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The enduring legacy of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at inThe Gambia: A historical and socio-economic perspective

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By Alieu Fatty

The undeniable facts of history cannot be picture painted. The role and long services of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in The Gambia is an open page of history for any unbiased watcher to make an honest judgment. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in The Gambia is one of the oldest Muslim religious organisations in the country, and its establishment predates independence.

From its inception to this day in The Gambia, the community continues to enjoy, take pride in, and lead in its relentless and selfless services to The Gambia and her people in all sectors, whether in the government or private sectors.

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Since the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at was officially established in The Gambia in the 1950s, the community has always been at the forefront of propagating the peaceful and true teachings of Islam, which include peace, brotherhood, development, love, tolerance, and loyalty to one’s country.

Likewise, Ahmadi Muslims in The Gambia and around the world are known for being very peace-loving and law-abiding citizens. This beautiful display has led the community to garner wide acclaim from the indigenous Gambian populace for its indiscriminate services to the people.

Undoubtedly, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in The Gambia has contributed immensely to the socio-economic development of The Gambia in different ways, through the humanitarian services that the community rendered to Gambian citizens regardless of their background, creed, tribe, and religious differences.

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This fact was expounded by the fifth Khalifa (Caliph) and Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, during an address delivered by His Holiness at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. He stated:

Contribution towards independence of The Gambia

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While mentioning the great sacrifices and contributions of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at in The Gambia, some of its notable members’ roles during the independence struggle cannot be left out. For example, during the procession of The Gambia becoming an independent state from her colonial master Great Britain, on Independence Day, the then Amir of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, Maulana Ghulam Ahmad Badhomalhi, was one of those who led the Muslim prayer (dua) during the celebrations at the then MacCarthy Square.

The current Amir (President) of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in The Gambia, Amir Baba F. Trawally, wrote on the country’s golden jubilee celebration since gaining independence from colonial rule:

 “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, invigorated by the service to Allah the Almighty and service to the creation, has always and will ever contribute its humble quota to national development.

The Jama’at has since been a partner in development. This is done solely for earning the love and pleasure of Allah the Almighty. By the grace of Allah, the Almighty, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at, the Gambia will ever continue to be in partnership with the Government of the day in the moral, spiritual, and socio-economic development of our dear and beloved mother land, the Gambia.” https://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/article/ahmadiyya-muslim-jamaat-on-gambias-independence-anniversary

Contribution in education

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in The Gambia has built a number of schools that provide quality and affordable education to the citizenry. Moreover, in these schools, the majority of the enrolled students are non-Ahmadi Muslims, Christians, and people of other religions. Students in the schools are not discriminated against for any reason. And under the rules of the schools, no student is compelled to change his or her faith to any faith, not even the Ahmadiyya sect in Islam, while they are students. The environments of all the Jamaat schools in country promote religious tolerance and peace.

The religious-based organization is running at least five senior high schools, primary schools, and junior secondary schools across all the regions of the country.

Nusrat Senior Secondary School is one of the schools of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The school was built in 1971 and today it is a leading academic institution, producing excellent and bright future leaders for the country. Most of its former students have held top government offices in the country.

The community also offers free educational scholarships to deserving and underprivileged students studying in different fields at all levels of education across the country.

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Contribution in healthcare

The community, in its belief that access to healthcare and education are both inalienable human rights that no people or community should be deprived of, has built many clinics and two major hospitals, each in a strategic location in the country. These healthcare facilities provide quality healthcare at an affordable fee for all citizens and non-citizens.

Annually, the community, through its non-profit organisation Humanity First The Gambia, provides disaster relief to those severely affected by natural disasters across the country

What motivates the community’s humanitarian cause?

Whatever services the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community carries out, whether in The Gambia or elsewhere in the world, the community does it purely based on the religious obligations of Islam to serve humanity. One of the two core teachings of Islam is to believe in Allah the Almighty, fulfil His rights, and provide services to His creation, especially to humankind. These are the cornerstones behind the services of the community.

His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadab elucidated:

“Spiritual advancement is intrinsically linked to serving humanity so a Muslim cannot attain the love of God Almighty just through worship and prayer. Rather the love of God Almighty requires Muslims to serve humanity. We believe that Islam is a religion of love and compassion, and so we serve humanity without making any distinction based on the religion or ethnicity of those we help’.

Moreover, these are the same teachings that were taught and practiced by all the prophets of God Almighty and their righteous followers, more profoundly our lord and master, the best of all prophets, the Holy Prophets (saw). He, the Prophet Muhammad (saw), has showed an incompressible display of kindness and empathy to even those who did not believe in his mission and also to his bitter enemies who were day to day thirsty for his blood.

During the early days of early Muslims confrontations with the non-Muslims of the Arabian Peninsula, the Holy Prophet (saw) and the Muslims used to compete with the non-Muslims in the doing of good deeds, not the other way around.”

Alieu Fatty is student at the Ahmadiyya International University of Theology and Scholastic Science Ghana

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