The Association of Al-Azhar Graduates in The Gambia has been established with over 100 members and fully fledged executive committee.
Below is a breakdown of the history and the objectives of the newly-formed association.
The Association of Al-Azhar Graduates in The Gambia is a newly established association. The association is headquartered in Brikama – the Brikama Local Government Area, The Gambia. As of today, the Association has about 134 members. In terms of its structure, the Association of Al-Azhar Graduates in The Gambia consists of General Assembly, Executive and Advisory Committees. The Executive Committee is responsible, among other things, for promoting and reinforcing contacts, mutual understanding, and information exchange between all the members. The General Assembly, on the other hand, is composed of all members of the Association and has certain rights and duties as stipulated in the constitution of the Association. Overall, the association was launched to serve its diverse body of members and the wider community where it operates locally, regionally, and internationally. In what follows, we take a closer look at the historical accounts of the Association, as well as some of its purposes and objectives.
From the very beginning, both students and graduates from Al-Azhar among Gambians have wanted to stay connected to each other and their esteemed alma mater. It is uncertain when they began planning to formerly establish an alumni association in Gambia. Certainly, as revealed by a former president of Gambia Students’ Association in Egypt, Lamin Tambadou, there has always been some form of contact in Gambia between graduates from Al-Azhar university – although usually in an unstructured way. In that regard, it was not unusual – as it is still not – for these individuals to contact each other for various social and religious gatherings such as weddings, naming and funeral rituals. Down the line, lot of efforts were made to formalize these contacts. As of today, in 2023, the association, however, is legally registered with both the Minister of Justice in The Gambia and The Gambia Supreme Islamic Council.
One may ask or wonder about who members of this Association are and what are some of the things that are common to all of them? The simple answer to this question is that members of this association include both former and currents Gambian students of Egypt’s Al-Azhar university. But to give a detailed answer to the question raised above, we find it important to shed some light on Al-Azhar university in Egypt. According to their website, Al-Azhar university – in Arabic J?mi?at al-Azhar – is associated with a mosque of this same name in the medieval quarter of Cairo, Egypt, which was founded in 970. Thusly, Al-azhar is one of the oldest universities and institutes of Islamic scholarship in the world. Al-Azhar oversees national and international network of schools with millions of students and educators across the world. The basic program of studies was—and still is—Islamic law, theology, and the Arabic language. In the late 19th century, however, several modern subjects were introduced. These include subjects in areas such as arts & humanities, physical sciences, business & economics, engineering & technology, life sciences, and computer science. Today, Al-Azhar remains, nevertheless, one of the most prestigious universities for Islamic learning.
Moreover, one of the basic elements that which characterize members of this Association, is the concept of Al-Wasatiyyah – a moderate stance. ‘In the Association of Al-Azhar Graduates in The Gambia, we believe that Islam is a religion of moderation, peace and impartiality, not of extremism, prejudice and intolerance’, the president of the Association, Muhammad Drammeh, pronounces. This concept of moderation holds the members together as a strong family, but also it guides them in carrying out their scholarly duties. The notion of moderation in this sense is also evidence in the dynamic fields of study of Al-Azhar graduates in The Gambia. Graduate fields of members of the Association include various branches of Islamic Studies and Sharia, Science and Technology, Management and Business Administration, Arts, Languages and Humanities. Next, we look at some of the purposes and objectives of the Association.
According to the constitution of the Association of Al-Azhar Graduates in The Gambia, as any other organization, the Association has certain medium and short-term objectives that it pursues to accomplish its long-term goals. Despite challenges such as limited job opportunities and low salaries, the association intends to play important role in contributing to local talent, advancing Islamic religious scholarship, and developing the economic growth in The Gambia. In terms of the overall medium and short-term objectives, the current president of the organization, Muhammad Drammeh confirms: ‘we believe that this association will help members re-build a bond of communication with friends and former colleagues and find out new ways to establish professional networks.’ The explicit aims and goals of the Association of Al-Azhar Graduates in The Gambia include the members’ collective efforts to strive for spreading Islamic teachings; strengthen brotherhood and sisterhood among the Gambian people; establish meaningful business projects, among other things, as source of income for the Association; contribute in reducing poverty, especially among Gambian youths, by creating job opportunities; ensure that the needy and orphans are taken care of; contribute to nation building through social services such as digging wells, building of mosques, community health centres, schools, universities, and skill centres for the Gambian youths; and arrange sport activities.
In conclusion, Al-Azhar Graduates in The Gambia have been taking contact with each other before their alumni association was registered with the authorities in The Gambia. As of today, the Association of Al-Azhar Graduates in The Gambia is a legally registered organization. As you can see from the aims and objectives presented above, the Association was launched to provide former graduates and current students from Al-Azhar among Gambians the opportunity to network. The Association is also aimed at creating appropriate environment for members not only to discover their own potentials, but also to contribute to intellectual and economic development in The Gambia.