Muslims across the world have joined Gambians in mourning the sudden death of the Caliph General of Darsilameh Sanghajor Sheriff Caliphate. Sheikh Muhideen Hydara, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad [Peace be Upon Him], died on Tuesday after a brief sickness in his Foni Kansala village.
Caliph Hydara was laid to rest at Darsilameh Sanghajor where thousands of people attended his burial.
Sheikh Muhideen Hydara, who succeeded his brother Sheriff Ahmad Fadel (Amfal) to the throne in 2008, was one of the most important spiritual leaders in the country and the region. In fact, due to his high caliber status, the late Muhideen was given the honour of leading prayers during many gatherings, especially those involving the Sheriff dynasty. He led prayers during last November’s national day of prayer session organised by the Ahlul Bayeet Foundation in The Gambia.
The family of Sheriff Muhideen said the late Caliph signaled his Tuesday’s death. In an audio message, one of his daughters explained what her father told them before his death. “My father told us he will go to Brikama on Sunday and return to Darsilameh Sanghajor on Tuesday. He knew he was dying in the midst of his family on Tuesday. My father had even sent a charity in the form of a ram to Darsilameh a day before he had died.” The Caliph never said a word after he had said La ilaha Ilallahu Muhammadu Rasulullahi [I bear witness that there is God but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger].
Muhideen had dedicated his life to inculcating spiritual knowledge in people, offering prayers, reciting the names of Allah and reading the Quran. He had presided over Darsilameh Sanghajor’s annual islamic gatherings during his caliphate period.
The Darsilameh Caliph came to prominence on July 29, 2014 when he was arrested along with the alkalo of Darsilameh Sanghajor Buyeh Touray for refusing to perform Eid ul-Fitr prayers on a previous day. The duo was charged with disobeying former President Yahya Jammeh’s radio announcement that all Muslims must hold prayers on July 29th. Muhideen and Buyeh Touray were arraigned in court on August 12, 2014.
After several months of trial, former Magistrate Ebrima Jaiteh of Brikama in May 2015 acquitted and discharged Muhideen Hydara and Buyeh Touray of all the charges. Magistrate Jaiteh handed down judgment after having “carefully read through all the testimonies adduced by the prosecution and defence witnesses in the case file. In as much as I have looked at the testimonies, and the arguments of the defence counsels in detail in order to ensure fairness, I will only limit my comments, my observations, and my findings to as it relates to the charge of Conspiracy to commit a felony and Disobedience to lawful order contrary to sections 368 and 116 of the Criminal Code of The Gambia. It is the cardinal principle in criminal cases that, the legal and evidential burden of proving every element of the offence beyond reasonable doubt lies on the prosecution. Although the prosecution can do so by either direct or circumstantial evidence, the law requires that in either case the prosecution bears the legal burden of proving all the elements of the offence necessary to establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt.”
The Magistrate, who would later pay the price of handing down justice, said the prosecution had not proven its case.
“The fundamental issue under the law of Conspiracy is whether there was an agreement or meeting of the minds between the first accused person Muhideen Hydara and the second accused person Buyeh Touray. In order to answer this issue, I read in detail all the evidence of the prosecution’s witnesses and most importantly, the evidence of PW1, Momodou Lamin Jarju, PW2 Seedy Gibba and PW3, Seedy Saidykhan. The evidence of Momodou Lamin Jarju, who is the Chief of Kanfenda, did not personally visit Damilameh Sanghanjor during the crises and did not testify that the first and second persons made an agreement nor had the intention to commit felony or an unlawful act. The entire evidence of Momodou Lamin Jarju did no help the prosecution in proving the elements of conspiracy. Momodou Lamin Jarju’s testimony is a bundle of hearsay evidence, in particular when he testified that, “the chief of Bondali Dembo Badjie called and informed him that the Governor said the president said that if you don’t pray on Monday, you should not pray on Tuesday.” This statement is injurious to section 19 of the 1994 Evidence Act and did not fall within the exception to the rule of hearsay evidence,” Magistrate Jaiteh ruled.
Many people who knew the late Muhideen Hydara described him as a very pious, kind-hearted man of God. “My family urges Muslims to pray for the soul of my uncle,” a nephew of the Caliph Lamin Sabally told Kairo News. “I last spoke to Uncle Muhideen on Saturday, exactly three days before his death. His last advice to me was a renewal of his message that I should do my best to fulfill all the five pillars of Islam. I really miss a beloved uncle.”