A section of attendees at the meeting
A section of attendees at the meeting

Catholic, Muslim leaders echo interfaith tolerance

A national dialogue between Muslim and Catholic leaders has been held with a call on all to relentlessly promote religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence in the country.

The second Annual National Catholic/Muslim Leaders' Dialogue Conference was held on Thursday, May 11, 2023 in Accra. 

It was organised by the Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference (GCBC) and the Office of the National Chief Imam and was aimed at deepening relationship between Christians and Muslims for national development. 

The conference was on the theme: "Overcoming the barriers of religious prejudices for sustainable national peace and development — Success and challenges” and brought together high level clerics of various sects of Islam in the country and Archbishops and Bishops of the Catholic Church. 

Also present were the Minister of Chieftaincy And Religious Affairs, Stephen Asamoah Boateng, and representatives of the National Peace Council, the Christian Council of Ghana, the National Commission for Civic Education (N.C.C.E).

Peace in diversity 

The National Chief Imam, Sheikh Usmanu Nuhu Sharubutu, who chaired the dialogue, urged all to live a life aimed at religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence. 

That, he said, was because Allah created mankind in diversity of cultures, tribe, race and ethnicity not for the purpose of wars and conflict but rather so that mankind could acknowledge and be helpful to each other. 

The Islamic cleric, who spoke through his spokesperson Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu, further urged Christians and Muslims to do Allah’s will by being grateful for the peace the nation enjoyed at a time when some countries in the region were facing socioeconomic and political instability.

Islamic perspective 

A Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana Department for the Study of Religions, Dr Rabiyatu Ammah, urged Muslims to desist from taking some teachings of the Quran out of context to avoid confrontations with people of other faiths. 

“Who told you that the Quran says slay them wherever you see them if they are not of your own? I admit that some attitudes of Muslims create negative impressions about Islam,” she said. 

She, therefore, admonished Muslims to practise the core values and virtues of Islam, which was peace and unity because that was the true teaching. 

The Christian perspective 

Rev. Fr Gabriel Kojovi Liashiedzi said the followers of a true God should be able to coexist in peace as creatures of the Creator. 

He said they should be able to form a union irrespective of religious and tribal differences to solve common problems, to interpret the universe and study the signs of the times and project into the future.

Rev. Fr Liashiedzi charged parents and society to properly bring up children in a civilised and enlightened manner that recognised that before religion, we are all human beings first. 

Succession plans, practical solutions 

Mr Boateng urged chiefs and traditional councils and the Islamic community to develop an elaborate succession plan which would detail the transfer of power to avoid Chieftaincy and religious conflicts. 

“About 70 per cent of national security issues stem from chieftaincy and religious disputes, I’m told and since we can all attest to the fact that our beloved Chief Imam is not getting any younger, let us devise a succession plan,” he stressed. 

The President of the GCBC, the Most Rev. Philip Naameh, called for the establishment of committees and boards that would take the advice from the dialogues, turn them into practical solutions that would benefit the entire country.

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