Below is Imam Ceesay’s sermon verbatim:
My today’s sermon is about the call for Unity. I’m grateful to start explaining my mission in this very important masjid [Kanifing South mosque] under the able leadership of my uncle Imam Baba Leigh. I pray for him and his congregation to have Allah’s peace, blessing and unity. My sermon will center on Tawheed, the very foundation of Islam. Without it, there is no Islam. Tawheed encompasses a lot, including fostering unity, love and peace. All Gambia needs today is unity, love and peace and by Allah’s wishes, Gambians will get what they desire if they do the right thing. All you need for a good start is to unite leaders. For us to succeed in our endeavours, we must be ready to emulate the good characters of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions who became fortified in supporting one another. I want all Gambians to unite. All we need is to identify upright religious leaders capable of guiding the younger generation who cannot attain better future without being fashioned by our religion and culture. I’m told 66 percent of our population are young people who are yearning to have better life. It’s our duty to inculcate the spirit of loving oneself, others and country in these people. They must be taught to respect their leaders, scholars and elderly people. We cannot guarantee a better and prosperous society if we don’t inculcate good morals in our your generation. This cannot happen in the absence of unity of purpose. If we do what is is required of us and become role models, our kids will then know they are duty bound to serve their country, religion and society. They will follow our footsteps.
As Muslims, we must guard and respect the rights of one another. No one must ridicule or laugh at the other. The Quran is clear about laughing at one another thus: “O you who believe, let not a people ridicule [another] people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule [other] women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by [offensive] nicknames. Wretched is the name [that is, mention] of disobedience after [one’s] faith. And whoever does not repent — then it is those who are the wrongdoers.”
Allah wants us to live in peace, respect and love one another. No society has prospered in the absence of respecting its leaders. This is the norm in the most advanced countries. America where I live and lead a large congregation, they earn their success through respecting the rights of every one. Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us to respect our leaders. In fact, the Quran tells us that Ulamas (Scholars) inherit prophets. Here I’m referring to religious scholars and not political leaders who are elected, chosen or paid by their people who provide them fancy lifestyle. They too must be respected and given their due. All leaders must fear Allah and serve their people well. But the people who know the book, undoubtedly, have huge responsibilities in our society. These leaders see serve you endlessly. You cannot live without them. They service your marriages, naming ceremonies, teach, guide and prepare your dead bodies. You need them to be there for you even when you marriage is in shambles. But what is the society in turn doing for these leaders? It’s about time Gambians change their mindset by uplifting and benefiting their Ulamas. If you don’t benefit your ulamas you you will not enjoy peace. You gain nothing for taking your wealth to Ulamas in other countries to pray for you. It is part of Iman to have nationalistic spirit. This means love your country, respect and benefit those who need your support. Give your Ulamas the wealth, magnificent dressing and respect and see how this country will be blessed. It’s a fact that no society or country does better without leaders who guide the majority. That’s exactly what the Ulamas do yet the society turn away from them.
My today’s sermon is a deviation from normalcy. I do this because it’s my conviction that we cannot serve our religion well if we don’t have clear understanding of nationalistic spirit. We will do better if we see ourselves as guardians of anything Gambian. This country belongs to us, that’s why all of us must be ready to give our very best to our homeland. You’re all pious muslims who understand the fundamentals of Islam. What is now lacking is the understanding of our role in nation building, which is a collective responsibility. Every one has a role to play.
I have always been proud of being a Gambian citizen. Despite my big responsibility in America, I’m still called Imam from Gambia. We’re blessed to have a country that was formed by diverse ethnic groups. We must appreciate and embrace our diversity which portrays our uniqueness. The beauty is that each of the groups does something that other ethnic groups can’t. For the purpose of diversity, I’ve delivered the first part in Mandinka and will do the second part in Wolof.
I pray that Allah shower his Blessings, Love and Unity in The Gambia.