By Alagie Manneh
The Gambia government said yesterday that Ahmadis—like any other Gambian– have an inalienable right to live freely and happily in The Gambia.
“What we can’t accept as a government is anybody infringing the rights of somebody else,” Abba Sanyang, the minister for lands and local government who is also responsible for religious affairs, said.
The Jama’at is engaged in a rift with some revivalist imams who labelled them as unbelievers bent on distorting the image of Islam.
Some of their followers have even suggested that Ahmadis should not be allowed to live in The Gambia.
But in an expansive interview with The Standard to be aired and published this Friday, Minister Sanyang stated: “Being responsible of religious affairs, I have gone across the whole country and what I have been preaching is religious tolerance to everybody. I am telling you clearly that everybody has a right to live in this country.
“It is not fair [to persecute others on the basis of their belief. When Allah created the human beings, he has been sending messengers all the time to communities all over who are defiant of His instructions and authority. Those prophets’ work was to instruct and inform people about the righteous way to live. When Allah discovered that the human system is becoming perfect, even though He knew it can never be perfect, He brought in the last prophet we believe in as Muhammad and in His closing remarks, he told him Ya Muhammad, this is the closing time of my religion, and this is what I have left you with [the Qur’an]. I gave you my book which is the holy Qur’an. And when he gave Muhammad the holy Qur’an, He said it is seal and complete. That means it can be lived by man for posterity and no man can change a word of it. Allah knew very well what he was doing and that is why He mentioned surah Al-K?fir?n in the Qur’an, and sura Al-Rahman. Then Allah mentioned through Gibril to Prophet Muhammad to be very careful of his neighbour. He told Muhammad, ‘your neighbour’ and reiterated that to a point when the messenger thought that even his neighbour could inherit him. Allah has been very cautious, conditioning people to have that peaceful co-existence. So, abusing some religions, abusing some people and doing whatever is not fair.”
He added that atheists including pagans have been living in The Gambia, yet no one challenged their right and liberty to do so. “But the Muslims and Ahmadis are the two who are mostly conflicted. Why? Let’s love and cherish each other and live peacefully. Let’s live and let others live,” Minister Sanyang said.