Gambian Scholars in Scandinavia converged on Saturday, 18th of October 2014 to grace a “Gamo” – Seminar organized by The Inter African Committee(IAC) in Norway, an organization that seeks to unlock the potential of minority women and Children. The theme of the seminar was: Imams, Men and Youths As agents of Change. The scholars who grace the event are ; kibaaro’s own Imam Seedy Ali Janneh based in Goteborg, Oustaza Gas Lowe Njie a female scholar based in Denmark, Imam Ebrahim Saidy and Imam Ebrahim Touray both based in Oslo. The Gamo which was well attended by people from different nationalities and different works of life took place at P-Hotels in Oslo. The schedule of the event range from presentations from the scholars on various topics, presentations by IAC boys and girls groups and break periods for prayers and refreshments.
Interesting topics were covered by the venerable scholars and topics range from early and forced marriages, rights of women in Islam, prevention of extremism, children’s rights in Islam and female genital mutilation. The distinguished Imam who hosts a religious program on Kibaaro Radio; Imam Seedy Ali Janneh tackled the topic early and forced marriages in Islam. Imam Janneh said that the girl child should only marry when she reaches maturity and that forced marriages are unacceptable in Islam. He buttressed that maturity is not only physical but mental as well. He cited verse of the Qur’an in the chapter of women to solidify his claims the nearest in meaning is ; God commanded the believer to properly take care of the wealth of orphans until they reach maturity and then hand it over to them. It shows that maturity that God is referring to is when one is able to decide what is good or bad for the person. Imam Janneh also deliberated on FGM a controversial topic amongst the Gambian community. Imam Seedy Ali Janneh was very clear when he indicated that FGM has nothing to do with Islam but a cultural Issue. It is a practice that was carried out by people well before the advent of the prophet of Islam. He reiterated that there are no valid evidence to indicate that FGM is an Islamic injunction.
The female scholar based in Denmark Oustaza Gas Lowe Njie deciphered the topic; rights of women in Islam. She was very eloquent in her deliberation. She pointed that the Islam does not suppress women but instead has given them numerous rights but said women should first fulfill the rights of the creator over them before claiming their rights. She illumine that the rights enjoyed by women under Islam 1400 years were alien in the west 2 centuries ago. She went on to buttress that before the advent of Islam or the coming of prophet Muhammed peace be upon him women were down trodden , it was even considered a shame to have a female child and men would bury their girl child alive. When Islam came all these barbaric crimes against women were put to a halt and women started enjoying equal status with men. She said women are Queens in both their household and outside. She urged fellow women to strive and make their marriages last forever. She lamented that women can win the hearts of their men if they are very caring and gentle. She also urged men not to take advantage of the kindness or gentleness of women. She cited the example of Khidijah the wife of the prophet of Islam who was a wealthy woman but offered all her wealth to the prophet but the prophet peace be upon him only urged her to take care of her wealth and give him only a little for sustenance. She said who dares surrender your wealth to men of today, they would go behind you and marry and second wife with it…laughs.
Prevention of extremism was treated by venerable Imam Ebrahim Saidy. Imam saidy hinted on what extremism means in Islam, counting that it is not a new term for the prophet peace upon warned muslims of going over the limit in daily life over 1400years ago. He said there are people today who have a very narrow version of Islam and these people don’t hesitate to call anyone who differs from their ideology of Islam as a “Kafir” (an unbeliever). If they declare you a kafir then they would make your life and your wealth lawful for pillage. He said in order to prevent extremism we need to take our knowledge from the Qur’an and Sunnah as interpreted by the rightly guided knowledgeable and humble elders of Islam. He said we have to be tolerant to each other in order for us to live in peace. He expounded that some people are very swift at condemning every act of goodwill that may have not been done by the prophet of Islam as an innovation in Islam without any basis.
Imam Ebrahim Touray delved on the rights of children in Islam. Imam Touray said muslims should be kind, dutiful and friendly to children because that was the way of the prophet peace be upon. He gave an example of Anas ibn Malick who said he lived with the prophet when he Anas was a child for 10years and the prophet never reprimanded him. The distinguished imam said we should show mercy to our children for those who don’t show mercy the most high would not show mercy on them. He emphasized that care and guardianship are amongst rights of children and parents should try by all means to raise their children in the best manner.
The Gamo cum Seminar was moderated by Kejau Touray a volunteer of IAC and wonderful Senegambian food was served as dinner. The closing remarks were delivered by Mbinkinding Fofana Manneh a member of the organizing committee. The event started at 5pm and lasted until an hour before midnight.