Despite series of lectures, documentaries and dialogue between high profile resource persons and eminent scholars from around Sub-sahara Africa, the international conference on Islam that hopes to produce a consensus on anti-FGM stance went without breakthrough.
Although some of the scholars appeared convinced, however, some observers expressed disappointment on how many other ‘big-wig scholars’ remain adamant in changing their position on the issue of harmful traditional practices such as FGM.
“They need to be more open-minded and work towards more positive interpretations of Islamic texts. I don’t think it is positive to continue using out-dated interpretations. We need to use these interpretations into context,” Ngenarr-Yassin Jeng, a young gender activist said to The Point on the sidelines of the event yesterday.
United Nation Population Fund (UNPF) in partnership with United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has endeavoured to bring together up to 350 participants from across the country to be exposed to, and learn lessons from other Muslim countries that have eradicated the practice of FGM.
However, the imams and scholars from The Gambia did not show much change in their stance against the practice by end of the second day of the conference.
Meanwhile, hopes remain high that the last day might bring some good news to the efforts of the organisers of the forum, considering the huge resources invested in the event.
The prospect of the consultation is to employ the religious leaders and scholars in discussions on the calibre of reproductive and child health to national development, and levy them as promulgation against ingrained harmful practices in The Gambia.
Prof. Muhammad Sinini, professor of Sharia Studies, National University of Algeria, Algiers, anchored his talk on child marriage in the context of the rights of the child to education and professional development.
“In the Islamic context, the Sharia will help us to know the global principles and we have to live in modern conception. The world is not waiting for anyone, the world is evolving very rapidly and if there is no interest, then there will be detriment,” he said.
The vice president and minister of Women’s Affairs of The Gambia Aja Fatoumatta Jallow-Tambajang, said the consultation will give opportunity to discuss and conclude regarding Islam and inter-relationship with family well-being and traditional practices.