Sheikh Muhideen Hydara, the Khaliph General of Darsilami Sangajor and BuyehTouray, the Alkalo of the same village in Foni Kansala District, West Coast Region have been arrested and detained since Tuesday, 29th July, 2014 at Bwiam police station for having observed prayer on Tuesday and not Monday as announced by the Supreme Islamic Council.
Speaking to this reporter yesterday, 30th July, 2014, Mr. Jai Mukhtarr Hydara confirmed that two elderly men were arrested by the police in their village less than thirty minutes after holding prayer. He said after this period, the police came to arrest the Alkalo for having allowed prayer in the village after the President ordered that there should be no prayer. He said the Alkalo told them that this village has another elder who decide issues which he cannot deny. He added that then they went with the Alkalo to the home of the Khaliph General, but that the police ended up going with the Alkalo as the Khaliph told them to go with the Alkalo and in case he is needed, they can call him at the station and he will meet them.
“They went with the Alkalo, but that they later came for the Khaliph General who in fact led the prayer as our Imam could not lead the prayer due to illness. At Bwiam station both of them gave statements which are in the hands of the police and they were also detained for a night before they were transferred to Yundum police station this Wednesday morning,” said Hydara.
Sheikh Hydara further explained, “It is true that the chief sent someone to inform us that there should be no prayer in the village on Tuesday due to presidential order but that we later heard from the radio again that it is only those in Kombos who will not pray. They announced that those in the provinces are exempted and we are surely in the provinces.”
However, he added it is a religious advice that Muslims should be fasting and praying after seeing the moon and not a fixed calendar. He said fasting at the same time with Mecca should be based on seeing the moon together but if the moon is seen on a different date then it is not necessary, he concluded.
Sheikh Abba Marabi Salam Hydara also from Sangajor Darsilami said it has never been termed as an embarrassment in the Islamic religion to fast or pray on different dates. He said even Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) said that a disagreement amongst his followers is a blessing to the religion.
He added that “people always say that we have only three hours difference with Mecca and we should pray with Mecca. We do not deny praying on this day but it is something that we do not want for the fact that Gambia is a country that can see the moon for thirty days without any hardship. Secondly, this is an issue of seeing the moon and if anyone wants to take a decision on it he/she should refer him or herself to a person who knows the moon very well. God advised that if you don’t know anything you should ask a person who knows it.”
He said the religion is independent and people should be allowed to fast at their will. He said if anyone wants to fast or pray with Mecca he/she should be allowed to do so, like wise someone who wants to pray or fast after sighting the moon in the country should also be allowed to do so.
Meanwhile, at the time of going to press, the two village heads were yet to be released.