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City of Banjul
Monday, July 4, 2022

False prophets

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With Aisha Jallow

Every now and then we hear of men that believe they are above all others.

They are convinced that what they believe in is right and that everyone else should follow their lead. ”It is either my way or the highway ” as the saying goes. We meet these men in all walks of life, but all of them have some kind of leading position they never hesitate to use. I wonder how it feels to wake up in the morning, watching oneself in the mirror and be very content with the image. I wonder how it feels to not doubt oneself and one’s decisions. It must feel great, or does it? Being on the top all the time is a position that needs to be defended as many others will try to challenge you.

It takes a lot of energy to cling to the top, perhaps that is the reason why these people easily get upset when they are challenged. They are simply exhausted , but they would never admit that.

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To be an Imam is something great and it requires special skills from that person. Knowing the Holy Qur’an inside out is not enough, you are not only supposed to repeat the words like a parrot. The message must follow a three lane road; from the brain to the heart and then the mouth. You shouldn’t skip any of these lanes, because then both you and your followers are led astray. If you skip part 2, the heart, and allow the message to go directly from the brain to your mouth, you haven’t allowed the words of our Creator to be implemented in your body and your soul. We always saw Yahya Jammeh with his praying beads and a Holy Qur’an in his hands. He had learned some surahs by heart, just as any other Muslim child, but that was all. He repeated the words, they went from his brain to his mouth, but they never passed through his heart. If Jammeh would have followed the words of God, he wouldn’t have acted the way he did.

It is not enough to know the Holy Qur’an by heart in any language, you must also do your best to live by the message. It is not easy, but that is something one must consider before following one’s calling and become an Imam. People will always expect more from a religious scholar, and they have the right to do that. Preaching one way and living another is giving the followers mixed messages and causes confusion. Being a famous Imam comes with a greater responsibility than for any other. I often come back to the word responsibility, but it is a keyword in so many contexts. It is a problem when someone, who a lot of people follow, doesn’t take his responsibility. He allows himself to speak out, and is not for a second bothered with how it will land.

Lately there has been yet another occasion of a religious scholar sharing his hateful messages with his followers. Ignorant people believe that what he is telling must be true, because he is an Imam. Too many are afraid to question him because they feel that they have too little knowledge and he is an Imam, for God’s sake! Questioning an Imam must be like questioning God, right? No, that is not right, because the Holy Qur’an tells us to question what we hear because there are so many false prophets. God has given us the ability to listen to our hearts, to our conscience and then decide what is right or wrong. So if an Imam tells his followers to learn Kung Fu or some other kind of martial art, shouldn’t that make the followers to question him?

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We are not supposed to act like a flock of sheep and go where our leader tells us to go. It seems as when this selfproclaimed great Imam is telling his flock to jump, they will only ask ”How high?” Not: ”why?” This is how evil is allowed to rule in a country that is trying to give outsiders the image of being smiling and happy. Too many of the smiles are instead smirks and these people try to camouflage their true character with smiling and clapping. There is something called emotional intellect. That means that you are able to understand how others feel, you know that what you say and do is affecting others somehow. In the old days we called that wisdom, and it came with maturity.

Unfortunately not enough people are training their emotional intellect. They believe that it is enough to have a great knowledge in whatever area they have chosen to study. The thing with emotional intellect is that it is free, all you have to do is to open your mind to other people and try to treat others as you yourself wish to be treated. You don’t want someone else to bang you on the head because you believe in something others don’t . You don’t want to live in fear because someone has told a lot of people that you are prey and free to hunt. In The Gambia we have religious freedom which means that we are free to believe in whatever we wish. No one is allowed to believe that he can put himself above either the law of The Gambia or the law of God and tell others that his words are to be followed.

A hypocrite is someone who is saying one thing, but is doing another. A hypocritical Imam is a religious scholar who is believed to be sharing the peaceful messages of God, but is sharing his own and violent messages instead. Entering the house of God requires a pure mindset. Having the great honour to stand in front of the congregation requires a pure and stable mind, because so many have opened their hearts to you. They are expecting to hear the words from God, who are you to misuse their trust? You don’t enter a mosque with a suspicious mind, ready to find mistakes in any part of the ceremony. No, you have washed yourself and said your prayers to prepare for some soul searching. You have prepared yourself for filling your mind with the words of love and encouragement, not a message of hatred and violence.

With a prayer of peace for everyone, I wish to end this with some words of wisdom from our Creator:

o          Everyone’s God-given human dignity must be respected, regardless of his or her faith, race, ethnic origin, gender, or social status (ref. Qur’an, 17:70). Because everyone is created by God Almighty, the Maker of all, humans must treat one another with full honor, respect, and loving-kindness.

o          The Qur’an states clearly that freedom of religion is a God-given right. (ref. Qur’an, 2:256)

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