The National Chief Imam deserves this honour and many more

Wed, 25 Nov 2015 Source: Bokor, Michael J. K.

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Folks, while concentrating on hardcore politics, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that our kind of politics is more divisive than unifying. We shouldn't deceive ourselves that all is well. There is a lot to worry about, especially if we consider the perpetual enmity between the various political parties and the entrenched positions taken by their leaders not to see eye-to-eye on anything for fear of losing grounds.

The events that have characterized elections (whether intra- or inter-party) indicate that our kind of politics is prone to danger. Now that some are preaching violence if the voters register is not renewed for Election 2016, the stakes are really high and danger looms.

Voices of reason have tried to calm nerves. The Ghana Peace Council has been doing well to preach peace. So also has the Chief Imam, Alhaji Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu. Truth be told, this is one Muslim leader that I cherish and highly admire and respect for his composure and stated desire to preach peace and bring heads together for peaceful co-existence. Over the years, he has stood out as a force to be reckoned with. I am happy that he is respected by the Muslim community and all those who value peace!!

At a time that religious extremism (or fundamentalism) has wrought terrorism among those abusing Islam, it is worthy of note that we in Ghana are lucky to have strong Muslim leaders who know how to manage affairs so no miscreant can abuse the faith to cause the kind of mayhem that has engaged world attention. It takes principled leaders to have grips on the situation.

Boko Haram is operating in Nigeria. Al-Shabbab is doing so in Somalia. These locally grown terrorists are affiliated to mainstream terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State. Much of what fuels their terrorism is politically motivated. That is why the fear exists that if our politicians prey on disaffected elements in the religious faith, they could become a terrible menace to us. And it takes a strong leader to ensure that the faith is not turned upside-down and abused for political purposes. Alhaji Sharubutu has been strongly doing so through is constant messages of peace and interactions with all those who matter to pull the strings.

No need to itemize his contributions to peaceful co-existence, whether among the Muslim community or between Muslims and Christians or followers of traditional African religion(s). His constant preaching of messages on peace is acknowledged.

I am, therefore, not surprised that he has been honoured by the Prophets and Spiritual Churches Council, Ghana. (See http://www.myjoyonline.com/news/2015/November-21st/prophets-confer-peace-honour-on-chief-of-imam.php).

Such a religious leader deserves our support so he can succeed in his efforts. I am happy that he is being recognized and honoured as such. Indeed, he has proved that religion is not meant to separate us but to bring us together to live in peace and be each other's keeper. The bottomline is that nobody can fight God's battle for him. Religion is only a tool to be used to find meaning to our lives in this wretched, troubled, sickened world, even as we look forward to the Judgement Day to account for our stewardship on earth.

Alhaji Sharubutu is not the kind to be swayed by any politician to toe his line. We know how politicians in the NDC and NPP have often interacted with him on many occasions and how they wish such interactions would translate into his use of his status to get Muslims to root for them. They wish they would use him for a wholesale political harvest. So far, he has remained neutral and given no doubt to anybody to suspect him of partiality.

That is not how leaders of some Christian churches are behaving. They have sold their conscience to the highest-bidding politician and are all over the place infuriating us with their prophecies of doom for the political front that they hate. They have created the mistaken impression that their brand of religion is highly politically motivated, which is one main source of tension.

No prophecy has come from Alhaji Sharubutu either about which political party will win or lose elections. On the contrary, the so-called Men-of-God have gone astray to expose their political interests. Such characters are dangerous because they use their calling to divide the society. Only God knows why they do so.

By remaining uncommitted and by not making any utterance in favour of any political party---and by insisting on peace-making---Alhaji Sharubutu stands tall. There are many sects within the Muslim community in Ghana and it has to take someone of Alhaji Sharubut's calibre to ensure that conflicts don't crop up to add more woes to Ghana's problems.

Whether it is the majority orthodox Muslim sect or the minority ones like Ahmadiyya, Tijaniyya, Al-Suna, or whatever else, the influence of the Chief Imam is so strong as to eliminate any tendency toward abusing doctrinal differences to cause mayhem. It is not so in other countries. Clearly, it has to take good leadership on the part of the majority Muslim sect to hold the fibre together. And the Chief Imam does just that. Honouring him on that score is a matter of course.

Congratulations, Alhaji Dr. Sharubutu on being so acknowledged. I hope others will learn useful lessons from you. Through your sterling leadership, no conflict has erupted between Christians and Muslims as happens in other countries. Thank you for setting the pace.

I shall return…

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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.