Political leaders have been advised to “concentrate on their executive responsibilities and keep their hands off Islam, which should be left with clerics.”
The erudite cleric’s comment comes after Gambian leader banned female genital mutilation. President Yahya Jammeh also threatens to deal with any religious and traditional leader who defies his impromptu ban.
“Political leaders should preoccupy themselves with solving or addressing the needs and wants of their subjects,” says Imam Momodou Ceesay.
The Chief Imam of Detroit Islamic Center says leaders should, among others, provide development, fix challenges, guarantee peace and justice rather than “digging their finger into religious matters. Islamic affairs should be handled by those who spend their life studying it and not those who don’t. As a matter of fact, scholars and clerics should keep away from leaders who insist on interfering in religious matters to avoid incurring Allah’s wrath.”
Imam Ceesay supports Imam Abdoulie Fatty’s take on female circumcision. “This has never been an issue in our country; there are tribes that do it and others don’t. But nobody raises eyebrows and we have never heard that Muslims should not marry uncircumcised women either. It has never been a problem,” he says, insisting that political leaders keep their hands off Islamic matters. “Let them concentrate on people’s many pressing problems and leave Islam for those who study the Quran and Sunnah. Those who don’t must simply quit.”
Imam Ceesay is worried about today’s Gambia where people want to unload anger on anything. “They prove their bravery by insulting their religious leaders, the very people they need in times of good and bad times. Clearly, no society can be guided in the absence of those who know. Then it behooves on people to respect them.”
Ceesay says Prophet Muhammad dealt with circumcision in a very clear tone. He cites some hadith saying “circumcision is compulsory for men but an honour for women.” In one instance, Imam Ceesay said Prophet Muhammad advised “Umm Atiya to circumcise girls but she should cut a little to avoid causing harm.” He said Aisha once heard his husband, Prophet Muhammad saying “that there should be purification anytime two circumcised parts touch each other.”
“While some scholars say female circumcision is compulsory, others think it is not. But no one can say it does not exist. Besides, prophet never commanded Muslims not to do it. Anytime scholars argue on something, they open door for compromise.”