Chief Imam

Dr Osman Nuhu Sharubutu

One issue that stirs up emotions within Muslim social-political circles in this country is the question of who succeeds the National Chief Imam, Dr Osman Nuhu Sharubutu when he is called by Allah. The ostrich approach of the entire Ghanaian Muslim Ummah on the issue is most worrisome. A good number of concerned Muslims believe that it is better to take the bull by 

the horns rather than wait to be overtaken by events that could prove dangerous to the national peace.

To really understand the concerns of this writer, it is necessary to situate the issues within a proper context. This is necessary because the question of leadership in Ghanaian Islam has in the past stoked the embers of fire and in certain instances created discord and disturbances.

One may recall the Kumasi Central Mosque crisis of the 1960s and the Takoradi Central Mosque case, just to mention a few. In the immediate recent past, Koforidua experienced a similar discord which, though seemingly settled, still continues to spew discordant voices in the Muslim Ummah. The inability of the Ummah to agree on a well-defined leadership process is the cause of the upheavals that happen when Imams pass on.

The examples mentioned, when transposed onto the national scene, create some apprehension.

We should not delude ourselves as Muslims that succession to Sheikh Osman NuhuSharubutu would be smooth.

The assumption in some quarters that the Electoral College of tribal heads supported by persons who perceive themselves as the ?owners? of Accra because their fathers came to settle earlier (before the Seas), is sufficient to produce the next National Chief Imam is, to say the least, objectionable.

The situation calls for a more sober and honest reflection in view of the respect and honour that the first National Chief Imam has brought to bear on the edifice of leadership.

It is a fact that before him all others were Regional Chief Imams who derived their authority because of proximity to geo-political power. It is known that the Muslim leaderships of Bawku and Wenchi are more prominent and potent than those of their regional capitals.

Now then, the critical question to ask is; do we as Ghanaian Muslims have in place a process for electing the next National Chief Imam?
Definitely not! In these days of democratic dispensation where people think that even in the divine sphere of spirituality, human choice matters.

Can a few determine the criteria for the position?

It is pertinent to note that at a funeral some few months ago, there was a hot debate when a speaker whose father is referred to as the Deputy National Chief Imam denied that assertion. He based his position on the fact that his father was not an officially turbaned Deputy National Chief Imam.

Be that as it may, we realize the two, i.e. substantive and deputy National Chief Imam, are both in their late nineties. What are we doing about the next set of leadership?

Sheikh Nuhu Sharubutu?s legacy needs to be protected by a well laid down and transparent selection process. His assumption of Chief Imamship of this country has been a source of pride to the extent that all sides of the Muslim doctrinal divide accept his father figure of a highly esteemed spiritual guide. Can we say the same after him when persons close to him have started elbowing each other out of the ?race?

Let me state with emphasis that for those who love the Sheik and sit in his counsel with him, this is the time for them to be real on the issue of succession.

Accra regional Chief Imamship is not coterminous with National Chief Imamship. Sheikh Nuhu Sharubutu came onto the exalted position because of the total endorsement of Imams from Northern, Middle belt and coastal Ghana.

The Electoral College of a 21st Century Ghanaian Islam is expected to take on board all concerns of all groups irrespective of doctrine; i.e. Tijaniya, AhlSunna, the non-aligned Muslims and all ethnic groups. It should deliberately be all-inclusive and not skewed in favour of a particular tribe. With this we shall have consensus and anyone who emerges could have the bay?a of all.

I come from a village where there is only one JHS where I am doing my National Service. I am also an active Muslim preacher. The funeral I attended was that of our COMOG General Secretary in 2013.

I have put my ideas on paper. Let all debate, discuss, approve or disapprove. That is the Muslim spirit of SHURA.

By Abubakar Bankuyeli Mahama 

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