The United Council of Imams in Sierra Leone has ended a two day conference on theme "Islam in Sierra Leone and its challenges in contemporary period” at the Town Hall in Makeni on 11th & 12th May 2013.
Declaring the conference open His Excellency the President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma praised the United Council of Imams for their initiative in gathering Imams from all over the country in one place and hoped they will continue to contribute to Nation Building and Peace in the country. He implored the Imams to continue to maintain law and order as Islam is a religion of peace.
President Koroma noted that everywhere he goes people consider Sierra Leone to be the most religiously tolerant nation on earth, adding that Sierra Leonean Muslims must maintain that status. He further urged the congregation to improve on the religious tolerance in the country adding that Islam is a disciplined religion and thus preaches such.
The president assured the gathering that he will continue to give scholarships to Imams to perform the holy pilgrimage to Mecca and that he is presently on negotiations for the constructing of a multi-purpose Islamic complex for Muslims. In his welcome address the National President of the United Council of Imams, Alhaji Yayah Deen Kamara described the President as a just and God fearing leader who has done extremely well for Muslims in Sierra Leone more than any other leader in the history of the country.
Alhaji Yayah Deen Kamara expressed his sincere thanks and appreciation to the hundreds of Imams for their co-operation in making the Council the highest Islamic body in the country and prays that they will continue to give their support so that the Council will continue to contribute positively to national development.
Alhaji Issa Catco Kamara President of the Forum of Islamic Organization admonished Muslims to stop ungratefulness and recognize people’s efforts at all times. He lashed out on the Voice of Islam Radio stations for being ungrateful to Alhaji Yayah Deen Kamara who had helped the Radio Stations immensely from their inception and urged all to continue to pray for His Excellency the President even after his tenure of office as President of Sierra Leone.
Alhaji Osman Boie Kamara Minister of Trade and Industry called on Imams to help the president achieve the agenda for prosperity in the country adding that the only way to reward the president for the good things he has done for Muslims in the country is by helping to make Sierra Leone a prosperous nation.
The acting Regional Chief Imam Northern Region Alhaji Osman Bangura; Regional Chief Imam for the Eastern Province Alhaji Gibril Kamara and Regional Chief Imam Southern Region Alhaji Abdul Rahman Soko prayed to Allah to shower more blessings, good health and wisdom on the president for his kind unprecedented gesture to the Muslims of this country.
The program was climaxed with presentation by Dr. Salia Deen Kamara who delivered a paper on the role of imams in nation building. He catalogued the requirements of an Imam according to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as an Imam is expected to be a role model and a community leader. He admonished the Imams not to limit their roles to prayers only but should contribute to nation building.
Dr. Alie Turay who delivered a paper on the status of Arabic Education in the Curriculum of the public schools in Sierra Leone said that most Arabic teachers are not able to distinguish between curriculum and syllabus; he encouraged Arabic teachers to teach Arabic as most teachers are not really teaching Arabic.
Dr. Habib Sheriff who delivered a paper on Islamic Unity narrated that Islamic Unity can only be possible if they share the same Aqueedah and abide by the Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He further said that Islamic Unity can only be tolerated by the person you share the same creed and not the person who have another Quran or Prophet.
Dr. Ramadan Jalloh who delivered a paper on “The differences of faith between the Sunni Sect and its counterpart and ways to sensitize the Muslims about it in Sierra Leone" disclosed that there is no religious tolerance quoting the verse which says” Truly, the Religion with God Is Islam" (Holy Qur'an 3:19). He emphasized that praying inside Ahmadiyya Mosque is unacceptable but according to Sheikh Fomba Abu Bakarr Swarray who cited the verse in the Holy Quran, it says “Verily the Mosque is the Mosque of Allah”.
Dr. Abdul Karim Koroma who delivered a paper on "Proximity of the place of worship (Mosque & Church) emphasized that religious tolerance in the country must be strengthened by all but cautioned that the rate at which Churches are built closer to Mosques will one day spark problems and called on authorities to ensure that Mosques and Churches are not built too close to each other.
Sheikh Fomba Abu Bakarr Swarray who delivered a paper on the topic “Discrimination against Veil Muslim Women in Sierra Leone” urged authorities to legislate laws on discrimination against Veil Sisters especially in public offices as they are refused jobs because they chose wearing veils. He encouraged Muslim Sisters to be patient despite facing so much humiliation in wearing veils which is instructed by Allah.
The opening ceremony was chaired by the Minister of Information and Communication, Hon. Alhaji Alpha Bakarr Sahid Kanu.