LET’S FOLLOW THE FEATS CHALKED BY THE NATIONAL CHIEF IMAM….
By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai
One personality in Ghana, who is revered by almost all well meaning people at home and abroad, is the National Chief Imam of Ghana, Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu. God has been merciful to him when he recently attained a ripe age of 93 having been born in 1923. In fact almost all those who have come in contact with him attest to the fact that he looks younger than his age having a stature that makes him play his leadership roles by leading his congregation in prayers always morning day and night, weekly and yearly. The Question that keeps popping up about the chief imam is, what has he achieved in all these years? The reason for the outpouring of commendation to the chief imam is not just because of the age he has attained. It has to do with his accomplishments in life and as an Imam or Muslim leader. He is humble and approachable. He is also a philanthropist having cultivated the habit of giving to the poor and needy especially the youth and children seeking education. A visit to his home being renovated into a palace , at Fadama, a suburb of Accra would reveal a huge number of people trooping daily to take their food daily from morning to till night . Apart from those people, he receives a number of people who call to seek counseling free of charge on spiritual and social issues. Today the home of the National Chief Imam has become home to strangers, and travelers coming to Ghana from the neighboring West Africa nations like Chad, Mali, Senegal and Niger to mention but a few. A Christian minister who once visited the imam said we in Ghana are blessed to have such a rare peace loving Islamic cleric who he described as a unifier. Yes, I found the imam as a man who would not condone, promote or support extremism. He responds to calls for non denominational activities towards peace in Ghana and world peace. That is why he is a member of the National Peace Council and many other committees at religious and governmental levels. As an imam and peace maker he presides over marriages throughout Accra and some parts of the regions and has a committee for resolving disputes. He has taken part in settling many chieftaincy, ethnic and other disputes to the admiration of many people in Ghana He personally presided over the reopening of a food chain joint known as Marwarko at Maamobi after it was vandalized by rampaging youth. Apart from leading prayers annually during Eid al Fitr and Adha and someties going on pilgrimage to Mecca, he holds Mauled Nabiyi, the ceremony marking the birth of Prophet Mohammed annually during which he offers prayers for the nation and all its citizens. He is (apolitical) not aligned to a particular political party. For that matter he receives all party leaders at his home and accepts their invitations to functions. The interesting aspect of the man’s life is that he did not clamor for the Imamship. It Islamic leadership came to him as a natural calling.
Since his childhood days, he rarely had time to play because he was completely devoted to his books, which helped him tremendously to commit to memory various Al-hadiths of the Holy Prophet, Islamic texts, Islamic Jurisprudence and Islamic literature.
Furthermore, to better equip young Osman with onerous tasks ahead, and to shoulder the future challenges and responsibilities, Sheikh Nuhu Bin Mohammed Sharabutu organized night classes for his son.
That was where our Moslem Leader was exposed to complexities of Arabic Morphology (Sarf) and logic to enable him to fully comprehend the highly advanced texts and Rhetoric in his future studies.
His mother, Hajja Ayishatu Abbass popularly known as Mma Tasidi, may her soul rest in peace and perfect bliss, also contributed immensely to the moral and psychological development of her son by ensuring that he had the proper home upbringing to go side with Islamic Education. He grew up to be a truly Islamic Model and a Unique Islamic heavyweight in knowledge and wisdom worthy of emulation. At any point in time since his childhood till date he has been hammering on the need for all Ghanaians, Muslims and Christians to live in peace, saying that any divisive tendencies could leave room for our enemies to penetrate to defeat us.
HIS JOURNEY TO KUMASI
When his father saw his true devotion and love for books and knowledge, he decided to send Osman to a new learning environment. It was later decided that the Garden City and the Capital of Ashanti Region becomes his new learning destination.
The prominent Islamic Scholar Sheikh Abdullah Dan Tano became his next teacher. That was where he went through a highly advanced course in Arabic Grammar, Arabic Literature and Texts, the study of Islamic Jurisprudence and Al-Hadiths (practices of the Holy Prophet). He remained there until he graduated with distinction from Kumasi.
THE AFTERMATH OF HIS JOURNEY TO KUMASI
After his advanced studies in Kumasi, Mallam Osman became a completely changed and reformed personality. This is due to the deep knowledge he acquired outside his original environment and his ability to imbibe the moral teachings from his teachers. After a careful contemplation, he later took a decision of devoting his time to teaching the Moslem youth who are keen in learning to become Islamic Scholars, thinkers, teachers and imams in future.
Even as teacher himself , he continued to have the desire and love for pursuit of knowledge to the extent that anytime he heard of an Islamic Scholar, he rushed to fall on his feet as a student to seek further knowledge thereby benefiting from that scholar.
Among the illustrious scholars and Sheikhs who taught Mallam Osman are Sheikh Alhadi popularly known as Baraw, may he rest in peace. Sheikh Baraw taught the interpretation of the Holy Quran, Classic Arabic Language, Literature and Texts. Another famous Sheikh who served as a tutor and instructor to Mallam Osman was Sheikh Abubakar Fulaaty Al Kanawy who hailed from Nigeria. It was this Sheikh who taught him Arabic Culture, Al-Hadith of the Holy Prophet, Arabic Texts as Fundamentals of Sufism.
MEETING ALHAJI SHEIKH IBRAHIMA NIASS QUTBU ZAMAN
Mallam Osman continued with research on Sufism, by often devoting his leisure time in mosques to listen to the preachers of the Tijjaniyya movement and Sufism. When his maternal uncle Sheikh Imam Alhadji Mohammed Abbas Mazawaje, who was the Accra Chief Imam saw the devotion, interest and handwork in Osman he introduced the Tijjaniyya Movement’s Special Meditation to him, which he readily embraced. He pursued the Tijjaniyya Meditation till the arrival of the grand pioneer of the movement, the torch bearer and supreme commander of the Tijjaniyya of the 20th century, Grand Sheikh Alhadji Ibrahim Nyass from Kaolack in Sénégal.
HIS APPOINTMENT AS NATIONAL CHIEF IMAM
Sheikh Ibrahim Nyass taught Mallam Osmam the deeper spiritual aspect of Sufism and rudiments of mysticism and eserotics which smoothly paved the way for Mallam Osmam to become a truly leader in the Tijjaniyya Movement in Ghana.
Interestingly in 1974, after a lengthy discussions among the traditional and tribal chiefs, academics, Islamic scholars, and religious personalities, a consensus was reached for Sheikh Osman to be appointed as the Deputy National Chief Imam of Ghana, considering the unique qualities and exemplary lifestyle in him, but he turned down their offer which was forced on him by persistently asking him to give it a serious thought stressing to him that it could be a divine call to serve God.
Subsequently when it dawned on Sheikh Osman that it was a divine call for him to serve Islam and Moslem communities, he finally accepted the position as the acting National Chief Imam until 1993, when he was ceremoniously appointed as the National Chief Imam of Ghana to head the Ghana Moslem Communities.
HIS ISLAMIC ACTIVITIES
Sheikh Osman was well known for his exemplary lifestyle and generosity to people who called on him with their personal problems. He also built many Arabic Schools, Islamic Centers and Mosques. Normally he spends huge sums money in Organizing conferences, seminars and symposia on thorny Islamic issues prevailing in the Islamic societies and the country as a whole.
From the amounts given on him Sheikh Osman deserves the award given him by the University of Ghana who bestowed on him an honorary Doctorate Degree. He deserves more of that from any Islamic University or Higher Institution of learning; also he really deserves the accolade of a great Moslem leader due to his immense contribution and love for maintaining peace and development in Ghana. He is also contributing to the revival of good values and reform in the Moslem youth, Islamic faith and the Moslem communities.
Nevertheless, Sheikh Osman also taught Islamic scholars and Sheikhs. Among his student are Sheikh Yahya El-Ameen, Mallam Adam Attah, Mallam Saeed, Alhadji Jibril Madaha, Mallam Ibrahima Nyass, Mohammed Muniru “Dan Alfah”, Mallam Mustapha Yaa Jalala, Mallam Habibu Gora, and Mallam Zurkanain, to mention just a few.
To sum up, Sheikh Osman ranks high among the erudite and prominent Islamic Scholars Ghana has ever produced, among his contemporaries are sheikh Kamâludeen who is currently serving as the Deputy National Chief Imam of Ghana and the late Sheikh Alhadji Haroun Rasheed.
In recent times, to climax his passion for education, smooth and mutual interfaith relations and peaceful coexistence, peace building and unity, he founded two organizations that are making great marks and impacting positive changes in the lives of Ghanaians and the World in general.
The works and activities of the Sheikh Dr. Osman Nuhu Sharubutu Education Trust Fund (SONSETFUND) and the Islamic Peace and Security Council of Ghana (IPASEC) cannot be over emphasized or over looked in the contemporary Ghana.
What remains to be done now that he is ageing is the establishment of a secession plan for those to take over from him at the right time. The first is to recognize the regional leaders of Islam and the appointment of deputy imams in line of leadership succession. This will not be the duty of the chief imam but all the officials and advisory board members working with him. Like the imam himself every deputy and successor would be chosen at the right time. For now no one should impose himself or get imposed on Muslims of Ghana. The achievements of the National Chief Imam would be a yardstick for anybody wanting to be an Imam in future.
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