Ghana’s 100 year-old imam who went to church

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AFP

Ghana’s chief imam is a person of few phrases, however the 100-year-old Muslim cleric definitely is aware of how you can make waves – by attending a Catholic Church service as a part of his birthday celebrations.

Photos of Sheikh Osman Sharubutu, sitting attentively within the pews of Accra’s Christ the King Catholic Church for an Easter service, went viral on social media.

The grand mufti, chief of Ghana’s minority Muslim neighborhood, needs to make sure that his legacy is peace – the fruit of inter-faith concord.

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Sadiq Abdulai Abu

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Sheikh Sharubutu (in inexperienced) attended the Easter Sunday service

His church attendance was given much more resonance as on the day he was being pictured alongside parish priest Father Andrew Campbell, Islamist suicide bombers unleashed assaults in Sri Lanka, killing greater than 250 folks at church buildings and accommodations.

These on social media championing the imam’s strategy described him as a light-weight shining within the darkness.

Not everybody was blissful – some critics condemned his actions as an abomination, for a Muslim to take part in Christian worship. However Sheikh Sharubutu insisted he was not worshipping however shifting the connection between Muslims and Christians from mere tolerance to engagement.

“The chief imam is altering the narrative about Islam from a faith of wickedness, a faith of battle, a faith of hate for others, to a faith whose mission is rooted within the virtues of affection, peace and forgiveness,” his spokesperson Aremeyao Shaibu advised the BBC.

The priest who befriended an imam

By Elizabeth Ohene, Accra

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Sadiq Abdulai Abu

Not like Ghana’s chief imam, Father Andrew Campbell, the parish priest of Christ the King Catholic Church, is definitely not a person of few phrases and it’s honest to say he likes to stir issues up a bit.

The 73-year-old was born in Eire and arrived in Ghana in 1971 to work as a missionary. Over 48 years he has turn into a champion of unpopular and retro causes. He has adopted the reason for lepers particularly and campaigns for them to not be stigmatised and to be handled with dignity.

His church is located throughout the highway from Jubilee Home, the seat of Ghana’s presidency. Just a few months in the past, he was made parish priest for Jubilee Home. The cleric has said his assist for some authorities insurance policies, however it’s accepted he can be equally vocal when he feels the necessity to criticise, regardless of that he could be designated the in-house priest for the presidency.

He has acquired full Ghanaian citizenship – nonetheless, he has refused to undertake some native habits. He insists on retaining to time.

Not too way back, I attended a marriage ceremony and he began the service regardless of the absence of the bride. Half-way by way of the revealed programme, the bridal procession might be seen making an attempt to make an entrance from the again door. Fr Campbell rushed down, main the groom and stopped the bride in the course of the aisle, the place he carried out a hurried wedding ceremony and walked again to the altar to continued from the place he had left off earlier than the bride appeared.

However the mixture of the peaceable Muslim cleric of few phrases and the difficulty stirring loquacious Irish-Ghanaian priest make an unpredictable and exquisite cocktail.

The nation the place everybody is predicted to be late
What’s Ghana like?

Sheikh Sharubutu has been Ghana’s prime Muslim cleric for 26 years, and has all the time insisted the important thing tenets of Islam are rooted in peace and love, as his weekly sermons at Friday prayers on the Central Mosque within the capital attest.

One other favorite theme of his is a name to shun materialism, saying it solely brings greed.

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The chief imam reportedly stopped an all-out conflict within the Ashanti area by his meek manner

At his residence within the poor neighbourhood of Fadama, he has insisted that the gates stay open.

For years now, a whole lot of township residents troop in every morning to fetch recent water from faucets on the property whereas others go to at evening with bowls to be served sizzling meals without cost.

It’s the nature of Islamic leaders to provide to charity, however his supporters say the dimensions of his work stands out. He has personally sponsored a whole lot of scholars of their schooling at dwelling and overseas and has additionally established an academic belief fund to assist gifted however needy pupils.

Ghana, the place Muslims make up 18% of the inhabitants within the primarily Christian nation, has no historical past of non secular warfare. However relations could be fractious – and the imam has sought to douse any flair-ups.

He’s a member of the Nationwide Peace Council, made up of 13 primarily non secular leaders – however he’s additionally identified to intervene personally to resolve tensions.

Cemetery disputes

Earlier this yr, he reprimanded a bunch of younger Muslim males who attacked a church in Accra after its pastor predicted his loss of life within the coming 12 months.

He advised those that had been armed with machetes to forgive the preacher and managed to defuse the stress, one thing that earned him the thanks of the police chief.

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AFP

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Muslims make up 18% of the inhabitants in Ghana

When gunshots reverberated by way of the streets of Outdated Tafo in Kumasi in a row over a cemetery in 2016, he instantly made a visit to the Ashanti regional capital.

A curfew had been imposed after one individual died in clashes. Conventional leaders wished proof that the Muslim neighborhood owned a piece of land within the graveyard to bury their lifeless.

The state of affairs almost degenerated into all-out conflict after rampaging Muslim youths slapped the normal chief of the Tafo neighborhood.

The slapping of a chief constitutes a desecration of his workplace, a taboo in Ghana which requires conflict to be waged – one thing that might have unfold to different communities.

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Workplace of the Nationwide Chief Imam

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Osman Sharubutu taught Islamic research as a younger man

In keeping with Mr Shaibu, the chief imam went to the palace of the Tafo chief, and with out even talking a phrase, he calmed the state of affairs by the humility and meekness of his presence, stopping additional unrest.

It was the second time that he had interceded in a fallout over a cemetery.

In 2012, the corpse of an imam within the Volta Area was exhumed and dumped by the roadside by a neighborhood who felt Muslims mustn’t bury their lifeless in that graveyard.

Sheikh Sharubutu flew into the south-eastern area and negotiated a peace deal – saving the state from utilizing power to quell the riots.

‘I learn with out devices’

He places his peaceable philosophy right down to his favorite Koranic verse, which says folks ought to be honest with one another to assist obtain a harmonious society: “Allah doesn’t forbid you from displaying kindness, and dealing justly with those that haven’t fought you about faith and haven’t pushed you out of your properties. Allah loves simply sellers.”

As a younger man, he made this the central message of his classes as a Muslim instructor in Accra – occurring to turn into one of many nation’s most erudite Islamic students.

Sheikh Sharubutu’s file at 100:

Personally officiated at greater than 5,000 marriages

Led prayers at greater than four,000 funerals

Officiated at greater than 10,000 naming ceremonies for youngsters

He then made historical past when he was appointed chief imam in 1993, on the age of 74, as till then Ghana had not had a nationwide Muslim chief.

There may be some trepidation about discovering a successor who can observe in his footsteps, provided that he has turn into so central to sustaining non secular peace.

However his serene nature appears to be key to his continued longevity, one thing those that come after him might wish to emulate.

“I’m previous, sturdy and important. I can see, [am] in a position to learn and write with out the assist of any devices. I’m able to stroll by myself – God has not examined me with weak point,” his spokesman quoted him as saying.

“I’m in good management of my thoughts, I’ve not grown senile. Putting God on the centre of my life provides me calmness and inside peace in life.”

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