RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE PLEASE – There is No Compulsion in Religion:
Emannuel Daniel Joof
The Gambia has been known to be a very tolerant religious society and despite its overwhelming Muslim majority, Christians and Muslims have lived in complete harmony and most families have relatives and friend sharing different religions.
Yahay Jammeh during his 22 years’ reign of terror attempted to polarize Gambians by sowing seeds of discord of religious and tribal intolerance which fortunately few Gambians subscribed to – thank God. Nonetheless it did create a platform for bigots to start their campaign of religious disharmony.
Gambians should continue to nurture religious and tribal tolerance and acceptance among its people. Religions are beliefs system. In most cases, we adopt and follow the religion we were born into because we find our parents and or community practicing that particular religion. Some on the other hand adopt and or covert to a different religious faith or version of it later in their lives for reasons best known to them.
We should however bear in mind that as we are sometimes personally and totally convinced that our religion and or version of our religion is the “only truth”, in that same vein, others with different religions and or religious beliefs are equally convinced that theirs is the “authentic and true religion”.
Religion is therefore a belief system and religious and spiritual conviction is a personal relationship between a person and their Allah/God.
Allah/God is not a monopoly of any one religion, race, tribe or nationality. Religion should therefore be regarded as a vehicle to get to the divine source.
Let us therefore try to be tolerant of each other’s religions, tribes, race and other perceived differences but most importantly, let us all try to practice the good teachings in our Holy Books: for the Muslims – the Quran; the Christian – Bible; the Jews -Torah & Talmud; the Hindu -Shreemad Bahagavad Gita; the Buddist – Taripitakas and others.
Let us also remember that the Holly Quran Surah Al- Baqarah 256 teaches us that there is no compulsion in religion- of course I know that this Surah has been the subject of interpretation by Muslim scholars.
Finally, I think that we should strive to be good and better human beings/ Gambians and to borrow the famous biblical phrase, “do on to others as you would like them to do on to you”.
Asalamalieukum and God Bless you all regardless of your religion and or religious beliefs.
Understanding religion, and religious tolerance, is a very enlightened and prosperous way forward for Gambia and her people. Letting excessive attention and priority to ethnic lines is a shady darkness in the collective welfare of a people of a nation. Thanks Mr. Joof. Quite a noteworthy article as well.