By Amadou Jadama
The president of the Rawdatul Majaalis, a group opposed to the Gambia Supreme Islamic Council, has called on the government of President Adama Barrow to convene a national conference to resolve the ongoing dispute over the leadership of the Council.
The current SIC leadership is locked in a dispute with the Rawdatul Majaalis, who has set up a parallel council headed by Sheriff Muhammed Nano Hydara.
In a Standard exclusive, the Saudi-trained former ambassador and Brikama-based cleric Alhaji Baba Abubakar Drammeh suggested: “It is my considered opinion that the competent Gambian authorities should call for a general Islamic conference to which all the stakeholders of Islam in the country could be invited with a view to discussing matters of concern to the citizenry.
“In this regard, they should endeavour to provide an enabling environment under which all stakeholders would feel obliged to contribute to the efforts of bringing people together and finding ways and means of unifying divergent views on Islam in the quest for peace and national unity. There are common grounds on which we could all meet and discuss substantive as well as subsidiary issues, like the gamos, recitation of the Holy Qur’an, charity and others. We all believe in one God, in the same prophet and messengers of Allah with the Prophet Muhammad, being their leader and seal, in the same Holy Qur’an and the same sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, then we have more that unites us than divides us.
“I want to advise the government to look into this matter seriously in the interest of the peace and stability of the country. If that conference is held, it will go a long way in averting any kind of catastrophe and would solve the religious disputes in this country. Religious divisions are dangerous, and we have seen troubles in the Arab world and other countries started like this. So in our view, government should not ignore or disregard our advice.”
Ambassador Drammeh said the overwhelming number of imams and heads of majaalis who selected Sheriff Muhammed Nano Hydara as the president of their Gambia Supreme Islamic Council “have nothing against Sheikh Essa Darboe as a person, as he is our colleague and is a good Muslim”.
He said with genuine political will, the government of The Gambia can “once and for all unite the various Islamic groups with a view to maintaining peace, unity and security in The Gambia”.
He said Rawdatul Majaalis is working on shaping the spiritual leaders of tomorrow to become guides, peacemakers and nation builders and orientate the youths towards adherence to the proper teachings of Islam, “which in fact call for commitment to the middle of the road and moderate approach to dawah (preaching), and refrain from violence and vilification of any form.”
He said Rawda condemns extremism and the use of abusive language and contemptible rhetoric against fellow human beings.
Meanwhile, The Standard has learnt that Rawda has distributed at least 160 bags of sugar to the poor and needy in the Upper, Central, Lower, and West Coast regions.
Contacted for comment, Sheriff Nano Hydara who doubles as the caliph of Brufut Sheriff Kunda, urged rich people in the country to offer succour to their less endowed fellows. He said Muslims in the country are facing hardships and that rich people are not giving the requisite help to the needy.