Friday, 23 November 2012

The Slow death of Gambia's Marxist-Socialism

“History calls those men the greatest who have ennobled themselves by working for the common good; experience acclaims as happiest the man who has made the greatest number of people happy.” Marx, Letter to His Father in (1837)

By Suntou Touray
Momodou Dumo Sarho
Sidia Jatta

The initial tilt of post-colonial African nations toward Socialism and Marxism did not spare the Gambia. Though the Gambia’s successive national governments have all steered clear of the two sister ideologies, a relatively small segment of the literate urban youth population did openly flirt with Socialism and Marxism for a long time. Whether this was purely out of youthful rebellion against authority is open to debate. This is especially true of the 70s and 80s when Socialist and Marxist ideas seemed to have gained traction in the Gambia. One could say that Socialism especially penetrated the Gambia in the 70s and 80s in that local Marxists (who like to call each other “Comrades”) traversed Gambian soil, quietly preaching their peculiar gospel of politics, subversion, equality, and social justice to impressionable youth. At this junction, the Gambia began to feel their presence in different forms.
But the proponents of the ideologies didn’t sit down on their laurels; they started to widen their constituency by conducting lectures in tiny enclaves in colleges, high schools and vocational campuses, formal workplaces, and at vous all around the Gambia’s urban areas. The universal ideologies of political economic management of Socialism and Marxism soon became the sound bites of self-described Freedom Fighters across Africa as they did further afield in South America, and Asia. The symbolism of sacrificing oneself for a higher secular cause as epitomized by the likes of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in Cuba, and Chairman Mao in his cultural revolution in China, were models Gambian Marxists looked up to.
Naturally, the existing political class in the Gambia at the time (the PPP) became the target of these sometimes overzealous young men, who are of mixed orientation and social origin. While many are semi-literate with scant understanding of the political ideologies they purportedly espouse, some of the youths had University or college education. Again, while some are genuinely unconnected to the ruling class, some are close relatives of important members of the establishment they loudly rant against. The one thing Socialist-Marxists had in common was their resentment against what they perceived as “elitism and patronage of the political class.”
While they lacked the numbers to pose a serious political threat to the PPP government, nonetheless they were worried enough about their corrupting influence on the generality of Gambian youths to initiate a close surveillance of their activities. This became particularly imperative after like-minded youth took over power in Liberia in April 1980 through a bloody coup d’état. The Liberia experience was a wake-up call for the PPP government that a small number of “Leftist” could pose dangers to the Gambia’s peace and stability.
Consequently, the most visible of the Marxist-Socialist band of brothers of the Movement for Justice in Africa Gambia (MOJA-G) was quickly proscribed. However, as often happens in such cases, the banning of their organization only served to give the Marxist-Socialists a higher profile than they hitherto had. Until their banning, most Gambians had never even heard of the group. But the effect of the group’s banning turned several of its members into high profile status. These people included Abdoulie Jobe, Koro Sallah, Momodou Dumo Sarho, Sedia Jatta, Halifa Sallah, Sam Sarr, Sarjo Jallow, Ousman Manjang, among others.
My brief comment here is not in any way or form a scholarly discourse of the dying breed of ex-Marxist activists, but merely a short commentary on the slow death of the Socialist-Marxist ideas in the Gambia. Some of the individuals cited here may reject the claim that they are communist or socialist in orientation, thereby wholly rejecting my comments about them. However, it is undisputable that the currency of alternative political activism in contrast to free market capitalist democracy is socialism (championed by PDOIS) or Marxism (espoused by MOJA-G) in our case.
The most prominent members of Gambia’s Marxist MOJA group have all largely settled in Europe for decades now. The result of which is the departure of their Marxist ideals. The remaining underground members (Halifa, Sam Sarr, and Sedia) changed course by entering mainstream politics. As the Marxist forerunners to enter politics, they trekked villages and towns, leafleting and pamphleteering. They sold and distributed preacher-like political sermons on magnetic cassette tapes. The messages on the cassette tapes – themed to portray the Socialists as the “caring lot” organized to champion the courses of “ordinary people” – were similar and consistent. Always implicit in their message is the notion that they’re different from other educated Gambians. Yet, the two ideologies have not fared well in Gambia despite their laudable claims. So one may ask: what triggered the demise of Marxism in the Gambia? While there are undoubtedly many factors, it is reasonable to state that decades of the Socialist-Marxists’ unsuccessful bid for power has proven to be a dis-incentivizing agent for both the leaders and the masses they seek to enlighten. The failure of the resident Marxists in the Gambia especially to expand their following even after a quarter century of openly canvassing the populace, is particularly glaring.
Many keen observers are perplexed and confused by the unending downturn of the resident Marxist-Socialists’ political fortunes. Even the areas one might expect Gambians to follow them in – the simple dress code, personal modesty, etc, has not worked out for them. Some believe that is because the Socialists’ humility-façade masks an intense anger and disappointment at the refusal of Gambians to entrust them with our country. Many believe it’s that anger that is behind the Socialists’ reticence to work with others to end our Nation’s trauma expeditiously.
For the one thing that has now become commonplace during every Opposition negotiation cycle is the news of the Marxist-Socialist “Old boys” holding onto inflexible positions that scuttle any chances of achieving opposition unity. Further, they seem to imply that they’re the only genuine alternative to the monster that regime in the Gambia – thus the contemptuous and dismissive attitude towards other Gambians in pursuit of other solutions to our common problem. It seems they would rather stick to hardened uncompromising stances than working towards malleable positions that could realistically help end the tyranny in the Gambia. Why they continue to regard such behavior as a wise and viable option is something many Gambians cannot figure out.
Allow me to end this short note with a few words from Karl Max: “If we have chosen the position in life in which we can most of all work for mankind, no burdens can bow us down, because they are sacrifices for the benefit of all; then we shall experience no petty, limited, selfish joy, but our happiness will belong to millions, our deeds will live on quietly but perpetually at work, and over our ashes will be shed the hot tears of noble people.” Marx, Letter to His Father (1837)

the attachments to this post: 
Momodou Dumo Sarho 
Momodou Dumo Sarho

The Importance of Islamic New Year


By Sheikh Mufti Taqi Uthmaani (Hafidhahullah)
Sheikh Taqi Uthmani/Criticalppp
Muharram is the month with which the Muslims begin their lunar Hijrah Calendar. It is one of the four sanctified months about which the Holy Quran says, “The number of the months according to Allah is twelve months (mentioned) in the Book of Allah on the day in which He created heavens and the earth. Among these (twelve months) there are four sanctified”. These four months, according to the authentic traditions are the months of Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. All the commentators of the Holy Quran are unanimous on this point, because the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) in his sermon on the occasion of his last Hajj, has declared: One year consists of twelve months, of which four are sanctified months, three of them are in sequence; Dhul-Qa’dah, Dhul-Hijjah, Muharram, and the fourth is Rajab.
The specific mention of these four months does not mean that any other month has no sanctity, because the month of Ramadhan is admittedly the most sanctified month in the year. But these four months were specifically termed as sanctified months for the simple reason that their sanctity was accepted even by the pagans of Makkah. In fact, every month, out of the twelve, is originally equal to the other, and there is no inherent sanctity which may be able which may be attributed to one of them in comparison to the other months. When Allah Almighty chooses a particular time for His special blessings, the same acquires sanctity out of His grace. Thus, the sanctity of these four months was recognized right from the days of Sayyidina Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam). Since the Pagans of Makkah attributed themselves to Sayyidina Ibrahim (Alayhis salaam) they observed the sanctity of these four months and despite their frequent tribal battles, they held it unlawful to fight in these months. In the Shariah of our Noble Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) the sanctity of these months was upheld and the Holy Quran referred to them as the “sanctified months”. The month of Muharram has certain other characteristics peculiar to it which are specified below.
Fasting During The Month: The Noble Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has said: ‘The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadhan are those of the month of Muharram.”
Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the Nafl fasts i.e. the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him. The Hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.
The day of ‘Ashurah’
Although the month of Muharram is a sanctified month as a whole, yet, the 10th day of Muharram is the most sacred among all its days. The day is named ‘Ashurah’. According to the Holy Companion Ibn ‘Abbas (Radhiallaahu Anhu). The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam), when migrated to Madinah, found that the Jews of Madinah used to fast on the 10th day of Muharram. They said that it was the day on which the Holy Prophet Musa (Moses) (Alayhis salaam) and his followers crossed the Red Sea miraculously and the Pharaoh was drowned in its waters. On hearing this from the Jews, the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “We are more closely rotated to Musa (Alayhis salaam) than you” and directed the Muslims to fast on the day of ‘Ashura’. (Abu Dawood) It is also reported in a number of authentic traditions that in the beginning, fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ was obligatory for the Muslims. It was later that the fasts of Ramadhan were made obligatory and the fast on the day of ‘Ashura’ was made optional. Sayyidina ‘Aisha (Radhiallaahu Anha) has said: “When the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) came to Madinah, he fasted on the day of ‘Ashura’ and directed the people to fast it. But when the fasts of Ramadhan were made obligatory, the obligation of fasting was confined to Ramadhan and the obligatory nature of the fast of ‘Ashura’ was abandoned. Whoever so desires should fast on it and any other who so likes can avoid fasting on it.” (Sunan Abu Dawud) However, the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) used to fast on the day of ‘Ashura’ even after the fasting in Ramadhan was made obligatory. Abdullah ibn Musa (Radhiallaahu Anhu) reports that the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) preferred the fast of ‘Ashura’ on the fasts of other days and preferred the fasts of Ramadhaan on the fast of ‘Ashura’. (Bukhari and Muslim) In short, it is established through a number of authentic Hadiths that fasting on the day of ‘Ashura’ is Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and makes one entitled to a great reward. According to another Hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of ‘Ashura’ should either be prefixed or suffixed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th and 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th of it. 
The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) is that the Jews used to fast on the day of ‘Ashura alone, and the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) wanted to distinguish the Muslim way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of ‘Ashura’. Some traditions signify another feature of the day of ‘Ashura. According to these traditions one should be more generous to his family by providing more food to them on this day as compared to other days. These traditions are not very authentic according to the science of Hadith. Yet, some Scholars like Baihaqi and Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable. What is mentioned above is all that is supported through authentic sources about Ashura. However, there are some legends and misconceptions with regard to ‘Ashura’ that have managed to find their way into the minds of the ignorant, but have no support of authentic Islamic sources, some very common of them are these: This is the day in which Adam (Alayhis salaam) was created. 
This is the day in which Ibrahim was born. This is the day in which Allah accepted the repentance of Sayyidina Adam (Alayhis salaam) This is the day on which the Qiyaamah (doomsday) will take place. Whoever takes bath in the day of ‘Ashura’ will never get ill. All these and other similar whims and fancies are totally baseless and the traditions referred to in this respect are not worthy of any credit. Some people take it as Sunnah to prepare a particular type of meal in the day of ‘Ashura’. This practice, too, has no basis in the authentic Islamic sources. Some other people attribute the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ to the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) during his battle with the Syrian army. No doubt, the martyrdom of Sayyidina Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) is one of the most tragic episodes of our history. Yet, the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ cannot be ascribed to this event for the simple reason that the sanctity of ‘Ashura’ was established during the days of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) much earlier than the birth of Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu). On the contrary, it is one of the merits of Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that his martyrdom took place on the day of ‘Ashura’.
 Another misconception about the month of Muharram is that it is an evil or unlucky month, for Sayyidna Husain was killed in it. It is for this misconception that people avoid holding marriage ceremonies in the month of Muharram. This is again a baseless concept which is contrary to the express teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. Such superstitions have been totally negated by the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). If the death of an eminent person in a particular day renders that day unlucky for all times to come, one can hardly find a day, free from this bad luck, out of 360 days of the whole year, because each and every day has a history of the demise of some eminent person. The Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) have made us free from such superstitious beliefs, and they should deserve no attention.
Another wrong practice related to this month is to hold the lamentation and mouming ceremonies in the memory of martyrdom of Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu). As mentioned earlier, the event of Karbala is one of the most tragic events of our history, but the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has forbidden us from holding the mourning ceremonies on the death of any person. The people of jahiliyyah (ignorance) used to mourn over their deceased through loud lamentations, by tearing their clothes and by beating their cheeks and chests. The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) stopped the Muslims from doing all this and directed them to observe patience by saying “Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji’oon”. A number of authentic Ahaadith are available on the subject. To quote only one of them: “He is not from our group who slaps his checks, tears his clothes and cries in the manner of the people of jahiliyyah“. (Sahih Bukhari) All the authentic jurists are unanimous on the point that the mourning of this type is absolutely impermissible.
Even Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu) at shortly before his demise, had advised his beloved sister Sayyidah Zainab (Radhiallaahu Anha) at not to mourn over his death in this manner. He said, “My dear sister, I swear upon you that you, in case I die, shall not tear your clothes, nor scratch your face, nor curse anyone for me or pray for your death”. (Al-Kamil, ibn Kathir vol. 4 pg. 24) It is evident from this advice of Sayyidna Husain, (Radhiallaahu Anhu) that this type of mourning is condemned even by the blessed person for the memory of whom these mourning ceremonies are held. Every Muslim should avoid this practice and abide by the teachings of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and his beloved grand child Sayyidna Husain (Radhiallaahu Anhu).
-Mufti Taqi Uthmaani

the attachments to this post: 
Sheikh Taqi Uthmani/Criticalppp 
Sheikh Taqi Uthmani

Thursday, 1 November 2012

'I' is the Terminology

I return home
From where?
The Neighboring country
I told them everything
About our dilemma
I said that, I am the answer to all the problem
And I am ready and now willing
To be seen and heard
I have stood up and wrote about it all
I am the only one who can bring sanity
I have demonstrated it over and over
That, without me, nothing will work
I have abundantly said it
I will not allow anyone to take my chances
All the press statements I did are to highlight my position
People should stop focusing on the dictator
And rather look at Me
I am the problem and the solution
I will continue to reinvent myself
Over and over
Until all of you take me seriously
I don't care how long it takes
But I will not end my stance to be in command
At every gathering of my peers
Because, I am who I am
I interview myself and pass it off
I am a scholar, a politician, a writer, a talker, orator
I am all in one and I will never be irrelevant
So Gambians, you cannot ignore me
And even you try to do, I will remind you
That, the problem and solution all lies
With me...And so it shall be
"Message by A wise Gambian who is too focus on himself)