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Opinions of Monday, 8 September 2014

Columnist: Mohammed, Inusah

Ghana muslim academy and the significance of knowledge

The significance of knowledge can never be overstated or underestimated. That is why I join any bandwagon that is blazing the trail for the acquisition of this important factory that can change a wild beast into a near perfect human being.

Throughout history, it has been the men who challenged the thinking of their people, questioned tradition based on the availability of knowledge that they had acquired, fought gallantly against the ignominy of ignorance and left indelible footprints that has served as a memento of their existence on earth, that have shone brightly in the world. Some had to go through untold hardships, severe persecutions, venomous vituperations and others had to suffer with the ultimate price of their lives.

One person that stands out in such regards is the man who is credited to have invented the telescope and known as “the father of modern observational astronomy”, Galileo Galilei. Galileo was an Italian Physicist and astronomer who was sent to the University of Pisa by his father to study and become a medical doctor. However he opted out when he found out that he had a strong inclination towards mathematics. He began to tutor until he became a Professor in Mathematics. Galileo invented the first telescope and used it in making his first astronomy observation; “the moon was not smooth but mountainous and pitted.” Galileo’s study further entrenched his belief in Copernicus’s Heliocentric theory that the sun was the center of the earth and all other bodies revolved around it. This was much to the chagrin of the Catholic Church by then that held the belief that the world was earth-centered and all other bodies revolved around the earth. The Roman Inquisition banned Galileo in the end and placed him under house arrest. The Inquisition’s injunction against Galileo in 1616 stated inter alia, that he has “to abstain completely from teaching or defending this doctrine and opinion or from discussing it... to abandon completely... the opinion that the sun stands still at the center of the world and the earth moves, and henceforth not to hold, teach, or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.”

Galileo died on January 8th, 1642 whilst under arrest after publishing more of his conviction after the inquisition.

Another of such men who had to die painfully for his ideas based on empirical knowledge was Parnili. Parnili postulated that blood runs through the veins. This ruffled the thinking nest of his people. In the end he was pilloried and pelted to death.

These two stories amidst a myriad of them go a long way to confirm how knowledge outlives eternity. Long after these two men died, the world has come to establish that blood runs through the veins and the sun is the center of earth and all other bodies evolve around it.

It is in lieu of this fervid efficacy of knowledge that I profoundly give unconditional gratitude to the Ghana Muslim Academy for the tour de force they chalked. The Ghana Muslim Academy on Thursday, 4th September ended its five week long intensive lessons with sessions of guidance and counseling aimed at supporting students at the Junior High School and Senior High school level to reach their educational goals in Nima, a suburb of Accra.

“This year’s free vacation school is very significant in that, it has recorded the highest enrolment since 2011. We have enrolled 300 students for both Junior High School and Senior High School this year. 55 students for the JHS and 245 students for the SHS. On gender distribution, girls outnumbered the boys. The girls are 30 and the boys are 25 at the JHS level. At the SHS level, the girls are 153 and the boys are 92. This has been the trend for the past 10 years and it is indicative that parents in our deprived communities take the education of their girl-child seriously”, a revelation made by the Headmaster, Mr. Sulemana Moru.

Ghana Muslim Academy started this Free Vacation School since 1995 and a lot of students are beneficiaries of this free tuition.

These are the positive strides that the inhabitants of Nima, a seemingly accursed community should be supporting. A community that is at the brink of collapsing can only be saved by a conscious effort on the part of the ‘sane’ ones to reshape and reframe the thinking minds of its young ones so that they save the community from sinking into the abyss.

The message of the Minister of Education, Prof.Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang who graced the occasion to climax the vacation school was poignant to say the least. In simple plain English, she told the young children “You must believe you can make a difference. Having believed it you need to go beyond. It is not enough to believe you can make it and then after you have believed you can make it you go to sleep. That will not make it. You also need to plan, how am I going to realize the ideal, how am I going to make the thoughts I have into reality……… as students, a chunk of the time must be channeled into your studies. Everything else can wait.” A much needed advice to our youth.

Just like the works of Galileo and other great men proved how powerful and monumental knowledge is with their deaths. Just as they proved that a death for a noble cause is the greatest way to leave this earth. And just as the productions of their mind outlived them, so will the efforts of the Ghana Muslim Academy outlive eternity.

May Allah fortify your organization and further help spread the tentacles of your impact.

Knowledge is a tool we can use to develop ourselves. Knowledge is needed to replace an empty head with a filled head. Knowledge is needed for better thinking. Knowledge is the tool we need to lift ourselves from the depths of obscurity to heights of development. It is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. It also a sword against the enemy.

The Prophet of Islam, the exemplar beyond compare, drew home the point of how preponderantly important knowledge is to a people. In one of the six canonical books on the sayings of his, specifically Sunan Abu Dawud, he is credited to have said;

“If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, God will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge. The inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and (even) the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave (no monetary inheritance), they leave only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.”

May Allah grant us abundant knowledge!

NB: The writer is a student of Tafsiliyya School for training and education.