Dear editor

This Ba Kawsu versus Imam Fatty controversy is not healthy for the state of Islam in The Gambia. The rivalry between Imam Fatty and Ba Kawsu has degenerated into a standoff between Wahhabi and Sufi Islam in the minds of the uninitiated Muslims.

The difference between Ba Kawsu and Imam Fatty is political and has nothing to do with Islam. One of them wanted to be the leader of the supreme Islamic Council and the other one was the imam of the State House Mosque. That has nothing to do with Islam. There’s no difference between Salafi and Sufi Islam.

I call it the difference between Muslims who understand Islam very well and Muslims whose understanding of Islam is literal, grainy and not smooth.
One can say the Ibn Abas and Ibn Omar’s difference in approach to Islam and teaching Islam. It’s both the same Islam but the understandings are different in approach and emphasis.

Every solid Wahhabi scholar-classical Muslim scholar- ends up being a Sufi imam. The best example of that is Imam Ghazali. And Ghazal has written extensively on his transition from being a normal practising Muslim to becoming a Muslim living in the presence of Islam- a very special Muslim oozing out invaluable knowledge and wisdom from the experience of being and taste.

The example he gave was that alcohol makes you drunk we all know but you don’t know how it feels like to be drunk until you drink alcohol. Sublime!
Only Muslims who don’t understand much the teachings of Islam very well criticise the Sufis. Sufis don’t criticise the Wahhabis.

It’s the Wahabis’ criticism of the Sufis that stokes up the war of words between the two. I don’t mean the extreme Sufis who do not care much even when Islam is being slaughtered. What the classical Muslims in The Gambia have to understand is that The Gambia is a democracy. That anyone who wants to influence how The Gambia is governed must join the political process and win the political support of Gambians for their political agenda.

We don’t want any rough and unrefined interpretation of Islam in The Gambia.
Islam is a religion of common sense. When Muslims are allowed to freely observe their religion, all is well at sea. Islam does not want anyone imposing his or her values on others. Islam is propagated freely without force and compulsion.

Ba Kawsu and Imam Fatty should cease their war of words. And their so-called supporters should stop inventing divisions in Islam. Muslims are one family in faith. I just had a few exchanges with one of these rough and not ready Muslims.
His attitude is even unIslamic- rude and very stupid.

Those types of Muslims who think that they know what God is going to do- very rigid and stiff. I mean Islam is beautiful and appealing. Islam is kind and gentle.
Islam is generous and welcoming. Islam is not difficult and cumbersome.
These people make Islam very restrictive and conscripting as if God is a human being like them.

That’s not the Islam that attracted tens of thousands of Muslims to the religion in the lifetime of the prophet. Muhammad (pbuh) attracted people to Islam through kindness and lightheartedness: firm but generous and understanding. You can’t teach yourself Islam and understand Islam properly.

We don’t want political Islam in The Gambia using Islam for political reasons.
Islam and democracy are incompatible but when Muslims can freely and openly observe their religion, mash’Allah!
Stop literally interpreting Islam, the Qur’an and traditions of the prophet Muhammad Pbuh. Islam is beautiful and inviting. Islam is liberating and empowering. And ultimately, Islam means attitude- the conduct of self in good manners and behaviour.

Understanding Islam requires learning and seeking knowledge listening and reaching out to one another. A Muslim is not difficult to identify and a good one who understands Islam is a joy to know.

Look out for the manners and knowledge: simplicity and tolerance but unwavering steadfastness in upholding the truth. Generous, helpful and understanding.
That’s the Islam and approach to Islam that attracted tens of thousands of Muslims to the way of life of Islam in the lifetime of Muhammad (pbuh).

The way these so-called Wahhabis conduct themselves, had the Prophet (pbuh) conducted himself like that, no one would have become a Muslim.
They are rough and not gentle: not understanding and agreeable and they like arguments over trivial things
Their line of thinking and how they approach Islam is undiluted and unrefined, it just knocks you out.

Islam is meant to soothe and cure through gentility, knowledge and kindness.
God is not a human being and God doesn’t think like anyone of us.
Know where to stop and leave the rest to Allah (swt).

Yusupha ‘Major’ Bojang

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