The Independent (Gambia)
August 2, 2002
Posted to the web August 2, 2002
Declaring them as criminally inclined two Gambian imams have rubbished the claim by three men who say they were on a jihad to revamp what they called the true image of Islam.
State House Imam Abdoulie Fatty and the Imam of Kanifing mosque Baba Leigh described the three men as imposters who were bent on causing chaos in Islam in The Gambia. Both Imams called for the strictest penalties to be enforced to deter would-be troublemakers from using religion in general and Islam in particular to wreck havoc on innocent and law-abiding people. They said the so-called jihadists one of whom was claiming he was the Mahdi were mere imposters who have blasphemed and should be punished according to Islam and the laws of the land.
The Jihadist three had set a compound in Mandinari ablaze and threatened to kill the Alkalo and some people in the village.
The Imams have unreservedly declared their total condemnation of the three, describing their motive as criminal, totally unacceptable by Islam and inconsistent with the laws of the land. They asserted that this is a serious offence against Islam and that the offenders should be mercilessly dealt with according to the law.
Imam Fatty described a Jihad as a fundamental requirement laid down in the Quran and Hadith and that it will continue to exist so long as we live. ‘But it those not mean that one can just get up one day and declare a Jihad although one can apply Jihad on oneself by doing good things and avoiding bad things. But for these to be a Jihad, it must be declared by the head and leader of the Muslim and even in that there are laid down conditions to be fulfilled by the non-believers prior to the start of the Jihad that are: you first of all call them to accept Islam, God and his prophet or pay takes to the Muslims and be under their protections and failure to accept these condition them Jihad can be fought against them’ he said. Imam Fatty challenged the rationale behind their assertion that one of them is the prophesised Mahdi, describing it as a misconception and a misunderstanding of the Quran. He said because according to the prophet the Mahdi will emanate from Mecca, bearing a similar name to Muhammad and that of his father.
‘However, many a times people have declared themselves Mahdi in various countries like Pakistan and India but all those claims were untrue’ he explained.
The State House Imam implored the authorities to involve Muslim scholars and seek their advise on how to deal with such false claimants.