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Opinions of Monday, 29 August 2016

Columnist: Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

The Chief Imam and Muslims deserve honor for promoting peace in Ghana

By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai

Since Islam came into being, more than 1,400 years ago on the vastly desert land of Saudi Arabia, the religion has been growing in large numbers rubbing shoulders with Christianity in most parts of the world.

Independent research bodies have indicated that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world especially in Europe and the United States of America where many people are converting to Islam and turning many buildings into mosques.

The religion introduced through Prophet Mohammed (pbh) has succeeded in attracting massive following in mosques to pray regularly and follow the five main pillars of the religion that include the belief in the supremacy of one God with prophet Mohammed as his messenger; offer of prayers as prescribed; payment of zakat; observance of the Ramadan fast and performance of the hajj pilgrimage once in a lifetime.

One thing that seems to be a bother to all those who admire the lifestyles of Muslims is the extremist behavior of misguided section of Muslims whose stock in trade is to attack non-Muslims and those Muslims who do not share their religious beliefs and schools of thought.

These groups that go by various labels as Alshabab, Boko Haram, and Talibans have succeeded in wreaking havoc on innocent people as they use weapons to kill, maim and seize people in the Middle Eastern nations of Iraq, Syria, and African nations of Nigeria, Somalia, and Kenya.

Although the international community led by the United Nations and developed nations like the US, Britain, Germany and the like are working hard to do away with these insurgents, who are not considered Muslims; there are indications that it will take some time to wipe them out completely due to some financial benefits that accrue to them and their sponsors in what they do.

However we are thankful to God that there are many nations whose Muslim leaders and citizens are busy working in line with the Islamic doctrines that require all Muslims to adhere towards promoting peace in the world at all times. We can vouch for majority Muslim nations Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore whose people seem to be enjoying trouble free existence so far.

Perhaps this is so because these nations apply Islamic laws to whip their citizens to fall in line. What these nations must do urgently is to tone down on the laws they apply especially to non-Muslims who errand to extend their assistance to all nations to educate Muslims to learn to live peacefully with non-Muslims in secular states. We need to commend the leaders of these nations for keeping extremists at bay making it possible for their citizens to live in peace.

However we must also shower praises on Islamic leaders such as imams and preachers (in multi religious nations such as Ghana and other peaceful nations) for working very hard to promote peaceful coexistence. One of such leaders is the National Chief Imam of Ghana Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu who heads Muslims in Ghana where Muslims come next to Christians in terms of numbers.

Since his choice as the National Chief Imam two decades ago he has worked so hard to get Muslims to continue relating peacefully and closely with all people in Ghana irrespective of their religious leanings.

He has constantly given Muslims advice in sermons in mosques and during marriage, naming, and funerals sessions for them to learn to live peacefully with each other and with Christians as done by Prophet Mohammed in his days. He has often advised all Muslim factions to remain united or run the risk of getting overwhelmed by opposing groups.

This has led to Muslims living peacefully in almost all communities, schools (where the boarding system is helping matters), work places, markets and barracks.

He has not left out politician who he has been admonishing to work for peace in Muslim areas. To this end the National Chief Imam has sent strong signals to politicians that Muslims in Ghana do not want to be pitched against any political party, therefore, attempts by some politicians to incite them against other parties ahead of this year’s elections should stop immediately.

No wonder that the successes chalked by the National Chief Imam has won him many Muslims and non-Muslim admirers who pay homage to him daily and offer gifts and awards the latest being the Martin Luther King Jnr award for peace conferred on him by the government of the United States of America through its Ambassador in Accra.

After receiving a number of awards abroad the National Chief Imam has also won National Awards from succeeding governments of Ghana and has also been conferred with Honorary Doctorate award by the University of Ghana. Being an Arabic educationist himself the National Chief Imam has built and is running basic schools in Accra and other parts of Ghana and is about to run a higher school of learning at Kasoa near Accra.

He is also a philanthropist who has been taking care of many school going children across Ghana and is also providing food and shelter daily at his home to needy people and travellers from the sub region.

The lifestyle and achievements of the National Chief Imam have been factors that influence many of his followers who are Imams, Preachers, writers and Educationalists. These men have established organizations that are running schools offering support to orphans, building mosques and digging wells across Ghana. One such person who is doing very well is Sheikh Mustapha Ibrahim, Chairman of Islamic Council for Development and Humanitarian Services (ICODEHS).

His outfit a leading NGO in Ghana, has since the past 20 years built many mosques, schools, clinics, and offered scholarships to students some of who are orphans. Today due to his achievements in Ghana ICODEHS under has been given permission by donors in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar to supervise development projects such as mosques and schools in Togo, Burkina Faso and Nigeria among other nations of Africa.

ICODEHS has also introduced a radio broadcast program on MARHABA Radio in Ghana through which Muslims and non-Muslims are being educated on the tenets of Islam including marriage, child care and how to offer Islamic prayers and payment of zakat among others. Through the programs and news items on Islamic activities by ICODEHS many people have come to understand Islam better.

Sheikh Mustapha is also the Chairman of an organization formed by the National Chief Imam known as Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu Education Fund (SUNSETFUND).

Though this organization more than 900 students are currently being assisted to go through tertiary education in Ghana under The Education Trust Fund of Ghana. With the feats chalked by the National Chief Imam and his advisors and Imams there is no doubt that Ghana is likely to march on promoting peaceful coexistence in Ghana.

The writer is the Executive Director Eanforworld for Sustainable Development. E-mail: eanfoworld@yahoo.com