The Staff of Al Bashir

During his 30-year rule, the former president Al-Bashir had been holding a staff in his right hand. He used to wave it up, down, right and left when he was addressing the masses. His speeches usually would end up with a Sudanese type of dance called Arda (Show) in which he used his staff to impress the audience who would then come and participle in the dance. What was the secret behind that staff? Was the idea of carrying it taken from Sudanese or Islamic culture? In Sudan they say (The knife is used to protect you from being plundered, while the staff is used to protect you from the dogs). They, also, say ( The staff is used for the disobedient).In view of this, we can know some part of the secret as power is ( a bone of contention).In other words, power is a subject or issue over which there is continuing disagreement. This idiom comes from the idea of a bone that is thrown into the midst of a number of dogs and causing a fight between them. Now the image has become so clear, as Al-Bashir needed to have a staff in his hand to drive away the rest of the dogs from his own bone ( power).Moreover, he was in a bad need for the staff to hit the disobedient ( the insurgents) who rebelled and revolted against his rule. Now let us see if the idea was drawn from the Islamic culture. In the holy Quran the word ( staff) is mentioned twelve times in six different suaar :- Surah Al- Baqara 2 : 60, Surah Al-A’raf 7 : 107- 117- 160, Surah Ta-ha 20 : 18 – 66, Surah Ash-Shu’araa 26 : 32 – 44 -45 -63, Surah An- Naml 27 : 10, Surah Al-qasas 28 : 31. In all of them, the staff is associated with prophet Moses as a miracle to prove his prophet hood.
When Moses prayed for water for his people, Allah Almighty ordered him to strike the rock with his staff. Thereupon twelve springs ( fountains) gushed out from it and all his people drank. We wished that Al-Bashir had struck with his staff the rich oil fields in Sudan. If that wish had come true, we would have been wearing decorated turbans like our brothers in the Gulf. In another context, Pharaoh asked Moses to bring forth his sign of having been sent with a message to him if he was truthful.( Thereupon Moses threw his rod, and suddenly it was a veritable serpent).Surah Al-A’raf 7 : 107. When Pharaoh consulted his advisers, they told him to summon the most skillful magicians to refute the claims of Moses. The magicians, then, threw their rods, they enchanted the eyes of the people, and struck them with awe, and produced a mighty sorcery. Then Moses threw his rod which swallowed up all their false devices. Here the similarity between Al-Bashir’ rod and that of Moses can be seen clearly through the fact that Moses’ rod managed to destroy the magical effect of the other sorcerers while that of Al-Bashir invalidated the magic of the Sudanese opposition for nearly three decades. It is noted that the word (asa) is translated nine times as (rod) and three times as (staff).At another place, the Quran has used the word (minsa-atahu) , translated (his staff) ,as a synonym for (asa).(When We executed Our decree of death on Solomon, nothing indicated to the jinn that he was dead except a worm eating away his staff.
So when Solomon fell down, the jinn realised that had they known what lies in the realm beyond perception, they would not have continued to be in this humiliating chastisement) Surah Saba 34 : 14. Some interpreters say that the word (staff) here implies (power and authority). Also Imam Muhammad Ben Sirin, in his book entitled (The Voluminous Interpretation of Dreams) ,links between the word (staff) and mastery, power, authority, influence and leadership. He narrates :- (We will cast now light upon the vision of Joseph -(may peace be upon him) .In fact, Wahab Ibn Munbah said :Joseph, son of Jacob, (may peace be upon them) – saw a vision when he was a little child, sleeping in one of his brothers’ lap. In the hand of every man of them a thick stick destined to protect his sheep and to recline on it and to fight with it against the beasts of prey.
Yet, with Joseph (peace on him) only a fine and delicate rod reclining on it, and he fought with it the beasts prey, protecting his sheep, and to play as a lad amongst the lads. When he woke up, while in his brother’s lap, he said : Do you want me to inform you of the dream I just saw? His brothers responded positively. He then reported : I saw my rod sticking into the soil and all of your rods are embedded around it. It revealed to be the smallest and shortest one among all. Yet, it began elongating so that it became higher than your sticks, stood firm in the earth, outspreaded its underground roots until it plucked out your rods. Once he brought his speech to the end, his brothers told him : Rehil’s son is on the brink of saying : You are my slaves and I am your master) .Finally, the former president Al-Bashir is the only person who knows the secret whether his staff had been used to drive away his political opponents or whether it had been used as a symbol for power and

Abdul Ghani Yusuf Abu Waad

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