It became a point of controversy. It became a subject of interest among the Muslim ummah. It became a bone of contention among scholars; it became an issue worth discussing across the length and breadth of the nation. When the finest, nimble and brilliant Islamic, political analyst, Irbard Ibrahim took the bull by the horn and spoke about the succession to the national chief imam. He stated categorically in an interview with Joy FM that “there is a seething struggle among the various sects in the country over who succeeds the 91-year-old chief Imam, Dr. Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu. He said “the issue has become a “taboo” among the believers of the Islamic faith because of its sensitive nature.”
It’s undoubtedly true that the issue is inextricably bonded to one of the significant and sensitive issues we Muslims in this nation must take a great critical look at. Whether sooner or later, we are not hoping for the Chief Imam a transient life span or an immediate departure, but we should not fail to acknowledge the fact he is not immortal and he will definitely leave us one day. The Quran tells us “Every soul shall have the taste of death”. It’s therefore imperative and important for us to design a system that will ensure peaceful and smooth succession to this great leader. It will be a dent on the image of Islam if an attempt to appoint a successor to this great leader should pull us into a state of conflict and anarchy just because we have failed to plan and design a system to ensure his succession. It’s certain like the certainty of death that the Chief Imam must have a successor after his demise. The great question that is bothering my conscience, the question that has exercised my mind for long is WHO is fit, apt and appropriate candidate to succeed the Chief Imam?
I traversed in mind across the nooks and crannies of this country from north to south, from west to east trying to see who can best fit into this sensitive position? Who can we vest our interest in as our leader? And this journey of mine has always been futile. My fears were allayed, my panic and fever were taken off and my confidence boosted when I came across the work of this great man. This man I think not on the basis of tribe or any kind of parochial interest can aptly fit as our Chief Imam. This is a man, irrespective of your position, regardless of your sectarian inclination and orientation, you must, after his achievements and work have been listed, pander to the fact we can entrust our destiny into his hands. This man being the leader of a sect for twenty years had fortified himself with a wide scope of Islamic knowledge. He is an institution on his own and a faculty by nature, versatile in the different fields of knowledge we have in Islam. He has covered a wide intellectual panorama ranging from Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), the exegesis of the Quran (tafseer), to other fields of knowledge in the Islamic faith.
“Education”, an anonymous composer once said “is an industry that turns animals into human beings”. This man we are talking about had singlehandedly built a standard university where Muslim orphans across the nation are offered full scholarship to study. He has not less than 10 secondary schools (standard ones for that matter) to his credit. He had built an educational complex where children between the ages of 7 -10 can receive education up to the secondary cycle. He has to his credit 20 standard libraries across the nation, stocked with both standard Islamic books as well as secular books where students can go read and appreciate the honor of knowledge. Every year under his scholarship scheme, forty students are sponsored into the medical schools across the nation, 20 students into the engineering school, twenty into the school of journalism and countless number of students into other fields of disciplines. What a remarkable achievement!
This man has done a yeoman’s job as far as health is concern. “A sound mind” they say “is in a sound body”. He has therefore built across the warp and woof of the nation, five standard hospitals and about fifteen clinics. The most interesting part of the whole story is, all the medical practitioners and nurses within these hospitals and clinics are Muslims and therefore patients are treated according to the dictates of the Quran. What a tour de force! When the dangerous Ebola disease evolved, this man once again organized series of lectures across the nation to show us how to avert the venom of this disease.
“The media”, according to Malcolm X, “is the most powerful entity on earth”. This same man has done a great a job as far media is concerned. He owns a TV channel where erudite Muslim scholars across the globe are brought to preach, teach and promulgate the Islamic religion not only in the month of Ramadan. He owns a radio station which is always characterized stentoriously by the recitation of the Holy Quran and preaching of great scholars. The station extends the sermons of our various imams on jummah to other part of the country and beyond. What a magnificent mark!
When the recent act of disrespect was shown to Islam by one ignorant Bishop Duncan Williams, this same man held a press conference to address the issue and subsequently made the bishop retract his abusive words. That wasn’t enough; he has organized series of lectures across the nation for people to be taught and told the dignity and reputation of the prophet ridiculed. What a sign of respect to the prophet! What a demonstration of love for the prophet and Islam!
I think it’s appropriate I disclose to you the name of this great man, the man who we can confidently vest our destiny into his subtle hands. This man who can make us start living and not merely existing, this man who can bring out the hidden beauty and aesthetics of Islam. This man unfortunately, is sect-less and does not exist. To tell you such a leader of a sect exists means there exists a vegetarian wolf. To tell you this man exists, means you can study organic chemistry without mentioning the element carbon, to tell you such a man exist means you can become a Muslim without the shahada. Impossible! Seriously impossible!
No leader has even done one quarter of what I just mentioned. The most painful aspect of the whole story is that, this monumental achievement I have just mentioned is not above the office of the National Chief Imam. It is not above the national office of the Ahlu- Sunna waljama, it is not above the office of the Shia movement likewise not above any other Muslim sects we have in this country.
We have failed as Muslims in Ghana. What we do best is to engage in trivial doctrinal debate which yields nothing but hatred and mistrust whilst others are developing and putting structures. I am yet to see who can fit as the successor to the Chief Imam?
NB: The writer is a student of knowledge