Gambia: Islamic Council ban Jama’at Ahmadiyaa to use “Muslim cemeteries”

Momodou Lamin Touray, president of SIC

Momodou Lamin Touray, president of SIC

Supreme Islamic Council, the highest authority responsible for Muslims in the country, has asked the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Jama’at to obtain their own cemetery and desist from burying their corpses at “Muslim” graveyards.

The Supreme Islamic Council said the Ahmadiyaa Muslim Jama’at are not Muslims and must not therefore be buried in Muslim graves.

The Supreme Islamic Council has taken this stance on September 5 while issuing their final verdict in the recent feud that has taken place between the Ahmadiyaa Jama’at and the people of Tallinding over the burial of an Ahmadi at Tallinding cemetery.

“It is forbidden by Shari’ah to bury a non-Muslim at a Muslim cemetery. It is authenticated by Shari’ah law that Ahmadiyaa are non-Muslim community. Therefore it is totally forbidden to bury their dead at a Muslim cemetery,” its judgment sheet which was copied to the Ministry of Interior, director general of National Intelligent Agency, Inspector General of Police, Mayor of Kanifing Municipal Council, Tallinding Police Station, Alkalo of Tallinding and Amir of Ahmadiyaa Jama’at, stated.

“The council is advising the Ahmadiyaa Jama’at to obtain their own cemetery in order to prevent violence and fitnah and turmoil within the society. The council is appealing to the entire Muslim ummah to strictly monitor their cemeteries in order to know who will be buried therein.”

The judgment sheet was read at a meeting hosted by the Tallinding Alkalo who was represented by his brother, Bakary Badgie, and held at a hall opposite the Alkalo’s compound.

It was attended by Tallinding elders and youths, Superintendent Kambi, police operation commander in Kanifing Municipal Council, and the president and the first vice president of the Supreme Islamic Council, Momodou Lamin Touray and Sheikh Sheriff Bajan.

Speaking at the meeting, Muhammed Lamin Touray, the President of the Supreme Islamic Council, said the conclusion that they have reach was based on an authentic Islamic Law as prescribe by Allah.

He urged the people of Tallinding not to exhume the corpse already buried but warned they will support any such move from now onwards saying Ahmadis would have known that they must not bury their dead at a Muslim cemetery.

“Our verdict in this case was based on Shari’ah. Reaching this conclusion has not been easy because there were many things at stake should we faltered. This was why it had to take us the time that it took to do more research to make sure that whatever conclusion we are to reach is based on Shari’ah (Islamic Law). This was necessary because the conclusion should not only be fair to both parties in the fracas but serves the interest of peace which is the concern of the Government,” Touray said.

“We have never had a case of this nature since we assume office that was why we had to make research to be able to pass judgment as expected of us. The Ahmadis have come to The Gambia since before independence and we have never had a report that a particular community has clashed with them because they do not want them to bury their dead at a Muslim cemetery. This is the first of its kind and we cannot just jump and ask them to exhume their dead because there was no previous ruling establishing it… However, from now onwards, if we (Supreme Islamic Council) receive reports that Ahmadis have buried their graves at any Muslim cemetery and the people are not happy about it, we will ask them to exhume it and bury it elsewhere. Because we would have been in position to tell them that “we have warned you not to bury your corpse at Muslim cemeteries”. We will also have this similar discussion with Ahmadis and we will urge them to come and apologize to the people of Tallinding because they have wrong you… This was a difficult task because not only did we have to pass judgment which is fair to both parties but we also have to make sure that our verdict serves the interest of peace. We know that the Ahmadis have transgressed but we are urging you to calm down and not exhume the dead already buried…”

Shiekh Sheriff Bajaan, the first vice president of the Supreme Islamic Council, reminded the gathering that the Supreme Islamic Council has issued a press release informing the Gambians that the Ahmadis are not Muslims.

He said: The Supreme Islamic Council has issued a press release telling the people that Jama’at Ahmadiyaa are not Muslims. They only use the Kalimatou Sahada to mislead the people about claims that they are also Muslims. Because wherever Muslims go, they join their colleagues to pray when prayer times are due but Ahmadis do not do that- they don’t join us at our prayer grounds. That is not one of the attitudes of Muslims. Moreover, whoever believes that the prophet Muhammed SAW is not the last prophet is not Muslims and Ahmadis shares that believe. Most importantly, the Ahmadis also attribute to Allah the qualities of human beings. They claim that Allah sleeps and forgets. Therefore, we must not share mosque or graves to bury our dead. We can nevertheless interact; share the same schools and hospitals.”

The representative of the inspector general of police, Superintendent Kambi, police operation commander in Kanifing Municipal Council has also urged the people of Tallinding against any attempt to exhume the buried.

He added: “The truth is that the Ahmadis have wrong you but both the Supreme Islamic Council has issued a verdict in your favour and that should satisfy you. We have to careful of any attempt to destabilize our country.”

The deputy alkalo of Tallinding, Bakary Badgie, has also urged the youths of Tallinding to forget about the exhumation of the buried Ahmadi corpse but demanded that the Supreme Islamic Council must also advise the Ahmadis not to take their forgiveness as weakness.

“You should talk to them because if we hear them questioning why we didn’t exhume the dead mistaken it for fear or weakness, there will be problem? We thank the Supreme Islamic Council and the police for their intervention because we knew what would have happened without their intervention,” he said.

Babou Gaye Sonko, an APRC nominated member of the National Assembly who is a resident of Tallinding has also called for calm.  

The standoff between Ahmadis and mainstream Muslims came after the Ahmadis buried their dead on Sunday afternoon, August 30, at the Tallinding cemetery without, according to the deputy alkalo, the knowledge of their Imam, village elders and the alkalo.

The Supreme Islamic Council said it will hold a similar meeting with the Ahmadis to inform them about their decision.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at is an Islamic religious movement founded in British India near the end of the 19th century and arrive in The Gambia in the early 60s.

It originated with the life and teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908), who claimed to have fulfilled the prophecies of the world’s reformer during the end times as predicted in the traditions of various world religions and bring about the final triumph of Islam as per Islamic prophecy.

Recent years have seen a surge of intolerance between the Ahmadis and the mainstream Muslims in the country who often describe them as Kafirrs (infidels).

Last year, they was  a huge backlash from within the members of the sect when the then Imam of State House who is also the secretary general of the Supreme Islamic Council, Imam Abdoulie Fatty called for them to be ban in the country.

The Ahmadis reacted with fury saying the Imam wants to bring Fitnah (violence) in the country and also calling on the authorities to ban him from using public media to “incite violence”.

Barely two days later, Imam Fatty lost his job as the imam of the State House mosque.

It is expected that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at will not accept the Supreme Islamic Council ruling given the past feud between the two religious institutions.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at practices an Islam different from that of the one the SIC preaches thus they (Jama’at) don’t see the SIC as an authority that has biding powers to dictate to them anything.

However, what is not clear is whether the SIC has the blessings of the president of the republic of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, over the recent decision that they have taken.

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