Somali Islam rendered the world intelligible to Somalis and
made their lives more bearable in a harsh land. Amidst the
interclan violence that characterized life in the early 1990s,
Somalis naturally sought comfort in their faith to make sense of
their national disaster. The traditional response of practicing
Muslims to social trauma is to explain it in terms of a perceived
sin that has caused society to stray from the "straight path of
truth" and consequently to receive God's punishment. The way to
regain God's favor is to repent collectively and rededicate
society in accordance with Allah's divine precepts.
On the basis of these beliefs, a Somali brand of messianic
Islamism (sometimes seen as fundamentalism) sprang up to fill the
vacuum created by the collapse of the state. In the disintegrated
Somali world of early 1992, Islamism appeared to be largely
confined to Bender Cassim, a coastal town in Majeerteen country.
For instance, a Yugoslav doctor who was a member of a United
Nations team sent to aid the wounded was gunned down by masked
assailants there in November 1991. Reportedly, the assassins
belonged to an underground Islamist movement whose adherents
wished to purify the country of "infidel" influence.