Monday, 30 November 2009

The Ultimate Sacrifice: Man or Animal

Following on from the footsteps of the father of monotheism, the Prophet Ibrahim (May God be please with him), sacrificing for the sake of God became an Islamic duty. The well narrated incident when God command Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, testing the words of the Prophet to actual deeds. The attempt of Ibrahim to do what his lord commanded, determine to proof his obedience to the only God, the unique.

Ibrahim’s symbolism prevent mankind from adopting the ultimate of sacrifices: the sacrificing of man instead of lower being animals. Man is the highest of all God’s creation, under whose care other living beings are left charge of. Although, believers are commanded to have animals as food (of which are the ones permissible to us), man can domesticate any animal it has access to.
The Abrahmic tradition which is a manifestation of obeying God and tasking oneself to dutifully undertake what a true believer will always do. The prophet Muhammad continued on the Abrahmic tradition of sacrificing for the sake of Allah.

Christians unlike Muslims don’t observe any sacrifice deeming it unnecessary as they are exempted from doing any such act. The Christian reasoning of not doing animal sacrifice which can be eaten is the incidence of much higher spiritual journey.

The Christian God, the begotten son of God, Jesus Christ was sacrificed on the cross. Since Jesus is a perfect man and also of God’s stock, his death on the cross replaces any form of lower being sacrifices. Paul preaches that, Christians are exempted from male circumcision and practising animal sacrifice because Jesus’ death, his blood spilled suffices all future sacrifice for mankind. The only qualifying grounds to benefit from Jesus’ death and his blood is to believe in him as your personal saviour and lord. In short as co-equal with God.

Muslims on the other hand, carry on the sacrifice of edible animals which the Sunnah recommends for us. The act of sacrifice which some modernist Muslims avoid or down play indicates the lack of deeper understanding of the reason why the act is undertaken.

The virtues attached to observing Eidul Adha is of high merit and religiously fundamental. In Surah Al-Baqarah 2:196 God states “if any one wishes to continue the umrah on to the Hajj, he must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, he should fast three days during the Hajj and seven days on his return, making ten days in all.” The sacrifice of animal (hadi) comes after the fifth pillar of Islam is done with. So sacrificing for sake of Allah is not a light matter in Islam as some of us now think.

Allah further states that we should “eat of them and feed the poor and the beggar...” quran (22:36). The verse further bring to sharp focus the importance of understanding that, God does not have any need of the blood or the meat of the animals, but the piety of the worshippers that what he is interested in. This also dismisses the voodoo practise slaughtering animals for idols. The idols are said to be interested in the blood of the carcass.

The event of sacrifice (eidul-Adha) Tobaski in Senegambia is a day of thanks giving, remembrance, forgiving, friends and family reunion and a day of happiness. Therefore attending the eid prayer is a highly recommended act of Sunnah. Any Muslim who willfully abstains from it, should look into him/herself for scrutiny. Also if one attend eid congregational prayer; it becomes obligatory to listen to sermon after the two units of prayers.

The animal can be sacrifice on the day of eid after the prayers not before and also three days after the eid. Eid is a day of remembering the greatness of God. He gave us mankind the ability and the right to eat of lawful animals; therefore he should be thank for giving us that privilege. We shouldn’t engage in acts of disobedience on the day of eid like it is in some places.

Man or Animal:
Since man is the higher being in the animal kingdom. The Christians rely on the death of the sinless man, whilst in primitive cultures human sacrifice is utilise for very important rituals. Although the distinction between the Christian abstinence from animal sacrifice was a one-off bloodletting of the Son of God, which fulfill the rites to all Christians in all generation. In comparison, that singular event doesn’t eliminate the similitude with ancient human sacrifices.

God on the other hand, don’t accept the life of man to be a sacrificial ornament, we as Muslims don’t condone that. Sacrificing one’s life for the good of others can be in other avenues, i.e. defending ones country, family, own life etc but not as similar with taking the lamb to the slaughter. This is why suicide is grossly forbidden in Islam.

Animal sacrifice has much more benefit and reward. The meat is eaten, we have less ties with animals than human and the atmosphere will be jolly not sad.

Also we as Muslims don’t believe that, God sacrifice his own Son for the sin of others to come. Sin even lay people like myself can tell is ever increasing, therefore God sacrificing his only Son for us make little sense.

The virtues of eidul Adha is also enhancing an Islamic identity and also acting as a corner stone of Muslim unity. A departure from pagan festivals during the early days of the Islamic religion. Increase brotherhood among Muslims by sharing the meat; greet each other and gaining reward. A further test as to whether men of religion will use their wealth in acts of worship. Spending on the family, friends, the poor, the love of material versus the love of God.

May God accept our efforts and forgive us the sins committed. Amen.
Happy Eidul Adha in advance.


Friday, 20 November 2009

The King and the Guewel a comment
The story commented on is on the link above. story by Amran Gaye U.S
A critic: Suntou Touray

The story although fictional is compelling reading. The writer it seems mixed up two traditions which at the heart of the message are in conflict.
A Muslim King who practises fasting at the same time engages in blasphemous act of unjust rulership and tyranny. This kind of portrayal is stereotypical Islamic identity commonly seen in Senegalo drama tradition.
The writer's intention is not to place a Muslim ruler in an ugly light, since at the same time he featured the king's son as a good, kind and upright brave young man who later took vengeance on behalf of the people. The similitude is that of the Qur'anic verse "we take the dead from the living and the living from the dead..." meaning, a complete evil person can gave birth to a righteous offspring, and vice versa.
The troubling part of the story is that, the period the storyteller wish to depict is a time frame when Islam was never in the region. It would have been much compelling if he make use of the animist heritage which also has good and kind men as well as evil and tyrants.
Personally, I enjoy the story although still disturbed by the culture of placing religious characters in a bad light.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

My graduation photos

I have graduated on the 10th of Novemver. It was a joyous occasion with family friend's.


An Appeal for the unconditional release of Alieu Jobe (Former Treasurer, Gambian National Treasury). Free him Yahya so Alieu can be reunited with his family for this 2009 Tobaski.
By Suntou Touray
This petition is necessary for many factors, but the most important of them all is the denial of a father to the children of brother Alieu Jobe. Alieu Jobe was imprisoned in March 2006, due to an alleged foiled coup attempt by an extended family member, the absconded Col. Ndure Cham.
Alieu Jobe is a career accountant who studied in England until 2001. After completing his ACCA qualification, he departed to take up his Job at the then Gambian Accountant General. A patriotic decision by all standards.
Alieu Jobe decided to return to the Gambia with the best of intentions. He gradually progressed through the ranks of the Treasury to become the chief Treasurer of the country. At the time of his arrest, with a forced confession live on Gambian State Television, Alieu was the highest position accountant in the Gambia.
The personal recollections I have of Alieu Jobe are incredible and outstanding. In early 2000, whilst venturing into the accounting professional studies, I met Alieu Jobe at the then prestigious private accounting training College, the AT Emil Woolf (Accounting Tutors) at the centre of London.
Alieu was always friendly and open to advice us new students at the time. I meet him at the abulution area of the college complex. He is a devout Muslim who wouldn’t harm a fly. After exchanging pleasantries, Alieu became a friend on college level. He always assist in academic matters were necessary and treat everyone with utmost respect and kindness.
He is married and has young children who are today missing a dear father to a twenty years (20yrs) imprisonment for treason. Alieu’s life is today in serious jeopardy and his career largely destroyed.
The details surrounding the jailing of Alieu Jobe and other alleged co-conspirators are solely from government sources. Outside independent account was never part of the trial process and Alieu’s incarceration was hasty and as usual draconian.
As fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters and friend of Alieu Jobe and the rest of March 2006 jailed political prisoners, we call on the Gambian government to
unconditionally release Alieu Jobe, Munirr Darboe, Yaya Darboe and rest of the March alleged coup plotters.
Every father adores and loves to share private time with his family. The natural love and compassion we all have for our children is unconditional and cannot be explained. The small everyday things of playing, smiling, and walking about with one’s children can never be bought in any market place.
As Muslims, Christians and Animist, we call for the compassionate release of Alieu Jobe and Co by the Gambian government. Recent events in Equatorial Guinea proof that even convicted foreign mercenaries can be pardoned. The case of English born Maan is clear testimony that whatever proofs the Gambian government has against the soldiers and the civilian Alieu Jobe, they can be released unconditionally.
The annual Tobaski Muslim festival is that of celebration, forgiving and pardoning. If the Gambian constitution accords the power of clemency in the office of the President, then using those constitutional or state powers to better use is paramount. Alieu has close family and friends who can impress upon the president to release him, but the significant pity us Gambians have of each other should also come into play in matters like this.
Alieu can be forgiven; Muniru, Yaya and co can all be released to be united with their family and loved ones for this Tobaski 2009. Will the Gambian President Yahya Jammeh utilise his presidential powers to good use on the case of Alieu Jobe and Co? Only time will tell.
I call on all concerned Gambians to add their voice into this proposal, Let Alieu and the rest be free!!!
Suntou Bolonba Touray (aka Alhagie)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Point of View--- A Talking Point With Cherno O Barry

An in-depth discussion on Gambian writers welfare and current issues with Gambia University lecturer Cherno Omar Barry.

Cherno Omar Barry has played a pivotal role in the creation of the new Writers' Association of The Gambia. He has also, through the inspiration and the guidance of a French academic, Dr Jean Dominic Pénel, created the Gambian writers’ website which regularly popularises books authored by Gambians. This interview is intended to reveal more about Gambian writers and their works. Along the way, we will also try to establish the obstacles the writers face and how ordinary Gambians can easily benefit from the work of their fellow countrymen.

Interview conducted by Suntou Touray for his column, the point of view- (A Talking Point)

Q&A Tell us a bit about you?
Cherno: Not much to say. I am an academic whose main interest is resuscitating the association of writers in the Gambia, improving the reading culture by promoting creative writing on themes interesting to our young readers. I try to advocate for quality and relevant production. I read and write as much as time can permit me to. My reading interests are vast but I am specifically interested in children’s literature, women writers and themes close to our socio-cultural and historical context.
Q&A What is your current engagement?
Cherno: I am a lecturer at the University of The Gambia. I am a researcher too presently involved in completing my doctoral thesis.
Q&A Who are the Gambian writers?
Cherno: There are many writers and some of these have succeeded in publishing their works making them authors. That having been said the question seems too vague for a simple answer. I will say Gambian writers and authors are those who have penned good works on issues of interest to The Gambia and to the world at large.
Q&A Why did you create a website for Gambian Writers?
Cherno: The interest started when I began doing my Maîtrise-ès-lettres in Semiology. I began to discover books by other Gambians other than Dr Peters and Ebou Dibba. Upon discovering Dr Tijan Sallah, Nana Grey-Johnson, Sally Singhateh, Ebou Gaye and Essa Colley but to name a few, my interest deepened. However one major problem was works by these writers were hardly available to us and Gambians seem unaware of the existence of most of these writers. Then Dr Jean Dominique Pénel organized the first exhibition of Gambian writers on 19 April 2002 at the Alliance Franco-Gambienne. It brought together several writers and I was honoured to be the Master of Ceremonies. Using Dr Pénel’s extensive research, I started translating some of the book reviews in English and adding a little of my research, started publishing these on the Daily Observer newspaper early 2004. The website came into existence first as a blog in 2005 and became developed into a site in 2007.
Q&A How do you sustain the site for the Gambian writers, considering the fact that, you are a busy man?
Cherno: Most of the information was already available and just needed uploading. What’s more difficult today is keeping up with the recent publications. It is unfortunate that very few Gambians are ready to be committed to this. I have made appeals to Gambians for assistance and some of the reaction is I should maintain a blog. It is my humble believe that a blog is fine but a website makes the shared information more appealing. Nonetheless, as it is a passion I wish to nurture, I will continue to nourish the website until an association takes it up.
Q&A Where can one obtain books authored by Gambians?
Cherno: This is becoming difficult, Suntou. The only available outlet in The Gambia is Timbooktoo and even Timbooktoo has few or none of the renowned authors such as Dr Peters, Dr Tijan Sallah or Nana Grey-Johnson. Ebou Dibba’s books are still provided by Macmillan The Gambia. All others are out of print except those who have published outside The Gambia.

Q&A To the best of your knowledge, what sorts of subjects are the common currency among Gambian writers
Cherno: Socio-cultural issues mainly. Recent writers are trying their hands in folklore too. Few really tried dealing with political issues and some of these are Gabriel Roberts with the Goosieganderan Myth and Baaba Silla with When the Monkey Talks.

Q&A Which author has written the most books?
Cherno: Hard to say when one does not have all the statistics but I prefer to compare two authors. Nana Grey-Johnson is the most successful self-published author and Dr Tijan Sallah the most published. Each has published close to ten books.
Q&A Are you an exclusive association of like minds, how does one qualify to be in the Gambian writers association?
Cherno: The present association encourages all writers, Gambian or non-Gambian residents to be subscribed members. If one is interested in writing and hopes to contribute to knowledge production, then one can be considered as qualified. The association is trying to bring on board aspiring writers too who may eventually have avenues to publish their works.

Q&A What criteria does the association use to determine an author/writer?
Cherno: There is no particular criterion. One is an author if one has published and one is a writer if one is indulged into knowledge production and sharing.

Q&A Why is it difficult to come across serials or reviews of books by Gambians?
Cherno: I believe Gambians should take up that challenge. We have several Gambian experts who are critics, analysts and essayists. They must come on board to help promote as well as critique works of Gambians. This is more vital today than ever where the University of The Gambia is the main champion.

Q&A What are some of the inherent difficulties writers in the Gambia face, what ways do you believe those obstacles can alleviated?
Cherno: The following in their order of difficulties: publishing, marketing and protecting their works. Self-publishing is the easiest avenue yet this has its setbacks. Some of the setbacks are financing the product and producing a work of international standard. Marketing is difficult because effective distribution means there are consumers. Unfortunately, with the dying reading culture and the difficulty in living standards, the consumers are far less than expected. Though the copyright bureau already exists, it is yet to fully institute a system of protection for authors. Hopefully the association can help alleviate these obstacles once it is officially instituted.

Q&A What advice do you have for a beginner in the field of writing?
Cherno: There is a fallacy that writing is very simple. Certain skills need acquiring for good works to be produced. Aspiring writers need to read a lot especially in their areas of interest. Let them not be discouraged by the obstacles faced in publishing. There is also the possibility of co-publishing which would probably simplify the burden of publication.

Q&A Is there a peer review panel in the Gambian writers association?
Cherno: There is an editorial sub-committee, if that is what you mean. This sub-committee is mandated when the need arises, to edit works the association may require to publish. It can also review and recommend works suitable for consumption in the schools. However, if you mean a peer-review magazine or journal, then that stage has not yet been attained. However, the possibility cannot be ruled out completely.

Q&A How daring are the topics covered among Gambian writers? For instance, Can anyone ridicule religious or cultural practices? Bearing in mind, Baba Galleh debit book was about the subject of female circumcision?
Cherno: It is the belief of the association that writers who write on themes that will cause a national unrest will be dissociated from the association. Understand me well here. We encourage Gambians to write on issues harmful to our health and our well being. Female genital mutilations, forceful marriages, teenage pregnancy, child abuse, rape, murder, irresponsible accidents, drug abuse, delinquency, the Bumster issue, women’s delicate issues, and et cetera are very important and contemporary. Writers can write maturely on issues affecting the Gambian society, Africa and the world at large without being disagreeable. Other writers have set the pace to emulate.

Q&A Literary freedom is an issue in most parts of the developing world, is the Gambia any different?
Cherno: Writers in general have issues with their country particularly in third world countries. Yet these writers have a moral responsibility to translate the hopes and aspirations of every nation. It is incumbent upon them to pen to posterity the daily events of those people as well as the history and beliefs. Writers can be wrong particularly when their works are purely subjective but nonetheless, they serve a fundamental purpose in changing history. In The Gambia, however, no Gambian writer has been arrested or intimidated so far for exercising one’s literary freedom. I know our journalist colleagues have had a large share of this, but it is not uncommon to hear of writers in our sisters countries living in exile for expressing those thorny issues their country’s governments are not willing to hear about. Yet, once we attire ourselves with the mantle of ‘voice for the voiceless’, we expect to face such challenges even if we are living in The Gambia. What the association intends to promote foremost is to help enlighten its general populace. Issues can always be handled intellectually without disseminating misinformation or causing anger, uprising and dissent.

Q&A Can you give an example.
Cherno: Before Africans can properly develop their countries and bring positive changes, they must be educated. Others cannot fight our causes so let us take up our problems ourselves and the best way to find these solutions is to educate our own people. It is no use crying ‘wolf wolf’ when the sheep one is trying to save continue grazing languidly impervious to your cries and the looming danger.

Q&A Any final words on the wider issues of writing in The Gambia?
Cherno: We call upon Gambians abroad to support the association. The first form of support is financial. All other forms of support, such as marketing Gambian works, seeking less expensive publishing houses would be encouraged. Donations of books to schools and higher institutions, photocopying and printing machines to the association to raise funds, and other learning materials shall be most welcome.
Thank You Cherno Omar Barry for the opportunity
Cherno: It is my pleasure!
Suntou's final words
The Gambian writers’ website can be browsed at It has rich resources on the works of people like Dr Lenrie Peters, Dr Tijan Sallah, Dr Sabarr Janneh, Essa Bokar Sey, Cherno Omar Barry himself, Baba Galleh, Gabriel Roberts, etc.
In this age, all efforts should be made to support our nationals in this noblest of professions. Societies advance through reading, and the appropriate starting point should be from works authored by our fellow countrymen/women.
The site contains vast arrays of poems, short stories and mini adventure tails. I would recommend it to all Gambians.
Cherno Omar Barry can be reach at If you have a work needing advice on or if you have the capacity to enhance the future progress of the Gambian writers Association contact him. I found him to be extremely humble and intellectually astute, let us network and create a better Gambia.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Delinking Islam From FGM Part Two

What Muslims and Islam say About FGM Part 2: Some perspective by Suntou Touray
Delinking Islam from female circumcision is paramount in this age of subliminal mind games. What many perceive as modern and total a-religious is in-fact a disguise. Therefore, Muslims should be jealous of the beauty in Islam and its message of enhancing the human dignity and well-being.
God want ease for us, in surah Al-Baqarah (2:286) God state that, he never burdens us beyond our capacity. We should worry ourselves with matters that are humanly possible and physically beneficial. This doesn’t mean, every other issue should be treated lightly, it only means we should avoid self-harm and defective practices.
Zahrah Awlah, a leading Kenyan Muslim commentator posited the following reasons for Islam being associated with female circumcision:
●To protect chastity/virginity
●To reduce sexual desires in women
●To enhance fertility and childbirth
She went on to observe that, “FGM doesn’t guarantee any of these”. She further detail categories of FGM, Type 1, 2 and 3, were she quoted the leading Canadian Islamic scholar Dr Jamal Badawi.
Dr Badawi explained the types as follows:
1- Type I: Removal of the hood (prepuce) of the clitoris only.
2- Type II: Removal of the entire clitoris (cliterodectomy) along with part of the labia minora, which is sutured together leaving an opening.
3- Type III: Removal of the entire clitoris, labia minora and medial part of the labia majora, stitching both sides of the vulva together leaving a small opening. This is known as “Pharonic Procedure.” This also involves “closing over the urethral and vaginal openings with the gutted labia minora/majora, leaves a hole that traps traces of urine and menstrual blood. This can cause infections in the woman or girl and complicate childbirth if the individual is not opened in time to prevent this from happening. No form of FGM has been proven to reduce sexual desire or promiscuity, but FGM may hinder sexual intercourse, having a devastating effect on women in later life when they marry.”
The Gambian experience in type three is limited to a particular ethnicity. But overall, many young women who underwent the type 1 and 2 female circumcision early in their life don’t manifest the side effects of type three. It is important this point is made clear, since the argument shouldn’t be allowed to take a one route condemnation.
The Qur’an teaches that, men and women are the garment of one another. In eliminating cultural practices that are unnecessary to society, both sexes must play their part. (An-Nisaa’ 4:1), making them equal before Allah in Islam. Men are said to be protectors, "qawwamun" (An-Nisaa’ 4:34), of women. And Allah has ordered both men and women to be modest in their gaze and guard their chastity. These verses prove that FGM in Muslim communities is unnecessary, and it is God-consciousness (Taqwa) that keeps Muslim men and women from illegal sexual intercourse or indecent thoughts, and not the absence of any part of their genitalia.
Dr. Jamal Bad­awi refers to the following types of FGM:
Dr Badawi further elaborated that, “no mutilation is allowed by Islam, even on the battlefield. It is unjustifiable, brutal, inhumane, and it violates Islam.” Dr. Badawi continues that “female circumcision is not in the Qur’an and no hadith requires it, although there is a difference of opinion among some Muslim scholars on is religious basis.”
However, the proponents use one main hadith relayed by Umm Atiyyah Al-Ansariyyah in which it is reported: "A woman used to perform cir­cumcision in Madinah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to her: Do not cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband” (Abu Dawud 41:5251). Experts on hadith have declared it weak (dha'eef). (See Awn al-Maabud fi sharh sunnan Abi Dawud Vol.14 pg 122-126)
In essence, the defence of female circumcision is itself weak. But one cannot ignore the fortitude of the scholarly argument in favour of simple circumcision which only recommends a tiny bit taken off the clitoris, rather than mutilated version.
The Islam encourages the Right to all lawful Fulfilment in Marriage!!!
The Qur’an says: [And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect.] (Ar-Rum 30:21)
The above verse describes the ideal marital relationship for Mus­lims, and it is the right of every Muslim to find a mate and achieve all the benefits that come with that. In cases where instead of circumcision, the person underwent FGM, then there are serious issues that are suffered in later life. These according to some experts are:
●Lack of sensation, due to not having a full and healthy clitoris and other external genitalia
●Flashbacks of FGM operation on her wedding night
●Problems relating to the infibulations when in many cases the hus­band opens her with an object on the wedding night and thereafter he can penetrate more easily
●Other problems trying to sexually relate to her husband because of the negative attitude towards her sexuality
● Not understanding her Islamic right to sexual enjoyment
It should be again maintained that, the types practice in the Gambia are said not to fall under the mutilation category in a larger part. However, the mere practice of female circumcision on itself is unnecessary if the reason is to restrain young unmarried women. There are much more other issues relevant in ensuring morality and chastity is a pillar in our societies.
[Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you diffi­culty.] (Al-Baqarah 2:185)
Islam came to bring glad tidings, not bad news, and enlighten the ignorant, not keep them in the darkness. Islam does not allow its fol­lowers to harm themselves intentionally, and it vehemently protects the rights of women and children, who are among the weakest of the groups in every society. “And the best among you are those who are best to their women” (At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Hibban). For further reading on this subject refer to the link below.