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Opinions of Sunday, 2 August 2009

Columnist: Al-Hassan, Idris

RE: Religion, Politics and Ethnicity-1

Dear Yaw:

I have a feeling you might be overwhelmed with replies to this subject that you’ll hardly have time to digest all. All the same I think as a Ghanaian Muslim I need to contribute to your education - you asked for it, when you honestly stated “I seriously do not understand any of this and I need some ‘education’ on these matters”.

Your article is long but I’ll try to help you to understand as much as I can.

Now, your statement below:

The big question is demographically-speaking how does one define the word “Muslim”? Muslim does not denote an ethnic group; neither does it define a political entity. It is supposed to represent practitioners of the religion of Islam. But the world over “Muslim” has come to represent something more than that. The President of the United States found it necessary to make a major policy speech particularly directed at Muslims. Under what specific definition or usage of the word “Muslim” did that event take place? Are we going to have a similar speech for Christians and for that matter Buddhists and Hindus and all the other religious sects? Why were “Muslims” singled out? When did the name “Muslim” transform from being religious to becoming political……”

Yes, the word Muslim means one who attains peace by submitting his will to the Almighty Allah, according to the teachings of the Holy Prophet Mohammad PBUH. Islam has no boundaries, but it has what is called the Ummah or Nation. Anybody who accepts Islam no matter where he comes from is automatically a member of this Ummah or Nation. It is fellowship. In this fellowship, as the Prophet says, there is no difference between an Arab and a non-Arab. The best in the sight of Allah is the one who is most RIGHTEOUS. And only Allah knows who is most righteous. It is this belonging to this fellowship and brotherhood that creates a very strong bond between its members. And this is what Obama sees and thinks he should address Muslims. Further, there are countries that officially declare that they are Muslim countries. In today’s World, a country is either a Muslim country or a secular country where religion is divorced from the state. That is why there is no policy speech to Christians – There is no Christian fellowship like the one seen is Islam. Countries which could call themselves Christian countries prefer to be called Secular, because they do not want the church and it’s teachings to be part of the state.

The Muslim delegation visiting the President You sated: “A Muslim delegation paid a ‘courtesy call’ on the President and the Chief Imam was reported to have implored the President to involve Muslims in his government (administration). We did not hear any such ‘requests’ from the leaders of the Christian Council or did we? If Ghana is not a theocracy then we should delineate the boundaries very clearly. The government is supposed to be for the people; it has a responsibility to ‘hire’ the most competent and qualified. Religious affiliations or beliefs should have nothing to do with it.”

I disagree with you. The Chief Imam did not say that.

Hajj: “Let’s look at the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Why should a purely religious matter become such a ‘headache’ for the government year after year after year? Politicians being politicians would always capitalize on any situation to their advantage. To avoid any backlash from the Muslim community (?), politicians jump over each other to go to Kotoka Airport to ‘share’ in the predicament of stranded would-be Hajj travelers. When the organizers fail to ‘lift’ travelers to Saudi Arabia, it becomes government’s responsibility to ‘hire’ aircraft for them. Who pays for such expenditure? The taxpayer? Why? What happens to the fees collected by the Hajj organizers? Have any of them ever been prosecuted? Have monies paid ever been refunded? Nobody should get me wrong; government can always play a role. But that role should be limited to the Foreign Affairs ministry with respect to the facilitation of visas and other diplomatic provisions. The taxpayer cannot be saddled with debt incurred from a purely private enterprise!”

Politicians are always like that. Looking for such loopholes to gain a vote or two. But mind you the Muslims never invite them, and I agree that the Hajj agents should be prosecuted. I am fully with you, but do not blame Muslims when Politicians use the Hajj for votes.

Hajj “And still on this subject, what would the general reaction be if the Christian Council decides to organize annual pilgrimage to the Holy Land? And what if they ‘solicit’ government involvement as we see with the Hajj? Then again should the government be ‘involved’ in ‘transporting’ members to any international conference or gathering should Traditional Religion practitioners so decide to have one?”

Hajj is a pillar in Islam; it is not a pillar in Christianity! However if a group of Christians agree to perform a pilgrimage to wherever, they will get politicians who will take advantage of the occasion. This has nothing at all to do with Islam.

Slaughter houses “I don’t know the number of Ghanaians who are familiar with the ‘customs’ of our traditional slaughter houses. These are exclusively operated by people of the ‘Muslim’ faith. For this reason pigs are not allowed in these slaughter houses. Mind you these slaughter houses were constructed with taxpayer money through the District Assemblies! So why can’t people, who so desire, take their pigs there to slaughter? Muslims do not recognize meat slaughtered by non-Muslims. In certain areas even if one is a Muslim but does not worship in the same mosque with the others, one is denied access to the slaughter house. Now, do we seriously think that Muslims in this country would allow such a situation to prevail if it was perpetrated by Christians? But here we are nobody says anything about it and we are all supposed to accept it. What would happen if non-Muslims decided not to patronize meat slaughtered by Muslims?”

It is only the Muslims who stick to the teachings of their religion when it comes to what to eat. Even the Jews and Christians are not allowed to eat pork (Please read the bible). But for the sake of argument, I’ll say that this is purely from a marketing perspective. The owners of the Chop bars cannot afford to loose the Muslim market for small number of pig eaters. Not all Christians eat pork – remember, because they are filthy animals. If Christians do not care what they eat and Muslims care what they eat, then better respect the Muslims, because you loose nothing if the Non-Muslims have no problem with slaughtered meat. And about pork, the percentage is so small that one should not loose the Muslim market because of small number of pigs. The pork eaters can always get somewhere to slaughter the pigs.

Perfect Society: “Yes I know there would reactions all over to this but these issues need to be discussed. We cannot pretend to be seeking a ‘perfect’ society when there are so many ‘disjointed’ areas. Those who benefit from the situation as is would find something wrong with this article and come firing away. But when there are so many examples the world over to show that if the situation was reversed, the same group of people would fight it, then the situation as we have now should also not be acceptable to all well-meaning Ghanaians. Fair is fair is fair!!!”

A perfect society does not mean you compromise your religious teachings.

Gods Children: “Wherever Muslims find themselves in the minority, their mantra is “We are all God’s children and we worship the same God; let’s live together and in peace” This mantra changes the instant they become the majority in any society. Suddenly some of God’s children become ‘infidels’ who do not deserve to live. They are either killed or forcibly driven out. This has been the story throughout the Middle East and in almost all Islamic countries. President Obama, in his speech to the Muslim world, talked about the flourishing of Islam in the United States. He stated that there were so many mosques dotted all across the United States. Yes that is true but what he failed to mention was the absence or disappearance of Churches in Islamic countries. Recently four churches were bombed in Iraq. Reports indicate that the number of Christians in Iraq has diminished significantly. Why can’t Muslims tolerate Christians, and other religious groups, in their societies? There used to be a very significant Jewish population in Egypt; not anymore! Whatever happened to the ‘Golden Rule’?”

Dear Yaw, this is not true, we Muslims will always insist on adhering to our religion we do not care if we are minority or majority. We call for peace in each situation minority or majority. Do not use a few bad examples to paint all Muslims with one brush. In this case, I could use the IRA to paint Christians with one brush. No this is not the case.

Muslim Solidarity “It is very interesting to note that Muslim solidarity is only energized when the opposition is non-Muslim. Did we hear any backlash from the Muslim world against the Islamic regime of Iran for all the post-election violence against its people? What about atrocities being perpetrated by the Taliban against women all in the name of the Islam? But there would be world-wide demonstrations by Muslims against a cartoon portraying the holy Prophet Muhammed. Nigeria would be denied the first ever Miss World pageant on African soil because an article in a newspaper was perceived to be ‘insulting’ to the holy Prophet Muhammed and for that Christians were attacked all over Northern Nigeria. Supporters of Hon. Muntaka Mubarak go on rampage and destroy property belonging to the NDC because they do not agree with the President’s decision to accept the minister’s resignation. I seriously do not understand any of this and I need some ‘education’ on these matters.”

No, Muntaka’s case is purely a political matter not religious. It just happens he is a Muslim. That is why only his constituency members were involved in what you are describing. There were Muslims who were against what Muntaka did. As for fighting the beauty pageant even any good Christian and any Sound human being – not a Muslim or a Christian should stand up against the spread of immorality in the world. Will you like to see your mother dressed and displayed the way they do it in these contests???? Surely NO. Women are reduced to whores and displayed for people to see! Oh my God that is disgusting for any uncorrupted soul.

To be contd……..

Idris Al-Hassan