In the name of Allah the Merciful, the Compassinate

Press Conference by Sheihu Salawatia Rashid Hussain Salwat

(IMAM RASHID)

 

We praise and thank Allah (SWT) for this day and opportunity. I send my best and sincere Salutations to the Prophet and his household (SAW). I pray that Allah bless everyone here and hope that this Press Conference will be given serious thought.  May Allah Guide all of us and let the truth prevail.

 

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, I welcome you to this press conference and I pray that you will inform the entire world about the truth of the recent disturbances in the Tamale Metropolis. Before I provide you the details of this conference, I would like to thank you for accepting our invitation to attend on a shorter notice.

 

You would recall that on Monday 20th of August 2012, there were reports in some sections of the media that Sheihu Salawatia (Imam Rashid) attacked the Ambariyya Mosque at a time congregational prayer was going on. What we have all read in the press is a complete diversion of what happened and I would like to make a humble request of your precious time to enable me take you through the whole matter. I know that all of you would like to hear my side of the incident and not only that but also the truth of the matter.

 

Gentlemen of the press let me first and foremost, commend the security agencies for the swift response and the high sense of professionalism they exhibited in this unfortunate situation, without them it would have been disastrous. Since then the Police and the Army have been patrolling the Metropolis and also keeping their eyes on the flash points.

 

The alleged attack

I wish to state categorically that I did not attack the Ambariyya Mosque as reported. As a Muslim, especially of my stature I know the mosque is the house of Allah (SWT), and will never attempt or venture to attack my fellow Muslim, let alone attacking a mosque. It is never true.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, permit me to take you through the scenario of that faithful day.

 

I was invited to the conclusion of the Interpretation of the Quran (Tafsir) 2012 at Aboabo. In the last five years or so I have participated in the event each time I am invited. When the occasion ended, some of the congregants decided to accompany me home as has always been the practice. We sang joyfully praising Allah (SWT) and the Holy Prophet Muhammed (SAW) from Aboabo to Gumani through Sakasaka. Let me add that, this was not an organised procession.

 

Earlier on, before I left home for the occasion, I had telephone calls informing me about road closures or barricades to deny me the right to pass through Saksaka to Aboabo. I spoke to Sheikh Al Hussein who was the convener of the function about the information I had. He told me he had received similar information and had informed the Police about it. We got to Aboabo safely and the ceremony ended successfully.

 

Our journey back home was peaceful; it was full of glee, pomp and pageantry as we praised Allah (SWT) and chanted praises to the Prophet of Islam (SAW) and His Household. This again is a normal practice because it was the same day we celebrated the Eid ul-Fitr.

Our happiness and joy was interrupted as we had to stop at approximately100 metres away to the main Ambariyya Mosque due to gunshots coming from the direction of the mosque; this disruption took between half a minute or so after which we continued. When we were close to the Ambariyya Mosque, there were stone throwing from the opposite side of the Mosque across the road but the assailants bolted after doing that. By the Grace of Allah no person was hurt, and we continued our journey smoothly to my residence.

 

I was informed later that some of the people who accompanied me home were ambushed and assaulted. These were innocent people who were victimised because they belonged to the Tijaniya sect. What I am aware is that the allegation that I led a group of people to attack the Ambariyya congregation was completely false and a malicious lie orchestrated to taint my hard won reputation as a renowned peace broker. I am literate and I understand what the law is and the consequences of breaking the law. I am naturally a disciplined person but I also had the opportunity to learn how to be disciplined and to uphold the principles of dignity as a commissioned officer of the Ghana Armed Forces.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I have no ill feelings or bad blood against anybody to warrant any attack. The attention of Muslims who would have been otherwise contemplating on the 2012 Tafsir, now have their attention diverted from the main issues to the calculated disturbances.

 

The bone of Contention

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me make it categorically clear at this point that the bone of contention between the Ahl-Sunna and Tijaniya sects is not about the interpretation of the Quran as having been reported in a section of the media.

The main issues here are two.

First of all: The Ambariyya Ahlu-Sunna for the past 40 years or so has persistently accused the Tijaniyya Sect of corrupting Islam and practicing it wrongly. Consequently, they condemn the Tijaniyya sect to hell.

 

One of the most commonly quoted Hadith by the Ambariya Ahlu Sunnah scholars, which is their basis for condemning the Tijaniyya sect turns out to be a fabricated Hadith; and not only that, that particular Hadith in question is not found in the most authentic Hadiths (Books) which are six in number.

 

We of the Salawatiya started the Ramadan Tafsir (i.e. the interpretation of the Quran) on Sunday 22nd July, 2012. In the course of the interpretation I prayed to Allah (SWT) to increase me and my fellow Ulamah in wisdom to give a true and honest interpretation of the Quran. I am a Muslim and Tijanniya by orientation. None of the members of my congregation has gone on air to disrespect, condemn or insult any Ulamah of the Ahli Sunnah group, though condemnations of the Tijanniya Sect continued on different platforms particularly on FM stations in Tamale.

 

The first main issue called for what we call the Mubahala; an Islamic practice of settling disputes so that Allah (SWT) will settle the matter between disputing parties once and for all. So, on three different occasions during this year’s Ramadan 2012, I adopted the Islamic Mubahala practice of settling disputes. Let me take this opportunity to explain to you what Mubahala means.

 

In Quran 3:61 Allah (SWT) says:

 

“If anyone disputes in any matter with you, after full knowledge has come to you, say: “Come and let us gather together – our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves – then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!”

 

So Mubahala is the Islamic prescribed way of resolving religious disputes when the argumentations or contestations from both sides of a religious dispute fail to resolve an issue. The parties jointly or individually pray to Allah to cast His Curse on whichever of the two parties is false.

 

Now that you understand what Mubahala means I would like to inform you that I invoke the Mubahala practice on three different occasions during Ramadan. (Monday 23rd July, 2012; Friday, 27th July, 2012 and Wednesday 1st August, 2012) respectively.

 

I did the Mubahala holding the Quran and on each occasion I had more than 600 individuals, men and women, children and adults that witnessed the process. I invoked the curse of Allah on myself not to see the end of Ramadan if what I am preaching is a lie and challenged the other disputing parties who are always in the lead to condemn the Tijanniya Practice of Islam to also do the Mubahala so that Allah (SWT) will settle the matter between us once and for all.

 

At this moment in time that I stand before you to brief you on the truth about the matter, we are yet to see any Ulamah (Clergy) coming forward to also inform his congregation that what they are also preaching is the truth. Even though I never doubted my Islamic practice, I have now given other Muslims the world over the opportunity to appreciate that Tijanniya is the original, mainstream and authentic Islam practiced by the Prophet (SAW) and his followers. I survived this year’s Ramadan and no one has yet done the Mubahala to confirm their practice is right or my teachings are wrong.

 

Secondly: The issue of condemning the Tijaniyya sect with a fabricated Hadith which could not be found in the most authentic Hadiths Books came with a reward of GHC 2,000.00 and two cars for any scholar who finds that Hadith. In fact no one has since come forward to prove me wrong and take the premium That is a confirmation that the supposed Hadith by them is a fabrication. It says that the Prophet (SAW) left two main sources of Guidance namely the Quran and his Sunnah.

 

The ridicule by the Ahlu-Sunnah sect.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, these were the issues at stake before Thursday 16th August, 2012 when an Ambariyya graduate known as Awal Issah (popularly referred to as doctor) went on one of the FM stations in Tamale to denigrate the name and person of Sheikh Ahmad Tijaani (RTA), the Grand Sheikh of the Tijaniyya sect. Therefore, two individuals sympathetic to the Tijanniya course went on a sister radio station specifically the Diamond FM Radio and whilst on air invited Awal and one Murtada who happened to complement the efforts of Awal. That was on Friday 17th August, 2012. The two individuals promised to join the discussion but failed to do so until the end of the programme. Unfortunately, on 17th August and 18th August 2012 a recorded version of Awal’s tape was played back on other FM stations instead of going for the live debate.

 

However, on Sunday 19th August 2012, two of the youth from the Tijaniya sect voluntarily bought air time on Radio North Star to disprove what had been said about our Sheikh whom they hold in high esteem. These two individuals introduced themselves and the homes they come from. In their presentation, they also maligned the leadership of Ambariyya and in the process management of North Star stopped the programme. The Ambariyya youth who initiated the attack on the Grand Sheik  were enraged about the remarks, rushed to Zaa Radio to respond to the two Tijanniya youth. They started the programme but the Management realising that the content was against their organisational policy, Zaa Radio stopped the programme. I understand the Ambariyya youth rioted around the radio station. The police hold all the information in this regard and can furnish you with the details if you enquire further.

 

Political interference

Gentlemen of the press, in my humble opinion, the Hon. Regional Minister’s actions and inactions were the main factor that brought about this crisis. On a faithful Thursday before the incident, the Ambariya Mosque was celebrating the end of Tafsir which was still in Ramadan and was attended by the Regional Minister and the Metropolitan Chief Executive. During the celebration, the Regional Minister’s presence was acknowledged and was referred to by the Ambariya Leadership as somebody who has them at heart and always meets all their demands and needs and that he has never failed them. The Metropolitan Chief Executive was also referred to as one of their students who do everything in their interest.

 

My understanding of the most crucial responsibility of the Hon. Regional Minister is to serve the interest of the region and not only the interest of a section of the divide. He has failed to participate in similar ceremonies of the Tijaniyya sect, which I think would have been the most appropriate if he had gone to preach peace there and then to the Ambariya congregation because of the coming general election.

 

I am therefore compelled by these unfortunate circumstances to believe that the Hon. Regional Minister’s discriminatory act during the Ramadan period inspired the Ambariya sect to attack my congregation and the FM stations.  They were the first to complain and point accusing fingers, and they believe they have a strong political backing.

 

Finally ladies and gentlemen of the press, I wish to make a passionate appeal to the security agencies, to intensify their investigations into the incident and publish their findings in order to clear my name, since my hard won prestige, reputation and gifted talent is at stake. Let me also assure you that I will pursue the matter to the highest level and to its logical conclusion to save not only myself, but our religion – Islam and as well save the future.

 

Thank you very much for coming and may Allah (SWT) bless you and your families and support you in your efforts to make the truth known.

 

Sheihu Salawatia Qutub az-Zamaan:

Imam Rashid.

 

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