Muslim clerics join terror fight

No to extremism: Abdullahi Sharif Ali, the Grand Mufti (Scholar) of Ethiopia and Sheikh Abdulkadir Al-Ahdi from Lamu during a press conference yesterday.
No to extremism: Abdullahi Sharif Ali, the Grand Mufti (Scholar) of Ethiopia and Sheikh Abdulkadir Al-Ahdi from Lamu during a press conference yesterday.

MUSLIM scholars from countries targeted by al Shabaab terrorism have offered to help the government to fight radicalisation.

The scholars and clerics from Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, under the banner of the Muslim Sufi order, have called on Muslims in the region to fight terrorism.

The scholars organised a three-day meeting, the International Sufi Conference for East Africa, where over 300 Muslim youth were enlightened on the true meaning of Jihad.

The conference was held at al Mahmudiyah Sufi Islamic Centre in Mackinnon Township, on the Nairobi-Mombasa Highway.

They accused the Salafi Jihadist of being behind youth recruitment into al Shabaab and other terror organisations.

Sufism makes up about 95 per cent of Muslims in the East African region while the remaining 5 per cent are the radical Salafi, according to the clerics.

The Muslim Sufi clerics, otherwise known as Ahlu Suna Wal Jamaa, said they support all efforts to fight the hardline al Shabaab militants in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

The Salafi Jihadist have been tarnishing the good name of Islam, which means peace, said the clerics.

“We cannot allow a few people to tarnish the image of Islam. We will now fight the ideology by coming up with a counter-narrative for these problems,” they said.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the conference, the clerics said the Muslim communities across East Africa should join their respective governments in weeding out extremism.

Led by Dr Mohamud Elmi, a Somali scholar based in the US, the clerics said Islam is a religion of peace and moderation that abhors all violence.

“Islam is absolutely against terrorism. We are gathered here to chart the way forward in dismantling all ideas of extremism propagated by groups purporting to be fighting in the name of Islam,” said Elmi.

Elmi, who is also the secretary of Sufis in East Africa, said they have resolved to propagate tolerance and co-existence between the followers of Islam and Christianity.

He blamed the rise of extremist groups in the region on misguided interpretations of Islam as justifying violence against moderate Muslims and non-Muslims.

He said Sufis have shaped Islamic thought and history for centuries.

Sheikh Abdulkadir al Ahdi, a Kenyan Muslim cleric from Lamu county, said Sufis were influential in spreading Islam, particularly to the furthest outposts of the Muslim world in Africa.

Ahdi said the Sufi order will start teaching the faithful, especially the youth, the ‘true teachings of Islam’ and asked countries in the region to invest in countering extremism and radicalisation.

Sharif Abdullahi Sharif Ali, the Grand Mufti (Scholar) of Ethiopia, said the larger Muslim society is saddened every time extremist groups wage attacks against non-Muslims in the name of Islam.

“Islam is a religion that holds in high regard the sanctity of human life as one of its highest values and the scenes of bloodletting in the name of Islam we have been witnessing in the region are truly regrettable,” he said.

He said radical movements must be opposed and should be denied all moral support.