Sheikh Ismaila Manjang, eminent educator and imam


By Sheikh Sulaiman Danjo

Translated by Basidia M Drammeh

He is the great educator, Imam Ismaila bin Sheikh Muhammad Lamin known as “Arafang Malang Manjang” Ibn Muhammed Lamin Manjang ibn Abu Bakr Manjang famously known as “Manjang Fing”. Sheikh Manjang was a resident of Gunjur, but originally hailed from Suluko- May God protect him. He was a graduate of Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah Al-Mukarramah and former principal of the Khaled Bin Al-Waleed Islamic School


in Kombo Gunjur.

Birth and upbringing:

Sheikh Ismaila Manjang was born on June 12, 1945, in Gunjur in Kombo South. He grew up in the custody of his father, Sheikh Muhammad Lamin Manjang, known as “Arafang Malang Manjang” -May God have mercy on him. His older brother is Sheikh Noha Manjang, the Muezzin of the Gunjur Mosque. May God protect him. As for his great-grandfather, he is the sheikh Foday Abu Bakr Manjang Fing – May God have mercy on him), who had historical encounters with the kings of Brikama, as well as the colonialists. The family is originally from the village of Seuluko in Guinea-Bissau. The Manjang family was famous for bravery and possessed high skills in hunting, and the descendants were skilled and experienced in war machines.

His quest for knowledge in traditional

learning circles:

In the early fifties, Sheikh Ismaila began his educational career in the traditional learning circles of Gunjur, starting with the Sheikh Omar Jammeh’s learning circle, known as “Fajerreh Jammeh,” may God have mercy on him. The latter’s learning circle was in Jammeh Kunda. Sheikh Ismaila Manjang spent nearly three years under the tutelage of Jammeh, where he learned Arabic alphabets.

Then he turned to the learning circle of Sheikh Muhammed Lamin Bojang, known as “Arafang Malang Bojang,” may God have mercy on him. The traditional learning circle known as Majlis was on the southern side of the Grand Mosque, where the house of “Sandang Bojang” is located. He stayed there for a short period. In the mid-fifties, Sheikh Ismaila Manjang turned to the learning circle of Sheikh Abu Bakr Jabang, known as “Arafang Demba Jabang,” may God have mercy on him where he spent a long period during which he mastered the Arabic alphabet in the traditional method known as (the Baysimim method). In the same learning circle, he read the Qur’an until he completed it in the conventional manner, which enables the student to read the Quran without focusing on memorization abstractly. Then he proceeded to study Shari’a sciences in accordance with the Maliki school.

Sheikh Ismaila Manjang used to help his sheikh in educating younger students, such as Sheikh Muhammad Lamin Touray, Sheikh Dembo Kurus Touray, may God have mercy on him, and others.

Transition to regular schools:

In the early sixties, one of the associates of Sheikh Hattab Bojang opened an Arab school in Gunjur Barrow Kunda, specifically in the house of Kejara Barrow, who is Sheikh Kawsu Omar

Jatta, where he taught children the Arabic language. When Sheikh Ismaila Bojang heard about it, he moved in. This coincided with the opening of Arabic school in Latrikunda Jaman by Sheikh Hattab Bojang, specifically in the home of his friend Sheikh Dodou Faal, may God have mercy on them, where he taught children, so when the youth of Gunjur heard that one of the sons of Gunjur opened a regular Islamic school in Latrikunda German, they went to him

and insisted on relocating the school in Gunjur. The Sheikh yielded, with the school being consequently relocated to Gunjur, his hometown. This was the underlying factor behind the relocation of the school from Latrikunda German to Gunjur.

Sheikh Ismaila Manjang was one of the first students enrolled at Sheikh Hattab Bojang’s school in that year, at most outstanding. They were about seventeen. Since 1962, Sheikh Ismaila began to accompany Sheikh Hattab Bojang constantly and remained attached to him until his death in 1984, except for travel and other essentials. Until he became a shadow of the sheikh, may God have mercy on him. In 1962, Sheikh Hattab moved his school to his hometown of Gunjur and resumed teaching in a small house that belonged to one Mr. “Fasaikou Bojang, Abdul Wahab Bojang’s father, may God have mercy on them., He was the only young man who belonged to the “Karaba” area – which supported the then (PPP) ruling party. Karaba area was involved in a longstanding political rivalry and tribal tension with “Karanding” – the pro-opposition (UP) party. Karanding was the area that Sheikh Hattab Bojang, may God have mercy on him, belonged to. Certain people from the “Karaba” area spew out enmity simply because he was from “Karanding.” As for Sheikh Ismaila Manjang, despite being from the Karaba area, he was not affected by these political conflicts and tribal strife.

Between 1976 and 1977, his mentor, Sheikh Hattab Bojang, appointed him as a teacher in the Kombo Sanyang public primary school, at the age of 31, to succeed Sheikh Dembo Kurus a scholarship in Kuwait in the 1976.

In 1977, Sheikh Ismaila Manjang participated in the training course supervised by Sheikh Hattab Bojang in coordination with Saudi universities to qualify teachers in public schools. After the training course, he was transferred from Sanyang Primary School to Gunjur Primary School.

Among the students who participated in this training course were Sheikh Essa Darboe, Sheikh Muhammad Lamin Touray, Dr. Mbye Kebba Kah, Imam Baba Leigh, Sheikh Tijan Kah, Sheikh Sidya Ceesay, and Imam Ratib Sheikh Ali Moaz Kah, Sheikh Omar Bun Jeng, Sheikh Kawsu Jatta, Sheikh Bala Musa Fatty, and others.

Sheikh Ismaila Manjang has benefited from Sheikh Hattab Bojang in many aspects, for example:

On the academic side: When Sheikh Hattab sat to explain the Qur’an in Janneh Kunda, Sheikh Ismaila was among those who attended this learning circle and read the exegesis of the entire Quran to Sheikh Hattab Bojang. Sheikh Hattab used to refer to several books of Tafseer in his explanation. However, Tafseer Ibn Kathir was his primary reference, along with the Tafseer Al-Baghawi and Jalalain, may God have mercy on him.

Years later, the Tafseer learning circle was transferred to the main mosque, but that did not continue, so it stopped. As a result, the Majlis was moved to Sheikh Hattab’s house in “Bojang

Kunda.” The Sheikh started giving lessons in various fields, such as hadith, jurisprudence, among others. The Sheikh’s Tafseer learning circles helped enable Sheikh Ismaila Manjang to master Tafseer. In the regular school, Manjang was one of the outstanding students who excelled in language, jurisprudence, history, and so on, so when Sheikh Hattab opened an Islamic school in the border village of Katong in 1964, He chose four of his distinguished students to teach there, including Sheikh Ismaila.

Due to his closeness to the Sheikh, his manners resembled those of his mentor, Sheikh Hattab Bojang. May God have an understanding on him, as evidenced by his frankness and lack of flattery, honesty, honesty and humility, in addition to his eagerness to volunteer work and embrace of students, especially those who came from outside the Gambia, and other things that I cannot mention here. 2- The ethical side: Sheikh Ismaila has been involved in his Sheikh’s life for a long time, since 1962, until he died in 1984. He never stayed away from him except when the Sheikh travelled outside the country or otherwise. Despite his proximity to the Sheikh, he did not receive a scholarship to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to continue his studies until late, after the death of Sheikh Hattab. May God have mercy on him.

His enrollment in Umm Al-Qura University In 1983, Sheikh Hattab travelled to Saudi Arabia. He presented papers by many students to Saudi universities; among these students were Sheikh Ismaila Manjang, Sheikh Kawsu Jarju from Brikama, Sheikh Ahmed Jako, Sheikh Musa Jaiteh from Katong, Sheikh Ibrahim Touray, and others.

In 1984, before the admission results were announced, the Gambia was shocked by the death of one of its pillars, Sheikh Hattab Bojang! May God have mercy on him and make the highest Paradise of Heaven his resting place.

In 1985, following the death of Sheikh Hattab Bojang (may God have mercy on him), the names of those admitted to Umm Al-Qura University were announced; amongst those admitted were Sheikh Ismaila Manjang, Sheikh Ebrahim Touray, Sheikh Musa Jaiteh, Sheikh Ahmed Jako, and Sheikh Kawsu Jarju. Thus, Sheikh Ismaila Manjang joined Umm Al-Qura University, where he continued his studies until he graduated in 1988. During his stay in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, he participated in many training courses and learning circles in the Great Mosque of Mecca.

His educational efforts:

After Sheikh Ismaila Manjang graduated from Umm Al-Qura University, he returned to The Gambia. Sheikh Muhammad Al-Amin Touray and Sheikh Essa Darboe, who had graduated before him at the Islamic University in Madinah, had already taken over the management of Sheikh Hattab Bojang’s educational projects, renaming the Sheikh Hattab School in Gunjur as Khalid Bin Al Waleed Islamic School.

When Sheikh Ismaila Manjang returned to The Gambia, he joined them and worked with them as a team. When they set out to restore several schools, Sheikh Ismaila was appointed as principal of the Khaled Ibn Al-Waleed Islamic School in Gunjur. At the same time, Sheikh Essa

Darboe became Principal of the Solidarity Center for Islamic Studies in Serrekunda, and Sheikh Muhammad Lamin Touray became head of the Islamic Solidarity Association for West Africa. In addition to his administrative work, he teaches Tafseer and other subjects in the school and provides other classes at the Solidarity Center for Islamic Studies in Serrekunda. In addition to these duties, he also offers lessons in his mosque about Tafseer and hadith, addressing questions raised by the students after these lessons.

To be continued.