SHOULD THE STATE ESTABLISH STANDARDS FOR RELIGIOUS PRACTICE?

Gambia may be among the few countries where the state machinery is utilised to bar peaceful religious practice against the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

Despite this intervention, Gambians prayed on different days during Eid –Ul- Fitr as well as during Eid- UL Adha.

Many people did not pray at all as a sign of compliance with state instruction, but killed their sheep on Sunday.

Religion is faith. Religious practice is based on faith. The contract of the religious person is with one’s God and not with the president of a country. No president of a country has power to send people to hell or heaven. The president of a country has no mandate to violate the constitutional right of a citizen who chooses to pray on a given day.

To do so, is to make those who do as they ought to do, based on their faith, to look like rebels and those who do not want to defy authority to look servile and devoid of faith. In either way, one is sowing the seed of distress. A person who is barred from exercising his or her religion cannot be at peace with himself or herself or with his family.

The state should draw lesson from the recent developments and encourage religious leaders, especially the Supreme Islamic Council, to rely on persuasion to promote religious harmony.

Only religious terrorists could impose their will on how and when people should practice their religion by force. There is no compulsion in religion.