Monrovia – What appears to be a war of words has sparked between the Islamic leaders in Liberia over who is qualified to be the head of Imams in the country.
Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
On Thursday, May 10, the Chief Imam of Liberia, Sheik Ali Krayee clarified that contrary to accusations that he is a Shia Muslim, he is of the Sunni sect.
He was responding to remarks by the head of the National Muslim Council of Liberia, Sheik Musa Bamba that the Chief Imam (Ali Krayee) is accused of being a Shia Muslim and his silence over the allegation is something that should raise concern.
Sheik Bamba, speaking at a certification ceremony of several Imams in Monrovia recently asserted that it is wrong in the Muslim religion for the titles of Chief Imam and Grand Mufti to be conferred on individuals residing in the same country.
He argued that if there is a Grand Mufti in a country, there can never be a Chief Imam; nothing that it is only in Liberia such is practiced.
He also questioned the qualification of Chief Imam Krayee on grounds that he is not schooled in Arabic.
Sheik Musa Bamba: “There can’t be Chief Imam and Grand Mufti. We know that the Grand Mufti was elected by the National Muslim Council. So, if we have a Grand Mufti, there should be nobody called a Chief Imam, especially if somebody is accused of being a Shia (Muslim) and there is no Shia in Liberia. We want peace. We promote religious tolerance. We are against all divisions. So if anybody is accused of being a Shia, let that person come and exonerate himself. Our head of Imams cannot be Shia.”
Sheik Ali Krayee’s Response
But at a news conference on Tuesday, May 8, the Chief Imam of Liberia, Sheik Ali Krayee stated that the accusations against him are ridiculous, false and came from the devil.
“The accusations that Imam Ali Krayee is a Shia came from the devil and I want the devil to take it right back. I am a Muslim belonging to the Maliki. At the same time, I don’t wish to go further in the deliberations, but there is no mention of the title of Mufti in the Quran, only Imam. There was no such position as Grand Mufti. I am not saying that there is no need for the position of Mufti. People can arrive at it through some kind of scholarly interpretations,” he said.
Responding to accusation that he is not schooled in Arabic, the Chief Imam wondered why his Muslim brother would resolve to thrive on rumors instead of seeking the facts from him.
He noted that he will appropriately respond to Sheik Bamba during the launch of his three books in the month of Ramadan where Sheik Bamba will be invited to critique his writings.
“He (Allah) never sends any messenger except with the language of his people to make things plain to them. You can be an Arabic expert but if you cannot communicate very effectively in the lingua franca of Liberia, you may be qualified but not in Liberia. We will appropriately address these issues where we will invite Sheik Bamba and that is when we will launch three of our books in the month of Ramadan and I think from there the qualification question will be resolved,” he noted.
Further condemning Bamba’s claims, the Chief Imam called on the Inter-religious Council of Liberia which Bamba serves as an Official representing the National Muslim Council of Liberia to define its role in the Liberian society owing to the actions of one of its officials.
“Although the National Imam Council of Liberia is not part of the Inter-Religious Council, we have cooperated with them and have great respect for the Council. Now since they have the likes of Sheik Musa Bamba, they must decide whether that Council is an agency for the propagation of falsehood, ignorance and disunity, or it is a council that is supposed to bring Liberians of various religions together,” Sheik Krayee averred.