RELIGIOUS tolerance was on display in Parliament on Wednesday night when Muslims and Christians came together to observe Iftar; the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset.
Led by the National Chief Imam, Sheik Osman Nuhu Sharabutu, in attendance were the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, the Majority and Minority Leaders, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu and Haruna Iddrisu respectively.
Other non Muslim participants included the Parish Priest of the Christ the King Catholic Church, Rev Father Andrew Campbell, the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship, representatives of the Christian Council and other Christian leaders and members of the Diplomatic Corps.
On the theme, ‘Fostering religious tolerance and societal harmony: The role of the Muslim’ the gathering known as ‘The Night of Power’ was the ninth in series.
The occasion, interspersed with Quranic recitations, was used to say prayers for the three arms of government; thus Executive, Legislature and Judiciary and the entire citizenry.
Dr Bawumia, describing the scene as beautiful as Muslims and Christians shared tables to dine, said Ghana was a shining example when it came to religious tolerance and should continue to trail the blaze
According to him, the commonalities between Christianity and Islam was striking as Muslims believe in the mystery surrounding the birth and death of Jesus Christ revealing that “in fact, there is more mention of Mary, [the mother of Jesus] in the Quran than in the whole New Testament”.
He noted that intolerance was born out of ignorance and that if people had the requisite education they would be more tolerant to other people’s views and beliefs.
Building an inclusive society, the Vice President stressed, was key to tolerance urging the citizenry not to allow ‘bad people’ infiltrate their ranks for “that is the only way people could divide us”.
He was full of praise for the Chief Imam for visiting the church; a gesture he said was extended to him by Christian leaders in Kukuom in the Bono Region on his yearly Ramadan tour.
Professor Oquaye, the guest of honour for the gathering on his part said Ghana’s democracy would not work if citizens do not cultivate the habit of tolerance be it political, religious or ethnic.
Likening the society to a car, he said, “We need each other to function properly” adding that Ghana had only one enemy which is Satan which had come to destroy.
He said being a Muslim or a Christian was not the doing of anybody because “if I were born in a particular part of this country, I would have been a Muslim” and same he said applied to the Chief Imam.
The Majority and Minority Leaders expressed their joy at the annual meeting which they say had come to stay and called on both sects to emulate the National Chief Imam in how he reaches out to the opposite side of the religious divide.
In a sermon, Sheik Aremeyaw Shaibu, the spokesperson for the Chief Imam urged the Muslim umar to tell the story of Prophet Mohammed and correct the erroneous impression that the Holy Prophet was a violent character.
Prophet Mohammed, Sheik Shaibu said was a peacemaker who loved even those who hurt him and urged the citizenry to shun divisive characters in society and be forgiving as the Holy Prophet.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI