Ghana’s chief imam is a male of few words and phrases, but the 100-12 months-old Muslim cleric certainly is aware of how to make waves – by attending a Catholic Church assistance as component of his birthday celebrations.
Shots of Sheikh Osman Sharubutu, sitting attentively in the pews of Accra’s Christ the King Catholic Church for an Easter support, went viral on social media.
The grand mufti, leader of Ghana’s minority Muslim group, would like to ensure that his legacy is peace – the fruit of inter-religion harmony.
His church attendance was supplied even a lot more resonance as on the day he was getting pictured alongside parish priest Father Andrew Campbell, Islamist suicide bombers unleashed attacks in Sri Lanka, killing additional than 250 folks at church buildings and inns.
Those on social media championing the imam’s tactic described him as a light shining in the darkness.
Not every person was content – some critics condemned his steps as an abomination, for a Muslim to take part in Christian worship. But Sheikh Sharubutu insisted he was not worshipping but transferring the marriage among Muslims and Christians from mere tolerance to engagement.
“The chief imam is altering the narrative about Islam from a religion of wickedness, a faith of conflict, a faith of detest for other individuals, to a religion whose mission is rooted in the virtues of really like, peace and forgiveness,” his spokesperson Aremeyao Shaibu informed the BBC.
The priest who befriended an imam
By Elizabeth Ohene, Accra
Compared with Ghana’s main imam, Father Andrew Campbell, the parish priest of Christ the King Catholic Church, is undoubtedly not a gentleman of few words and phrases and it is honest to say he likes to stir items up a little bit.
The 73-year-outdated was born in Ireland and arrived in Ghana in 1971 to operate as a missionary. About 48 several years he has become a winner of unpopular and unfashionable brings about. He has adopted the bring about of lepers in distinct and strategies for them not to be stigmatised and to be handled with dignity.
His church is positioned across the highway from Jubilee Residence, the seat of Ghana’s presidency. A handful of months ago, he was manufactured parish priest for Jubilee Dwelling. The cleric has said his assist for some govt policies, but it is recognized he will be similarly vocal when he feels the will need to criticise, no matter that he may be specified the in-residence priest for the presidency.
He has obtained entire Ghanaian citizenship – having said that, he has refused to undertake some nearby habits. He insists on maintaining to time.
Not far too extensive back, I attended a marriage ceremony and he started the provider inspite of the absence of the bride. 50 %-way as a result of the printed programme, the bridal procession could be noticed making an attempt to make an entrance from the back doorway. Fr Campbell rushed down, main the groom and stopped the bride in the center of the aisle, where he done a hurried relationship ceremony and walked again to the altar to continued from where by he had still left off in advance of the bride appeared.
But the mix of the peaceful Muslim cleric of couple of text and the problems stirring loquacious Irish-Ghanaian priest make an unpredictable and gorgeous cocktail.
Sheikh Sharubutu has been Ghana’s top rated Muslim cleric for 26 a long time, and has usually insisted the crucial tenets of Islam are rooted in peace and really like, as his weekly sermons at Friday prayers at the Central Mosque in the cash attest.
Yet another favourite topic of his is a simply call to shun materialism, expressing it only brings greed.
At his residence in the very poor neighbourhood of Fadama, he has insisted that the gates stay open up.
For several years now, hundreds of township residents troop in just about every morning to fetch refreshing drinking water from faucets at the assets although other individuals go to at evening with bowls to be served scorching foods for free.
It is the nature of Islamic leaders to give to charity, but his supporters say the scale of his work stands out. He has personally sponsored hundreds of pupils in their schooling at house and overseas and has also established an educational have faith in fund to guidance gifted but needy pupils.
Ghana, the place Muslims make up 18% of the population in the largely Christian place, has no record of spiritual warfare. But relations can be fractious – and the imam has sought to douse any flare-ups.
He is a member of the National Peace Council, produced up of 13 primarily spiritual leaders – but he is also recognised to intervene personally to resolve tensions.
Earlier this yr, he reprimanded a team of younger Muslim adult males who attacked a church in Accra after its pastor predicted his demise in the coming 12 months.
He told individuals who had been armed with machetes to forgive the preacher and managed to defuse the pressure, a thing that earned him the many thanks of the law enforcement main.
When gunshots reverberated via the streets of Old Tafo in Kumasi in a row above a cemetery in 2016, he quickly designed a vacation to the Ashanti regional money.
A curfew experienced been imposed following just one human being died in clashes. Conventional leaders required evidence that the Muslim local community owned a portion of land in the graveyard to bury their dead.
The situation practically degenerated into all-out war soon after rampaging Muslim youths slapped the traditional chief of the Tafo community.
The slapping of a chief constitutes a desecration of his office, a taboo in Ghana which demands war to be waged – a thing that could have distribute to other communities.
According to Mr Shaibu, the chief imam went to the palace of the Tafo main, and without the need of even talking a term, he calmed the circumstance by the humility and meekness of his presence, avoiding additional unrest.
It was the next time that he had interceded in the fallout in excess of a cemetery.
In 2012, the corpse of an imam in the Volta Area was exhumed and dumped by the roadside by a community who felt Muslims really should not bury their dead in that graveyard.
Sheikh Sharubutu flew into the south-eastern region and negotiated a peace deal – saving the point out from working with power to quell the riots.
‘I go through without the need of gadgets’
He places his peaceful philosophy down to his favourite Koranic verse, which states individuals must be good with each individual other to aid obtain a harmonious culture: “Allah does not forbid you from demonstrating kindness and working justly with these who have not fought you about religion and have not pushed you out of your properties. Allah enjoys just dealers.”
As a younger gentleman, he designed this the central information of his classes as a Muslim trainer in Accra – likely on to turn into just one of the country’s most erudite Islamic scholars.
He then built heritage when he was appointed main imam in 1993, at the age of 74, as until finally then Ghana experienced not had a countrywide Muslim leader.
There is some trepidation about discovering a successor who can comply with in his footsteps, supplied that he has develop into so central to sustaining religious peace.
But his serene character would seem to be essential to his ongoing longevity, one thing those who arrive immediately after him may possibly want to emulate.
“I am aged, sturdy and essential. I can see, [am] ready to read through and create without having the assistance of any devices. I am in a position to wander on my possess – God has not analyzed me with weak spot,” his spokesman quoted him as indicating.
“I am in best control of my mind, I have not grown senile. Positioning God at the centre of my everyday living provides me calmness and internal peace in daily life.”