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Opinions of Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Columnist: Goldwater, Adams

Ramadan In Tamale

Ramadan is a month which Allah (God) subhanahu wa ta’alaa has made compulsory for Muslims to fast during the day and throughout the month. In this holy month, Muslims get actively engaged in Ibadat (acts of worship) that include not only fasting but also prayers, Taraaweeh, late night prayers, Quran recitation, tafsir (Quran commentary) and so on.

This month offers Muslims the opportunity to renew and strengthen their relationship with their creator by getting closer to Him and asking for His mercy, grace, blessings and forgiveness.

Dismal behaviours such as back-biting, slandering, violence, vain talks and so forth negate the blessings of fasting and should therefore be avoided at all cost.

The Prophet encapsulated the benefits of Ramadan by saying that “This is indeed a month of patience and kindness, and the reward for patience is jannah (paradise).”
Muslims are enjoined to observe the Ramadan in an atmosphere of peace, decorum and tranquility; interlaced with patience, love, kindness and exhortations of one another to piety and righteousness.

But sadly, the peaceful and calm atmosphere required and expected for a successful Ramadan is often disturbed in the Tamale Metropolis by the followers of the two dominant Islamic sects; the Tijaniya and the Al’sunnah Wa’jamaat . These two sects have their familiar doctrinal differences which from time to time lead to clashes between their followers and this ironically becomes more pronounced in the month of Ramadan.

The month of Ramadan provides the adherents of these sects a daily platform to espouse their beliefs and in the process vilify, insult and disparage each other culminating in violence, intimidation, destruction of property and sometimes the loss of precious lives.

Some of the Imams and Islamic scholars use their Mosques, the FM Radio stations and various gatherings to deliver fiery speeches that are filled with hatred of opponents and often lead to unnecessary and preventable conflicts.
It is sad to recall that there were nasty clashes in the Tamale Metropolis during the 2012 Ramadan in which some individuals were assaulted, brutalized and others lost their properties.
It is expedient to remind all believers that Islam abhors sectarianism and as such it should not be encouraged at all. Allah says” And hold on firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided” (3:103). Again Allah says “Indeed those who have divided their religion and become sects, you (o Mohammed) are not associated with them in anything’ (6:159). There are many other warnings in the Quran and Hadith against divisions or sects in Islam.
The polarization of the community along doctrinal lines has contributed in one way or the other to the Dagbon crisis.
Dagbon has been in crisis over decades-Chief against Chief, Imam against Imam, preacher against preacher, politician against politician, man against man, woman against woman, Child against Child………….. Paradoxically, the citizens of Dagbon belong largely to same ethnicity and profess same religion, Islam; yet they are at daggers drawn. Are we sincere and true believers or just after the glitters of this Dunia (world)? Where is the love and fear of Allah? One may dare opine.
Allah has enjoined Muslims to settle conflicts among themselves using Islamic jurisprudence and not to rely on other authorities to adjudicate their cases. Allah says “The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two contending brothers……” (49: 10).
It is expedient for the Muslim leaders more particularly the Islamic Clerics to lead the way to reconciliation, peace, and unity in Dagbon; otherwise they stand accuse on the Day of reckoning.” But whoever forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah” (Quran 42; 40)
Allah has vowed to deal drastically with those who create and promote divisions or sectarianism in Islam. Let’s take a cue from this warning and stop the needless vilifications and recriminations of each other if we are indeed believers.
The FM Radio stations in Tamale should endeavour to carry out due diligence before allowing persons to use the airwaves to spew invectives against their opponents. They should at all times use their programmes to promote goodwill, understanding and peace in the Metropolis.
The real issue that should seriously engage the attention of the Imams and Islamic scholars is how to make Islam attractive to non-Muslims throughout the country. This is called Dawah.
Allah ta’alaa has challenged every Muslim to take up the mantle of propagating the true teachings of Islam and inviting people to the religion.
In the Holy Quran, Allay says” Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, does righteous deeds and say indeed I am among the Muslims” (41:32).
Further Allah says “Let there arise among you a group inviting to all that is good, enjoining righteousness and forbidding evil. Those are the successful ones.”(3:104).
The Prophet said “whoever calls to guidance will receive the same reward as the one who follows him without any decrease in the reward of his follower”. This means that if you are able to convert a non-Muslim to Islam, you will get reward for every good action he/she performs.
And Allah says” Call to the way of the Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching” (16:125).
Many people particularly those in the rural areas do not understand or know Islam.
It is incumbent on Islamic Scholars to take up the challenge of not only propagating the true teaching of Islam but also using their knowledge of the scriptures to promote unity, understanding and religious tolerance between and among the various faiths in the country. It should be noted that the mission of Islam is not to hate, judge or criticize but to love and guide one another to piety and righteousness.

The Imams also have the critical and crucial responsibility of not only teaching the true Aqeeda but also initiating economic and social reforms to fight poverty, unemployment and ignorance among their followers.
This calls for a paradigm shift in the role of Imams from that of leading prayers, solemnization of marriages and the conduct of burial services to a more transformational role of putting in place social intervention schemes to improve the welfare of its members.
We have to transform the Mosque from being space for ritual worship to an institution for social reforms, education and wealth creation. Muslim leaders can establish Education Endowment/ZAKAT Fund to garner resources to support brilliant but needy students. A Business development fund could also be established to aid persons with achievable business plans to set up enterprises that can be avenues of employment for the youth.
Without any stretch of doubt, these activities will enhance the economic and social well-being of our people which to all intents purposes will reduce ignorance, poverty and anti-Islamic behaviours associated with Muslim communities.
We recommend the formation of Association of Imams and Islamic scholars in each of the ten regions of the country to handle this new challenge.
It should be emphasized that at the time of the Prophet (pbuh), Mosques were used not only for ritual worship but also for administrative, social and political activities.
In conclusion, it should be noted that Allah ordained Islam to be a peaceful and dynamic religion. However, its adherents, through acts of omissions and commissions have given the religion a bad image. We challenge Muslim leaders to use every available platform and space to promote reconciliation, unity and peace in all parts of the country. We are hereby charging Sheik Amin Bamba, Dr. Hussein, Imam Seidu of Ambariya and Imam Rashid to be conveners of the proposed Imams Association that will lead the search for a permanent and lasting peace in Dagbon. Let this year’s Ramadan be a month of blessings and joy for all and prosperity for mother Ghana.

We thank Allah for His love, mercy and blessings. AMEN!
Haj Adams Goldwater-CEO: 020 8118 057

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