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Thursday, October 28, 2021

The impact of the Ahmadiyya community in The Gambia

People started taking an interest in the literature and message of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community – founded a few decades earlier in a remote village in India – Qadian. After the demise of the founder, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad he was succeeded by Hadrat Hakim Maulawi Nurudin Saliib and henceforth a succession of khulafah, fulfilling a prophesy of Rasul-e-Akram, Syedinaa Muhammad that Allah granted Muslims khilafat a second time.

These khulafah sent out missionaries to spread the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat and serve mankind. It was in early 1960 that this important message reached The Gambia, fulfilling a prophesy of the Promised Messiah in which Allah said to him: ‘I will cause thy message to reach the corners of the earth’. The Gambia incidentally lies in the corner of the earth.

Another important prophesy of the Promised Messiah was: ‘I shall bless you so much so that kings shall seek blessings from thy garments’. When The Gambia gained self-rule and Sir Farimang Singhateh became the first governor of the country, he wrote to the khalifah at the time seeking for a piece of clothe worn by the Promised Messiah so as to be blessed by Allah, the Almighty. The third successor of the Promised Messiah sent him a piece of cloth from the garment of the Messiah.

The benefit of Khilafat-e-Ahmadiyya on The Gambia has been long and constant. On February, 1965 when The Gambia celebrated her independence, it was Hadrat Ghulam Ahmad Badomali, the amir and missionary-in-charge of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community who led the prayers on behalf of the Muslim ummah.

In the 1960s and early seventies, there were very few senior schools in The Gambia. The few that were here were built by the Christians with the exception of Muslim High School. These were also concentrated in the urban areas making it compulsory for all children in the provinces who reach high school age to leave home and come to the urban area. In 1970, Hadrat Mirza Nasir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih III visited The Gambia for the first time. While here, he was inspired by Allah the Almighty to initiate a scheme to help third world countries. On his return journey, he delivered a Friday sermon in Masjid Fadl in London in which he outlined this scheme. He called it the Nusrat Jehan Scheme – meaning, help for the world. He appealed to Ahmadis to sacrifice their money, time and expertise to help the poor countries of the world. A few weeks later, hundreds of thousands of rupees were offered to him. In addition, hundreds of volunteers – doctors, teachers and agriculturists offered their services to come and work in Africa.

The first school came about a few months later, Nusrat Senior Secondary School. This school rose to become one of the best in the country, now known all over the world as a beacon of excellence. The school has impacted so positively on Gambian society that there is hardly a government office in this country today in which there is no former student of this noble institution. The school has produced ministers, MPs, soldiers, teachers et cetera. A few years later, Tahir Ahmadiyya Muslim Senior Secondary School came up in Mansakonko and Nasir Ahmadiya Muslim Senior Secondary School in Basse. The unique thing about these schools is that they came at a time when there was no senior school in the provinces (except Armitage in Janjanbureh).

In 2005, Humanity First, an NGO under the auspices of the Ahmadiyya community built their first ever senior school – Masroor Senior Secondary School in Old Yundum. It has maintained one hundred percent pass rate since its inception. It could therefore be said without fear of contradiction that it has almost come at par with the other schools.

Other schools built by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community include the Morreh Kunda Ahmadiyya School in Wulli, Kamfenda Ahmadiyya School in Foni, and Mbullum Ahmadiyya Upper Basic School (now with a senior school to be called Nusrat Jehan Senior Secondary School) in Lower Niumi District in the North Bank Region.

Still on education, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community sponsors hundreds of students in senior secondary schools and tertiary institutions, especially the University of The Gambia. Also, Humanity First brought cheap and affordable IT classes to the doorstep of Gambian students.  

At, and a little after independence, there were very few hospitals in The Gambia. The Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (now Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital) and Bansang Hospital were the notable ones. When the Nusrat Jehan Scheme took off, it also built hospitals to help the country. One of them is the Ahmadiyya Muslim Hospital and Dental Surgery in Tallinding which started at No. 88 Perseverance Street in Banjul, a hospital that has become synonymous with its excellence in this country. A hospital was also built in Njawara, North Bank Region, another one in Farafenni and one in Basse. All these hospitals treated at low and affordable costs but also treated poor people free of charge. The Ahmadiyya community also introduced homeopathic treatment (this is a system of medicine discovered over a hundred years ago by a German scientist called Samuel Heinemann) in this country and offered, and still does, free medical clinics all over the country. 

In the area of agriculture, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community has offered advice to thousands of Gambians and has an entire secretariat on agriculture. The jama’at is also involved in the planting of trees. It planted thousands of trees in the past five years alone.

We now come to another and perhaps the most important aspect of the impact of the Ahmadiyya community – the spiritual and moral benefits. The jama’at has printed thousands of leaflets and books, all geared towards the moral training of the citizenry. One good example is the Muslim Prayer Book which sells like hot cake when printed in this country, mostly bought by non Ahmadi Muslims. Recently, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community published (for the first time in the history of the country) the Holy Qur’an in three local languages of the country Mandinka, Wollof and Fula.

Gambians now seek and receive directives and prayers from the khalifah of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Not long ago, a highly respected member of the society who is a non-Ahmadi Muslim narrated that he had some difficulties and wrote to Hadrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (the khalifah) to seek prayers. He said that Hudur prayed and wrote to him narrating a dream shown to him by Allah, the Almighty. This dream meant that the difficulties of the seeker will be solved in the near future. And so it came to pass. What a testimony to the piety of the khalifah and the community he leads! All these are undoubtedly the direct benefits of the Khilafat-e-Ahmadiya on The Gambia.

As we celebrate Khilafat Day this year, we should take stock of the blessing The Gambia has derived from this boon. All prayers belong to Allah, Lord of all the worlds.

 

 

Musa Bah is a teacher at Nusrat High School and the author of two books.

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