The day I went to Church as a Muslim
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Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The words of wisdom are the lost property of the believer, so wherever he finds it then he has a right to it.”

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2687

Grade: Hasan (fair) according to As-Suyuti

It was the evening of Friday, December 1, 2017, at the office. The assignment roster for the weekend had been prepared.

Upon glancing through the roster, I found to my dismay, my name appended in blue ink to the 12th graduation and matriculation ceremony of the Christian Leadership College.

Indeed, I was to spend my Sunday afternoon at the Church of the Royal House Chapel International near Abossey Okai in Accra.

In protest, l calmly registered my displeasure over my editor’s discretion to assign me to such an occasion.

“Am going to church?” I exclaimed. “Muslims don’t go to church?” my boss politely asked with pen in hand ready to alter the roster.

At that moment, the adventurous instinct in me quickly showed up and I agreed to go to church.

Though I would be there as a reporter, my religious curiosity as a Muslim made me want to attend a church service.

I wanted to remind myself what the atmosphere felt like to be in the ‘lord’s Presence’.

Truth be told, I had never found myself in any church edifice as a worshipper since I completed Junior High School in 2004. The closest I got to engaging in a church fellowship was at events that would require Christian prayers to be said.

At the church, I witnessed it all. The electrifying atmosphere of praises and shouts, the melodic voices, the prophecies, the ‘seed sowing session’ and the motivational sermons. But I never quivered through them all as I sat nonchalantly.

Graduation Ceremony

It wasn’t long before the official matriculation and graduation ceremony began. It was the ceremony of the Christian Leadership College. A college administered and financed by the Royal House Church.

It was affiliated with the Trinity Theological Seminary at Legon and the Regent University College of Science and Technology in Accra.

The college was started in April 2001 to provide training that would equip students in effective leadership and the spreading of the Christian Gospel. The college was looking at upgrading its status to a university.

About 57 individuals graduated from both the Advanced Certificate in Theology and Management programme and the Certificate in Ministry programme.

Concurrently, some 57 new entrants were matriculated to officially begin their training in the Certificate in Ministry and Advanced Certificate in Theology and Management programmes at the college.

You might be wondering what is revealing about what I just narrated. Well, there isn’t at all except the fact that a church has set up an institution that will produce more pastors to continue to lead the church.

Blessing of certificates

The eye-opening moment came for me when the head pastor called out from among the congregation, all the graduates with the first class to come forward for a special prayer.

He then went ahead to announce that he would later invite the other graduates with other class honours to also pray for them.

At headcount, I could number about 10 graduates who came forward for the special prayer.

Later, their counterparts with other class honours joined and this time the podium was full of graduates in their gowns.

These were people who had offered different courses across various tertiary institutions in the country from Higher National Diploma (HND) to the Masters level.

As a reporter, I was lost in the proceedings as I was not aware there would be a blessing ceremony for graduates (it was not included in the programme lineup).

After praying for them, the head pastor presented them to the church congregation as beneficiaries of the church scholarship programme.

He went ahead to prophesise, that “the church would produce rulers of this nation (Ghana) one day”. Ironically, at the third row of the congregation sat the former minister of State, Mrs Sherry Ayitey. She was a member of the church.

There and then, I started doing my calculation even though I didn’t know for how long the scholarship programme had been in existence.

By estimation, if the total number of graduates I saw were anywhere close to 30 (very likely), in five years, the church would have fully sponsored the tertiary education of 150 people.

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Finding Solace

With a tingle in my spine, I said to myself, “This man is already living his prophecy”. Feeling awe and terrified at the same time as a Muslim, my mind quickly ran back to cross-checking with the Muslim community to see if I could find solace in any human development project of such capacity by the Ghanaian Muslims.

Unfortunately, my mind went blank and my mood was melancholic. I was sad not because we didn’t have enough schools or big mosques, nor was it because we lacked the resource to support any initiative or project that we wanted to embark upon.

I was sad because we lacked focus, we have very good leaders but with heavy hearts, most lacked direction. We have built schools, mosques and hospitals. But the concerted effort of building the human capacity of the people by the people was something I think has collectively eluded us as Muslims.

We don’t make good things happen, we wait for good things to happen to us. We rely on the benevolence of philanthropists to give us rice and oil for Eid, dates for fasting, hajj sponsorship and money to buy animals for slaughter.

While we wait for our schools and mosques to be built for us, we pride ourselves in the architecture of our existing mosques when the lives of the Muslims who pray in these mosques have no blueprint.

I had no doubt in my mind Allah sent me to church to learn wisdom. It was the wisdom of foresight, the wisdom to systematically build a community under the guidance of visionary leadership.

Blasphemous thought

For a second I felt compelled to weigh the social impact of a single church to that of a whole religion in a country. That is a Blasphemous thought I presume.

Instead of competing with ourselves over who has the tallest or biggest mosque, why can’t we compete over which mosque has the finest brains or the skilled congregation?

A congregation made up of Hufazz of the Quran, lectures, Medical doctors, nurses, finest technicians or artisans who would sufficiently give to the mosque.

Talking to myself, I wondered. What if each local mosque and I mean the congregation of the mosque annually sponsors the training of one person within the community to learn a trade or acquire a skill?

What if a mosque decides to sponsor the education of one child within the community to at least the Senior High School Level?

I believe each neighbourhood with a mosque would be one person less of a drug abuser, an armed robber or a sex worker.

Journey so far

Be it by chance or ultimate design, Allah has brought Muslims in Ghana far. Looking back at the days when our women suffered all kinds of maltreatment at the hospital simply because they had no education.

Gone were the days when there were no public holidays for Muslims in the country simply because we had no voice.

Alhamdulillah we today for the second time in our Ghanaian history have a Muslim Vice president and a second lady for that matter.

We have Muslims within the corners of the country doing marvellously well in their respective field of endeavours. They are exemplars to the younger generation of Muslims who aspire to be like them.

Nevertheless, the idea of building the Muslim ummah within a religious communal setting is something we need to consider. We would likely continue to thread this path of individualism for generations to come.

There is however an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”.

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