his smile.  Many poets and thinkers commented on that unbelievable smile. Some considered it Taha’s proof of certainty, solidity and unprecedented bravery. Others who thought deeper about the issue interpreted it as absolute submission to the Will of God and joy of meeting Him. According to them, it is a sign of acquiring a high stage of the holy servitude to God. However, El-Affendi has a different explanation. He said, (the hundreds of political prisoners housed in that jail shouted in unison a slogan calling for the downfall of the regime. His smile broadened slightly as he acknowledged the implied support).#_ftn4[4]  So for El-Affendi, the reason behind the “smile” on the face of Ustadh Mahmoud who was approaching death was the implied support of the cheering prisoners!

Although he told us about the courts like the one which convicted Taha being operating under emergency regulations, adopting ‘cavalier attitude’ and ‘harsh sentences’ and run by traditional  ‘Islamists’ who were opponents of Taha’, El-affendi  did not say a word in condemnation of the trial itself. This naïve attitude is better than his opinion in 1985 when the execution actually took place. At that time he was the editor of a magazine called ‘Arabia’ issued in London and funded by Saudi Arabia. He wrote an article about the subject and instead of blaming the fanatics who assassinated a pacifist; he gloatingly blamed Ustadh Mahmoud describing him as being a sophistical!#_ftn5[5]

Twisting Facts

El-affendi wrote, (In 1960, three of his disciples were expelled from the Ma’had al-Ilmi, the highest institution of religious learning in Sudan. They were accused of propagating Taha’s ideas, in particular his views that the obligatory daily prayers need not to be performed by one like him, who had achieved an elevated spiritual rank. Taha tried to negotiate the students’ reinstitution, and when he failed, he wrote one of his first major works, Al-Islam, in which he summed up his reform vision)#_ftn6[6]. This is the testimony of El-affendi. But what were the real facts? The three students were expelled just because they were Republicans! The issue of Taha’s prayer was brought up by the Sheikhs who intimidated and provoked young student at the intermediate or secondary school level asking them to justify following Taha. They harassed them asking for to explain  Taha’s complex conception of authenticity and imitation that depicts the spiritual development of man from the collective to individual legislation. When Ustadh Mahmoud confronted the head of the institute Sheikh Mohammed Elmubarak Abdallah by inviting him to a public debate on the issue, the Sheikh declined the invitation and failed to stand for the challenge.#_ftn7[7]

El-affendi can disagree with the ideas of Taha about prayer, but as scholar and researcher, he should not repeat what the Sheikhs of Al Ma’had al-Ilmi said without referring to secondary data. This is not an innocent error but rather a deliberate effort of twisting the facts in order to defame a progressive religious idea in favor of reactionary group of traditional Islamists who expelled al-Tigani Yousif Bashir, the famous poet from the same institution years before the Republicans because he challenged the archaic ideas they used to teach.

El-affendi mentioned the banning of the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP). He told us how a youth who claimed to be a member of the SCP insulted the prophet and provoked the public. The opponents of the SCP who were the MBs and the sectarian parties insisted to amend the constitution to ban the SCP and expel its elected members from the parliament. The Supreme Court declared what the Parliament did as unconstitutional and cancelled the banning of the SCP, but the government refused to abide by the ruling. The head of the Judiciary resigned considering this as a humiliation for the Judiciary system and a disbelief in democracy, which is built on the separation of powers.#_ftn8[8] El-affendi told us that SCP denied the membership of the youth who defamed the holy prophet, but he forgot to tell us that the government announced him later as insane, and sent him for treatment abroad. Despite all this El-affendi failed to see the conspiracy against democracy in which the SCP was only the scapegoat. As a liberal democrat, El-affendi should have condemned the banning of the SCP, but instead he cheered for Dr. El-Turabi’s effort to justify it legally! He wrote, ( Hassan Turabi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and at the time the country’s leading constitutional lawyer, produced a booklet supporting the ban. His argument was that ultimate sovereignty rested with parliament, which was the source of law. Therefore, no other authority, including the courts, had the power or right to challenge the parliament. Taha produced a scathing counter-attack, questioning Turabi’s Islamic credentials ‘he scarcely produced Islamic arguments to support his case’ and ‘his legal competence and understanding of democracy’)#_ftn9[9].  

In this sad story, El-affendi twisted the facts again by illustrating Turabi’s argument and hiding Taha’s respond. Criticizing the booklet of Turabi, Ustadh Mahmoud wrote, ( the key of Turabi’s mentality and culture in this respect, could be noticed in many paragraphs of this rum book. However, we nominate for this purpose what he said in page 16, “ There is nothing in the content of the constitution or its interpretation that we can depend on, to differentiate between an article and another by considering one amendable and the other is not. Nor there is any support that the chapter of the basic rights has a special status that distinguishes it from other chapters. They all have the same power. If any legal person claims relative importance of this or that chapter as a personal consideration, he is justa feigned without witness from the constitution, a chicane with no legal argument, and an idiot who encroaches on the law. If there is preference between the chapters of the constitution the chapter of liberties would be the weakest because it is subject to legislation” …If Dr. Turabi had penetrated to the core of the western culture he would have known that the article 5 (2) of the interim constitution of Sudan is unamendable. This article states that, “All persons have the right of freedom of expression of their opinions and the right to form associations and trade unions within the limits of law” and it is unamendable because it is the germ of the constitution.  In fact, it is the constitution, and if it has been amended in any way that allows enactment of laws, which confiscate freedom of expression, the constitution will be destroyed. It will be incorrect to talk after that about the democratic rule unless you mean the pseudo democracy by which Turabi seems to have been misled).#_ftn10[10]

  Although Turabi at that time was a professor of constitutional law at Khartoum University, his malice towards the communistsand his desire to bury them, blared his judgment and stripped him of his honesty. He failed to see the fact that in a democratic state the majority in the Parliament cannot issue a law that prevents the minority from expressing their views or establishing their parties. Because, simply, democracy means the rule of the majority withobservance of the rights of the minority.

In another example, El-affendi deviated from the truth he knew very well to appear democratic as he claims. He wrote, (An additional problem is that Taha  “and some of his followers such as the human rights advocate Abdullahi An-Naim” tend to offer the most restrictive interpretation of Shari’a “such as that it is lawful to use  violence to force people to accept Islam” in order to justify their arguments that it should be transcended).#_ftn11[11] First, Ustadh Mahmoud and the Republicans did not say that it is lawful to use violence to compel people to accept Islam, but they said that was the rule of Shari’a; no matter how it seems illogical and illegal today. Second, the Republicans argument is not that Shari’a should be transcended, but rather should be evolved to a higher stage up the ladder of religion. As for using violence to force people to accept Islam, I once wrote:  (….. the direct order came with the verse famous in the books of interpretation as the verse of the sword. It says, “Then when the sacred months have passed, kill the Mushrikin#_ftn12[12] wherever you find them, and captured them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. However, if they repent and offer prayers perfectly and give Zakat#_ftn13[13] then leave their way free. Verily Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (9:5).#_ftn14[14] This verse offered guidelines for dealing with Polytheists: the time of killing them was at the end of the sacred months; the place of fighting them was wherever they were found; the reason for fighting them was their infidelity; and the end of fighting would only come when they repent and started to perform the Islamic rituals. According to most of the interpreters, this verse abrogated the verses of forgiveness and the call to be peaceful and patient with the infidels. Directed by the verse of the sword the prophet –peace be upon him-said, ‘I have been ordered to fight people until they declare that there is no god but Allah, offer prayers, and give Zakat. If they did so, they protect themselves and their properties from me and will be left to Allah’……There is a common misconception that Jihad is only self-defense. Although one who defends himself, his honor, land or property against an intruder could be considered Mujahid#_ftn15[15], Jihad has evolved into more than that. Every act of self-defense is Jihad, but not every act of Jihad is self-defense. To act out of self-defense was an accepted tradition before the emergence of Islam. It is a tradition that predates all religions and upon which ancient communities depended for their survival. It was a natural reaction to danger. Islam did not need to order people to practice it and considered it as a dignified behavior. Jihad started as self-defense, but it continued as a holy war against non-believers. This kind of Jihad currently referred to was initiated by Islam with God’s promising higher degrees in heaven for those who perform it. The Jihad of Islam is the fighting to spread the word of God on earth. In following Jihad Muslims’ armies marched from Arabia and invaded India, China and Spain to spread Islam, even though these nations did not attack or threaten Arabia. When Muslims conquered these countries and forced the Islamic religion, they did not return to Arabia….The invasions were not carried out as self-defense or protest against injustice. In fact, it was other nations who were trying to defend their countries and protect their systems in the face of the Islamic invasion. Many Islamic writers were in error when they said that Islamic wars were wars of self-defense. Perhaps they were only responding to Orientalist critics who said that Islam was spread by the sword. In fact the wars of Islam where justified enough if we take the historical circumstantial aspects in consideration. Islam was revealed to a society with a tradition of war and fighting over trivial things; at least Islam’s fighting had a noble objective. Instead of fighting without a reason Muslims fought to establish a system of new values of righteousness and justice. Moreover, as was stated earlier, Islam only started fighting after Arabs essentially failed to embrace peace and freedom and believers were forced to become guardians over aggressive Polytheists. Islam then used the sword ‘as the physician uses the scalpel, not as the butcher uses the knife’ as Ustadh Mahmoud said. However this practice of using war as means of spreading religion is not justified today; today’s accepted tradition is peace. Humanity has evolved to realize its need for freedom and peace. The UN charters and principles of human rights have been founded on the right of the individual to live and to be free regardless of his or her religion, race, color or gender. Contemporary societies don’t endorse the idea of killing human being just because he or she has a different belief. This contemporary belief is what made the Islamic writers, who were mentioned earlier, deny the Orientalist accusations that Islam had spread its theology through armed invasion of other countries).#_ftn16[16]  This is the standard of the Shari’a as had been practiced by the Prophet and his followers. If El-affendi can’t handle it as being contradictory to liberalism which he is propagating, his only genuine way out is to accept the evolution of the Shari’a law as illustrated by Ustadh Mahmoud. The other alternative is to support ISIS by heart while condemning it publicly.

As continuation of muddling the facts, El-affendi said, (In 2010 Taha’s  former modest home in Omdurman became the locus of the most appropriate tribute to the departed thinker: Ustaz Mahmoud Muhammad Taha Cultural Centre. Earlier this year, the group applied for a registration as apolitical party in Sudan, but its application was rejected in May 2014 after a challenge from a group of Ulama. The issue is currently being hotly debated, and the Parliament has intervened by summoning the independent Parties’ Registrar for questioning on the constitutionality of this rejection).#_ftn17[17] What El-affendi wrote here is starkly naked of the truth. The application of some of the Republicans to establish the Republican Party was rejected without any convincing reasons. The Ulama challenge was based on the conviction of Ustadh Mahmoud in 1985 which has been nullified  by the Supreme Court in 1986. The issue has not been discussed in the Parliament. Also El-affendi knows that there is no independent Parties Registrar in Sudan and no one asked him about the constitutionality of rejecting the Republicans ’application. Moreover the government abolished the permission of the cultural center and stopped its activity on the thirtieth anniversary of Taha’s martyrdom.

The Republicans Support and Attack of May Regime

El-affendi wrote, (It was a poignant irony, therefore, that when Nimeri took power in a bloodless military coup in May 1969, Taha offered enthusiastic support to the new regime, even though it was supported by Nasser and the SCP. Even when Nimeri engaged in massacres against the Mahadists and later against his own Communist allies, Taha maintained his support. Nimeri banned all political parties, so Taha’s movement changed its name to the Republican Brothers and continued to operate with tacit regime approval. This remains one of the most controversial positions of the Republicans, given their principled support for freedom and their blanket condemnations of dictatorship elsewhere. The justification offered for this position tends to compound the problem, since it reiterates the unprincipled claim that the ‘reactionary’ sectarian parties and Islamists were a worse alternative.).#_ftn18[18]

Many Sudanese intellectuals have misunderstood the position of the Republican with May regime so it is normal that El-affendi considers it as contradictory to the essence of Taha’s idea, which calls for democracy. However, what undermines the integrity of El-affendi is the grave-silence he has been indulging with regard to the position of his party- the National Islamic Front (NIF)- from the same regime. As El-affendi and all the Sudanese know, the NIF was the active part of the National Front (NF), which was driven far by its spite against May regime to the extent of invading Sudan with an army funded and armed by foreigners in 1976. Some of El-affendi’s friends and colleagues were killed during that futile intrusion. In 1977 the NF made a reconciliation with May regime and accordingly Dr. Turabi, the leader of the NIF of which El-affendi was a member, got a position in the Sudanese Socialist Union (SSU), the sole party of May government after he swore the oath of loyalty to the ‘victorious May Revolution’. The irony was not clear just in fighting a war in -which many died– this year, and making reconciliation next year. It is rather in declaring Nimeri as a wanton dictator who committed the crime of banning the multi-party system and establishing instead the SSU this year, and describing him as a patriot leader and join the same one-party system next year.

 Later in 1983, when Nimeri announced September laws and considered them Islamic laws, Turabi flattery asked him to be the Caliphate of Muslims and tailed for him a proposed constitution that gives him the right of rule for life, and identification of his successor. During all this period El-affendi was one of Turabi’s loyal followers.    

The Republicans did not support the discourse of May regime; it is the other way round. The Republican Party (RP) was established in 1945 and since its inception it was against sectarianism. May regime leaders were children at that time. The RP used to fiercely attack the sectarian parties in public lectures and with circulars and pamphlets. What the RP was worried about even before independence and emergence of the MBs, was the success of the sectarian parties to reach power and combine religious and political authorities. May regime stopped that and thus walked on the old route of the Republicans.


Since their establishment, the MBs were helping the sectarians to achieve that dream. They were a cat’s claw for sectarianism. Before May they allied with them to compel the technocrat government formed after October Revolution 1964 to step down. In 1965 they allied again to ban the SCP. Ustadh Mahmoud opposed this undemocratic action as I mentioned before so the allies planned to ban the RP too. They used and abused sheikhs and shari’a judges to hold an apostasy trial for Ustadh Mahmoud in 1968. Although they announced him as an apostate they couldn’t kill him or ban his party as the state was not governed by shari’a laws at that time. The campaign of the Republicans against the ‘apostasy trial’ criticized the court, the witnesses, and the Islamic –sheikhs severely. In public lectures conducted all over Sudan, Ustadh Mahmoud revealed the conspiracy behind the trial. What he called reactionary forces (MBs, sectarians, and Islamic-sheikhs) turned the democratic system into civilian dictatorship, and to paralyze any opposition, they started cooking what they called the “Islamic Constitution” and Ustadh Mahmoud called “pseudo Islamic Constitution”. The proposed constitution was faced by a strong protest from the southern Sudanese and representatives of Nuba mountains and failed to pass in the first round of election in the Constituent Assembly (CA). According to the procedures it should be presented for election in a second round, but before that sectarians threatened to enact it by force if it failed again.#_ftn19[19] The country was hastily approaching an ocean of darkness when Numeri conducted his coup and assumed power in 25th of May 1969. May regime came as a rescue when it stopped the conspiracy of the alliance of sectarians and Islamists through the ‘pseudo-Islamic Constitution’. When it announced solving the problem of the south through negotiation and stopped the war that was also part of the Republican discourse since the independence.

In their support to May regime, the Republicans did not dissolve their party or became members of the SSU like the leaders of the MBs and sectarian parties.  Even when Numeri announced appointment of two#_ftn20[20] of them in the People’s Council, they refused to comply.

May regime retreated from its principles when it held the National Reconciliation 1977 with sectarian and MBs parties. When they joined the SSU, the MBs started to sabotage the system from within. At that time, the Republican wrote many pamphlet disclosing the conspiracy against the country such as:Alhawas Aldeeni utheer al fitna lyasal illa al sulta’#_ftn21[21] and ‘ Almua’mara min Jadeed?!’#_ftn22[22] But the regime was not listening. Then it turned on itself starting to adopt Islamic ideas. It banned Addis Ababa agreement in 1982 and the war between the north and south was resumed. Due to the war, the development was curtailed and the economic situation deteriorated dramatically. In September 1983, Numeri declared the Islamic laws and with that, May regime completed a full circle of backwardness and alliance with the sectarians and MBs.  At that time, Ustadh Mahmoud started his opposition not against the principle of May regime but against the deviation of Numeri and his colleagues from these principles. If the Republicans opposed May from day one because it was not a democratic regime the alternative ready at that time was undemocratic too. Moreover it had the weapon of religion by which many would be misguided. The rule of the MBs under the name of Ingaz which is torturing the Sudanese people now-to an extent that a product of the institution such as El-affendi condemned it-would have started since 1969. When May retreated until it adopted the same ideas of the MBs and the sectarians, Ustadh Mahmoud declared his opposition and carried it seriously to the end. 


Critique & Evaluation


Under the above title, El-affendi honed his mind to put down his main objections against the Republican thought. He wrote, (It is clear from the proceeding that there are many of Taha’s thought which the orthodox will find troubling, beginning with the last point where paradise is not an alternative to earthy life but a continuation of it. Then there is his claim that not only can man become one with God, but he can become God, and therefore become a law unto himself, with no need to observe any religious prohibitions or taboos. Such views were naturally found outrageous by the orthodox, including the Sufis, some of whom could have become his allies).#_ftn23[23] The former statement poses two questions. First, why didn’t El-affendi support his serious allegations with excerpt from Taha’s books? Second, if Taha’s thought is troubling to the orthodox Muslims does that necessarily mean it is not true? Ustadh Mahmoud did not say that paradise is not alternative but continuation to the earthy life, but he explained that it is not the end of the human journey. Our ultimate goal is neither hell nor heaven but God. This is explicitly stated in the Qur’an: “And that the final end is unto thy Lord” (53:42).#_ftn24[24] And because God is infinite He is not confined within space ‘heaven’ or time ‘day of Judgment’.  We could only meet Him spiritually beyond earth and heaven. This is why Ustadh Mahmoud did not consider heaven the end as stated in the traditional Islamic thought.

Ustadh Mahmoud never claims that man can become one with God. In fact, he stated the opposite.#_ftn25[25]He said man cannot be unified with God as he is limited and God is unlimited. However, when he stated that man will be God he made that clear as meaning developing towards the perfection of God without stopping. (The goal of the slave#_ftn26[26] in Islam is to achieve the perfection of God, and the perfection of God is infinite. God says, “ Man has nothing except his own achievement. What he achieves he shall meet. Then he shall receive the fullest payment. And to your Lord is the ultimate goal” ’53: 39-42’. This means that God is the purpose of the whole endeavor. As stated above progress to God is not through traveling distances but rather through the longing of the slave to achieve the qualities of the God. God say, “Oh man you are toiling along towards your Lord and you shall meet him” ’84:6’. Whether you want to meet Him or not. And where shall this meeting be? Is it on earth or in heaven? God said, “ I am neither contained in my earth nor in my heavens, but rather contained in the heart of my true slave”#_ftn27[27]. Thus one meets Him within one’s self and such meeting shall be achieved by Him and not be the individual human being. To this effect the prophet said: ‘Adopt the qualities of God, my Lord are on straight path’ God also says, “Be of the Lord because you teach the Book and because you study [it]’ ‘3:39’)#_ftn28[28].

 When El-affendi tried to prove that Taha said that man will be God, he translated a quotation as follows (Here, the heart bows, forever, at the threshold of the first stage of servitude. Then the servant is no longer in the complete grip of fate, but with complete free will; that is because complete obedience to God has raised him to status of nobility, handing him over to the freedom of choice ; he has obeyed God until God obeyed him in compensation. He becomes alive though God’s life, and in possession of God’s knowledge, God’s will and God’s power. He becomes God.)#_ftn29[29] El-affendi stopped here, and did not complete the rest of the quotation so as to reach a conclusion that he already believes. So he wrote immediately after that, (When a person ascends to this level, religious laws no longer apply to him/her.)#_ftn30[30] I translated the same text as follows, “Just here the heart prostrates, and forever, at the door of the first stage of servitude. At that time, the slave is no longer dragged by predestination but he is rather free; as determinism has reached him the status of honor and handed him over to the free choice. He has obeyed God until God obeyed him in reciprocity for what he did. He becomes living the life of God, knowing the knowledge of God, willing the will of God, capable the capability of God and becomes God. Yet God has no shape for man to be, nor end for man to reach. His fortune of all that, is continuing to be by renewing his life of feeling and his life of intellect every moment in accordance with God’s description of Himself, “ Every day He is in a new affair”. This is the objective of worship. The prophet summed it up in his advice, ‘ Adopt the morals of God; my God is on the straight path’ and God said, “Be of the Lord because you teach the Book and because you study [it]” (3:39).”


El-affendi wrote: (Taha’s confrontations with the orthodox religious establishment was a straightforward issue: the traditionalists rejected his claim of authority to override accepted dogma and practice on the basis of personal communication with God, for that amounted to declaring oneself a prophet. But his conflict with the Sufis, including the group which masterminded his demise, was more complex. For Sufism does accept the possibility of direct communication with God, and many renowned Sudanese Sufis had regularly challenged the authority of ulama , including a sixteenth century ancestor of Taha, Sheikh Muhammad al-Hamim, who defied the judge of the day by marrying two sisters and exceeding the limit of four wives).#_ftn31[31] This statement is full of mistakes. Taha did not ask the traditionalists to accept his call because he has direct communication with God, but because they failed to refute his argument logically. In addition, if someone claims personal communication with God that does not mean he claims prophecy. God teaches pious people by throwing knowledge into their hearts. God says, “And fear God, God teaches you, and God has knowledge of everything” (1:282). The other mistake is that Muhammad al-Hamim was not one of the ancestor of Taha. So there is no way that, the insinuations of El-affendi that Taha has inherited from him the tendency to defy Islamic laws, could be true.  I have corrected this before when Dr. Mahammed Mahmud raised it, but it seems that instead of the correction El-affendi is fond of sticking to the fault.


El-affendi wrote (However, his vision suffers from three main problems: theoretical, ethical and spiritual. Theoretically, his views are based on a hotchpotch of amateur physics, amateur anthropology, amateur philosophy and amateur economics among others. In his writings, he makes sweeping claims about the findings of whole disciplines without quoting a single reference or even mentioning a name). Then he said (This is deeply problematic since he often builds the whole edifice of his theory on such causal claims “as in his 1960 book Al-Islam, where his proposed ‘spiritual experimentation’ is entirely premised on the claim that the whole physical universe is reducible to –and could be explained in reference to- energy”)#_ftn32[32].  

Like many intellectuals, El-affendi has separated locked rooms in his mind for physics, anthropology, philosophy and other disciplines. When he saw all of them unified in one scientific discourse he was astonished. Instead of admiring the new knowledge, and trying to comprehending it, he considered that like a mutton stew with different mixed vegetables. If El-Affendi had worship God properly enough he would have achieved part of the internal unification that enables him to approach seeing the existence as a unity. What El-affendi said about Ustadh Mahmoud not quoting a single reference or mentioning a single name is completely false. We need no other evidence, than the same example brought up by El-affendi himself. In the book Al-Islam Ustadh Mahmoud mentioned the name of the Egyptian Scientist Dr. Ahmed Zaki and quoted a long paragraph from his book Maa Allah Fi Allsama#_ftn33[33]and in that quotation a statement of Einstein was put under his name. If El-affendi had read and perceived that paragraph, he would have known that everything in the universe is composed of electrons, protons and neutrons. If a nuclear fission erupted in any of these atoms the result would only be energy. So the conclusion that reduced the entire universe to energy which El-affendi ignorantly denied is scientifically and religiously correct. 


El-affendi said ( Ethically, Taha faces the dilemma of all modern Muslims ‘liberals’ who cannot accept the right of Muslims societies to govern themselves, and advocate what I have elsewhere called ‘guardianship of liberal’ “in contrast to wilayat al-faqih –the guardianship of the religious scholars”. This leads to stark self-contradiction. For example, Taha rightly and courageously challenged the decision by Parliament to ban the Communist Party in 1965, and cited this in supporting Nimeiri’s coup against what he termed ‘civilian dictatorship’. However, when Nimeiri banned all political parties, including the Communist Party and Taha’s own party the archliberal did not utter a single word of protest).#_ftn34[34]

Taha does not face any dilemma, as he never said that Muslims cannot rule themselves or they need the guardianship of the liberal elites. He has been always against any kind of guardianship even if it comes within the package of Shari’a laws such as the rule of the Caliphate. Nevertheless, the dilemma is facing El-affendi and many intellectuals within the MBs party as they claim democracy and liberalism, and at the same time, they call for the rule of Shari’a laws that state the guardianship of an individual who is the Caliphate. Taha challenged the decision of dissolution of the SCP under a democratic state, which by that and other deeds, was transferring into civilian dictatorship. In addition, it was trying to impose by force a false Islamic constitution to combine between the temporal and religious authorities. When May conducted a coup it was expected to ban all the parties but it was still, at the beginning, better than those who delude people in the name of God. When May adopted the same discourse of its opponents and tries to make Islamic state Taha opposed it. So who is the consistent and who is the inconsistent?!   


El-affendi wrote (Spiritually and theologically, Taha’s position posed the most serious problem. His notion that the believer, by immersing himself in the Qur’an and engaging in spiritual exercises of fasting and seclusion, could receive ‘revelation’ poses a serious challenge about what happens if different individuals receive conflicting revelations.  More fundamentally, what is the mechanism of determining when a revelation is authentic as opposed to a mere hallucination? This is not just a theoretical problem, since throughout Islamic ‘and Sudanese’ history, many claimants of ‘Mahadist’ and other missions have emerged)#_ftn35[35].

El-affendi would have made it easy to himself if he defined the word, ‘revelation’. Basically revelation means God reveals knowledge to the heart of the pious believer. This is the essence of our contact with Him. By denying it, El-affendi is denying the relation between the human being and His creator. What is what El-affendi is refusing is for anyone to claim prophecy. Prophecy is another type of revelation, in which knowledge is carried through the angel Gabriel to the chosen prophets. This type of revelation had been concluded with Prophet Mohammed –peace be upon him-but other ways of revelation such as knowing by direct God’s inspiration are still going on. God’s revelation can also be for other creatures. God says, “And the Lord revealed unto the bees, saying: Take unto yourselves of the mountains, houses and of the trees, and of what they are building” (16:68).#_ftn36[36] Revelations cannot be contradictory, as El-affendi wrongly mentioned, as they are from the same source. But some people can lie about them. Because of these liars El-affendi wants us to decline those with genuine revelations.  Jesus Christ –peace be upon him- said, ‘Beware of the lying prophets! They said: how can we know them? He said: by their fruits you know them’.  


Who is El-affendi?

   Abdelwahab Ahmed El-affendi has been a member of the MBs since he was in High School. During his study in Khartoum University in the seventies he was an active participant in all their actions including violence against other students. When the MBs made their coup against the democratic regime, assumed power in June 1989, and declared the government of Ingaz, El-affendi supported it and received its promotion of being the Communication attaché at the Embassy of Sudan in the UK. During that period (1990-1994), El-affendi was not just carrying his diplomatic career professionally. Following his hidden agenda, he was also denying and justifying the awful crimes of the government of Ingaz with extremely exaggerated bias. At that time the Ingaz  government established special facilities equipped with unimaginable tools for torturing political detainees. The Sudanese called these prisons the “ghost houses”. Some people died under excessive torture; others were paralyzed, some lost sight and hearing, and some women and men were humiliatingly raped. The most famous case was that of retired Brigadier Mohammed Ahmed El-rayah. He was brutally tortured and raped in the “ghost houses” and transferred to different remote prisons in the west and east of Sudan. He wrote ( From my prison at Sawakin#_ftn37[37] I wrote a complaint to the Ministry of Justice with a copy to the president, the Chief of the Parliament, and the Head of Human Rights Committee in the Parliament describing the atrocities and torture I went through supported with medical reports. This complaint was leaked outside the prison; and many human rights organizations high lightened it. The British House of Lords got interested, and contacted the Embassy of Sudan in UK. El-affendi at that time was the spokesman at the Embassy in London. At first he told them that my case is now under investigation by the highest authority; although he knew that the case was not even opened. When the House of Lords insisted to know the results, El-affendi told them that the person who raised the complaint admitted that he was lying. I have read the correspondence between El-affendi and the House of Lords in the office of Lord Avebury, the Head of the Human Rights Committee in the House of Lords. Later, after El-affendi became one of the critics of the Ingaz,  I read an article in which he admitted that there has always been torture and some of his relatives have been tortured by the Security Apparatus…)#_ftn38[38](Sudanile 5/4/2007).

 What is peculiar about El-affendi, is that he never thinks of apology. He moved from government seats, to opposition seats, without a blink of an eye. When he changed his skin and adopted a new discourse to defend the victims instead of cheering for the executioner, he never tells those victims why he was supporting their executioner before, or why he is defending them now. In his critique to the government of Ingaz he concentrated on their new crimes. He never mentioned the awful crimes, which happened during the period in which he was a member of the MBs and an employee for the Ingaz. As part of the regime, when Ingaz government falls, he will be one of the fugitives.


It is clear to me that El-Affendi is not eager to know the truth about the Republican Thought. He is more concerned about his status in the west, as a moderate Islamic scholar, who wants to be invited by TV channels as an expert in political science as well as modern Islamic thought. Few of his audience in the west know that he spent his whole life as a member of the party of the MBs which is considered now even by Arab societies, such as Saudi Arabia,  as one of the terrorist organizations that threatens the world. Even after he separated from his party, and started criticizing its government in Sudan, El-affendi never questioned the basic idea of the MBs.

El-affendi wrote an article published in Elsahafa newspaper on 25 April 2006, commenting on the fuss about some religious views of his former leader Turabi, that were considered by some Islamic Sheikhs, as infidelity. Although in his article he criticized those Islamic Sheikhs and considered Turabi as a good Muslim, he also disagreed with his opinions. Then he mentioned Ustadh Mahmoud and said he swept away all the Islamic legislation and brought a new one. I responded with an article entitled ‘The Dilemma of El-affendi’ published by the same newspaper in May 2006. In that article I advised El-affendi to read again what Ustadh Mahmoud said with an open mind and not a preconceived notion.

This current article showed that he read but with a mind closed with the ideology of the MBs. After the split of the MBs they formed two parties: the National Congress Party (NCP) and the People Congress Party (PCP). In that article, El-affendi condemned both of them, as well as of the Islamic Sheikhs. He also criticized the Republican ideology depending on false accusations. He did not accept the traditional understanding of Islam advocated by the NCP and the PCP, and failed to comprehend the advanced understanding of the Republicans. He was not aware of his dilemma that he is still an Islamist, after the fall of the Islamic project without clearly forming a new version of the Islamic thought that supports his critique to his old colleagues. Equipped with this horrible emptiness, he approached the critique of the Republican Thought.

In this article he used a lot of cosmetics, to disguise the spiteful face of the traditional MBs. Despite the talk about democracy, and criticism of the alleged support of the Republican to May regime, he still considered Ustadh Mahmoud as a heretic. He put the word ‘Martyrdom’ in his title regarding  the many people who think that about Taha trying in his article to prove them wrong, by presenting what he thinks as refutation of the  Islamic belief.

Despite his trial without sincerity to deform the Republican Thought, h think he  still has a chance to solve this puzzle if he is truthful. He can know the secret of the stand of Ustadh Mahmoud smiling for death. He can understand his ideas about the authentic prayer, the eternal journey of perfection towards God, the abrogation of the branches of Qur’an and reviving of the original texts of Qur’an and other mystical ideas, if he really needs to know to free himself. I think his first step should be writing all he thinks about the Republican Thought in Arabic. Many deep ideas depend on the underlying meanings which derived from the Arabic origin have no close meaning in other languages. It will afford me a better chance to respond to him in a way that helps him to see the truth.

Dr. Omer El-Garrai




#_ftnref1[1] -A book by El-Affendi published in 2008

#_ftnref2[2] - Turabi expressed more than once his joy for the execution of Taha considering him an apostsate.

#_ftnref3[3] - The Arabic word means rescue. The MBs made a military coup in 1989 and called the government this name.

#_ftnref4[4] -p. 115

#_ftnref5[5] -Dr. Ahmed Elbadawi, 7/7/ 2012


#_ftnref6[6] -P. 118

#_ftnref7[7] -the article of Ustadh Mahmoud on Alsudan al-jadid newspaper 31/1/1960

#_ftnref8[8] -For the resignation of Babikir Awad Alla, see Ibrahim Ahmed Alhaj: The Democratic Experience and Development of Governance in Sudan.+

#_ftnref9[9] -El-affendi’s article pp.119.

#_ftnref10[10] -the writer translation from: MM Taha (1968) The leader of the Islamic Charter Front on trial. Khartoum-Sudan pp.8-9.

#_ftnref11[11] -p 127

#_ftnref12[12] -Polytheists

#_ftnref13[13] -alms

#_ftnref14[14] -Alhilali & Mohammed Khan (1993) Interpretation of the Noble Qur’an in English Language. Saudi Arabia, Riyadh: Maktabat Dar-us-Salam. P. 282

#_ftnref15[15] -one who practice Jihad.

#_ftnref16[16] -Omer Elgarrai (2004) Jihad or Freedom of Belief? Bloomington, IN : Author House. Pp 19-30

#_ftnref17[17] -p.27

#_ftnref18[18] -P 120

#_ftnref19[19] -the declaration was attributed to the Imam of the Ansar Alhadi El-Mahadi

#_ftnref20[20] -Asma Mahmoud and Awad AlKarim Musa

#_ftnref21[21] -Religious Mania Stirs up Conflicts to Reach Power

#_ftnref22[22] -The Conspiracy Again ?!

#_ftnref23[23] -p. 126

#_ftnref24[24] -A.J. Arberry (1969) The Koran Interpreted. Toronto :The Macmillan Company.

#_ftnref25[25] -MM Taha (1970) Asila Wa Ajwiba (Questions and Answers-First Book) Khartoum.

#_ftnref26[26] The slave here is the person who submitted entirely to God and is free from all other bondage.

#_ftnref27[27] -This is not Qur’an but divine hadith (hadith Qudsi).

#_ftnref28[28] MMTaha (1987) The Second Message of Islam. Trans. By Abdullahi An-Naim. New York, Syracuse University

#_ftnref29[29] -p123

#_ftnref30[30] -p123

#_ftnref31[31] -

#_ftnref32[32] -

#_ftnref33[33] -With God in the Sky.

#_ftnref34[34] -p 128

#_ftnref35[35] -p 129

#_ftnref36[36] -A. J. Arberry (1969) The Koran Interpreted. Toronto, The Macmilan Company. P.293.

#_ftnref37[37] -a city on the banks of the Red Sea in East of Sudan

#_ftnref38[38] -the statement was written in Arabic and translation is by the writer.

مكتبة د.عمر القراي