Remarks By Vice President Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia At A Breakfast Meeting With Muslim Leaders At The Jubilee House

Your Eminence, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, National Chief Imam of Ghana, Eminent Imams,  Representatives of the various Islamic sects; the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission, Tijaaniyat, Shiat and Ahlusunnah Wal Jamaat, The Coordinator for Ghana’s Coronavirus Response, Dr Anarfi Asamoa-Baah, The Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr Anthony Nsiah-Asare The Minority Leader, Hon Haruna Iddrisu Ulamas and Members of the Council of Zongo Chiefs, Fellow Muslims. Fellow Ghanaians As salam alaikum warahmatullah wabarakaatu. On behalf of His Excellency President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, I warmly welcome you all to the seat of Government, the Jubilee House this morning for this very important meeting. Your Eminence, the reason for our meeting this morning with the Muslim leadership of Ghana, is about the global pandemic brought by the deadly COVID-19 virus, commonly known us Coronavirus. Yesterday, H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo met with Christian leaders on the same subject and this meeting is a continuation of the government’s interactions with religious leaders of our country.  In the past few weeks, the Coronavirus has ravaged many countries and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared it as a global pandemic. Indeed, it is a global pandemic considering the rapid manner in which the virus is spreading across nations and the number of casualties. According to the WHO, there have been over 180,000 infections and over 7000 deaths globally. In Ghana, there have been 11 confirmed cases as at yesterday (Thursday March 19). Throughout the world, and recently on the African continent, there continue to be a daily upsurge in confirmed cases. Your Eminence, even though Ghana is one of the least-hit countries in the world, the government has taken swift and decisive preventive measures to curb the spread of the virus in the country. Prior to Ghana’s first confirmed case the government announced the immediate suspension of international travels by all public officials. On March 11, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo delivered his first address to the nation on the Coronavirus and announced measures, including government’s plans and preparedness, to combat the Coronavirus should our country experience it. After the first two cases of the Coronavirus in Ghana were confirmed, the President again addressed the nation on Sunday March 15. During the address, the President announced more drastic measures, which included tightening of all ports of entry,  designation of quarantine, isolation and treatment centers, as well as closure of all schools and suspension of all public gatherings, including services at churches and mosques for the next four weeks. Subsequent to the President’s second address to the nation, the government issued a travel advisory which banned nationals of heavily affected countries from entering our jurisdiction and also discouraged Ghanaian citizens from traveling to these countries. Our port authorities have since denied many nationals of these countries entry into our country. One of the most striking government directives was the suspension of religious activities in churches and mosques. For us as Muslims, it means our daily congregational prayers and weekly Jummah prayers would have to be on hold as the nation battles the spread of the dangerous virus. Just a day after the President’s directive, the National Chief Imam held a press conference and urged Ghanaian Muslims to strictly adhere to the government’s directive. Also, the National Chief Imam, in conjunction with leadership of the various Islamic sects in the country, issued a press release suspending all congregational prayers and functions, including Jummah until further notice.  In compliance with these directives by the Muslim leadership, many leading mosques in the country have also issued statements to their congregants announcing suspension of congregational prayers. Your Eminence, the President and the government sincerely appreciate the cooperation of the Muslim leadership towards our collective effort to protect our country and citizens from the deadly threat of Covid-19. The decision to suspend services in churches and mosques, was drastic, but a necessary measure to safeguard our health so that we can get back stronger and worship our Lord, in shaa Allah. As you already know, Eminent Imams, this decision, and the advice to restrict movements under the difficult situation we find ourselves in, are all well grounded in Islamic principles. Even before the advent of science, our beloved Messenger of Allah, Muhammed S.A.W. is quoted to have said in Hadith that: “if you hear of an outbreak of a plague in a land, do not enter it. But if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.” This profound statement, made many centuries ago by the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. is what our scientists and health professionals have adviced us to do now in the midst of the outbreak of this global pandemic. As the National Chief Imam told us during his press conference on Monday, Islam is a religion of flexibility which allows us to tilt with our normal practices in certain extreme situations where health, life and safety of humanity are concerned. Your Eminence and fellow Muslims, we are not alone in this unprecedented situation. Many countries around the world have taken similar preventive measures of suspending daily congregational and Jummah prayers to help curb the spread of the virus. Countries such as Turkey, Egypt, Kuwait, Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, etc.  have all ordered the suspension of congregational prayers in mosques.  Saudi in particular has suspended Ummrah and is allowing controlled prayers only at the well-guarded two Holy Mosques in Mecca and Madina. The threat of Coronovirus is real and the suspension of congregational prayers are serious steps taken by Ghana and all these countries to protect people. During this temporary period of not being able to converge at mosques for prayers and also listen to the weekly Friday Khutba, I will like to suggest an innovative way of delivering weekly sermons through social media to homes in the country by Imams and mosques which have the capacity to do so. I am happy the Ghana Police Mosque has announced its intention to deliver live Friday sermons through facebook to its congregants and Muslims in general during this temporary suspension of congregational prayers.  The Khutba is an important aspect of our Jummah prayers and a real source of weekly inspiration to Muslims so I will like to encourage Imams and mosques across the country to consider this on-line innovation. While we observe our daily prayers at home and supplicate to Allah to save us from the Coronavirus, it is essential we continue to strictly observe the preventive measures that have been announced to help keep everyone safe. Covering our mouths when coughing and sneezing, as well as washing our hands regularly with soap under running water, are some of the preventive steps we should continuously adhere to. It is also important for all Muslims to thoroughly wash our hands with soap under running water, to ensure our hands are clean before we start ablution. As the government continues to take bold steps to curb the spread, and citizens are encouraged to  strictly observe these preventive measures to protect us from contracting and further spreading the virus, in shaa Allah,  I wish to urge our eminent Imams to continue to pray for our dear nation Ghana and the world. We have unwavering belief in the Almighty Allah that He has what it takes to save us and the world from this affliction. As Allah himself says in the Holy Qur’an Chapter 6:17, “And if Allah should touch you with adversity, there is no remover of it except Him. And if He touches you with good, then He is over all things competent.” So it is to Allah that we turn in this time of adversity. There is no other but Him. Some will ask why are you resorting to prayer? Indeed the circumstances surrounding the revelation of one of the most important verses in the Quran, Surah al-Ikhlas, was when non-believers asked the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) about God: “Describe your God to us.” In reply to them, the Prophet (S) recited this surah. This surah serves as the “identity card” of God. Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-RaheemQul Huw-Allahu AhadAllah-us-SamadLam yalid wl lam yuladWa lam yakul lahu kufuwan ahad  In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.Say: He is Allah, the One!Allah, the eternally Besought of all!He begetteth not nor was begotten.And there is none comparable unto Him.  It is a short verse but one of the most important. We are told it is equal to one third of the Quaran or the Torah (given to Moses) or the Injil (Bible given to Jesus)“Qul huwa’llahu ahad” That is, He is One and has no substitute; He has neither similitude nor equal; He has neither limbs nor parts. “Allahu’s-samad” {Allah is the All-embracing}“Samad” means impenetrable, indestructible and unchangeable. “Lam yalid wa lam yulad” {He neither begat nor was begotten}He is the Creator of all beings. His work is not reproduction such as “reproducing Himself”. It is instead bringing something into being from non-being or nothing.  “Wa lam yakun lahu kufuwan ahad” {Nor has He any equal}He has no equal in being, perfection and action. He is One and no one is similar to Him. He is the One and Only   Ya Allah, Iyaaka na’budu, wa iyaaka nasta-in. Indeed, it is you  we worship, and it is you we ask for help. May the Almighty Allah have mercy on us and save us from this Coronavirus malady. Thank you. Wa salam alaikum warahmatullah wabarakaatu.  

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