At the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Second Peace Conference in Africa
Held at the Kairaba Beach Hotel
19th October, 2019
The venerable Amir Baba Trawally, Head and Leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat in The Gambia
Mr. Karim Ahmad Khan QC, Assistant UN Secretary General and Keynote Speaker on this auspicious occasion
Other distinguished guests, all present here this afternoon
I am deeply honoured to be amongst distinguished colleagues and a distinguished audience today on the occasion of this Conference – the second of its kind in Africa – hosted this year by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at of The Gambia. I thank Amir Trawally for his kindness and trust; I must also thank Mr. Musa Kinteh whose persistence and determination gave me no room to spirit out of today’s Conference.
2. The contributions of the Ahmadiyyat Muslim Jama’at in The Gambia – ranging from the fields of education and health to community development generally – is there for all to see. The Jama’at has been relentless in its efforts to translate into tangible results the words of the Holy Qur’an in advancing the course of national development and, indeed, your kind and benevolent efforts are worthy to be emulated by all.
3. The theme of this Conference speaks to a very important topic which, I have no doubt, the Jama’at’s Keynote Speaker will speak to at length. It is essentially about Islam’s solution to peace and security – I take that to be both at the national and global levels. We live today in a troubled world, a world that has many scars, a world that needs serious soul-searching, a world that needs to understand its purpose, a world that is gradually and consistently losing not only its focus, but also turning its back away from Allah (SWT) and the teachings of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We live in a world that is in competition with itself, and one wonders with regard to what, a world where profit is put before soul, self-respect, honesty, dignity and integrity and pitched against mankind, especially the most downtrodden in society. We have a serious problem!
4. We live in a world where the manufacturer of arms, the high end trader or trafficker in such arms and the retailer of the weapons see only profit and not the consequence of their deeds. The goal of manufacturing and trading in arms is only one: that is, to take away human life. Is it not the Holy Qur’an wherein Allah (SWT) revealed that He hath perfected our religion for us and divided us into nations so that we may live with each other? Instead of accepting the beauty in the creation of Allah (SWT) to nurture peace and tranquility amongst and between each other, we sow the seed of discord through discrimination, dishonest conduct, envy and the pinnacle of all evil, RACISM. In other words, we question God’s own beautiful creation of mankind into different races so we all can live together in peace.
5. When we turn our backs against God, we turn against ourselves and the peace we need to live together in harmony as one human race. ISLAM is PEACE. It is not hatred or war; it is not about ideology versus belief; it is not about taking or vilifying human life; it is not about arrogating sainthood to oneself and condemning others – that is the preserve of the Almighty High. ISLAM is about PEACE, and loving and protecting each other along the path charted for us by Allah (SWT).
6. When we talk about Islamic solutions to world peace, we must not confine ourselves to issues of war and conflict. Islam and peace, in my considered view, is much more than that; it goes deeper. We must not confine ourselves to the surface. The absence of war and conflict does not necessarily translate into peace.
7. Social injustice is a cankerworm that eats into the heart of peace; it destabilizes peace. When, for instance, a person entrusted with a public office to perform duties for and on behalf of the people sees in that entrustment an opportunity to be dishonest, and to steal, compromise and cheat the public revenue or to, in any other way, make an unlawful profit out of that entrustment, that person does a great de-service to the people and turns his or her back against the teachings of Allah (SWT). As Chairperson of the Constitutional Review Commission, I have had the opportunity to visit practically every corner of this country and interact with people at all community levels. I was disenchanted to see the hopelessness, bitterness and anger in some of the faces I interacted with. I have seen their circumstances and heard their horror stories (the details of which are for another occasion). They are despondent. When persons entrusted with public office and those in the private sector that deal with and spur them on, cheat the public revenue, they take development out of our communities; they reduce the life expectancy of our people. Monies properly and lawfully collected without any unlawful deals will go a long way in addressing developmental issues to the benefit of all and thus reduce boiling tension.
8. We may not realise fully that here in The Gambia we have a growing youthful population. More and more youths are graduating from college and university each year. A good many of them are unemployed; the opportunities for them are minimal; they feel despondent and neglected. That is a dangerous situation to have such a large demographic of our country in. If not properly managed, they can become the source of instability that destroys the peace we have been blessed with. If, individually and collectively, we are able to stamp out greed and corruption, we would be right along the path of nurturing and maintaining the peace that Islam truly stands for. It is far easier to solve a problem at its infancy and remain in peace than to work out a solution when the problem matures into open conflict.
9. On a final note (being conscious of the limited time I have), I implore the Ahmadiyya Jamaat to continue their benevolence to The Gambia and the international community. Whatever you do, you are helping to entrench peace and stability. And we pray that, Insha’Allah, someday soon we and our children and grandchildren and generations yet unborn can live in a world free of conflict, war and social injustice. The rewards for your kind efforts lie with Allah (SWT) and may He grant them in abundance.
10. I thank you.