National Chief Imam, Shaykh Dr. Osman Nuhu Sharubutu, Ministers of State, Ulama, Jama, I salute you with the greetings of peace in Islam, ASALAMU ALAIKUM! We thank Almighty God for the gift of life, and for affording us the opportunity to meet again after we last met here for the Eid Ul Fitr celebrations. We continue to pray for life, health and prosperity for the Ghanaian people.
Eid Ul Adha is an occasion for us to remember the sacrifices Prophet Abraham made in obedience to the will of God. Islam means peace and submission to the will of God. Islam should, thus, instil in us a sense of sacrifice – a sense of sacrifice that puts others and our nation first. That is the meaning of Eid Ul Adha. According to the 2010 Population Census, Muslims constitute 17% of our population. 17%, by any standard of measure, is a significant figure. Therefore, your contribution to national development is significant. And I am happy to state that many Muslims are making significant contributions to national development and, in my government, in particular, where some of the leading figures involved in the transformation agenda are Muslims.
Shaykh Sharubutu, Ulama, Jama, let us pray for those of our brothers, sisters and country men and women who have embarked on the Hajj. We pray that the Almighty sees them through the Hajj rites and brings them back home safely. I am delighted to note that, this year, the Hajj has been largely without problem. My government is committed to maintaining the atmosphere that allows people of all religious persuasions to practice their religion without let or hindrance. One of the many things about which our nation can be proud is the peace and mutual respect that exists amongst people of all religious persuasions, who live here. I urge you to continue to be ambassadors of peace. In a world where the beautiful religion of Islam has virtually been hijacked by people who pervert its values, every Muslim should make it his or her responsibility to be an example of what it means to be Muslim.
In two weeks time, I shall launch the Free Senior High School Policy. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) (Sallallahu Allayhi Wa’Salam) is reported to have said that "knowledge is the lost property of the believer; let him or her find it wherever he or she will." Shaykh Sharubutu, Ulama, I believe that Muslims should embrace this policy, because it allows the fulfilment of Prophetic admonishment. It allows us to enlighten our communities and bring illumination to our society. It allows us to guarantee a future for our children and our country. How do we seek knowledge as a religious duty, if we do not have the means to seek it? The Prophet is also reported to have said that "one knowledgeable believer is harder on the devil than a 100 ignorant believers." We are in a better position to practice our religion, if we are educated. The Free Senior High School Policy eliminates one of the major barriers to seeking secondary education – poverty. It is my fervent belief that it is an educated population that can accelerate the development of our country.
Shaykh Sharubutu, Ulama, Jama, I cannot end my statement without urging the education of the Muslim girl or woman. "Paradise lies under the feet of mothers", so says the Prophet Muhammad. We must take the education of the girl child seriously. We shall be perpetuating ignorance, poverty and disease if the trainers of generations of Ghanaians remain uneducated.
May the Almighty continue to bless our beloved nation, Ghana, and make her great and strong. ASALAMU ALAIKUM!