By Luntango Suun Gaan Gi
Sam’s piece in the Daily Observer of 26 October 2015 (reproduced below) makes me think immediately of George W Bush and Tony Blair who called anyone who disagreed with them a “terrorist”.
But let us focus on facts. Does Sam really believe that there are in The Gambia ANY “religious leaders with Boka Haram mentality aimed at politically disrupting an orderly nation in the name of Islam”??
Cleary, even from reading Sam Sarr’s own piece, the answer must be no.
The only basis for Sam Sarr’s use of the “Boko Haram mentality” abuse is, according to Sam, that some Imam’s chose to “celebrate Eid” on a different day from the rest of the nation. But Sam himself has given a perfectly “understandable” answer as to why some Imam’s chose to pray on a different day:
Simple IGNORANCE of modern technological advancement.
“ … calendars finished with astronomical accuracies … It is said to be far more accurate than the Gregorian calendar although its calculation is based on astronomical observation rather than mathematical rules”.
But, we ask Sam, how does this IGNORANCE of technological developments turn perfectly peaceful but IGNORANT respected Imams into “ half-baked rascals” with “Boko Haram mentality” – to use Sam’s derogatory epithets? If some elderly but much respected Imam’s, such as the Hydara one, chose to be “stubborn” about when to celebrate Eid, Sam himself gives as a perfectly good reason for this “stubbornness” when he writes:
“In the past Gambians had understandably disagreed over the issue of whether the crescent new moon had surfaced in the dusk skyline that used to ultimately determine whether the following day will be the day of the Eid or not. But those were days when people had little or no knowledge of the availability and wide-spread usage of Solar Hejri Calendar or Shamsi Hijri Calendar (SH) throughout the world, including Saudi Arabia and literally all Islamic nations”
Please note Sam’s use of the word “understandably”. As Sam points out, most of our village Imam’s are IGNORANT, or even sceptical, of scientific development (and they are not alone, even Einstein himself regretted the use to which his own scientific development was put).
But Sam has no wish to extend his generous “understandably” to our scientifically-ignorant “funny Imams”:
“If these funny Imams are not aware of the SH calendars and don’t care to find out where the Muslim world stands on such controversies characterised by their potentials to cause national crisis, then their claims for religious freedom must be strictly censored or immediately halted”.
What Sam? Religious freedoms to be “strictly censured or immediately halted” just because
- a) Imams are ignorant of scientific clock-development and
- b) Stubbornly stick, “understandably”, to a Centuries tradition of looking for the moon in a dark cloud night sky?
Is that the basis upon which Sam Sarr would impose religious dictatorship in The Gambia? It sounds as if the “Boko Haram mindset” belongs to Sam himself! (Or it could be the “George Bush Mindset” because Sam lived in the USA for many years and was a devotee of the Crusader-President).
Sam, having declared a Fatwa against the “funny Imams”, gives an anecdote of a conversation with a “half-baked” Imam:
“I remember once meeting such half-baked Imams who swore to me that dinosaurs never existed because nothing like such animals were mentioned anywhere in the Holy Quran”.
Sam, I, Luntango, was a teenager walking with an “Uncle” in Kenya’s Rift Valley Escarpment near Naivasha when I said to the Uncle that the Americans landed on the moon some five years earlier. The Uncle looked at me as if I was mad. But he wasn’t “funny” (as in “funny nuts” that you imply), nor was he “half baked”. The fact is, he had no reason to believe that man has landed on the moon. What reason do you, Sam Sarr, have to believe that man has landed on the moon – other than the fact that the Americans have told you so and shown you some pictures? Please GOOGLE “Moon landing was faked”!
Next Sam accuses these “funny half-baked” Imams of something much more serious, hence his “Boko Haram” tag:
“The Gambia cannot afford to let reckless Imams in their “Boko Haram” mindsets to derail the long-sustained peace and tranquility in the country enjoyed and appreciated by every patriotic citizen.”
My piece eulogising The Gambia’s Peace has appeared in the pages of the Daily Observer many times, and it is in my book, Freedom Essays. My group of 50 British Scouts, who had just visited Kanilai, and spent the night there courtesy of the President, were on GRTS praising The Gambia’s Peace. That was in 2005, exactly 10 years ago.
I am glad, Sam Sarr, that that PEACEFULLNESS has continued in The Gambia, thanks to the Gambian People’s PEACEFUL nature – at the forefront of which are their Imams and as I put it then “The Gambia’s PRAYERFULNESS”.
I know you were scornful of my writings then Sam Sarr because our mutual friend me!).
Finally Sam, please take it from me that there are NO “BOKO HARAM MENTALITY” individuals amongst The Gambia’s population – and certainly not amongst their Imams. I know because I know many Imams in The Gambia, including Imam Fatty and the current State House Mosque Imam – who are both in a photo blessing my newly built compound some 15 years ago.
Of course, none of these detracts from President Jammeh’s laudable wish for a “Unified Peaceful Islam”. We all want that. But one can’t see any justification or relevance for describing some Gambian Imams as having a “Boko Haram mentality”!!
Luntango Suun Gaan Gi
(aka Dida Jallow-Halake)
President Jammeh Stands For Unified Islam In GambiaVoice
Daily Observer, 25 October 2015-10-26
By Sam Sarr
I thought it is well overdue for us to look into the issue of why His Excellency President Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh will not sit by and watch pseudo religious leaders in his country proliferate any form of “Boka Haram” mentality aimed at politically disrupting an orderly nation in the name of Islam.
And the whole problem is simply about the President not entertaining a handful of political Imams demanding their right to every year defy the consensus arrived at by the members of The Gambia’s Supreme Islamic Council (SIC) for the Muslims in the country to celebrate the Eid holiday together on a single day. Whereas these rascal Imams are all over the place conducting TV interview fraught with misinformation about the Gambian’s sober leader interfering with the people’s freedom of worship, the better majority of the Gambians remain very much in appreciation of the manner His Excellency President Jammeh encourages everyone to continue accepting a single day to perform the annual Eid prayer whenever recommended by members of the country’s SIC.
This body of Islamic scholars and well-educated religious elders always speaking and acting in one voice, command great respect from the overwhelming majority of the Gambia’s Muslim community and Islamic leaders all over the nation. They have over the years since the government of President Jammeh gave them the necessary autonomy and vital support for the mobilisation and harmonisation of all Gambian Muslims together, conducted their affairs with admirable success. Except therefore in the case of some negligible half-baked defiant Imams occasionally instigated by political opponents of the regime to undermine the day to day administration or activities of the SIC, its members are but highly commendable for unifying Gambian Muslims in a healthy, tolerant and very progressive atmosphere of worship.
In the past, however, Gambians had understandably disagreed over the issue of whether the crescent new moon had surfaced in the dusk skyline that used to ultimately determine whether the following day will be the day of the Eid or not. But those were days when people had little or no knowledge of the availability and wide-spread usage of Solar Hejri Calendar or Shamsi Hijri Calendar (SH) throughout the world, including Saudi Arabia and literally all Islamic nations.
These are calendars finished with astronomical accuracies analogous to several modern discoveries that today arm us with the perfect knowledge of mapping out the orbital path of every cosmological body discovered in our Milky Way including of course the only moon in question close by. It is said to be far more accurate than the Gregorian calendar although its calculation is based on astronomical observation rather than mathematical rules.
Yes, in fact Saudi Arabia where Islam started and continues to be the epicenter of its wisdom and growth, the Imams there have ages ago done away with the unsophisticated approach of waiting for the appearance of a crescent new moon in the horizon as the sole determinant of any Muslim holiday. They depend totally on the yearly produced SH calendar with each of its twelve months corresponding with zodiac sign. The first six months have 31 days, the next five have 30 days and the last month has 29 days in normal years and 30 days in leap year.
Modern science and technology that provides us with the tools to arrive at such answers have been gifts to all of us from the Almighty Allah, to make our lives easier than things used to be for our ancestors. We are now so knowledgeable about the moon that humans know all the characteristics surrounding its existence since its formation billions of years ago. We even know that at its initial formation its distance from the earth was 14,000 miles and has since been inching away at a rate of about 1.5 inches a year, the reason why it is now positioned 238,900 miles further away from us. We are as knowledgeable about it to the extent of understanding its circumference to be 6,784 miles.
Ongoing studies about the moon has been so comprehensive that in 1967 the United States joined the Soviet Union in creating Outer Space Treaty (OST), declaring the moon a place subjected to the similar set of rules as those used to govern international waters on earth. Ninety-seven other countries have since become parties to the treaty that makes it off limits for any military purpose or for the establishment of any such basis.
The NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has for decades been monitoring and taking endless pictures of the moon coupled with the collection of critical scientific data from every angle of its revolving position including the extreme fluctuations of its surface temperature at various degrees plus, most importantly, its characteristics in relation to our planet. We can therefore predict with absolute certainty every future event affecting the moon for hundreds of years to come and even when it will have a full or partial eclipse with the sun to the exactitude of a millisecond.
Hence, Saudi Arabia, with every Islamic country in the world, except for those in the Senegambia region, whose time difference does not exceed twelve hours apart celebrate the Eid on the same day based on their SH calendars that, as I said are calculated every year to perfection.
New York City for instance celebrates the Eid on the same day as Saudi Arabia does although the two countries differ in time zone by seven to eight hours margin. Yet Gambia and Senegal with only three-hours-time difference with Saudi Arabia have the only Muslims in the region who repeatedly register their disagreement with the people over when to celebrate the annual Eid holiday because of few half-baked Imams testing their power of influence over their ignorant subjects or making an attempt to politicise the religion for cheap popularity and disruptive motives.
If these funny Imams are not aware of the SH calendars and don’t care to find out where the Muslim world stands on such controversies characterised by their potentials to cause national crisis, then their claims for religious freedom must be strictly censured or immediately halted. The Gambia cannot afford to let reckless Imams in their “Boko Haram” mindsets to derail the long-sustained peace and tranquility in the country enjoyed and appreciated by every patriotic citizen.
When the SIC announces a day, normally followed by the government’s declaration of it as public holiday, these political Imams without concern for any negative ramifications will jump in and confuse the whole public by ordering them not to respect the date if the crescent new moon was not traceable in the night sky that may be hidden behind thick layers of rain clouds or in wide veils of dust storms from the Sahara Desert. In effect, it used to compel the government to declare two days or even three for public holidays just to look politically correct. These punks will not care about the losses of national revenue both in the public and private sector as long as their instigators hail their actions as heroic challenge of the status quo.
Give these extremists an inch today and they will take a mile tomorrow if ignored.
I remember once meeting such half-baked Imams who swore to me that dinosaurs never existed because nothing like such animals were mentioned anywhere in the Holy Quran. Telling him that the existence of dinosaurs in our planet was not known to humans until in 1841, thanks to a British scientist called Richard Owen who first established their existence never helped.
These are the Imams in The Gambia who will challenge the SIC and the government for declaring Eid holidays in line with the rest of the Islamic world based on the universal SH calendar. Then when The Gambia government stands firm in support of the nationally approved organisation that works tirelessly to bring the Muslims together, these few naughty Imams start demanding their freedom to choose their preferred choice of dates whether the majority likes it or not. The Gambians are however glad that they have a strong and conscientious head of state, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Doctor Alhaji Yahya A. J. J. Jammeh, Babili Mansa who will not allow such misguided religious leaders to disrupt the stability of the society for no good reason.
Senegal faces the same problem, although I think there seemed to be more linked to the grand marabouts asserting their feudal control over their subjects rather than being politically naughty like we see in The Gambia. Although I heard a Senegalese national the other day grumbling about how he had wished they had a strong leader like President Jammeh in their country to put their chaotic religious organisations in order that are also affected by such pervasive disagreements among themselves.
Author: Samsudeen Sarr; New York City