Chief Imam at 100: His Catholic Church visit and its social-political implication

Chief Imam at 100: His Catholic Church visit and its social-political implication

The visit of National Chief Imam to a church is particularly important bearing in mind the positive implications of religious co-existance.

It sends considerable waves across social, political and religious spaces in the face of growing global tensions and divides.

Ghana’s National Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu paid a historic visit to participate in a mass service at Christ the King Catholic Church on Sunday, 21 April 2019.

The visit is perhaps the first ever in a century for a sitting National Chief Imam to ask to join a church service as part of activities to mark his 100th birthday anniversary on Tuesday [today] April 23, 2019.

Sunday’s interfaith service followed last Friday's Jummah prayers, and a thanksgiving duas led by the Chief Imam, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu - with Ghana’s Vice-President Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia in attendance to thank Allah for His guidance. And for the blessings He has granted the National Chief Imam.

Friday's thanksgiving prayer formally began a series of events lined up to commemorate the centenary birthday of Ghana's highest ranking Islamic leader.

Upon arrival on Sunday, earlier than the scheduled time, 8:00am, Rev. Fr. Andrew Campbell accorded the Islamic cleric a receptive welcome.

The Chief Imam was presented with a flower bouquet and was ushered into the church auditorium together with his entourage.

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The Importance of Chief Imam’s visit

Beyond an Islamic leader's consciousness of time is the emphatic message his visit conveys to the rest of the world.

At a time of growing hate and division, the Chief Imam's participation in Sunday's interfaith service carries a timely and resonate message of "unity" beyond home.

Of course, also to redeem at a 'permitted' reach the impugned character of Muslims globally and the demonized worldview of Islam in general.

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Crucial to his diplomatic advocacy is also the progressive ideals his visit impresses on "radical religious extremists" regarding a change of mindset that enables "Christians and Muslims...to live in happiness as we are doing in Ghana."

The activities of radical intolerance towards different religious groups have been evident in the past years and in recent times an "act of terrorism" on Christchurch mosque claimed at least 50 lives in New Zealand.

Weeks later, a series of cowardly attacks on Easter Sunday at churches and top-end hotel killed over 300 people in Sri Lanka, the deadliest violence in the country since the end of the civil war a decade ago, BBC reported.

As the death toll of victims in Sri Lanka's church attack increased, in Ghana, the most revered Islamic leader, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, by a pious decision sends a striking message around the world.

"He wanted everyone to know that as Christians and Muslims, we are one", a member of the church and planning team", Cecil Gariba told BBC Africa.

A crucial unifying voice to consolidate the relative stabilized peace in Dagbang, Northern region, which until recently saw recurring unrest in nearly two decades.

Cecil recounted that he "was contacted by the team of the eminent Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu that he really wanted to visit the Catholic Church to meet with the Rev. Fathers and the congregation as part of his celebrating towards his 100th birthday.”

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A manifested desire positively ingrained on the timelines of history with positive outcomes on at least peace and stability in the socio-political arena of West Africa.

People from around the world will draw inspiration from the message of unity. It is no doubt Sunday’s historical moment also provides young people with a positive narrative against divisive rhetoric.

The symbolic gesture of friendship solidifies the existing inter-religious peace that Ghana enjoys, spokesperson for the Chief Imam, Sheikh Aremeyaw Shuaib, explained in a press interview.

From a noble leader who has witnessed historical world events including World War II, Ghana’s independence and the overthrow of Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah - his powerful message at Sunday's significant event would be referenced for decades.

Meanwhile, a public lecture would be held Tuesday [today] in his honour in Accra and the keynote speaker will be Dr. Mohammed Ibn. Chambas, United Nations General Secretary's Special Representative for West Africa and the Sahel.

He will speak on the theme: "Advancement of modern Ghanaian society through peace, tolerance and development." The special guest for the lecture is Dr Bawumia.

A number of national leaders, including some former presidents, are also expected to attend today’s event.

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