Academia, religious experts discuss jihad in global perspective

A day’s intellectual discourse for the academia and religious experts to discuss ‘jihad’ and its global perspective has been held at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi.

It is the first of such event to be held in Ghana to help identify the root causes that tend to fuel ‘jihadism’ and related effects on the society. ‘Jihad’ is an Arabic word which literally means ‘striving’ or ‘struggling’, especially with a praiseworthy aim.

The programme, held under the auspices of the Departments of Religious Studies, History and Political Studies of the University, comes at a time when the West African sub-region is experiencing a wave of jihadist attacks.

Ghana’s neighbouring countries – Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria, amongst others, have had their own share of such problems and the rippling effects – deaths, wanton destruction of property, fear and anxiety, are visible across the sub- region.

Professor Imoro Braimah, Provost of the KNUST College of Humanities and Social Sciences, in an opening address, said it was necessary that society looked at jihadism from a broader point of view.

“It is important that varied factors encompassing the socio-political and religious structure of the society were given the needed consideration in order to get to the bottom of the issue.

“We should begin to critically look at our guiding principles as people, values and norms.

“What are we doing to our youth? We need to look at whether or not our system is alienating them to help reduce their susceptibility of being swayed wrongly,” Prof. Braimah told the gathering.

In attendance were social scientists and researchers, technocrats, as well as Muslim and Christian leaders from various sects, religious students and the media.

In 2015, Mohammed Nazir Alema, a graduate of KNUST, attracted global attention when he was reported to have joined Islamic jihadist group, ISIS, in Syria.

Security reports had established that Alema was lured by propaganda materials posted by ISIS, especially on the internet.

Prof. Braimah appealed to religious leaders and opinion leaders to endeavour to shape the thoughts of the youth positively for the betterment of society.

“They must be guided to make informed decisions, identifying and appreciating the good values and norms of the Ghanaian society,” he added.

Prof. Abdulkader Tayob, of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Cape Town, speaking on the topic: ‘A Discourse of Jihad in South Africa: Culture, History and Semiotics’, indicated that jihadism was unpredictable and unsettling.

For that reason, stakeholders within the global societal setup ought to have the requisite discourse on jihad pertaining to their own local perspectives.

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