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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The Life Story of Sheikh Hattab Bojang Through the Lens of his Acquaintances

By Hassoum Ceesay

This book distinguishes from others in the growing collection of Gambian scientific and cultural authors for various reasons, highlighted as the first comprehensive biography of a prominent Islamic leader in the Gambia, and is also the first biography of its kind to highlight the life of Sheikh Hattab Puja (1931-1984) – The Gambian Allama, Islamic preacher, teacher, mentor and philanthropist – in full details. This is due to Suleiman Tamani Dango, himself a well-known Islamic advocate, who carried out this thorough research on the life of Sheikh Hattab; the great Islamic activist and the Almighty teacher.

The book originally came in Arabic, then passed by a few or more scholars who knew Sheikh Hattab in one way or another, including his relatives, friends and teachers, to stand for its content to purify and correct it, so it ended They end up writing great introductions about him, in the introduction of the former President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Mohammed Alamin Tory, and other evacuation scientists like Sheikh Ismail Mangang, Sheikh Issa Dabu and Sheikh Abdullah Fati. Then he took over the translation into English, the two experts belonging to Arabic and Islamic culture; Samati and Dramatic, fully professional and honest.

Therefore, this book is trustworthy as the product of extensive research and sincere translation.

On page 36 of the book, the author Dango sums up Sheikh’s life as follows :” He was one of the first and most successful Islamic characters, and credit him – largely – is due to the first building blocks of Renaissance Modern reformist and Islamic Dawa movement in Gambia ?? a character with this weight deserves a resume with this greatness. The author on page 37 affirms that Sheikh Hatab’s Islamic activity has extended to cover areas in West Africa alongside some Arab countries such as Mauritania, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The author undoubtedly proved that Sheikh Hattab was a great teacher and confidence on all accounts. Today, the teacher and mentor of men was at the forefront of spreading and strengthening Islamic education and religion.

According to this book, Sheikh Hattab not only shaped the Gambian mind to embrace the support of Islamic education, but built institutions that still exist since his death 37 years ago, including Khaled bin Al-Walid Islamic School, which was established in 1961 (See page 193), one of the Islamic schools established by Sheikh (see pages 203), and the West African Islamic Solidarity Association, which was established in 1970, after being exempt from the post of supervisor On the Islamic education he was occupying full-time and from his famous weekly program via Radio Gambia from 1965 to 1966.

The author further highlights the sheikh’s accomplishment s’ legacy, carefully following the march of some of his senior students and the care they received from him when they were apprenticed at his hands and have since become prominent figures in spreading Islamic religion and education in the state and abroad (see pages 276 – 327).

Whoever looks at this is all to find that Sheikh Hattab deserves the medal of the ?? greatest pioneer ?? of Islamic education in The Gambia.

But it seems that this kind of accomplishment was not enough to deliver the Sheikh from the plots of the political class in Banjul in the late 1976’s, amid the rivalry between the NCP and the People’s Progressive Party, and between Jawara and Sharif Diba, especially since 1976 Onwards. On page 220-221, the author explains how Sheikh found himself trapped in the political battle that was going on in his community then, making him lose his job at the Ministry of Education in 1978, after just five years. Unfortunately this was just the beginning of his problems with the government, where he was imprisoned in 1983, briefly for alleged false information to a visitor Saudi journalist. Fortunately, he was released when the government realized its mistake (p. 249). But Sheikh Hattab used his short stay in Mile 2 to make a lasting impact on the behaviors of prisoners (p. 250). Sheikh Hattab is a scientist Real no bitterness, back to his advocacy work and started his mission on Radio Gambia.

Interestingly, Sheikh Hattab was also a diplomatic researcher. According to Dango, ?? He was one of the first scholars to seek to improve diplomatic relations between Gambia and many other Arab countries and Islamic countries…” (p. 240), employing his close relations in the Arab and Islamic worlds to bring projects And the ties between his country and the institutions he helped establish or support (p. 243). So Sheikh Hattab was indeed a researcher and development diplomat.

The author Dango also documented accurate details about Sheikh Hattab’s scientific march that led him to Mauritania, Senegal, Sudan and Saudi Arabia 9 p. 241; 152). He was an inspirational researcher with knowledge, as well as About the social life of Sheikh Hattab. Nor did the writer forget to mention many of his friends and companions carefully on pages 153 to 179.

Finally, this book is a rare gem, well researched, decent translated, and easily absorbed. The biography of Sheikh Hatab should add momentum and form an incentive for Gambians who have been educated in Arabic and recognize that they are worthy and equal citizens who can play an important role in building the country just like those who have been educated through Western languages Like English. Arab education is as important as any other type of education for building the country. Dango’s historic context for the arrival and promotion of Islam in Gambia (p. 42-56) shows that the Gambians have used the Arabic language as a language for trade and religion since the 42-56th century, therefore, teaching Arabic as adopted by Sheikh Hattab is not New to this part of the world, worthy of support and commitment to its growth.

I recommend this book to all Gambians who want to drink the true story of the life and age of a patriotic scientist who sold long in the Islamic movement.

Book written by Sulayman Danjo and translated by Abdullah Ebrahim Samateh and Basidia M Drammeh

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