The Gambia is a circular state, meaning the state is or purports to be officially NEUTRAL in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state call for equal treatment of all its citizens regardless of religion and avoid preferential treatment of other citizens from a particular religion or religious sect. I will start with the supreme book or the holy Quran which is the word of Allah “let there be no compulsion in religion.(Quran verse 2:256)’’ if the Almighty Allah says we should not force any one to accepts Islam, the reverse may also be true, that no one should force a Muslim to accept their faith and that both parties should respect and be tolerant to each other’s belief. In our constitution which is the supreme book of our land stated in section 25(1) c, every person shall have the right to “ FREEDOM TO PRACTICE ANY RELIGION AND TO MANIFEST SUCH PRACTICE” if this is right, then why will a person be denied a burial? who gave that authority? Denying Not only an ordinary citizen but a God fearing, law abiding citizen who served the nation for decades, paying taxes and contributed in almost all the sectors of the economy directly or indirectly.
Who is a Muslim? According to the Quran (4:94) “Do not say ‘you are not a believer’ to a person who says ASSALAMU ALAIKUM to you”, it is very clear in this verse that, the any person who believed or make a proclamation to believe in the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Muhammed (saw) and believe in his revelations is nothing but a Muslim. Therefore, what authority do we have to address someone a non-Muslim when the Quran makes it crystal clear for us. The holy prophet (saw) says “whoever testifies that there is no god but ALLAH, and faces our QIBLA, and pray, and eat the meat slaughter by us he is a Muslim, who has the right of a Muslim and the duties of a Muslim”.
Mr. president even though you inherited a lot of troubles when you assume office, one of the greatest task you have is how to settle and put an end to the growing trend of religious intolerance in our beloved country. The Gambia is historically known for its peace, tranquility and tolerance and that the peaceful co-existence of our diverse people must not comprised and be jeopardized by radical Islamist or extremist. Just recently we saw on social media the story of a Gambian youth joining the ISIS, should that not be a concern to the government? From what is known about him shows that there are potential recruiters in the Gambia and as the old saying goes ‘charity begins at home’.
The youth of Tallinding tried to deny the burial of a 70-year-old Ahmadi Muslim man is totally outrageous, and this is not the first time it is happening, and it needs to be stopped forthwith before something appalling befall us, the incident happens when the Ahmadi Muslims already dug the grave in the morning after collecting the key after which they were informed of the non- burial news of their member. As they proceeded to the site, they found some youths blocking entry, it nearly became harrowing but with the presence of the Head of the Ahmadiyyat jamat in the Gambia, he asked his members to exercise patience till the matter is settled. According to the information am getting the youth of Tallinging believed Ahmadi’s are non-Muslims and should not be buried in a Muslim grave yards especially where their scholars (sheiks) are laid in peace. One of the ‘sheiks’ I know there is sheik Gibril kujabi , he was living in Tallinding where the Ahmadiyyat headquarters is in the Gambia, from what I know is, he lived with the Ahmadi’s in the same jurisdiction till his death, he shakes hands and debates with them and during his life time Ahmadi’s are buried in that very grave yard. Sheik kujabi was a man of authority and highly respected among the Muslim communities in the Gambia he lived in harmony and mutual respect with the Ahmadis without hurting each other when he was alive and kicking, now that he is late and has no authority or power but under the authority of his creator who created both him and the Ahmadis. How can the dead cause harm to one another or cause one to lose his or her rewards with Allah? How can the burial of even a non-believer in the same place with a believer affect the believer? much more both claim to be believers.
Mr. Barrow you and your government need to look at countries that created a tolerant environment for all religious and irreligious people residing in that country a good example is Ghana, Ghana has been a stable democratic state since 1992 and one of the major factor that contributed to its peace, stability and economic development is, they are a model of interfaith tolerance. countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan we all have seen how those people are suffering, therefore those s countries shall not be used as examples when talking about faith. The SUPREME ISLAMIC COUNCIL need to be probed into and restructured to allow all Islamic sect to be part of it and have their say and be heard, and that let it be known to them that this country a secular state, they have no legal or moral authority to declare any Islamic group or sect as non-Muslims if they call themselves Muslims. It is important that you as the president of the republic knows the moral, social and economic contributions of the Ahmadiyya jamat since its existence in the Gambia and it is important to take a step to prevent such things happening again because those who knows the history of this jamat, will tell you that they are the most peaceful and law abiding community in any place you find them, but when they are oppressed it is Allah who fights for them, This has been the history of this jamat.
We are all equal in the eyes of the creator and in the eye of the law of our dear mother land therefore, religious intimidation must be put to end before it drags us in the chaos that may not be solved till the end of times. WE LOVE THE GAMBIA AND TO THE
GAMBIA WE SHALL EVER REMAIN TRUE.
Written By LAMIN FE DARBOE