In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
The Kankurang is an initiatory rite practised throughout the Manding provinces of Senegal and Gambia, mainly corresponding to the Casamance, and in the city of Mbour. According to tradition, the origin of the Kankurang is to be found in the Komo, a secret society of hunters whose organization and esoteric practices contributed to the emergence of the Manding.
The central character in the Kankurang, is an initiate who wears a mask made of the bark and red fibre of the faara tree and is clothed in leaves, his body painted with vegetable dyes. He is associated with circumcision ceremonies and initiatory rites. His appearance is marked by several ritual stages: the designation of the initiate who will wear the mask and his investiture by the elders, his retreat into the woods with the initiates, the vigils and processions through the hamlet of the new initiates. The whole ritual generally takes place between August and September. The Kankurang always parades surrounded by former initiates and the villagers who respectfully follow his behaviour and gestures, and perform dances and songs. His displays are punctuated with a staccato dance as he wields two machetes and utters piercing cries. His followers, armed with sticks and rhun palm leaves, beat out the rhythm with their choruses and tom-toms.
The Kankurang is the guarantor of order and justice as well as the exorcist of evil spirits. As such, he ensures transmission and teaching of a complex collection of know-how and practices underpinning Manding cultural identity. A ritual that has spread to other communities and groups of the area, it is the occasion for young circumcised boys to learn the rules of behaviour for the ordering their community, the secrets of plants and their medicinal values, and hunting techniques. Their traditional practice is in retreat because of the rapid urbanization of most regions of Senegal and Gambia and the decreasing extent of sacred forests, which are transformed into cultivated land. As a result, the ritual is trivialized and the Kankurang authority is undermined. [Source: https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/kankurang-manding-initiatory-rite-00143%5D
Fearful children nearby run inside their homes as the scary figure approaches, grunting. Others, more curious, risk a closer look at the man dressed to represent the spiritual figure.
Despite his fearsome appearance, the Kankurang symbolises the spirit that provides order and justice and is considered a protector against evil.
He explained that the Kankurang is a spirit and humans don’t have his power, but during the ceremonies some men dress like the Kankurang to drive away evil from the boys.
The Kankurang rite was recognised in 2005 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which proclaimed it a cultural heritage.
“This is the culture we have. And me, I’ll always work for the culture to survive,” Mr Jallow said. “As far as I’m alive, I will never leave my culture.” [Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-31/kankurang-initiation-rite-teaches-boys-respect-in-gambia/100583804%5D
Observations and Comments
Quote: “According to tradition, the origin of the Kankurang is to be found in the Komo, a secret society of hunters whose organization and esoteric practices contributed to the emergence of the Manding”.
Comment: If what is stated above regarding the origin of this secret society is true and they were animists or ascribed to other non-Muslim groups, then indeed we expect this type of behaviour; but if the initiators of this rite considered themselves to be Muslims, then indeed there is no secrecy or secret organization in Islam. Shaikh Dr Abu Iyaadh Amjad Rafiq [may Allaah preserve him] stated: “The Islām of the Prophets and Messengers is founded upon the Tawḥid (Monotheism) of Allāh which is the uniqueness of Allāh, 16 the Lord of Ādam, Noah, Abraham, Ismaʿīl, Isḥāq, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus and Muḥammad. This uniqueness is with respect to: a) His Lordship over creation, in that there is no creator, owner and regulator besides Him, b) the realities of His names and attributes, in that there is no likeness between His essence, names and attributes and those of His creation and c) His sole right to worship in that the worship of created things is the greatest injustice and a violation of the order, precision and justice upon which the universe was created. The world is not rectified except through this Tawḥid of Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic, and for this did Allāh send Nūḥ, Ibrāhīm, Mūsā, ʿĪsā and Muḥammad and all other Messengers. Built upon this foundation of Tawḥīd, and branching from it, the legal rulings of Islām protect the rights of men with regards to their souls (life), minds (intellect) possessions (wealth), lineage and honour. These legal rulings are a perfection of the foundation and can never stand in isolation from it. Thereafter, Islām is marked as a whole – in its beliefs, acts of worship, dealings, morals, manners and all of its rulings – with simplicity, clarity and openness. There is no concept of hidden, mystical knowledge for the intellectual elite, because Islām is for all people, the young, the old, the intelligent, the unintelligent, the strong and the weak, the black and the white, the brown, red and yellow”. [Source: A Study of Bāṭinī Movements. pages 12-13]
Quote: “The central character in the Kankurang, is an initiate who wears a mask made of the bark and red fibre of the faara tree and is clothed in leaves, his body painted with vegetable dyes. He is associated with circumcision ceremonies and initiatory rites. His appearance is marked by several ritual stages: the designation of the initiate who will wear the mask and his investiture by the elders, his retreat into the woods with the initiates, the vigils and processions through the hamlet of the new initiates”.
Comment: If those who initiated these rituals were animists or ascribed to other non-Muslim groups, then one has no doubt that it was one of their un-Islamic cultural practices; but if those who initiated these practices considered themselves to be Muslims, then indeed neither wearing a mask made of bark and red fibre of the faara tree and clothed in leaves nor body painted with vegetable dyes are mentioned in the Sharee’ah texts in association with circumcision in Islam. Circumcision is an act of worship in Islam, therefore nothing else is associated with it except what is legislated in the Sharee’ah. Al-Allaamah Abdul Musin Al-Abbaad [may Allaah preserve him] stated: “Two conditions must be fulfilled in order for an act of worship to be accepted; the first of the two conditions is that the act of worship must be done sincerely for Allaah, and secondly the act of worship must be in agreement with the Sunnah of the Messenger [peace and blessings of allaah be upon him]. The act of worship has to be done sincerely for the sake of Allaah (alone) and none else is to be associated as a partner with Allaah in worship. [Likewise] the act of worship must be done in conformity with what the Messenger came with [i.e. the Qur’aan and the Sunnah]. This is what the Shahaadah (لا إله إلا الله محمدا رسول الله) necessitates; because (لا إله إلا الله) necessitates that acts of worship must be carried out sincerely for the sake of Allaah alone. And (محمدا رسول الله) necessitates that acts of worship must be carried out in conformity with what was revealed to the noble Messenger. Therefore, Allaah is not to be worshipped with bidah, newly invented matters in Religion and evil acts, for which Allaah [The Most High] has sent down no authority; rather acts of worship must be in conformity with the Sunnah of the noble Messenger. If any of these two conditions or both of them are not fulfilled, then indeed the act of worship will be rejected by Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic]. Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَقَدِمۡنَآ إِلَىٰ مَا عَمِلُواْ مِنۡ عَمَلٍ۬ فَجَعَلۡنَـٰهُ هَبَآءً۬ مَّنثُورً – And We shall turn to whatever deeds they disbelievers, polytheists] did, and We shall make such deeds as scattered floating particles of dust] [Soorah Al-Furqaan. Ayah 23] And the noble Messenger said: [مَنْ أَحْدَثَ فِي أَمْرِنَا هَذَا مَا لَيْسَ مِنْهُ فَهُوَ رَدٌ- He who innovates something in this matter of ours [i.e., Islam] that is not of it will have it rejected [by Allah].”[Saheeh Al-Bukhaari. Number 2697] [Saheeh Muslim. Number 1718] And in another wording of this hadeeth in Saheeh Muslim the Prophet said: [مَنْ عَمِلَ عَمَلًا لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْرُنَا فَهُوَ رَد – He who does an act (of worship) which we have not commanded (i.e. not commanded by the Prophet), will have it rejected]. [أثر العبادات في حياة المسلم – page 4-5]
Quote: “The Kankurang is the guarantor of order and justice as well as the exorcist of evil spirits. As such, he ensures transmission and teaching of a complex collection of know-how and practices underpinning Manding cultural identity”.
Comment: If these Kankurang proponents considered themselves to be Muslim, then indeed those who follow their path are reminded of the fact that Allaah is the only guarantor of perfect order and justice through that which He revealed to His Messengers. Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said: “And even though there is something in the paths of analogical reasoning and reflection that will lead to knowledge, however sometimes it cannot give detail explanation in a dispute between the people of the earth due to the minute details and ambiguities [in that dispute], and at other times due to the fact the people differ when prioritising necessities. Therefore, due to this Allaah [The Most High] commanded [us] to return to the revelation in times of dispute. Allaah [The Most High] said: [ كَانَ ٱلنَّاسُ أُمَّةً۬ وَٲحِدَةً۬ فَبَعَثَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ لِيَحۡكُمَ بَيۡنَ ٱلنَّاسِ فِيمَا ٱخۡتَلَفُواْ فِيهِۚ -Mankind were one community (i.e. upon Tawheed and Allaah’s Sharee’ah) and Allah sent Prophets with glad tidings and warnings, and with them He sent the Scripture in truth to judge between people in matters wherein they differed]. [Surah Al-Baqarah’ Aayah 213] Therefore, Allaah [The Most High] designated the revealed Books [i.e. the Qur’aan being the final of them] as the judge between the people in matters wherein they differ”. [Dar Ta’aarud Al-Aql Wan-Naql: 9/17-18]
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Everyone with a bit of (sound) intellect knows that the corruption of the world and its ruin occurs due to giving precedence to opinion over the divine revelation and (evil) desires over sound intellect. These two corrupt motives are not entrenched in a heart except that its destruction becomes inevitable nor in a nation except that its affairs are completely corrupted”. [A’laam Al-Muwaqqi’een 1/67-69]
As for exorcism or incantations, there is nothing wrong with them if performed in a manner that is free from Shirk. Auf Bin Malik Al-Ashja’ee [may Allaah be pleased with him] said, “We practised incantation in the pre-Islamic days and we said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! What do you hold about this affair? He said, ‘Let me know your incantation. There is no harm in the incantation which does not contain Shirk'”. [Saheeh Muslim. Number 2200]
However, we do not know which words or statements these people use in their exorcisms (incantations etc) – whether they contain Shirk or not; therefore we suffice ourselves with the Sunnah. Read article by Shaikh Abu Khadeejah [may Allaah preserve him]: Eleven Ways to Perform Ruqyah on Yourself for Sickness, Evil-Eye, Possession, Madness and Magic: https://www.abukhadeejah.com/nine-ways-to-perform-ruqyah-on-yourself-for-ailments-evil-eye-jinn-magic-etc-ruqyah-series-2/
Quote: “A ritual (i.e. Kankurang) that has spread to other communities and groups of the area, it is the occasion for young circumcised boys to learn the rules of behaviour for the ordering their community, the secrets of plants and their medicinal values, and hunting techniques”.
Comment: As mentioned earlier, if those who initiated this ritual ascribe to Islam, then there is no proof in the Sharee’ah that associates these rituals with circumcision. As for boys learning good manners and behaviour, then indeed the authentic Sunnah of the Messenger suffices the Muslim. Allaah [The Exalted] said:
لَّقَدۡ كَانَ لَكُمۡ فِى رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ۬ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرۡجُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلۡيَوۡمَ ٱلۡأَخِرَ وَذَكَرَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرً۬ا
Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much. [Surah Al-Ahzaab. Verse 21]
Imaam Sufyaan Ath-Thawree [may Allaah have mercy upon him] used to say: Indeed, the Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] is the greatest criterion [i.e. amongst mankind and Jinn] and all affairs are presented to him [i.e. for judgement and judged] based on his manners, path and guidance; so whatever is in agreement with this is truth, and whatever is in opposition is falsehood. [Al-Jaami Li-Akhlaaq Ar-Raawi Wa Aadaab As-Saami’ page 8]
Therefore, any rules regarding behaviour and good manners must be confined within the Sunnah of the Messenger, and no cultural practice, custom or tradition should be followed if it opposes the Sunnah of the Messenger. Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “It is obligated on every Muslim that he does not depend on custom; rather he presents it to the pure Islamic legislation [to be judged], so whatever the Islamic legislation affirms is permissible and whatever it does not affirm is impermissible. The customs of the people are not proof to determine the lawfulness of anything. All the customs of the people in their countries or tribes must be presented to the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] for judgement, so whatever Allaah and His Messenger made permissible is permissible, and whatever they forbid, then it is obligatory to abandon it even if it is the custom of the people”. [ Majmoo Al-Fataawas 6/510]
Imaam Muhammad Bin Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “The customs cannot make something that is not legislated (in the divine revelation) as something legislated, because of Allaah’s statement: [وَلَيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرُّ بِأَن تَأۡتُواْ ٱلۡبُيُوتَ مِن ظُهُورِهَا – It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, etc.) that you enter the houses from the back] [Surah Al-Baqarah. Aayah 189], despite the fact that it was something they took as their custom and considered it to be an act of righteousness. Whoever takes something as a custom and believes that it is an act of righteousness, then it should be presented to Allaah’s divine legislation”. [Tafseer Surah Al-Baqarah 2/299]
Imaam Muhammad Bin Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] also said, “Extremism in related to customs is stringent adherence to old customs and not diverting to what is better than them. As for if the customs are equal in benefit [i.e. the ones judged to be permissible by the divine legislation], then a person remaining upon what he is upon would be better than going along with the new (or emerging) customs”. [Majmoo Al-Fataawaa 7/7]
As for medicine extracted from plants and herbs, then indeed we have all benefitted from it when we were children in Gambia. Our grand mothers – in particular – were experienced in this field. Abdullah Ibn Mas’ood [may Allaah be pleased with him] said, “Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, ‘Allaah did not send down any disease except that he also sent its cure'” In another narration, the Messenger said, “One who has knowledge of it knows it, and one ignorant of it is ignorant”. [Sunan Ibn Mājah 3438 and declared authentic by Imaam Albaanee in Sisilah As-Saheehah 4/208]
Quote: “Fearful children nearby run inside their homes as the scary figure approaches, grunting. Others, more curious, risk a closer look at the man dressed to represent the spiritual figure”.
Comment: It those who initiated this ritual ascribe to Islam, then those who follow their path are reminded of the fact that neither children nor adults are to be subjected to fear – whether out of joking or not. The Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said, “It is not lawful for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim”. [Saheeh Sunan Abee Dawud 5004]
Quote: “Despite his fearsome appearance, the Kankurang symbolises the spirit that provides order and justice and is considered a protector against evil”.
Comment: Indeed, none can protect from evil except Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic]. Removal of harm is only in the hand of Allaah. Allaah [The Most High] said: [أَمَّن يُجِيبُ ٱلۡمُضۡطَرَّ إِذَا دَعَاهُ وَيَكۡشِفُ ٱلسُّوٓءَ وَيَجۡعَلُڪُمۡ خُلَفَآءَ ٱلۡأَرۡضِۗ أَءِلَـٰهٌ۬ مَّعَ ٱللَّهِۚ – Is not He (better than your gods) Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls Him, and Who removes the evil, and makes you inheritors of the earth, generations after generations. Is there any true (god) besides Allah? [Surah An-Naml. Aayah 62]
Allaah [The Most High] said: [قُلِ ٱدۡعُواْ ٱلَّذِينَ زَعَمۡتُم مِّن دُونِهِۦ فَلَا يَمۡلِكُونَ كَشۡفَ ٱلضُّرِّ عَنكُمۡ وَلَا تَحۡوِيلاً – Say (O Muhammad): “Call unto those besides Him whom you pretend [to be gods like angels, Iesa (Jesus), ‘Uzair (Ezra), etc.]. They have neither the power to remove the adversity from you nor even to shift it from you to another person.”] [Surah Al-Israa. Aayah 56]
Allaah [The Most High] said: [ قُلۡ أَفَرَءَيۡتُم مَّا تَدۡعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ إِنۡ أَرَادَنِىَ ٱللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ هَلۡ هُنَّ كَـٰشِفَـٰتُ ضُرِّهِۦۤ أَوۡ أَرَادَنِى بِرَحۡمَةٍ هَلۡ هُنَّ مُمۡسِكَـٰتُ رَحۡمَتِهِ – Say: “Tell me then, the things that you invoke besides Allah, if Allah intended some harm for me, could they remove His harm, or if He (Allah) intended some mercy for me, could they withhold His Mercy?] [Surah Az-Zumar. Aayah 38]
Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَإِن يَمۡسَسۡكَ ٱللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ۬ فَلَا ڪَاشِفَ لَهُ ۥۤ إِلَّا هُوَۖ وَإِن يَمۡسَسۡكَ بِخَيۡرٍ۬ فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ۬ – And if Allah touches you with harm, none can remove it but He, and if He touches you with good, then He is Able to do all things]. [Surah Al-An’aam. Aayah 17]
Allaah [The Most High] said: [وَإِنْ يَمْسَسْكَ اللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ فَلَا كَاشِفَ لَهُ إِلَّا هُوَ وَإِنْ يُرِدْكَ بِخَيْرٍ فَلَا رَادَّ لِفَضْلِهِ يُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ – And if Allah touches you with hurt, there is none who can remove it but He; and if He intends any good for you, there is none who can repel His Favour which He causes it to reach whomsoever of His slaves He will. And He is the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful]. [Surah Yunus. Aayah 107] Therefore, read here – by Shaikh Abu Khadeejah – https://www.abukhadeejah.com/to-seek-refuge-with-other-than-allaah-is-from-shirk-shaikh-ahmad-an-najmees-kitaab-at-tawheed-chapter-12/
Quote: He explained that the Kankurang is a spirit and humans don’t have his power, but during the ceremonies some men dress like the Kankurang to drive away evil from the boys.
Comment: Indeed, we are well acquainted with this claim about spirits, super natural beings and their miracles! Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said:
The Khawaariq [Phenomena attributed to something beyond what is usual or what normally happens] by way of which the devils misguide the children of Aadam – such as when the devils take the image of a person who is absent or has passed away and what is similar to this – has misguided many of those who ascribe themselves to the Muslims or to the people of the Scripture. They base this on two affairs: “Firstly, that whoever from whom these khawaariq occurs is a Wali, and according to the term of the Christians he is a Qadees A’dheem – a great saint! Secondly, that the one from whom these khawaariq occurs is therefore infallible- everything he narrates is truth and everything he commands is justice”.
However, it can definitely be the case that neither did a phenomena outside the norm – whether unrelated or related to sound knowledge and piety – occur from such a person nor a phenomena outside the normal related to deeds of the devils; rather the person merely carried out the tricks of the liars and wicked sinners. The tricks of the liars and wicked sinners are numerous indeed, so one thinks that they are amazing affairs outside the norm, however neither is that the case nor is it something similar to the tricks of the monks. Some people have written books regarding the tricks of the monks, such as the trick reported about one of them changing water into oil- that when the oil is in the interior of the lighthouse, the water gradually reduces and thus the oil floats [or pops up] on the water, so those who are present think that the water has changed into oil. The likes of this affair are numerous from the tricks of those Christians, because all that those Christians possess – those who altered the religion of the Messiah [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] – of activities that are attributed to something out of the norm are either from the devils or they are tricks, and there’s nothing in them related to the miracles of the righteous people.
Likewise, the people of deviation- those who seek to alter the religion of Muhammad – adopt a religion that is not legislated by Allaah and His Messenger, then they make it a path of worship and give it precedence over the path that is legislated by Allaah and His Messenger. For example, they give precedence to listening to sounds from the tambourines and the shrill flutes over listening to the book of Allaah, so one of them goes into a state of ecstasy and a satanic trance through which he becomes muddled up with shaytaan until he speaks in a language he does not know. Then when he returns to his senses – just as when a jinn speaks through the tongue of the one who is possessed and after informing the people of that which is in his heart and soul, which is from the Shaytaan, and the shaytaan leaves him -, he cannot repeat what he said at first.
Those who deviate from the straight path alter the religion of the Messengers – either the religion of the Messiah or seek to alter the religion of Muhammad, and amongst the likes of such people are the people who deviate from the straight path, the people of misguidance, the disbelievers, the polytheists, apostates and other than them, such as the likes of Musaylimah the liar, Al-Aswad Al-Unzee, Al-Haarith Ad-Dimashqee, Baabaa Roomee and other than them amongst those who engaged in activities that are considered to be outside the norm [i.e. so called miracles] but [in reality] are related to the deeds of the devils.
As for the tricksters, they are numerous and they are not Awliyaa of Allaah, rather their so called amazing activities that are outside the norm, if not related to the satanic deeds of the soothsayers and the magicians, then they are tricks. They deliberately lie and deceive unlike those connected to the devils, because amongst them is he who deceives, so one thinks that what he does is from the miracles of the righteous people, just as amongst them is one who knows that what he does is from the devils, but he does so in order to achieve his goals.
The intent behind this discussion is that many of the activities that are considered to be outside of the norm [i.e. so called miracles] are either satanic deeds or tricks, so one thinks that they are the true miracles of the righteous people, for indeed that which whose cause is based on Shirk and wicked deeds can only be from the devils, such as when a person associates partners with Allaah by invoking the stars, or invokes a person- whether such a person is dead or absent, or he makes an oath through unknown words and statements whose meanings are not known, or he knows that they are names of devils, or seeks aid through lewd conduct and oppression, then such deeds – considered to be outside of the norm that emanates from this – are from the devils.
The righteous people have miracles such as the miracles of the pious people of this Ummah [may Allaah have mercy upon them], the miracles of the disciples of the Messiah [may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon the Messiah, and may Allaah have mercy upon the disciples] and other than them amongst those who were upon the correct and unaltered religion of the Messiah. However, the occurrence of miracles at the hands of the righteous people does not necessitate that they are infallible like the Prophets [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon them]; rather it maybe that a righteous man- a Wali – has miracles, but despite this he mixes up by error and makes a mistake in that which he thinks or what he is made to hear or see, or what he sees, or what he understands from the revealed Scrippure. And because of this, the statements of those other than the Prophets [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon them] can either be accepted or rejected [i.e. based on evidence], but as for the Prophets [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon them], it is obligated on a person to affirm truthfully everything they have related regarding the affairs of the unseen and obey them in everything they command. And due to this, Allaah [The Exalted] obligated on a person to believe in everything the Prophets [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon them] brought and did not obligate on a person to believe in everything that comes from others. Allaah [The Exalted] said:
قُولُوٓاْ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡنَا وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰٓ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمَ وَإِسۡمَـٰعِيلَ وَإِسۡحَـٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ وَٱلۡأَسۡبَاطِ وَمَآ أُوتِىَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَمَآ أُوتِىَ ٱلنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّنۡهُمۡ وَنَحۡنُ لَهُ ۥ مُسۡلِمُونَ
Say (O Muslims), “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma’il (Ishmael), Ishaque (Isaac), Ya’qub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbat [the twelve sons of Ya’qub (Jacob)], and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and ‘Iesa (Jesus), and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam).” [Surah Al-Baqarah. Aayah 136]
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
لَّيۡسَ ٱلۡبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّواْ وُجُوهَكُمۡ قِبَلَ ٱلۡمَشۡرِقِ وَٱلۡمَغۡرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلۡبِرَّ مَنۡ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ وَٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕڪَةِ وَٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ وَٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ
It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, and each and every act of obedience to Allah, etc.) that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but Al-Birr is (the quality of) the one who believes in Allah, the Last Day, the Angels, the Book, the Prophets. [Suraah Al-Baqarah. Aayah 177]
And because of this the Muslims are all in agreement that the one who disbelieved in a single Prophet whose Prophethood is well known, then he is a disbeliever- an apostate. There is no distinction between one Prophet from the other- by believing in some and disbelieving in others. Allaah said:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ يَكۡفُرُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يُفَرِّقُواْ بَيۡنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ وَيَقُولُونَ نُؤۡمِنُ بِبَعۡضٍ۬ وَنَڪۡفُرُ بِبَعۡضٍ۬ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَّخِذُواْ بَيۡنَ ذَٲلِكَ سَبِيلاً
أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡكَـٰفِرُونَ حَقًّ۬اۚ وَأَعۡتَدۡنَا لِلۡكَـٰفِرِينَ عَذَابً۬ا مُّهِينً۬ا
Verily, those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers and wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers (by believing in Allah and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, “We believe in some but reject others,” and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating torment. [Surah An-Nisaa. Aayaat 150-151] [An Excerpt from Al-Jawaabus Saheeh Liman Baddala Deen Al-Maseeh. Vol 1. Pages 284- 287. Slightly paraphrased
Quote: “The Kankurang rite was recognised in 2005 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which proclaimed it a cultural heritage”.
Comment: Obviously, one expects that UNESCO will recognise this ritual because one of its visions is to mix truth with falsehood; but Muslims are commanded to reject all falsehood. Allaah [The Exalted] said:
لَآ إِكۡرَاهَ فِى ٱلدِّينِۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ ٱلرُّشۡدُ مِنَ ٱلۡغَىِّۚ فَمَن يَكۡفُرۡ بِٱلطَّـٰغُوتِ وَيُؤۡمِنۢ بِٱللَّهِ فَقَدِ ٱسۡتَمۡسَكَ بِٱلۡعُرۡوَةِ ٱلۡوُثۡقَىٰ لَا ٱنفِصَامَ لَهَاۗ وَٱللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
ٱللَّهُ وَلِىُّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ يُخۡرِجُهُم مِّنَ ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِ إِلَى ٱلنُّورِۖ وَٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوٓاْ أَوۡلِيَآؤُهُمُ ٱلطَّـٰغُوتُ يُخۡرِجُونَهُم مِّنَ ٱلنُّورِ إِلَى ٱلظُّلُمَـٰتِۗ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ أَصۡحَـٰبُ ٱلنَّارِۖ هُمۡ فِيہَا خَـٰلِدُونَ
There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut (i.e. all false dieties) and believes in Allah (i.e. worship Allaah alone based on the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet), then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower. Allah is the Wali (Protector or Guardian) of those who believe. He brings them out from darkness into light. But as for those who disbelieve, their Auliya (supporters and helpers) are Taghut [false deities, idols and other things invoked besides Allaah etc), they bring them out from light into darkness. Those are the dwellers of the Fire, and they will abide therein forever. [Surah Al-Baqarah. Verses 256-257]
Shaikh Abdullaah Al-Bukhaari [may Alaah preserve him] said: And from which the people of knowledge have affirmed is that this religion is established on two affairs: Clarification of the truth and refuting falsehood and its people. The affirmation of this (affair) becomes manifest to the one who contemplates on the statement of Tawheed [لا إله إلا الله] with clarification and by way of explanation. The saying of the slave (i.e. the Muslim) لا إله is a refutation against falsehood and its people-those who deify others besides Allaah. And the statement إلا الله is an affirmation of truth and a clarification of it. And it (means) that Allaah alone has the right to be worshipped and He has no partner. Likewise, the statement محمد رسول الله is an affirmation of the Messengership of the Prophet (sallal-laahu-alayhi-wasallam) and a refutation against the one who gives him a status above that and thus deifies him; or lowers the rank of his Prophethood and Messengership. [Source:المقالات الشرعيّة pages 14-15]
Quote: “This is the culture we have. And me, I’ll always work for the culture to survive,” Mr Jallow said. “As far as I’m alive, I will never leave my culture.”
Comment: We say to Mr Jallow: If you ascribe to Islaam, then indeed it is obligated on you to follow the authentic Sunnah of your Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be up[on him], abandon every religious innovation, un-Islamic custom and cultural practice. Allaah [The Exalted] said:
قُلۡ إِن كُنتُمۡ تُحِبُّونَ ٱللَّهَ فَٱتَّبِعُونِى يُحۡبِبۡكُمُ ٱللَّهُ وَيَغۡفِرۡ لَكُمۡ ذُنُوبَكُمۡۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌ۬ رَّحِيمٌ۬
Say (O Muhammad to mankind): “If you (really) love Allah then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur’an and the Sunnah), Allah will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah Aal Imran. Verse 31]
A Muslim does not adhere to pre-Islamic or un-Islamic cultural practices. Ibn Abbaas [may allaah be pleased with him and his father] said that the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] said, “The most hated people to Allaah are three: a person who deviates from right conduct [i.e. an evil doer] in the Haram [sanctuaries of Makkah and Medeenah]; a person who seeks that the traditions of the pre-lslamic Period of Ignorance should remain in Islam and a person who seeks to shed somebody’s blood without any right”.
Al-Allaamah Zaid Bin Haadee al-Mad’khalee [may Allaah have mercy upon him] commented on this hadeeth as follows: These three deeds are from the major sins. The first major sin is Al-Ilhaad Fil Haram [i.e. deviating from right conduct in the sanctuaries of Makkah and Madeenah]. Ilhaad means to deviate from the truth [and enter into] falsehood, and supporting falsehood in order to obliterate the truth. Allaah [The Mighty and Majestic] censured the Mulhideen Fil Haram [i.e. those who deviate from right conduction in the sanctuaries of Makkah and Madeenah], saying: [وَمَن يُرِدۡ فِيهِ بِإِلۡحَادِۭ بِظُلۡمٍ۬ نُّذِقۡهُ مِنۡ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ۬ – And whoever intends evil actions therein or to do wrong (i.e. practise polytheism and leave Islamic Monotheism), We shall make him taste a painful torment]. [Surah Al-Hajj. Aayah 25]
Allaah promised them [a severe punishment] due to the mere fact they intend evil actions therein [i.e. in the sanctuaries of Makkah and Madeenah], then how about perpetrating such deed! Indeed that would be a more severe sin, a more frightening state and a more severe punishment. This is a proof regarding the virtue of the sanctuaries of the Haram- that it is a sacred land chosen by Allaah and He made it a place where virtuous acts of worship are performed, [such as] the Hajj which is one of the pillars of Islaam. Allaah gave this place virtues that cannot be enumerated, such as the increased reward attached to good deeds [performed in Makkah and Madeenah] and gave this land virtue over all other lands of the earth.
The second major sin is committed by the person who wants that the pre-Islamic traditions should remain in Islaam, as if he gives precedence to the pre-Islamic traditions – the evil customs that were followed during that period and the misguided deeds- over the Islamic practices, Eemaan, Ihsaan, their virtue and virtue of the Sunnah. He is guilty of committing a major sin, and this includes giving precedence to Bidah over [the authentic] Sunnah that guides to the straight path.
The third major sin is to seek to shed somebody’s blood without any right – meaning: seeking to shed the blood of a Muslim without right and doing so based on oppression and animosity. Shedding the blood of a Muslim is a great crime, just as the Prophet said, “The extinction of the whole world is less significant to Allaah than killing a Muslim [i.e. unlawfully]”. And he [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] stated regarding the rights of the Ka’bah, “How great you are and how great is your sanctity! But the sanctity of a believer is greater than yours in the sight of Allaah”. It is not permissible to transgress against the Muslims and the believers – males and females- in the sanctuaries of [Makkah and Madeenah] or in other places due to the great sin and punishment which results from that. [Source: At-taleeqaat Al-Maleehah Alaa Silsilah Al-Ahaadeeth as-Saheehah. Vol 1. Pages 429-430. Slightly paraphrased]
We ask Allaah to distance us and all Gambian Muslims from this kankurang ritual, protect us from Shirk, religious innovations, unlawful pre-Islamic cultural practices and customs. And may Allaah protect us and all Muslims – in different parts of the world – from deviation, and guide the non-Muslims to the path of the final Messenger and seal of the Prophets Muhammad [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] Aameen.