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Sheikh Osmanu Sharubutu - Man of peace

BY: Dr Kofi Amponsah-Bediako
Sheikh Osmanu Sharubutu —  National Chief Imam
Sheikh Osmanu Sharubutu — National Chief Imam

Not long ago, that is precisely on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019, the National Chief Imam in Ghana made a historic visit to a Christian group in Accra to signify the importance of adopting a path of religious recognition, tolerance and mutual respect and, therefore, teaching the world the need for peace at all times.

The visit was aimed at facilitating interfaith dialogue and collaboration. Indeed, interfaith dialogue and collaboration refers to cooperative, constructive and positive interaction among people of different religious traditions. 

That visit of the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Dr Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu, to the Christ the King Catholic Church in Accra as part of his thanksgiving to God to share the joy of being 100 years on this earth in April this year goes to show the significance of interfaith dialogue, tolerance and collaboration among Ghanaians in the country and among all nations the world over.

Such a move is necessary for the promotion of peace in the world.

This is important because interfaith dialogue often involves promoting understanding among different religions or beliefs to increase acceptance of others, rather than to synthesise new beliefs.

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Indeed, cooperation and collaboration both aim at getting people working together for shared goals.

Also, building bridges among different religious groups to show recognition and respect for one another is more productive than building walls of division and hatred.

Such collaboration in the midst of the existence of different religions is what the world needs for the promotion of peace, growth and development for mankind.

Men and women cannot be compelled to share the same faith and this explains why the Constitution of the Republic has given room for freedom of belief and worship.

For this reason, believers of various faiths need to learn to tolerate one another and show respect for other religions irrespective of the form of worship or religious practice.

Religious tolerance helps people in the country to understand the beliefs of others, while appreciating different forms of worship. When things are made to go this way, there will be peace in the country irrespective of whichever religion is perceived by anybody as superior.

God the creator of the universe is perceived from different angles of worship, hence the different beliefs or forms of practices exhibited in the world today.

Man of peace

The visit of the National Chief Imam to his Christian brothers and sisters at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Accra goes to show that he is a man of peace and also stands for religious tolerance.

Similarly, the warm reception given him and his entourage by Reverend Father Andrew Campbell (aka Nii Lante) and his congregation is equally commendable. People may not be perceived as the same in terms of religion, ethnic, cultural practices or general social life, but no matter how it is, we need to show respect and tolerance to one another to show that after all, men and women are children of the same creator of the universe.

If things are perceived this way, peace will be promoted in all parts of the country and the world as a whole. Religious intolerance has resulted in disturbances and wars in different parts of the world, leading to the destruction of property and precious lives.

The enviable example exhibited by the National Chief Imam ought to be emulated by all other religious leaders and worshippers in the country and even the entire world.

Unfortunate

Unfortunately, while in Ghana the National Chief Imam was preaching tolerance and unity, a section of a Muslim group in Sri Lanka had claimed responsibility for an attack on Christian groups and churches during the Easter festivities, resulting in the death of hundreds of people. What has happened in Sri Lanka has been described by the Office of the Chief Imam as un-Islamic.

Towards this end, we must all join hands to congratulate the National Chief Imam, while wishing him well on the celebration of his 100th birthday.

May God bless him abundantly and all other religious leaders who stand for peace, tolerance, respect for one another, social development and national unity.

In terms of a glorious opportunity for peace, Sheikh Nuhu Sharubutu has played his part as a man of peace. What about you?

The writer is Director of Corporate Communications, Ghana Standards Authority (GSA).