Imam Hajj Umar speaks on power struggle among Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah leadership
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Accra: Sheikh Hajj Umar Ibrahim, the National Imam of Ahlussunnah Wal Jamaah (ASWAJ) Ghana, has granted an interview that has caused disquiet among members of the Muslim group.

This followed the damning revelations made by the National Imam over the ongoing power struggle among the leadership and how he has been sidelined over the years in matters of decision-making.

The purpose of the interview was to seek the official position of ASWAJ on who was the occupant of the first National Deputy Imam, a position that became contentious following the return of Sheikh Munir Abdullah Tawfiq after his suspension.

The interview was conducted by Hafiz TV and Baina TV, online and television platforms, respectively, dedicated to the affairs of the Zongo communities.

According to the Imam, who has been the leader of the Muslim group since 1997, the headquarters of ASWAJ still recognises Shiekh Munir as the First National Deputy Imam of the Muslim sect.

He explained that Sheikh Munir lost his position not for religious reasons but rather on the grounds of his association with an influential opposition leader in a neighbouring country.

“Considering his position as a first national deputy and having an opposition leader as a friend could cause us problems, we couldn’t ask him to dismiss his friend, so we would rather unseat him from his position,” he said.

It was worthy to note that in the absence of Sheikh Munir, Sheikh Mohammed Kamil Mohammed, who was then the Second Deputy National Imam of ASWAJ, has been acting in the stead of the First National Deputy.

However, Sheikh Ibrahim, popularly known as Hajj Umar, said there had been a series of meetings without him being duly consulted, and on each occasion, efforts were made to elevate the Second Deputy Imam to the position of First National Deputy.

He said he has on three occasions opposed the elevation of the second deputy imam to the position of first deputy imam as the substantive matter of Sheikh Munir was pending and being interrogated.

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“They came to me with documents signed that it was a majority decision, and I told them I don’t assent to a majority of less value,” he said.

He expressed disappointment over the way some members of the group have only made him a ceremonial head and sidelined him in decision-making.

He said he was unaware of the meeting between the Imams and Sheikh Munir, where they (the Imams) announced to Sheikh Munir that he could no longer be an Imam of the group.

Such actions, he noted, do not auger well for the unity and cohesion needed for the religious group to thrive.

“I have been quiet because I have come to understand the position they want me to occupy. A ceremonial head! And I am more than that.

“I am not bothered about leadership. If they should come to me and say they have found someone today and no longer want me… It won’t take me more than a second to vacate the position,” he said.

Following the revelations, scholars have advised members of the sectarian group to refrain from making public comments on the issue.

Among them was Sheikh Anas Al Bakri Tawfiq, a Kumasi-based scholar who, during his lectures, encouraged members of the group to pray for the leadership and be wary of people with personal agendas who would want to sow seeds of discord among the leadership.

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