The spiritual odyssey from Islam to HarunaSilo
Today we reproduce a scintillating interview by US-based intrepid writer Karamba Touray with Haruna Darboe, a Gambian also based in the US who left the fold of Islam for his personal belief system eponymously called HarunaSilo (The Way of Haruna).
Some years ago, Karamba embarked on a search for a Gambian who was born a Muslim but has abandoned his faith and either adopted other religions or completely rejected the concept of God and organised religion itself. [He wanted] to explore the journey the person has taken on this very important personal life decision.
Karamba chanced upon Haruna Darboe, a long time acquaintance who had not only changed his religion but founded his own called HarunaSilo, a belief system that is proprietary and cannot be shared with any other person and is exclusive to its founder. Excerpts:
Karamba Touray: How long were you a practicing Muslim?
Haruna Darboe: Until age 18.
Was there a gap or transition period between the time you ceased to be a conventional orthodox Muslim you were born into, to HarunaSilo?
Yes, a gap of about five years.
What is HarunaSilo, its theology and the essence of its belief system?
The theology of HarunaSilo is that all DaarManso’s children are prophets of DaarManso onto themselves, their friends, their families, and onto their fellows. It is sacrilegious to come to DaarManso via other fellows or to interrupt other fellows’ communion with DaarManso with our own communion with Her.
What impact did your adoption of HarunaSilo have on your personal and familial relationship?
Not much except family and some friends are still finding it difficult to believe or accept. This stems mostly from adoration for my knowledge of the Qur’an in my youth, leading Muslim prayers and assemblies, and the fact that no one else could share in HarunaSilo except to discover their own silo.
Do you believe it is possible you can transition back to being a practicing Muslim and abandoning HarunaSilo?
What would it take for you to revert to orthodox Islam?
My journey in Islam, it has been revealed to me by DaarManso, is the discovery of HarunaSilo. It will take another revelation from DaarManso to either discover a newer religion or to abandon myself to the Most Honourable Muhammad’s religion.
Did a change of environment from The Gambia to America contributed to your evolution to HarunaSilo?
I had pondered this exact question about two decades ago. I attribute the discovery of HarunaSilo to my travels, my experiences with the traditions surrounding the religions, and to private study of religions. You will remember that all religions agree on the fundamental rights of persons for freedom of association for religion and industry. That means all persons are free to explore and to change religions at whatever time they deem appropriate. The essence is that absent a unique revelation, one is free to associate with Islam, Christianity, Sufism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or other religion, no religion, or more than one of those at any time. My journey to discovering HarunaSilo began in earnest when one of my sisters suggested we flop to send one of our mothers on pilgrimage to Mecca. Our own birth mother was sponsored by my late father before his passing. I decided that my contribution would go to satisfying any and all of Nanding’s debts in The Gambia first and her lodging while in Mecca for the pilgrimage, and my sister’s contribution can go to the air ticket. Upon her return, I began to float the idea of founding a pilgrimage site in our native Sandou by the river Gambia for all the peoples of The Gambia to solicit the grace of God/Allah/Yahweh/DaarManso as they desire. Everybody responded in amusement and disbelief because they thought I was trying to distance them from Islam. I still harbour that project.
By deduction from timeframes you provided, you came to HarunaSilo by about age 23; moved away from the Islam you were born into at 18; and went through a five-year transition period. Right?
The five years was when I was a Muslim in name only. I didn’t do the five daily prayers, nor performed the pilgrimage to Mecca. My umrah didn’t pan out because I had to accompany my dad to Malta. After those five years, there was a period of about ten years of exploring Christianity (Methodist, Presbytery, and Catholic), Sufism, Buddhism, Baha’u Llaah, and Hinduism. So I would say by age 33 I began to form concepts around HarunaSilo from disjointed revelations.
What is the value proposition in HarunaSilo if by its very proprietary nature it cannot be shared with even loved ones? I understand its founding creed is that everyone is essentially their own perspective prophet with a direct line to God but that is not self-evident in the totality of ordinary humans who are by definition social beings with an inherent innate need for community especially when it comes to religion. Why is the concept of free agency foundational to HarunaSilo?
Religion, by its very nature is a spiritual construct. It is not meant for community organising because DaarManso reserves that honour for Herself, the Creator. Community is organised along traditions of industry and good neighbourliness. Religion is for the peace(s) of our internal conflicts. It is a marketing gimmick to organise communities along religious faiths.
But isn’t it possible that sharing something as meaningful and profound as a religion one believes in at least with loved ones if not the general polity would itself be a validation of that religion and also an overt expression of love and caring for the recipients?
That’s exactly it. The fact that each one of us has a proprietary line of communication with DaarManso forbids me to pollute your communion with Her. In essence, it is an expression of love and care for my fellows to keep HarunaSilo to myself. And because HarunaSilo is proprietary, it does not require validation from my fellows. That said, I am always ready and willing to assist my fellows in their journey toward discovering their proprietary religion. I think you’re a bit hesitant to embark on a journey toward KarambaSilo!! What do you think?
I have found certitude and great comfort in the orthodox Sunni Islam I was born in. I am curious about what others have found and in yours I have learnt your comfort and certitude as well.
What happens to you when you die as the sole proprietor of HarunaSilo? Do you have set rituals to be performed as part of your last will and testament?
To be buried next to the graves of my forebears. Any personal worldly possessions be bequeathed to my children, widow/s, The Global Democracy Project Gambia, in the order of first refusal.
Thank you Haruna.
Thank you Karamba.