President John Dramani Mahama yesterday joined Muslims to celebrate this year’s Eid-ul-Adha, during which he painted a bright future for Ghana, saying the country was inching closer to realising its developmental agenda.
Eid-ul-Adha, which literally translates into Festival of the Sacrifice, refers to the story of Abraham or Ibrahim (as he is also known in Islam) who was ready to sacrifice his son Ishmael at the command of Allah. After testing Ibrahim’s devotion, Allah switched the object of sacrifice to a sheep, instead of Ibrahim’s son.
Muslims usually, symbolically, sacrifice lambs and other animals in the name of Allah and as a show of respect for Ibrahim’s willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice. The meat of the sacrifice is considered pious and distributed among friends and family.
Eid-ul-Adha is considered one of the holiest festivals in Islam and marks the end of Hajj — the annual pilgrimage undertaken by devout Muslims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Although the national event in Accra was marked without the physical presence of the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Usman Nuhu Sharubutu, who is participating in the Hajj, the ceremony did not lose its traditional and religious touch, as the Chief Imam was ably represented by the Deputy Chief Imam, Sheikh Hussein Zakaria, who led the Qahara and reading from the Holy Qur’an.
President Mahama, dressed in white, arrived at the Black Star Square at 9.15 a.m. and went round to greet the Muslim leaders and the congregation before taking his seat.
Prayers were then said for the President and the nation.
From one sector to another, the President mentioned the strides the country had made, stressing that “Allah has blessed this nation”.
“We are expanding our ports; we are building more airports; we are providing more buses to create easy transportation links between our towns and villages; we are building new roads; we are rehabilitating several others throughout the country; we are connecting more communities to the electricity grid; we are extending more clean drinking water to more communities.
“We have started irrigation projects in readiness for our green agricultural revolution; we are creating more opportunities for our young students who would have had their education truncated at the JHS level if it were not for the 123 community day senior high schools we are building; we are developing our oil and gas resources to guarantee power and energy supply and together we have come far and I believe that together we will achieve even more,” the President said.
While calling for unity of purpose among Ghanaians, he expressed the hope that working together Ghana could easily become the regional powerhouse of the West African sub-region.
“I envision Ghana becoming a net exporter of food, power, education and health care to the rest of the countries in the ECOWAS sub-region,” President Mahama said.
He mentioned employment and economic opportunities as two key areas which would be addressed by the implementation of the economic transformation agenda and other policy initiatives.
Although the President described this year’s Hajj as successful, he, nevertheless, was quick to apologise for the inability to airlift all those who were due for the pilgrimage.
He attributed the development to two reasons: First was the airlifting of 2,000 passengers from the Tamale International Airport, which was very well patronised, and second was the dramatic increase in the number of pilgrims beyond the quota assigned to the country by the Saudi authorities.
To address the problem encountered this year, President Mahama said he had asked the Hajj Committee to request an increase in the quota for pilgrims from the present 5,424 to 7,000.
Taking a look at the significance of Eid-ul-Adha, he asked about what Allah expected of Muslims and non-Muslims and proceeded to provide the answer: “I believe that Allah wants us to live in peaceful co-existence with one another, just as we have been doing in Ghana over the years. Allah will require of us to speak the truth and not deceive people for our own selfish reasons.”
Touching on this year’s elections, the President urged Ghanaians to maintain the peace, so that the image the country had carved for itself as a peaceful democratic enclave would be protected.
“I remain confident that we will respond and deliver another transparent, free, fair and peaceful elections,” he stated
Chief Imam’s message
In a message read on his behalf, the National Chief Imam reiterated his call to all politicians to ensure that the elections passed peacefully.
He also cautioned the media to be circumspect in their delivery in order not to incite trouble before, during and after the elections.
“The flag bearers should not forget that they are representing large communities, hence the need to speak well of themselves and refrain from throwing insults at one another. If they continue to attack one another, how will they advise their subordinates?” Sheikh Sharubutu, whose message was largely devoted to the 2016 general election, asked.
He said it was important for politicians to make their promises without attacking one another.
He also urged the Electoral Commission to be “transparent, accountable and God-fearing in dealing with all its stakeholders to avoid mistrust”.
He urged Muslims to prove that Islam stood for peace.
“We must learn to resist self-seeking politicians who will attempt to lure us into doing their dirty work for them,” he advised his fellow Muslims.