Open Letter To Imams And The Muslim Ummah Of Gambia


Bissimillahi Rahman Rahim [In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful]

The Gambian people are bleeding. We are tired and suffering. We are desperate and yet we the Muslim Ummah [Community] have the solution to end our suffering.

Yaya Jammeh has rendered all our hopes of better and peaceful living as a Muslim community a far fetch dream. Even a peaceful democratic means of change is denied us to be preached in our mosque congregations. What do we Muslims have except our faith and places of worship? If inside our mosques Yaya Jammeh is more powerful than Allah then we have a serious problem as a people of faith. We should now stop and ask ourselves, do we worship Yaya Jammeh or Allah?

Those Imams and Muslim elders that do not condemn and preach against bad governance and injustice taking place in the Gambia do not have the faith in Allah and our Prophet SAW.

Those that think that Imams do not have the right to talk politics and civil rights have to go back to school and study Islam. During colonialism in West Africa, Imams, Marabous and Muslims Elders played a great role in fighting colonialism and obtaining independence from the white man. Today Gambia finds itself in modern day slavery with Yaya Jammeh and people say Imams and the Muslim Uma have no right to preach and participate in ending slavery from a president who said he owns the country?

As long as Yaya Jammeh remains president, Imams will go to jail without trial. As long as Jammeh remains president Imams will be arrested and tortured for no just cause. As long as Jammeh remains president, the leaders of the Muslim Uma will be humiliated and disrespected. Yet Yaya Jammeh depends on 90% of the Muslim votes to remain in office. Should we the Muslim Ummah continue to give our vote to a president who has no regards for our religion and religious leaders? If we the Muslim community decide that Yaya Jammeh will not spend one more night at State House in December 2016, he will pack and go for good. We the Ummah can do it democratically and peacefully by the ballot box.

When Yaya Jammeh ushered one single word that the Gambia is an Islamic State, the Christian community did not wait for the next step. They immediately converge and made so much noise that Yaya Jammeh had to quickly retrieve his Islamic word and head ties directive. They did not stop at that. They called all Christians denominations in the Gambia to converge en mass on a holy Sunday at the Stadium to show Jammeh that no matter their minority numbers they are united in faith to fight anything that threatens their existence and religious rights in the country they share with all people. Since he came to power, Yaya Jammeh never arrested a Pastor, Father or Priest. Yet it took only one single word from Jammeh’s mouth that made them come out and make their voice loud and clear and the rest is history. Yet we the Muslim community who elect Jammeh in office watch him put our Imams in Janjanbureh prison for months without charges. What is wrong with us the Muslim Ummah? Should we grant Jammeh another five years mandate to trample on our respect, faith and GOD given rights as majority citizens of this country?

The Imams have all rights and the duty to preach their congregations to go and vote. They even have the right to say whom they will vote for. You vote you exist, you don’t vote you don’t exist.

The real Jammeh enablers are the Muslims that vote for him and those that do not go to vote in election times. If we the Uma want Jammeh to respect our Imams, our religion and Muslim elders, we should and can vote him out of power come December 2016.

We do not need soldiers or coup d’état, we are the majority in the country and only us the Muslim Ummah can remove Jammeh from power by the ballot box.

We the Muslim Ummah can and should now end our suffering come December 2016 elections. When we go to the voting booth, let us think of our Imams, our exile diaspora Gambians our freedom and our democracy and cast our votes against Jammeh.

Thank you.

Please share this open letter in all social media networks, all online websites, and all mosques in the Gambia, families and friends.

May Allah save us from modern day slavery and disrespect under Yaya Jammeh, Amen!

Assalamu Alaikum.

Deyda Haidara



  1. Oustass Camara

    A well articulated article. True words. Thank you Sir

  2. Thank you Hydara for your very insightful letter . The problem with Muslim ummah is hypocrisy , lack of conviction in the words of God and total disregard to the suffering of their fellow human being . Hypocrisy is evil thing condemned by God and today hypocrisy is so prevalence in our society that very few leaders are willing to speak the truth . They pretend that everything in The Gambia is going fine and refuse to educate the population about social justice, corruption and economic deterioration . You are right about great Muslim leaders like Sheikh Amadou Bamba and others who played huge role in fighting colonialism . Those religious leaders in the past are men of strong faith in Allah , cared about wellbeing and social justice of their people . In any advance democracy , there must be men and women of strong conviction in God who serve as a moral guidance to the population . Looking at Senegal for example , their religious leaders are well respected because they have devoted their time to serve the common interest of their people . This is why their religious leaders are influencial both politically and culturally . There is general belief that if you serve your people well , you are in the process of serving God. You cannot be a great servant of God without serving your people . Gambia lack such respected religious leader who serve our people . Today , most Gambians can be seen going to their marabouts in cassamance and Other parts of the west Africa because in The Gambia , we do not have respected religious leaders . Our religious leaders are mostly concerned about their own family interest but not general interest of the population .It is this reason that Jammeh can also arrest any religious leader without any consequences from the population . People did not see our religious leaders as working for their common interest . They didn’t preach social justice and fight for political corruption because they are in bed with the corrupt politicians and leadership . Jammeh has corrupted majority of these marabouts and religious leaders in The Gambia by given them corrupt money both individually or as a group . Every religious festival , our religious leaders can be seen in the statehouse recieving corrupt money . It is only in The Gambia you will see such openly bribery of religious leaders . As a result they lack respect from the population . which In turn see such bribery as normal . Monetary bribery the religious leaders recieved from the Dictator has enabled them to be chief propagandists for the regime .
    Gambian Muslims leaders needs go back to true meaning of Islam which talks about social justice , fair treatment of fellow human being and respect for individual rights .

    • Luntango Suun Gann Gi

      Indeed Maxs, an eloquent call to arms. But remember Sheikh Amadou Bamba was fighting an alien force with the whole community behind him … so the analogy with present-day Gambia is rather off the mark.

      Two questions for the author:

      1. How comfortably does the role suggested here for a Liberation Theology-style Muslim Umma sit with the constitutional role of the political parties in the Secular Nation that The Gambia is? Most religious-based liberation movements have ended up, naturally, establishing a theocracy.

      2. Taking the example of the unlawfully detained Imams, don’t the Gambia’s Christians have exactly the same duty as the Gambia’s Muslims to speak for them? Why should the duty to speak for the Imams fall any more heavily on the Muslims than on the Christians? Afterall, all citizens have exactly the same duty to uphold the law and protect The Constitution.

  3. In a time of political and religious strive across the wide world, a country like the Gambia is one example amongst many that should be careful in not attracting religious extremism in its search for ways in restoring purely democratic processes. In that case, it will best suit the taste of a dictator, a ruthless one, who himself will likely mastermind and equally perpetuate it, thereby the loss of a whole nation’s civilisations. Despots cruelity define them and so they can even kickstart a war or civil unrest to twist around the truth about and the realities of multitudes of innocent poor people.
    Ofcourse, one like me think there are or there were religious leaders in the Gambia with a difference and one outstanding and exemplary one amongst those was Oustass OMAR Ibn JENG FADERA. May his soul rest in perfect heaven.
    I may agree or conform with some of Max’s criticism of our religious leaders in general speech. It is of my opinion too that, religion and faith has socially transformed itself in the Gambia from a soul searching religion to a religion of opportunities and search for higher social status.

  4. Most of the Islamists theologise, be an Imam or a preacher are also spiritual psychologist too. Therefore, it’s not fair to describe them as those who don’t believe in God and His Messenger [pbuh]. Personally, I think they just don’t want to put the fire off with petrol but rather with the right fire distinguisher. Yaya Jammeh is the Gambia’s pharaoh of Egypt, he kills more males than the females. When Musa [pbuh] was sent to Pharaoh, he was advised to speak to him with respect and kindness, and that’s what he did! Imam Bakausu Fofana, Imam Baba Leigh and other Imams had been arrested and tortured unlawfully, but not even a single person went on the street and demonstrate for their release, why should the other Imams take the same risk? Gambians, if you want to get rid of Yaya Jammeh, please join the youth on the ground in the Gambia. They are determined for regime change, and Insha Allah they will be successful. Stop writing something you would not do it, neither any of your family member will.
    Thank you..