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City of Banjul
Tuesday, June 2, 2020

There is a time for everything

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With Aisha Jallow

The Holy Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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A time for everything
There is a time for everything,and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Such ancient wisdom that is as adequate today as it was when it was written. Just as when we read the Holy Qur’an we find a message from God that is speaking to us. The times have changed, but God is still the same. Our societies have changed and evolved, as well as our level of education, but God is still the same. How can we find God in these modern times? Is he out of date, out of fashion, only someone we call upon in times of distress? In our modern times we get so many messages from all kinds of sources, so it can be hard to choose what to listen to. Should we listen to the fast messages that sound tempting, or should we allow our souls some rest and listen to a slower message but with more depth?
Do we have patience enough to try to understand the more old fashioned language or should we modernize it to make it more attractive? The translations of the Holy Bible are plenty, and that has been criticized by many Muslims. The Holy Qur’an is the same as always, which has been both praised and criticized. Instead of verbally attacking each other we should try to understand each other and our context.

For an illiterate person it can be hard to understand the difference and the reasons for why it exists. That is why scholars have an obligation to explore and explain. The Holy Qur’an tells us to question what we learn from our parents and even our imams. These are the words of God and He knows what is in our minds.

God knows that we prefer to make things easy for us. Instead of searching for knowledge and searching our minds, we prefer to settle down with what we have been taught. We question others who try to challenge us, we accuse them of this and that, call them kafirs and speak in hatred about them. We go against the will of God when we believe that we are following him.

The Holy month of Ramadan gives us time for reflection and it is our obligation to do the best of it. For us who are fortunate enough to have some extra money so we can share it with others; let us do that humbly and without a show. Let our actions be between God and ourselves, let us not share it on social media to get lots of ”thumbs up”. If we brag about our godly actions, we make others feel that their small zakat doesn’t count. We must not embarrass others, let us be humble and pray for each other as we are obliged to do.

It saddens me to see that our current president doesn’t step up to be the father of our country as we have the right to expect him to. He is mute and passive, hides in his quarters until he gets an opportunity to get some attention in the media. A photo of a huge amount of rice sacks and a photo of the president is what he offers you. It doesn’t take any effort at all from him to arrange this ”gift”, he is the president and only has to lift a finger to get someone to follow his orders. Should we be grateful to him? No, because he is only doing his job and I can assure you that he hasn’t paid the rice with his own money. He has only distributed what you already own, and you should be grateful? No, wake up, people!
If the president is sleeping, at least you should stay alert.

The president is your servant, just as the people in the government and in other high positions. You pay their salary and they are there to serve you. There should be a mutual respect between you, not a feeling of us against them. Is your value as a human being less because you wear broken sandals and have holes in your pants? Is your value less because you live in a hut made of mud and the walls break down every rainy season? Are your children’s value less because they have to walk miles to school on an empty stomach? Isn’t it an obligation of those who rule the country to make sure that you can get a salary large enough to feed your family and allow you to buy decent clothing and shoes?

Isn’t it an obligation of the rulers to look after the wellfare of all citizens in the Gambia, not only their own families and friends? Be grateful to God, but be asking for your rights from those who are there to serve you. There is a time for everything, as well as there is a place for everything. The whole world lives in fear for the coronavirus and so many are wondering what will happen when the pandemic is over. Will it start again and never leave us? No one has any answers for that, because this is new even for the scientists.

All I know is that we must keep on being careful. Not all citizens of The Gambia have access to running water so telling people to wash their hands continuously is easy, but to do that in practice is hard. The little water you are able to carry home from the well has to be used wisely. People who have no knowledge of viruses and germs will hardly adapt to this new proclamation. If you only have a little water that has to be used for cooking and drinking, it can be hard to understand that you must sacrifice a lot of it for washing your hands. These people hear that the authorities have told you so, but why should they listen to someone who never has cared about you before?

There is a time for everything and now is the time for some inner reflection. Next year it is election time and what do you wish the outcome to be? More corruption, more misusing of public funds? No transparency and more lies? Isn’t it about time that you lost some of that old fashioned respect for the authorities and begin to ask for some respect back? If you allow people to treat you like dirt, then that is what they will keep on thinking about you. The Gambia is so small and it would be the easiest thing to be brothers and sisters here. Why fight with each other when we can live in harmony? There is a time for everything and the time has come to make peace.

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