There were many unique aspects of the late leader Sheikh Abdul Rahman Suwar Al-Dahab's character. He possessed unique approaches and orientations, as expressed in this thinking and behaviour. This is demonstrated by the fact that he did not hold on to power when he was given the reins of his country, Sudan, in 1985 – he instead kept the promise he made to hand over leadership to a civilian government chosen by the ballot box the following year.
When looking at the matter in depth, we can see other unique aspects of his character. He gave up authority and all of its temptations, which over the years has attracted many. He managed to avoid delving into politics, avoiding the mistakes made by leaders to hold onto power by force.
In other respects, his abdication of power reflects a high sense of responsibility towards his country and people, who aspire to choose their leaders and those who represent them through the ballot boxes. In doing so, the people can choose those they believe to be the most appropriate and able to bear the burdens of governance, as well as assume the responsibilities of development in its economic, political and social form, along with implementing plans for developing and modernising the country.
As for his later retirement from political and military work and decision to focus on Islamic religious work, as well as a wide range of philanthropic and humanitarian work, this reveals the qualities of a rich character instilled with the principles and ethics of humility. Such qualities put him in the high ranks of those who have chosen to work towards achieving peace. These people have also refused to allow anything to appear on their records that may suggest violent tendencies or affect their tolerant attitude towards all human beings.
This is evident through his choice of charitable and humanitarian work as a life path and his sensitivity and empathy towards the suffering and torture occurring in Sudan and the African continent more broadly. Al-Dahab made much effort in this regard and contributed to the construction of the continent, including schools, mosques, hospitals, children's institutions, orphanages and other good-will projects.
He was awarded the King Faisal International Prize in 2004 for his efforts in humanitarian work during his presidency of the Board of Trustees of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Sudan.
The issues of his nation were always present in his mind and heart. Al-Dahab's involvement in humanitarian and charity work through charities, organisations, and coalitions for Palestine and its people is the best example of this. Perhaps his experience working as deputy head of the "Union of Good" in Lebanon – which consisted of several Arab, Muslim and international organisations working in the charity and humanitarian field – stresses the fact that the Palestinian cause and the suffering of the Palestinian people preoccupied the thoughts of the late Al-Dahab.
His efforts were not limited to serving the Palestinian cause. They also included his great and exceptional efforts to institutionalise the work of the Union of Good. Al-Dahab was chosen as the Vice President of the International Jerusalem Trustees Committee, where he left his mark and insisted on the need to remain committed to the rights of Arabs, Muslims, and Palestinians to the city's Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Al-Dahab possessed a deep character, leaving behind the glories of the world in order to be close to the ordinary people and their suffering and to take on more positions in humanitarian work. He was chosen as Vice President of the International Islamic Council for Da'wah and Relief in Cairo, as well as Deputy Head of the International Islamic Charity Organisation in Kuwait and a member of the International peace delegation of the conference on the Iran-Iraq war.
Historians will not find it difficult to record Abdul Rahman Suwar Al-Dahab's biography and record his personality traits, as there is a popular and state consensus, as well as an agreement amongst all observers, intellectuals, and writers that the history of this man was dominated by "self-denial" above all other traits.
The biography will sum up the life of a leader who spurned power, authority and the temptations of life, instead choosing the path of simplicity and austerity in order to meet the needs of the poor, wipe the tears of their children and bear the responsibilities of an Arab and Muslim individual concerned with the issues of his nation. Abdul Rahman Suwar Al-Dahab departed from this world decorated with flowers and blossoms, as a leader and pioneer in charitable work, whose achievements and work are comparable to gold.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.