I would like to be granted space in your newspaper to comment on the new developments taking place at the Supreme Islamic Council. I read in your newspaper that the Supreme Islamic Council which oversees the affairs of Muslims in The Gambia is going to congress. The SIC remains a controversial body within the orthodox Islamic setup in the country which has seen a substantial influence of some traditional values and practices. With the adoption of the Saudi brand of interpreting the religion by the legion of scholars that walk the corridors of their headquarters, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ally with the indigenous and traditional approach that has been the norm for centuries. With the changing of the prayer times for example, many cases of arguments are still happening around the country, which is a direct outcome of one of those decisions which doesn’t reflect the opinions and consensus of the Muslim masses in the territorial confines of The Gambia.
However, beyond this is the feud that occurred between the leadership and Ba Kawsu in the last congress which left lingering animosities between him and certain members of the council. If any problem or development were to diminish the integrity of the council in the eyes of the populace it should have been something else but not a leadership crisis. Given the fact that it is a religious institution that should be firmly based and grounded in the prophetic way of life, such unseemly developments should be avoided. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) clearly warned against seeking leadership positions in such a manner that can generate bad blood between Muslims. The holy prophet warned that anybody who clamored for positions will not receive the help of God in its execution. This alone I think should generate fear and awe within those who were seen fighting for positions.
Religious tolerance is used to refer to the practice of acknowledging and supporting that individuals have the right and freedom to their own beliefs and related legitimate practices without oppression or discrimination. It is acknowledging and allowing religious diversity as a necessary component of religious tolerance.
In an era when faith and politics have become a blended whole, practicing religious tolerance has become essential to living an open-minded, non-judgmental life. The world is a diversity of belief and opinion, which can often challenge one’s perception, and sense of self. Choosing to avoid rather than learn about other religions can create unhealthy breakdowns in open communication.
In light of the foregoing, it is imperative to remind the people entrusted with our Islamic religion that anyone who is elected to such offices is given a great responsibility in fulfilling the yearning of all Muslims in the country. Therefore, they should put aside their doctrinal and theological differences for our common good. This Ummah has always been diverse and thrived on the beautiful diversity of its legal and theological luminaries throughout the centuries. Trying to impose a single orientation on others will result in endless disputes and mutual hatred, which needless to say is not the goal of Islam. The new leadership should try by all means to abide by the codes that have been put in place by the prophet and his inheritors, the scholars in unifying the Muslim ranks.
Finally, I take this opportunity to heartily wish the incoming executive the best of Allah’s blessings in their new roles and urge them find it in their hearts to forgive those who are leaving for man is ever prone to err.
Bakau New Town]]>