M H KOYA Memoir
FIJI DIASPORA is written in two parts. It is basically my memoir. This is the first part, which has a lot to do with my growing up in Fiji.
Following an uproar in 1830s in the British Parliament against slavery, British trading companies in India coined a new term ‘Indentured Laborer System’ to recruit collies for colonizing countries in Africa and the Pacific.
Collies from various states of India were lured into what was promised as a five year work agreement (“girmit” in Fiji Hindi). By the time collies completed their “girmit”, many had lost contacts back home and many their will to go back.
Born in Fiji’s second generation Indians, the descendants of the indentured laborers, I am part of the Fiji Indian Diaspora.
Although I grew up in the final phase of the Colonial era and saw some of British, Australians and the New Zealanders work in Fiji in the (CSR) Colonial Refining Company, the banking industry, the Lautoka Pineapple Factory and high-ranking government positions, I never felt any first hand experience of slave treatment.
However, the presence of Whites was intimidating for the way they were perceived and talked about by
our people ( and the way they poised and positioned themselves).
Because of the leadership positions the Whites occupied, their superiority was a conceded matter both by the Indigenous Fijians and the Fiji Indians. The situation gave rise to the presumption that they were superior people and deserved our highest respect , consideration and obedience.
Like the more well-known Khans, the Shahs, the Singhs and the Sharmas, the Koyas also feature very prominently in the annals of Fiji Islands.
The book is not a biography nor does it pretend to be a history of the Koyas. However, I have deliberately hastened to write this small book ( taking time off from the editorial and graphic designing I am involved in with my monthly publication The Fiji Sun in San Francisco Bay Area for the past 15 years and another project on Introduction to Islamic Criminology ) intending it be very skeletal leaving wide enough gaps and voids for other writers to fill in. I hope it will help tempt other members of the Koya family to do justice to the subject where I have failed to do so. I must also admit that I am under pressure from my mentor and the publishers for another piece of work I have been working on for sometime - all of which are on hold right now.
For two reasons, this book is not as comprehensive as I originally wanted it to be: One, the lack of resources and information due to the passage of time and two, the physical distance that I am at now (in San Francisco -Bay Area), USA) depriving me of a ready interaction with other
family members who could have helped give me more details and depth to this book. As such, let’s settle for what can be seen as an abridged version.
Above the popular Koya family picture. Back row from left to right: Master Shafiq Koya, Abbas Koya, S. M. Koya, A. R Manu (JP) Abu Bakr Koya. Front in hat with walking stick Al Hajj Moidin Koya ( grandpa) )
First and foremost all thanks and praise to Almighty Allah that I have been able to put this short piece of writing together.
I am grateful to my mentor Steve Manning for pushing my buttons to write a book. He has an amazing personality and the art of persuading people to write.
I could not have finished this book without the input from Dr. James Anthony, former professor of University of Hawaii and a pioneer trade unionist in Fiji . Despite the fact we both are from Fiji, we had never met back home. I met him on the internet when I posted a line on the Fiji Times open blog and inserted my email in the note. It caught Dr. Anthony’s attention and he contacted me right away by email. A month later we met in Berkeley, California. Over a two-hour dinner at Priya’s,
Dr. Anthony gave an exhaustive account of his meetings and association with my late uncle Hon. S M Koya. We parted on the note that he will write a piece for my book which he so kindly did and I have the pleasure of placing it as the foreword to this memoir. It is the missing piece that has been holding me from completing the book. Dr. Anthony
has offered the services which my closest relatives declined. My deepest thanks to him.
I devote this book to the memories my late father and mother - two very ordinary and humble souls who raised twelve kids and many grandchildren before parting from this world.
M H Koya with Dr. James Anthony at Priya in Berkeley
I must also add a special acknowledgement for a piece from the writings of Dr Brij Lal, professor at Australian National University.
It has been a pleasure to learn a lot from Dr. Lal’s contributions both in prose and the BBC Documentary he produced on the Indentured Laborer System. My thanks to him too.
Tt is deeply concerning that undue negative views are being expressed in the media about the Islamic Shariah and fear is being spread that America will soon have the Shariah Law which is so fake and false.
There are two significant facts that must be kept in mind:
(1) The US Constitution and Federal laws to a large extent already have in place some of the rules of law propounded by Islam.
(2) In Order to have the entire Islamic Law adopted and made prevalent over all other laws, will require a Constitutional change which is unlikely to happen even in next 100 years as there is not sufficient number of representatives that will vote for such an amendment. And American Muslims have not even spoken about such sweeping political changes.
To be exact such a vigorous constitutional change will call for a a national referendum. There is neither a need for the action nor it is possible to undertake such a risky step.
Any discussions must be held within these perimeters
Misconception about Shariah Law
The Shariah law might mean different things to different Muslim groups compounded frequently by opinions and edicts of Muftis and clerics who seem to have a certain degree of influence.
Specially the present day so Muslim clerics and Musftis have their own takes on the Shariah Law which in my view is a misleading term. The correct term should be Islamic law or the Law of the Holy Quran that every one can hav access to by consulting a copy of the Quran. All you have to brows through the Chapters and the subject matter covered in the index to read a section and make a sense out of it yourself.
For further clarification, you can read commentaries of the verses at the appropriate section. Here again you will find variations as each translator has his/her own commentaries on certain issues some founded on actual previous cases or decisions or legal opinions of past Imams who some of whom enjoy a reasonable degree of acceptance or recognition.
As far as the present day Muslim Muftis and clerics are concerned there is no unanimous agreement and they mostly self-appointed or appointed by some governmental agency like in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In India, it is pretty much a self proclamation ad long as they have has some standing in the Madarsas from where they obtained their Islamic knowldge.
The best standards of the practice of Islamic law are borne by examples from the life of the Prophet of Islam and the first four caliphs. They were divinely appointed and as such far more reliable and accurate than what the present day so called authorities seem to profess much to the confusion of people who are not Muslims are not fully aware of the essence of Islamic Law.
Outline of Islamic criminology
In my outline of Islamic criminology I have presented a bullet point presentation of Islamic Laws :
* Property Law
* Corroborative evidence
* Writing down business transaction
* Creating disorder
* Lies and misleading statements
* Alliance to the country or law of the country where you live.
* Equal rights
* Peace and war treaties and their applications
* Natural resources and men as guardian
This is just a shortlist and it clearly shows that Quran has laws not simply spiritual guidance but laws how to govern a society or people.
You can easily pick out the familiar ones and you will find how they resemble the US laws are found in Federal or Local publications.
(For a more comprehensive, please read by paper: AN INTERDICTION TO ISLAMIC CRIMINOLOGY )