First black Saudi imam heads for Sierra Leone
The first black imam of Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 2008 “Al-Masjid Al-Haram”, where over 2 million Muslims converge for pilgrimage every year has left the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for an official visit to Sierra Leone yesterday.
His Eminence Sheikh Adel Ben Salim Kalbani, 52, is part of a team composed of medical professionals attached to a Saudi based humanitarian aid organization, Physicians Across Continents (PAC).
The imam is accompanying the medics to deliver free medical treatment to the poor and needy people of Sierra Leone. The team is composed of medical professionals from Saudi Arabia, America, Russia, Sweden, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Malaysia.
Speaking via telephone from Freetown, Chairman of Sierra Leone’s Imam Council, Alhaji Yayah Deen Kamara, said Imam Kalbani would be meeting with Islamic leaders, giving sermons and leading prayers in various Mosques in an outside Freetown during his 10 days stay in the country.
Yayah Deen described the visit as “significant, historic and timely” and he described the visiting imam as “a legend and genius“. He therefore appealed to all Sierra Leonean Muslims to give the renowned imam the most resounding welcome.
“Sheik Kalbani deserves welcome not only because he is one of our kind and creed, but also because of the unparalleled pride and honor he has earned for himself and for the black race in general. Thus, let us give him the big hand that he indisputably deserves,” Yayah Deen reiterated.
Who is Sheikh Kalbani ?
The list of prominent and able Saudi imams is endless. Visitors to the Holy land and pilgrims of the past three decades have been well-impressed by the inspiring recitation of imams of the two Holy mosques of Makkah and Madinah.
Prominent among those are the Eminences of: Sheikh Abdulrahman Ben Abdulaziz Al-Suddais, Sheikh Saud Ben Ibrahim Al-Shuraim of Makkah, and Sheikh Ali Ben Abdulrahman Al-Hutheifi of Madinah. These and many other imams have been remarkably impressive and inspirational over the years.
Having cited the above, it is also worthy to note that the 80s witnessed the introduction of a profoundly prominent and competent black Saudi imam. Sheikh Kalbani was appointed by the sons of the late King Khaleed Ben Abdulaziz Al-Saud as both a preacher and an imam of a grand mosque in Riaydh, built in dedication to the spirit of their late father. Shortly after his tenure of that prominent religious post, Sheikh Adel proved, beyond doubt that he was there to make a difference. Soon word loudly spread around in all corners of the Saudi communities and in neighbouring Gulf States that here was a black Saudi imam who, within a short period of time, had made himself a reputation in the fold of the most eminent and great imams of not only the Kingdom, but also the Muslim world.
Since then, the numbers of attendees of congregational prayers in Sheikh Kalbani’s mosque in Riyadh continued to steadily increase, especially in the Holy month of Ramadan when people would commute from distant areas in the city just to attend his prayers. He became the center of admiration by all. In Ramadan, Sheikh Kalbani’s mosque would get congested and crowded to the point of no remaining space inside and, as a result, a huge number of attendees would have to perform their prayers in the spaces surrounding the mosque.
When it comes to power and rhythm of recitation, Sheikh Kalbani comes second to no imam in the Islamic world today. This is a fact that has been attested by all those who have either attended his prayers or have listened to his recitation. Sheikh Kalbani is the sort of imam who would totally captivate the hearts and minds of Muslims praying behind him. His recitation is so compelling that even those who do not understand and digest the literal meanings of the Holy Quran would not allow their attention and focus to digress.
Sheikh Kalbani’s appointment again by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud as one of the imams of the Grand Mosque of Makkah in Ramadan of 2008 was warmly greeted and highly hailed by Muslims in general. There, in the presence of the largest congregation of Muslims the world over, Sheikh Kalbani again had the golden opportunity to prove his mettles and demonstrate his expertise and unparalleled talent in the recitation of the Holy Quran. The power and melody of his recitation spiritually reduced the thousands of attending Muslims in tears and sent them in frenzy in all the corners of the Grand Mosque. Among the leading imams, Sheikh Kalbani stood as a towering figure, and that is what he truly his.
Ironically, Sheikh Kalbani’s appointment as a Grand Mosque imam in 2008 and President Barrack Obama’s election as President of the United States in the same year were viewed by observers as “an unprecedented victory for the black race.”
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