#Article (Archive)

Strengthening inter religious trust and respect

Jan 18, 2012, 2:43 PM

On Wednesday, 11th January 2012, the Youth Ambassadors of Peace in collaboration with the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO (NATCOM) organised a conference at the TANGO hall.  This conference was organised to celebrate international year of Rapprochement of Culture.

Father Edu Gomez of the Christian Panorama made this presentation on the above topic.  This was his presentation at the conference:


To really address the topic, it is good to look at some definitions of terms.  First and foremost we look at the terminology, Religion.  In the Collins English dictionary, Religion is defined as “belief in or worship of a supernatural power or powers considered to be divine or to have control of human destiny”.  This definition is apt because religion deals with a set of beliefs in the supernatural being.

Secondly, in the American Webster’s New Ideal dictionary, Religion is defined as “the service and worship of God or the Supernatural.”  Here the definition exposes the worship aspect of Religion as it sees religion with reference to worship and service of god.

From the foregoing both definitions portray Religion as event and beliefs which are all important as they both define Religion in an integral manner.

Etymologically, the term Religion is derived from the Latin word “Religio”, which means that which is of great value that is preserved for long term purposes.  In Religion people base their convictions and what they most value as important for their life long existence.

From this point of view we understand inter religious trust and respect as the good relations that exist and build up dialogue and friendly ties among various religions.  Inter religious trust and respect exists in The Gambia today and the two major Religions of Christianity and Islam enjoy it very much.  This makes The Gambia a country and an example of a country of religious tolerance, trust and peaceful coexistence among Religions.

The inter religious trust and respect that is experienced came from the following basis: 

           Firstly from the basis of tolerance and acceptance among Christians and Muslims.  In The Gambia Christians and Muslims are people of the same country and families.  As Christians and Muslims, all peoples live in this blessed country of peace, a haven of harmonious living.  Some Christians and Muslims come from the same parents, homes and locality.  As a result of this they have closer ties that bind them.

           Secondly, there is the genuine exchange of faiths that establishes the basis of trust and respect.  In some circumstances, Christians and Muslims do not confront one another on what one believes.  There are more cordial issues that people generally look at rather than their doctrinal differences.

           Thirdly, Christians and Muslims in The Gambia are quite aware of their belief in One God and this is another basis for trust and respect.  Under most circumstances, people express that their belief in one God is what binds them more to one another.  In some known expressions, people say that Christianity and Islam are like two rooms of one house.

For the Christian believer there is a text of the Bible in Mark 9:38-41.  In one of the phrases of this passage, Jesus teaches to his disciples, “he who is not against you, is for you.”  Christians gain the inspiration from this part of the Bible to be able to live amicably with Muslims and people of other faiths.

To conclude this paper I would love to share my experience with the new home I had in Brikama in October 2010.  When I was transferred into Brikama, my first mission was to visit the Imams of Satayba and the Police Station Mosque to familiarise myself with them. I visited them with a delegation from the parish church and there was on the occasion a cordial friendly reception that was welcomed by all.  My intention was to form close friendly ties that would encourage mutual and reciprocal visits.  With the Imam from Brikama Satayba, Imam Touray, that began good relations and better understanding.  With the Imam at the Police Station Mosque, we built good neighbourly ties as the Mosque is next to the Church.

Such an experience is healthy and the trust and respect we expected of the two religions of Christianity and Islam became stronger.  From this attempt both heads of Religions spoke well of each other and felicitated one another on Religious feast days.

The Gambia is a good place and example for the rest of the world for peaceful and inter religious trust and respect.  This experience should always be nurtured and passed unto later generations for posterity.