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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Thursday said religion must inspire Ghanaians to be law abiding and alive to their civic and socio-economic responsibilities to facilitate national progress.
Explaining the synergy between religion and development, the President who has nominated Mr Kofi Dzamesi as the Minister of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs, said: "We are a nation of religious people. Religion permeates all aspects of our lives and it is an every day, every time and every place affair. We must, therefore, be able to use religion to play a positive role in providing the guidance that is needed for the progress of our country, “he said.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the 85th Annual National Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, at Winneba, President Akufo-Addo rallied leaders of the various religious sects to use their teachings to engender patriotism and national pride in citizens.
“We should use religion to engender patriotism and love for our nation,” he said. “The two greatest religious figures of all time, Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed, both teach us that patriotism is as important as fidelity to religious creed”.
“When our Lord Jesus Christ says that we should give unto Caesar what is Caesars and unto God which is God’s, he means that we should commit equally to serving our nation as we commit to serving God.
“The Prophet Mohammed on the other hand teaches that our commitment to our nation is a religious virtue. He says we should not withdraw allegiance to the State, even on the account of tyrannical rule.”
President Akufo-Addo noted that as a democratic state, being patriotic should pose no difficulty to citizens and explained that citizens had duties to ensure the progress of the country.
“We cannot claim to be a religious country when our surroundings are not clean,” he stated. “Cleanliness is next to godliness. We ought to ask ourselves how a religious people can come to accept that it is tolerable to live in unclean surroundings. Religion is a way of life and we must live it.
“The ethical foundation of religion must give us the impetus to enjoin rights and forbid wrongs. If Ghanaian citizens really live by their religious creeds, I dare say it will show in our level of development and behaviours in public life,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said bribery and corruption by public officials could not be said to be religious nor patriotic, adding that, the teacher in the public sector who taught only once in a week could not be said to be religious nor patriotic.
President Akufo-Addo thus stressed the need for lessons in patriotism to begin at the level of the family because that was the basic unit of the society.
“The family is the place where we should begin our lessons in patriotism. We cannot neglect the training of our children and expect to build a happy and prosperous society,” said... “A broken society is a society of broken homes.”
The Head and Missionary-in-charge of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Ghana, Alhaji Maulvi Mohammed Bin Salih, urged the President to rule the country in unity and peace to ensure the progress and prosperity of the country.
He advised the Government to adopt an all-inclusive approach to governance and make use of Ghanaian talents where and when they were available, irrespective of their political, religious and ethnic background.
“There is the need for all of us as a people to develop unconditional love for our country rather than letting political affiliations divide us,” he said.
“Patriotism, in other words, love for one’s country, is a great virtue which forms part of the teachings of Islam as taught us, and as practised for our emulation by the Holy Prophet Mohammed,” he said.
Mr Dzamesi served as the Volta Regional Minister under the Kufuor Administration.
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