Ghana’s strength in diversity: Faith, Culture, and Unity
Islam has made it compulsory and conditional for any interested person to become a Muslim to believe in Jesus Christ, Moses, Abraham, Jonah, Jacob (the father of Israel), his twelve sons, David, and all the prophets and Messengers of God from Adam to His beloved servant, Mohammed (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon Him and His household and Companions).
The Holy Quran states in 2:258, “The Messenger has believed in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and the believers (believe). Every one (of them) believe in Allah, and His Angels and His Books, and His Messengers. (They say), We make no distinction between any of His Messengers.
And they have said, “We have heard, and we have obeyed. For one to become a Muslim, you must, as a first and foremost obligation, recite the Shahada or testimony that there is no God worthy of worship but Allah, and Mohammad is His Messenger.
By saying this, you negate the concept of any person or creation being a son or daughter of God and at the same time declares that Allah cannot be begotten and is Omnipotent and Everlasting. No true Muslim would disbelieve or criticize Jesus Christ or any of God’s Messengers and Prophets.
The Almighty Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that “We sent the Quran to you so that you may explain it to the umma’’ (Quran 16:44). Muhammed (SAW) doesn’t speak on His own accord. Quran 53: 1-18.
I was in the company of His Eminence the National Chief Imam of Ghana, Sheikh Professor Usman Nuhu Sharubutu, as his personal assistant then when he visited the United Kingdom in 2011 and had interactions with the Interfaith Centre of England.
His Eminence was asked about the Muslim-Christian Relationship in Ghana, and he quickly mentioned that prior to his visit to the UK that year, a renowned pastor in Ghana, Rev. Dr Mensa Otabil, had asked him for permission to paint the Regional Mosque (Abossey Okai Mosque), which was then the National Mosque, and permission was granted.
I whispered in the ears of His Eminence quietly that just a day ago while we were in London, the painting of the Mosque had begun in Accra. His Eminence announced to the audience, and participants could not contain their excitement and disbelief at the same time.
One of the Muslim Scholars present, said, “the interfaith community in England thinks we are the leading Interfaith leaders in the World, but I think we would come second to Ghana based on what I had just heard from the Grand Mufti of Ghana.”
And this is very true. Barely four years ago when His Eminence the National Chief Imam turned a centenarian, he decided to celebrate it by going to the Christ the King Church at Cantonment, Accra, among other Islamic activities, unconscious and unaware of the admiration and attraction of international commendation for him and for Ghana from the global community.
It was the very same day terrorists attacked and killed innocent churchgoers in Sri Lanka. Ghana is a Nation with deep roots in faith and culture, and it is largely reflected in the characteristics of Ghanaians wherever they are around the globe.
We, Ghanaians, are respected and accorded high ranks at the global stage for the virtues of peaceful coexistence, harmony, democratic credentials, and respect for human rights in Africa and around the world.
We must not allow few individuals to disturb our peace for their selfish interests and sow seeds of hatred among us. Presidential and General Elections are fast approaching in Ghana and neighboring West African countries, and this is the time for us to come together to condemn and shun any individual or group who try to divide us or use ethnicity, religion, or culture to break our ranks and disrupt our peaceful coexistence.
Some groups of politicians in Ghana are widely known for using their leverage and influence in the Muslim dominated areas in Ghana, called Zongos, to cause trouble, violence, or mayhem, and to steal ballot boxes or intimidate the electorates during the election campaign and exercises.
They use the unemployed and uneducated youth from the Zongos to advance their interests elsewhere. We witnessed how some high-ranking politicians called only on the youth from the Zongo in Nima, Fadama, Sukura, Mamobi, and Newtown to come out and protest the outcome of the 2020 general elections. It took the divine intervention of God, working in some of us to immediately seek the intervention of the community leaders, chiefs, and influential parents and leaders in the Zongos that resulted in the boycotting of the clarion call by the politician.
The irony is that while the politicians were calling the Zongo youth to come out, their children were either watching the developments at their parents’ big mansions in plush areas in Ghana or sleeping or enjoying themselves in large mansions bought for them in western countries by their parents.
This is true because none of the children of the politicians were seen at the forefront of the protest at the Ridge roundabout on that eventful day. While the vulnerable youth in the Zongos were called to march to the Electoral Commission of Ghana. What a pity for the Zongo youth and shame on the leaders who called and incited them.
That kind of rhetoric is what we are beginning to see now: senior politicians using religion and ethnicity to inflame the emotions of hardworking Ghanaians who are struggling to make ends meet. Yet, the politicians only care about gaining power to enrich themselves, their families, and friends
A true Muslim does the following:
1. Believes in the oneness of Allah.
2. Believes that Mohammed (SAW) is the sealed of Prophets and last Messenger of Allah.
3. Believes in all the Prophets and Messengers of God, including their books.
4. Must believe that Jesus Christ would return, before the end of time, as a Muslim to propagate and complete his works using the Quran. He would be supported by Imam Al-Mahdi who is going to be a descendant of Prophet Muhammed (SAW).
5. Performs the five daily prayers on time.
6. Fasts during month of Ramadan.
7. Gives Zakat if he can save a sizeable amount of money, gold, or silver for one full year.
8. Performs Hajj if he or she can afford it once in a lifetime.
9. Show concern and act about the affairs and plights of a fellow Muslim wherever they may be.
10. Support Islamic or communal activities or projects that bring about unity, peace, development, and general welfare/wellbeing of fellow Muslims or community members, regardless of their religious beliefs or culture, as long as he or she lives in that community.
11. Must be law-abiding wherever he or she resides or works.
12. Must support the vulnerable and voiceless in the society, especially the disabled people.
Our association, the Christian-Muslim Forum for Dialogue and Mutual Relations in Ghana, calls on:
1. Politicians to exercise and adopt decorum and civility in their election campaigns devoid of insults and attacks on a person’s religion and ethnicity.
2. Political campaigners to lead and run a decent campaign that relies on facts, figures, and data, and possibly on projects and ideas on how to improve the living standards and conditions of Ghanaians.
3. Ghanaians in general to shun and disapprove of any individual who uses religious or tribal sentiments to garner votes and emotions.
4. The electorates to be mindful of warmongers among the people and to call for peace and stability instead.
5. Peace-loving Ghanaians should continue to maintain the good faith in Ghana and hope for a better tomorrow and future by calling on all public office holders, including politicians, to adopt good governance systems and effective management of our natural resources for the benefit of Ghana and Ghanaians.
When deciding who would best serve your interests among the two leading indigenous Ghanaians in 2024 and beyond, remember that Ghana loses when you elect leaders who are insensitive to the plight of ordinary citizens.
Also note that you are responsible for the direction that country takes from now. You must come out to vote and vote wisely and peacefully. Let us start to pray for Ghana and Ghanaians to become more informed, vigilant, and introspective about their conditions and prospects in the future.
Let us also pray for the oppressed wherever they are. Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere. I stand for a two-state solution in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The writer is a Member of the National Peace Council (NPC), GA branch. Executive Secretary of the Tijjaniya Muslims Movement of Ghana (TMMG),Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Christian – Muslim Forum for Dialogue and Mutual Relations in Ghana.