‘I’m Not Qualified To Lecture On Religion’

Former WUlli MP Sedia Jatta
Former WUlli MP Sedia Jatta

“Secularism is good in so many ways because we don’t have a monolithic religion in the Gambia, and even within the same faith groups, people tend to have some variations in the way they conduct their religious affairs,” the former Wuli West Member of Parliament tells Kairo Radio. Sedia Jatta believes that “having a secular government helps all sides live in peace and harmony.”

Mr. Jatta is a guest of Kairo Radio’s special programme on the role of Secularism and Islam and how the two impact on our society. Jatta said as a politician, he is not qualified to talk about faith and religion on a political platform. “Such a role should be carried out by religious clerics,”he said, adding that it makes sense for politicians in a Secular State like ours to desist from promoting one religion against the other.

Sedia Jatta is one of the Gambia’s Social Thinkers whose speeches have been shaping people’s way of thinking, especially about the role of the government, politician and ordinary people in a democratic society.

In an interview being aired on Kairo Radio today, Jatta who is currently on tour in Norway and Sweden, talks about the people and events that shaped his philosophy and ideas. “My late father, Sanna Jatta, who brought me up singlehandedly and enrolled me in school so I could better my own life and others helped prepare me for the future. My life had also been impacted positively by the father of the late Bubacarr Baldeh, Micheal Baldeh and my meeting with Kwame Nkrummah while studying in Ghana.”

Mr. Jatta said his party’s message is slowly but surely getting into the hearts of people, especially in his constituency where the APRC used everything within its powers to win but without success. He expressed the importance of building a conscious society in the Gambia.

Kairo Radio is expected to have anothet exclusive interview with the respected Politician, Social Thinker and formet Curriculum Development Officer.



  1. The link below is the book Sedia Jatta co-wrote with other experts on African and Black American musical culture. Check it on Amazon

  2. Secularism Vs. Islam

    By Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

    Secularism may be accepted in a Christian society but it can never enjoy a general acceptance in an Islamic society. Christianity is devoid of a shari`ah or a comprehensive system of life to which its adherents should be committed. The New Testament itself divides life into two parts: one for God, or religion, the other for Caesar, or the state: “Render unto Caesar things which belong to Caesar, and render unto God things which belong to God” (Matthew 22:21). As such, a Christian could accept secularism without any qualms of conscience. Furthermore, Westerners, especially Christians, have good reasons to prefer a secular regime to a religious one. Their experience with “religious regimes” – as they knew them – meant the rule of the clergy, the despotic authority of the Church, and the resulting decrees of excommunication and the deeds of forgiveness, i.e. letters of indulgence.

    For Muslim societies, the acceptance of secularism means something totally different; i.e. as Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (`ibadah) and legislation (Shari`ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari`ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions; It is indeed a false claim that Shariah is not proper to the requirements of the present age. The acceptance of a legislation formulated by humans means a preference of the humans’ limited knowledge and experiences to the divine guidance: “Say! Do you know better than Allah?” (2:140).

    For this reason, the call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam. Its acceptance as a basis for rule in place of Shari`ah is downright riddah. The silence of the masses in the Muslim world about this deviation has been a major transgression and a clear-cut instance of disobedience which have produces a sense of guilt, remorse, and inward resentment, all of which have generated discontent, insecurity, and hatred among committed Muslims because such deviation lacks legality. Secularism is compatible with the Western concept of God which maintains that after God had created the world, He left it to look after itself. In this sense, God’s relationship with the world is like that of a watchmaker with a watch: he makes it then leaves it to function without any need for him. This concept is inherited from Greek philosophy, especially that of Aristotle who argued that God neither controls nor knows anything about this world. This is a helpless God as described by Will Durant. There is no wonder that such a God leaves people to look after their own affairs. How can He legislate for them when He is ignorant of their affairs? This concept is totally different from that of Muslims. We Muslims believe that Allah (SWT) is the sole Creator and Sustainer of the Worlds. One Who “…takes account of every single thing) (72:28); that He is omnipotent and omniscient; that His mercy and bounties encompasses everyone and suffice for all. In that capacity, Allah (SWT) revealed His divine guidance to humanity, made certain things permissible and others prohibited, commanded people observe His injunctions and to judge according to them. If they do not do so, then they commit kufr, aggression, and transgression.”

  3. I don’t know the purpose of reproducing this piece by Dr Qaradawi, nor do I intend to question his competence in this matter, but I certainly have a major problem with his approach, interpretation and application of the Quran and Islam.

    Firstly, his assertion that….”,Their experience with “religious regimes” – as they knew them – meant the rule of the clergy, the despotic authority of the Church, and the resulting decrees of excommunication and the deeds of forgiveness, i.e. letters of indulgence….”, is very much applicable to the rule of the Mullahs and Ayatollahs in Saudi Arabia and Iran, where Fatwas (mere opinion in Islamic tradition) are tools of governance used to suppress and oppress their people and declare some as heretics (excommunicate them from the fold of Islam) because they hold different opinions.

    Secondly, The Holy Quran ‘ s message is intended as guidance to Mankind (at all times) for the hereafter and Islam is the way by which mankind can achieve a meaningful and fulfilling life on this planet and the hereafter.

    As such, it (Holy Quran) contains injunctions which are applicable at all times, whilst others are meant for different generations. The lifestyle of a 14th Century nomadic Arab, which may be in line with Quranic injunctions of that time, is not applicable in this day and age, no matter who argues for it.

    Quranic injunctions, therefore, should be applied within the context of each generations ‘ politico-socio-economic developmental realities that promote the Islamic virtues of “Justice, Equality, Fairness, Freedom and Peaceful coexistence and that cannot constitute a rejection of Allah ( swt ) in any way, shape or form.

    Thirdly, though the Quran contains guidelines which could be enforceable as laws that are binding on Muslims, the penal code that is prescribed for Muslims today, in the form of Shari’a h, is not Divine in its totality because it includes the collection of the opinions of various learned Islamic Scholars (Ullamahs) based on their understanding of the Holy text.

    This in itself, is not a problem as it allows the sharing of knowledge by scholars to help Muslims understand their religion and live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling for themselves and those around them.

    The problem arises when these opinions are presented as Divine Laws that are binding on all who inhabit this planet,Muslim or not..

    It goes without saying that to forcefully compel a people to abide by “Divine” laws whose origins they do not believe in, is a recipe for endless conflict between communities and nations, which is neither the message of the Quran, nor the mission of the Prophet (SAW ).

    Fourthly, whilst Muslims accuse Christians and Jews of presenting the words of men as the Word of God, many do not view both the Hadith and Shari’a through the same glasses.

    Common.sense would support the view that Muslims have far greater reasons to reject the Hadith and Shari’ah as Divine Islamic sources because, whilst the Bible Writers claim Divine Inspiration, the collectors of.both Hadith and Shari’a h made no such claims, nor have they any authority to do so.

    In that regard, their claims and presentation of their collections as Divine sources is a worse ‘crime’ than.the Christians and Jews, especially when they have been warned against it in the Holy Quran.

    Sensible Muslims the world over, must emphatically reject this interpretation of the Quran and its application to Islam,which are incompatible with Peace and Peaceful coexistence.

  4. Personally, I don’t see neither the head or the tail of what you are trying to explain here, therefore, I can’t respond to something I don’t get it, if you can please pick up your doubt in that article and make shorter and clear, if you want me to continue with you regarding Yusufa’s statement. Above all, you have every right to reject it completely. May Allah guide us to the straight path

  5. Brother…

    I.will say Aamiin to your prayer for guidance to the straight path. Only Allah (swt) knows best..

    You said you don’t know the “head or tail” of what I stated above. I thought I made.myself very clear.

    Simply speaking, I was reacting to the views of Dr Qaradawi against Secularism,the support of which he equated with Atheism (the denial of the existence of God).

    I take it that you don’t agree with Dr Qaradawi that those who argue that secularism offers the best model for.peaceful religious coexistence in this century are Atheists. . Or I’m I wrong ?

    Though I disagree with the views of Dr Qaradawi on secularism,I nevertheless respect his views and the rights of his admirers to support them, but I think he has not done himself any.favours by arguing in the manner he did.

    If.you want to.engage me any further, I assure you that you are more than welcome.

  6. i guess DR yusuf supported what the so-called muslem holy warriors did in mali and are now doing in nigeria as well??? Indeed knowledge and true understanding/wisdom are not necessarily the same thing.


  7. Based on my understanding on the Mullahs and Ayatullahs issue, the Dr. Yusuf was not telling us here that, they are good clergies {Leaders}, he was emphasising the good reason why the Westerners prefer a secular regime rather than the the religious one.

    You said, the Qur’an contains “injunctions” which are applicable at all times, while others meant for different Generation. Can you please [verify] what you meant? And again, you have stated the lifestyle of 14th Century Nomadic Arabs is not applicable in this day and age, no matter who argues for it? Now, my question is, what was the Nomadic Arabs lifestyle in 14 century, which is not applicable today in the Arabic world? And the Qur’anic injunction should be applied within the context of each Generation. Do mean God’s words should be applied based on our lifestyle today? or you meant something else? Please, help me out, I’m blocked!

  8. Please Mr Karamo? Do not predict negatively what Dr. was trying to explain on that text, prediction is a work of Devil, and the Devil denied God’s commandments. No Muslim in his/her right mind will support Alqaeda’s invasion of Mali nor the recent brutality of the Nigerian’s (Boko-Haram).Judge according to what you have seen or heard. May Allah guide us.

    • Ok mr yankuba jobe. Many thanks for the advice.

      My little understanding of islam is that, amongst other very great values, its also about peace, mutual respect, reason, logic, freedom etc etc etc.

      The above values and many many more seens to be missing from the DR’s writiing. Think about it and one does not need to be a DR to see this.

      When people adapt such a rigid and inflexible line of thinking, the next step is usually what is always been happening in SAUDI ARABIA ( for example) where churches are almost prohibited and non muslims treated like non-human beings etc.

      Allah created all human beings and if Allah so wishes, the whole world will be muslem etc. So lets remember than at all times and take it easy with each other in every thing we do etc.

      I will be very interested to know what the DR thinks about slavery in islam? Please help if you can….

      May Allah guide us all. ameena.

      By the way, i apologise for the ‘negative prediction” as you said but will still love to know what the DR thinks about those events…..( the devil is always in the detail so let it be detail if possible pls)


  9. Indeed (Ba) Karamo. ..Knowledge and true wisdom/understanding are like day and night….And education, no matter how high, may give you one (knowledge) but not necessarily the other (understanding & wisdom)…

    May Allah guide us all to the straight path and endow us with understanding, through deep reflection..

  10. Mr Yankuba Jobe

    I did not state that Dr Qadarawi views the rule of the Mullahs and Ayatollahs as good leadership. The point I was making is this:

    Dr Qaradawi argued that the Western world was receptive to the idea of secularism because of their experience under the despotic,autocratic rule of the clergy and the church.

    My point is that the Muslim world has a similar or far greater reason to embrace secularism because of what we are witnessing in so called Islamic States of Saudi Arabia and Iran,where the Mullahs and Ayatollahs are ruling in pretty much the same way. I hope that is clear…

    The other queries you raised are the following:-

    (1) You want to know the lifestyle of 14th century nomadic Arabs that is not applicable in this day and age…(and)

    (2) whether we Muslims should apply God’s Word according to our lifestyle…

    I think I can answer both with ONE Example : SLAVERY

    In the century that the Qur’an was revealed,slavery was an accepted part of life and widely practiced by human communities/societies across the globe.It was an integral part of the socio-economic realities of that/those generation/civilizations.

    The Qur’an did not abolish slavery but redefined the relationship between slave owners and their slaves,thus uplifting the status of slaves within Arabia..

    Answers…(1)…Is slavery an acceptable part of the socio-economic realities of our generation today…? Of course NOT…

    (2)…So all Qur’anic injunctions that relate to the humane treatment of slaves specifically applies to that period and are no longer applicable to our generation.

    Also,the forms of governance prevalent at the time were absolute monarchies and brutal autocratic dictatorships.The Qur’an did not outlaw these forms of governance (as such) but merely defined the relationship between the rulers and the people within the context of their times and ordered the rulers to be just and God fearing..

    Today,we live at a time when multi-party democratic rule is the norm and universally accepted form of governance. Therefore,quranic injunctions relating to the relationship between the rulers and the governed must be applied within that context..

    Or do you want to see Yaya Jammeh crowned as the absolute monarch of the Gambia as one Dr Ceesay recently opined as the ‘right’ Islamic Teaching…?

    By the way,do you agree with Dr Qaradawi that those who support a secular state are atheists ?

  11. Islam allows the taking of slaves as “booty”, or reward for fighting. Islamic jurisprudence laid down regulations for the proper treatment of slaves. However, abuses have occurred throughout history.

    To begin with, the Quran justifies slavery, and often mentions slaves. Here are some relevant verses:

    33:50 – “Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives to whom you have granted dowries and the slave girls whom God has given you as booty.”

    23:5 – “… except with their wives and slave girls, for these are lawful to them:…” Allah knows the best.”.

    The secularist regimes had endorsed slavery in a very violent manner, and the Islam recommend proper treatment of a slave man or woman. I will leave you here to make your own judgement. Once again, may the Almighty God guide us. Ameen!

    • Thanks Mr yankuba jobe about slavery in islam.

      However, are the quotations above not the least very disturbing my brother? i am not in no way trying to challenge islam or ALLAH (and may Allah forgive me if am wrong). how can all mankind be created equal and yet others can keep their fellow humans as slaves for what ever reasons?????

      What is wrong with peaceful preaching of islam??? I REMEMBER HEARING PREACHERS SAYING ‘ THERE IS NO COMPULSION IN RELIGION ‘…….


      WHAT does islam say about a country like nigeria where half the population is christian and the other half muslim????

      Another thing is almost all slaves in islam were and are still of black origin???? Why is that the case???
      The same quotations where used by our own so-called holy warriors like alpha mollo Baldeh and Foday kaba Dumbuya etc. Why wouldn t they have prayed to Allah to help peacefully convert our ancestors into islam instead of violently killing them and looting their properties and sharing their women amongst themselves as if they were sheep and goats????

      Very disturbing to me my brother and please help enlighten me if you can.

      Once again Mr Yankuba Jobe, am not looking for a fight but rather a debate.

      May Allah guide and protect us all. ameena.

  12. Hang on.a minute, Mr Jobe..Let’s put the Qur’an aside for a sec…Are you suggesting that SLAVERY should be accepted in this day and age..?

    The verses you quoted only strengthen my arguments that these (pertaining to slaves) were meant for that period, which witnessed fighting between Muslims and disbelievers.

    This was the norm.at the time…Victors kill the old and weak of the defeated and enslave the fit and young…That’s “booty”, equivalent to war reparations today.

    Qur’an did not prohibit or outlaw those practices because Allah (swt) in His infinite Knowledge, as the ALL KNOWING creator, knows that humans will evolve socially to a point where slavery will NOT be unacceptable…. (it was like a case of allowing these practices to run their natural courses)..And there are verses to support this view..

    Honestly, I am dumbfounded to encounter someone from an African background with views like yours…A Gambian (“children” of Kunta Kinteh) for that matter.

    This is a shocking reminder to all Gambians that we may be confronted with issues far greater than Yaya Jammeh if.he continues to rule and.allow those scrounging “Imams” and free loading “scholars” to continue running amok in.The Gambia.

  13. Which secularist regimes endorse slavery in a very violent manner today..?

  14. I wish, we could discuss this matter in our local language to avoid any misunderstanding. I have not said that, i personally endorse or another word recommend slavery even, from day one, and i don’t even believe that, the Almighty God Himself recommend slave trade be Kunta Kinteh or John,but instead, He had recommended a proper treatment of a slave. All human beings are valued in the sight of God. What i was trying to explain to you on my comment was, it has been mentioned in the Qur’an, it’s up to you to make your own judgement, if God was referring to the old generation or the new generation, one thing I’m certain is that the Qur’an speaks about the past, present and the future..{i.,e..} The Ramadan began since Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] rehoused [relocated] from Mecca to Medina and the same rules are applied up to date: Coming back to [Kunta Kinteh]; He was not the only human being who had been forcefully taken out of the Gambia or Africa in general, therefore, if i have to condemn the slave trade, i will condemn it all together, because it has been a victimization of all human race, men, women, old and young.

    You asked me, which Secular regimes endorsed slavery today? Your answer is, every single secular country that you and I may know. I came to Europe 29 years a go, and I’m still hearing the same human trafficking on the Radios and the Televisions. What is your assessment to that particular issues? The debate may continue………? If you will..


  15. Thanks for the clarification. I am much at ease now that I know you neither support slavery, nor condone it.

    I am aware of other humans being victims of slavery but I mentioned Kunta Kinteh because we are Gambians and he is / was the most prominent slave from The Gambia.

    I agree with you that the Qur’an spoke / speaks about the past, present and future.That is why it makes common sense to try to understand its message from those three perspectives.

    Like I stated earlier, some Quranic injunctions are meant for all times, whilst others are meant for those times.

    The Commands for Prayers, Zakat, Fasting, Pilgrimage, Good ethics ( business ), etc, are meant for all times, whereas those to Fight ( battles ) with the enemy, Kill the disbelievers wherever they are found, or to ” take slaves, are meant for those times only.

    If the purpose of the Qur’an, in addition to preparing humans for the hereafter, is to establish Peace and Justice on this earth, its message should not be understood any other way.

    For example, if the injunction to ” Kill the disbelievers wherever they are found ” is meant for all times, then the Qur’an’s (Islam) purpose of achieving peace would be unrealistic because there are probably more disbelievers today than ever before, and certainly, more powerful ( militarily ) than at any time in human history.

    How are you going to carry out this injunction today, without plunging the whole world into a path of near total destruction…I cannot imagine how any sensible person can see this as a formula for ever lasting peace.

    Similarly, if the injunction to ” take slaves” is.meant for all times, then Islam’s teachings of Justice and Equality are meaningless because no matter how well a slave is treated, it is an INJUSTICE against anyone to be enslaved.

    Finally, I know that ( clandestine ) slavery do still exist in some parts of the world,but it is generally unacceptable in all Western secular societies.

    Recently in the UK, many people were horrified to see people being held in slave like conditions, when the Police raided premises around the London area. The culprits were arrested and taken before the law, whilst their victims were freed and provided the requisite supports they needed.

    Compare that to what exist in almost all Middle East and North African countries, as well as Mauritania, where people of dark skin (especially Africans) are treated as sub humans and in some cases,kept as slaves with state complicity.

    Do you know why.? It’s because these people’s understanding of the Qur’an is frozen in time:Right back to the 7th Century and they’ve fabricated endless Hadith to justify their twisted and perverted understanding/practice of Qur’an/Islam.They may have knowledge but they lack understanding and wisdom.

    May Allah (swt) guide us to the straight path and protect us from skimming of the enemies of Islam, particularly from within.