Islamic Scholar Sheikh Aremeyaw Shaibu has criticised Islamic leaders for inciting Muslims against an “errant but innocuous statement” made by Science, Technology, Environment and Innovation Minister, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, in which the celebrated heart surgeon suggested that Muslims consider using text messages or WhatsApp to call Muslims to prayer instead of blurting the adhan via loudspeakers.
In Professor Boateng’s view, such an action will help reduce noise pollution in the country.
“In the house of worship, why is it that the noise will [not] be limited to the house of worship…and again maybe from the mosque, why is it that time for prayer would not be transmitted with a text message or WhatsApp so the Imam will send WhatsApp messages to everybody that the time for prayer is up so appear,” the minister stated at the Meet-The-Press series in Accra.
Reacting to the development on the Executive Breakfast Show (EBS) on Class91.3FM on Wednesday, 18 April 2018, Sheikh Shaibu, who is also the spokesperson for the National Chief Imam, told host Moro Awudu that the minister “was discussing noise generally and he made reference to those who blast their music machines and said why can’t they move and use earpieces, then he came to houses of worship. In this case, broadly speaking, he was talking about churches and the mosques but in my understanding when he made mention of houses of worship, it was like he has spoken about the Christian side then he comes and again [said], ‘Why can’t’, which means he is not saying this is what you must do but in a suggestion, which meant that he also did not understand the importance of the Adhan because he is not a Muslim.
Sheik Shaibu continued: “He is looking at it like the Christians used to ring a bell in those days to assemble people for worship but now because of urbanization, they are no more using it. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I heard the bell on Sunday. So, in his view, just like the Christians can change their format, probably, Islam, too. The call is our own creation, and, so, we can also change
“If someone who does not understand your religion makes an errant suggestion, what is the model of response as far as Islamic scripture is concerned? I can give a litany of texts in the life of the Prophet Mohammed himself and the Quran that when some of these things happen, [he responded in a certain way].
“I take you to Quran Chapter 25 verse 63: ‘The servants of the most beneficent are those when they are confronted by the ignorant, they say peace’. That is why I say we lost the greatest opportunity including Imams and scholars like me who have sought to further incite the community against an errant but innocuous statement made by the [minister]”.
He also blamed the media for exaggerating and making it seem like the minister’s comment was targeted at Muslims and the Islamic religion.
“I think the media did not do well. The media sought to create the impression as if Muslims and Islam was exclusively targeted in that statement and I think that has been very unfair and this comment I’m making has also attracted a lot of bashing on my side and it is creating the impression as if I am in support of what I describe as an errant suggestion of a minister.
“The Quran tells us not to make conclusions based on assumptions and that is why if you go to the Quran in Chapter 49 for example, it says when someone brings you information, it says seek clarification so that you don’t afflict people based on hatred and ignorance and I think that majority of Muslims including educated ones like me lost a great opportunity to give expression to this important virtue of Islam,” he stated.