Yemeni Congregation for Reform:  ISLAH [Archives:1999/08/Law & Diplomacy]

February 22 1999

Political Parties Series: #5
Starting with issue number 4 of January 25th, 1999, Yemen Times is running weekly profiles
of the political parties of Yemen.
We print the information as received from the parties.
The aim is to inform the public – local and international.
The Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah) was declared on September 13, 1990 almost four months after the renunciation of Yemen on May 22 grouping all layers of the society from religious scholars to tribal Sheikhs, students, workers and others from both sexes.
The founders of the party were 18 persons who later more than double to 40 and finally reached 1200 from all Yemeni governorates.
Islah leadership was firstly composed of more than 60 personalities who were elected from various governorates and in turn they chose a political bureau to run the new party.
The party’s higher leadership grouped Sheikh Abdullah bin Hussein Al Ahmar as chairman, Abdul Wahab Al Anesi as secretary general and Mohammed Abdullah Al Yadoumi as assistant secretary general.
Five other specialized committees were elected to serve as the general secretariat namely the political and foreign relations, organizational, informational and guidance, secretariat and follow up and finally the economic and financial ones.
Similar committees were formed in various governorates opening membership for wishers.
The Congregation opened its headquarters in Sanaa on January 3, 1991 in a big festival in the revolution sports stadium attended by grand masses from various governorates.
Islah is currently one of the few effective Yemeni organizations in the country that achieved large scale popularity.
The Party’s Bylaws
The Party’s basic regulations are considered the most important doctrine that serve as its constitution organizing its affairs. The system groups five chapters along with an introduction. It describes the party as based on Islamic principles in all forms of life leading to a comprehensive reform movement, ideological revival and renewal and is open to all who believe in its goals and committed to its regulations.
The system underscores that Islah was not formed on tribal basis or representing a certain faction but rather cooperates for the prevalence of right.
It is also committed to the doctrine of shoura (Islamic democracy) which is binding in the passing of decisions.
It calls for tolerance away from differences, groups both originality and modernity and believes in serious, constructive dialogue.
Islah calls for benevolence and shuns evil and aspires to change the current de facto situation of the society guided by Islamic doctrines.
Basic System
The Party’s principles are the ones which the party springs from to implement its mission and all social, cultural, educational, economical and political activities.
Such doctrines are represented in the following:
*  Islam as a creed and sharia that organizes all forms of life.
* The holy Quran and Sunna of Prophet Mohammed are the origin of all legal rulings.
* Democracy, bound by Islamic teachings, is a method of rule and all other forms of tyranny or dictatorship are rejected. Shoura should be deepened in the nation.
* Freedom, in its Islamic concept, is an unwavering right to all humans as granted by Allah.
* Justice is a must that Allah has committed Moslems to live under its banner in their private and public lives.
* Yemen, land and people, is a united Arab Islamic country.
* The Arab and Islamic countries are but one nation, unification of which is an Islamic legislative duty.
* Benefit should be made out of previous Islamic reforms throughout ancient and modern history.
Targets and Goals
Goals of various parties and organizations differ in accordance with each one’s speculations, beliefs, etc. and strenuously work for their implementation.
Islah’s general goal is clearly manifested in its own definition namely that it works for reform in all forms of life in the society on the basis of Islam and resorts to all legitimate means to attain its goals.
In the Social Fields
– Reforming the society and maintaining its values and Islamic ethics and traditions in addition to protecting it from corruption.
– Deepening understanding of sharia, protecting religion, life, money and honor and realizing duty of brotherhood among the people.
– Paying attention to the family in its capacity as the main bloc in building the society.
– Giving more concern to the Yemeni woman and highlighting her positive role in all spheres as embodied in the Islamic sharia.
– Other goals include youth and expatriate welfare, respect of work, spread of spirit of cooperation and social cohesion, development of health care and basic services and encouragement of syndicates and unions and respecting their independence.
In the Political & Constitutional Fields
– Endeavoring to attain an Islamic regime based on Islamic sharia and realizes interests of people.
– Actualizing goals of the Yemeni revolution and preserving the republican regime.
-Deepening Yemeni unity and guaranteeing its continuation and seeking Arab and Islamic unity.
– Affirming the principle of shoura and democratic practice, enabling the people to exercise its right in running its own affairs and choosing its representatives.
– Differentiating clearly between the state’s authorities, achieving justice and reforming the judiciary.
– Launching comprehensive administrative reform and finding a modern and effective administration.
– Pursuing an independent and balanced foreign policy.
In the Economic Field
– Building a strong national economy based on Islamic economic doctrines.
– Ascertaining the role of the private sector in the national economy and supporting the public sector’s projects in the fields of general services.
– Paying more attention to the country’s fisheries and animal wealth and distributing investments in various areas.
– Backing and developing agriculture and making the best use of human resources.
In the Educational and Cultural Fields
– Maintaining the nation’s Islamic identity.
– Generalizing basic primary education, intensifying efforts to eradicate illiteracy, improving level of training and linking education to sharia.
– Publicizing knowledge and expanding higher education, scientific research and paying more attention to schools.
– Outlining an appropriate informational policy and upgrading culture and publications.
The Political Program
It contains a prolonged introduction reviewing the general Yemeni situation in the most important historic eras in addition to its origins until the birth of the Congregation.
The program is then divided into chapters tackling first the human being, second the state, third the economy, fourth defense and security and fifth foreign policies.
The Organizational Structure:
Islah’s organizational bodies are divided into:
-The general conference.
-The shoura council.
-The higher authority.
-The organizational judiciary.
-Local organizational units.
The general conference is the highest authority in the party and currently groups 3000 members representing various administrative units.
The Shoura Council was formed in September 1994 and has 117 members, with Sheikh Abdul Majid Al Zindany as speaker, Mohammed Ali Ajlan as deputy speaker, Abdul Rahman Ba Fadl as second deputy speaker and Shaykhan Al Duba’i as secretary.
The supreme council is the party’s political leadership. It is chaired by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussain Al-Ahmar, and includes in its membership a deputy chairman, the shoura speaker, the secretary general, the assistant secretary general, the head of the Islah parliamentary bloc and ten members elected by the shoura council.
The general secretariat is the party’s executive body. It is headed by the secretary general and an assistant secretary general in addition to nine specialized committees with the task of implementing the party’s general policies and other responsibilities as defined by the basic system.
The judicial departmenty is concerned with following up judicial and legal issues and adjudicates internal organizational differences in accordance with the party’s bylaws.
The branch administration units spring from Islah’s belief in decentralization to allow more creativity and different opinions.
Islah got 66 seats in the 301-member parliament in the 1993 general elections. Thus it shared in a coalition government since no single party gained absolute majority.
In the 1997 elections, Islah won 64 seats.