Profiles in Faith: A Modest, Erudite Scholar Mufti Faal

Profiles in Faith: A Modest, Erudite Scholar Mufti Faal

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Imam Serign Alieu Faal, popularly known as Mufti Faal, was a notable Muslim elder in the city of Banjul and was given the title Mufti, because of his vast knowledge of Islamic studies and jurisprudence.

He memorised the Quran at an early age before turning to the study of jurisprudence, Hadith, Tafsir, Qu’ranic recitation, grammar and other branches of the traditional Islamic sciences.

He was a full time employee as a driver in the Civil Service but dedicated most of his free time teaching Islamic jurisprudence and the Quran to willing scholars both young and old. In the afternoons and during weekends, the family compound was said to be flooded with people yearning to master the teachings of the Holy Quran from him.

“He was a renowned scholar but very humble and was revered by the community as a result of his humility and readiness to help at any given time,” his son Samba Faal, former Minister and Ex-Gambia Ambassador to Senegal said.

The beginning for Mufti was more of a neighbourhood based school catering to the needs of a younger generation with instructions on the rudiments of the Quran. This later metamorphosed into a center of excellence for adults where Islamic jurisprudence and ‘Tafsir’ translation and interpretation of the Holy Quran became the core curriculum.

He travelled far and wide the sub-region, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania and studied under notable Islamic scholars, among them Maulana Sheikh Ibrahima Niasse (Bai) of Kaolack, Senegal.

Alhaji Serign Alieu Faal was born in Banjul on 23rd March, 1922 at 6 Goddard Street in Half Die. His parents were Fatoumatta Alima Bah Seedy Muhammed Ould Abdou Rahman, a merchant and a religious instructor from the race of Darby Hussein and original descendant of Sheriff Saidi Mulai Edriss, a grandson of the Sheriff dynasty from North Africa (Algeria), later to Morocco and now traced in Mauritania.

He was given Islamic studies at an early age by his father and later his father’s best friend and brother, Sheikh Seedy Taban. He completed the memorisation of the Quran at an early age.

Serign Alieu left The Gambia in 1936 to further his Islamic education. He first went to Senegal and later Mauritania, where he spent four years learning about Allah.

He returned home in 1944 but found his father had died in his absence. He helped taught so many workers, converted some into Islam and spear-headed the construction of a workers’ mosque at the Public Workers Division.

In 1975, he took voluntary retirement from the services to dedicate the remaining days of his life to Allah. He performed the Hajj in Mecca twice.

“He was a down to earth man of exemplary character, humble, helpful and a faithful believer. He was a very good teacher and a father,” Samba added.

During his lifetime he had laid the foundation stone of over twenty mosques in the Greater Banjul Area and the provinces. He was the adviser and life patron of the Kanifing South Central Mosque. He taught thousands of people out of whom thirty-two became Imams and renowned Islamic scholars. He graduated seventeen people to Tafsirhood, among them being Alhaji Bekai Sosseh and Alhaji Alieu Badou Bittaye.

He answered to the call of Allah on 29th September, 1997. As one of the last bastions of erudite Islamic scholars in the Senegambia region, Mufti Faal was survived by two wives and several children.

by Baboucarr Camara