A long standing dispute between Rawdatul Majalis and the current leadership of the Supreme Islamic Council is flaring up again after news emerged last week that the former has selected Sheriff Muhammad Nano Hydara, the Caliph of Brufut as the head of a rival Supreme Islamic Council.
This development has disturbed the current SIC leadership who came out with the following statement, posted on its Facebook page:
The Gambia Supreme Islamic Council (GSIC), wishes to inform the general public that, they were informed in a prevailing discussion that, the Majmuatu Rawdatul Majalis, has elected Alh. Sheriff Muhammad Sanusi Nano Hydara as the President of the Supreme Islamic Council, and other related matters in the operation and administration of the Council.
We wish to make some observations to this letter from the Majmuatu Rawdatul Majalis within the context of the Constitution of the GSIC:
1. The GSIC is a Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) and an independent body. It was established with the Government’s intervention to have a very strong working relationship. This has a provision in the articles of the Constitution of the council.
2. Article 18 of the Council’s Constitution, defines qualifications for membership directed to the Executive Committee of the Council.
3. Article 15 of the Council’s Constitution, provides the legal term for membership and eligibility.
4. Article 36, provides for the expiration of the legal term of the Council’s Executive and the process for the supervision of General Election for the Positions: Presidency, Secretariat and Finance.
It is therefore very explicit that anyone wanting to hold any office with the council, shall be nominated at a congress, and the nomination must come from a registered Islamic Organization upon application to the executive committee of the GSIC.
The unilateral decision from Rawdatul Majalis is a violation of the Council’s constitution and thus, should not be encouraged. Rawdatul Majalis is not a registered organization to the GSIC and clearly cannot claim to contest for any position in the affairs Council.
Rawdatul Majalis reacts
Meanwhile The Standard has contacted the spokesman of Rawdatul Majalis, Buba Jabbie, who accused the SIC leadership of running the council as a club by refusing to open up its membership to the entire Muslim community in the country which they claim to represent.
“Our position is very simple. Even by their own exclusive method the term of the SIC president Muhammad Lamin Touray has expired one year ago and they have not called any elections. They are afraid to allow all eligible Imam Ratibs in The Gambia to take part in the election of the SIC president which is how it started,” Mr Jabbie said.
The Rawdatul Majalis spokesman said the SIC leadership has created a club and has surrounded themselves with rules designed to ostracise the larger majority of Muslims in The Gambia by disqualifying them from taking part in its election process.
He further disclosed that they have written to the SIC on the need to call a national election opened to all the 1873 Imam Ratibs in the country but the SIC had replied them asking who are they to make such demands.
”The majority of the Imam Ratibs who are supposed to be leaders of Islam in this country prefer a national all inclusive council and not one like the current one which is being run like a club by just few individuals. So our demand is simple. Either they call a national election for all to take part, or the rest of the Gambian Muslim community will go ahead and create a national Supreme Islamic Council for the Gambia. So when that happens, they can maintain their club while the rest move on,” Jabbie said.
Asked how Sherrif Muhammad Nano Hydara got to be made the leader of the Rawdatul Majalis and their preferred choice to be new president of the SIC, Jabbie said that was a spontaneous decision. “It was when the Muslim leaders met to offer prayers for the peace and stability of the country that the idea came up and all agreed that the Sheriff be made the leader of the kind of Supreme Islamic Council that the majority envisaged,” Jabbie concluded.