By Omar Bah
A United States-based Gambian imam and businessman, Omar Jaiteh, has advised the government to intervene in the Supreme Islamic Council and Rawdatul Majaalis saga.
A long-standing dispute between Rawd and the current leadership of the Supreme Islamic Council is flaring up. Last Thursday, the breakaway group called on Muslims to boycott the SIC planned congress which went ahead over the weekend.
The concerned and disappointed imam said: “I call upon President Adama Barrow and his government to use its leverage to compel all sides to come together and form a united front that can represent all Muslims in The Gambia and safeguard their interests which will shun and deter future chaos and religious conflict that is detrimental to our nation.”
“And inaction of the government in this matter will be a dereliction of duty and the president will personally bear responsibility of any consequence of what may happen in the future. I want nothing but reconciliation as much as I can, and I hope this advice gets an ear to hear and mind to heed,” he said.
He added: “What is happening between the two Islamic bodies is very worrisome for the fact that Supreme Islamic Council should be the unifying body for all Muslims in The Gambia and should enjoy the mandate of leadership and representing Muslims’ interest in the nation, and the unilateral move of this body to select its leadership is unacceptable in Islam. It will increase the gravity of the division it created in the first place due to its incompetence and lack of vision to unite the nation.”
“Leadership means setting directives for people you lead and guiding them towards achieving their respective goals, and consent of the followers directly or indirectly is a fundamental requirement of that position, because if there would be any meaning for leadership followers should adhere and follow its directives. That’s why the prophet (pbuh) forbade leading people at their dislike as he informed that among people whose prayers (Salaat) will not be accepted is imams who lead people at their dislike,” he said.
He said legitimate leadership in Islam is obtained through consensus of the majority directly or indirectly on the selection.
“And if we look at selection of the successors after the prophet (Pbuh) we can see that Abubakar Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, after he nominated Omar to be his successor, he asked for public gathering to announce his nomination and asked if they would accept his nominee by saying: would you accept my nominee? They all replied: we heard and accepted. A statement of absolute acceptance of the matter,” he added.
This, he added, “was the only mechanism of collecting public consensus available at that time. But when the idea of elections surfaced it became the alternative method of choosing people’s choice of leadership either directly or indirectly. “Directly, by allowing every eligible person to voice their choice, and indirectly by allowing every eligible representative of people to participate in the selection process on behalf of their followers. And those in our case are imams of all Masajids and recognized Islamic scholars in the society.
Unless it’s meant to be a private entity, for the Supreme Islamic Council to enjoy any legitimacy and all Gambian Muslims representation, it must call upon all imams and scholars to a free and fair election to select the president and the rest of the leadership.
And any leadership selected or elected from this divisive convention will not enjoy recognition of but a tiny fraction of the society called to elect them.
Islam is a religion built on principles of unity and harmony as manifested in significant wisdom of congregational prayers.”
Meanwhile the SIC has held its congress and elected the following executive:
PRESIDENT – Sh. Essa Foday Darbo
1st VP – Qadi Omar Secka
2nd VP – Sh. Ibrahim Masaneh Jarju
SECRETARY GENERAL – Dr. Muhammad Al-Amin Sillah
ASS. SG – Sh. Omar Danso
DEPUTY ASS. SG (ARABIC) – Sh. Kemo Fatty
DEPUTY ASS. SG (ENGLISH) – Sh. Hamma Jaiteh
TREASURER – Sh. Ibrahim Jagana
ASS. TREASURER – Sh. Dawud Jawo
INTERNAL AUDITOR – Bai Alieu Jabbo
ASS. INTERNAL AUDITOR – Sh. Ibrahim Hassan Cham.