Catriona Robertson

journeys at home and abroad

Chief Imam of Ghana in London

Sheikh Osman Nuru Sharubutu, second left, at Al Khoei Foundation

I was at a co-production roadshow at University College London this morning when I received an e-invitation to meet the Chief Imam of Ghana and his delegation at the London Interfaith Centre at 4pm.

Why not?  When the conference ended I zipped up to Kilburn on my bike and joined an erudite audience of Muslim clerics (Sunni and Shi’a), Christian clergy and others.  Christian-Muslim relations were reported as good in Ghana, as were Sunni-Shi’a relations and even Muslim-Ahmadiyya relations.

Afterwards, we were invited around the corner to the Al Khoei Foundation (I popped in to see the beautiful mosque next door – Iranian-style tiling in white, turquoise and dark blue, exquisite calligraphy and glass chandeliers).  Here the  atmosphere was more informal, with quite a few Ghanaians and people from the Caribbean, as well as Maulana Shahid Raza OBE, Chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, and leading clerics from the Al Khoei Foundation.

There was universal regret and frustration with the current situation in Bahrain from both Sunni and Shi’a clerics.  A powerful speech was made supporting freedom, human rights and democracy in the North African and Middle Eastern countries which have been in the news recently.

But the two thoughts in my mind as I cycled back to south London were –

  • how unusual it was, and how refreshing, to see an old man (Sheikh Osman Nuru Sharubutu) treated with such sincerity, respect and good humour – his voice was frail but everyone waited on each word, and there was plenty of laughter amid the wisdom.  I struggled to recall an equivalent on TV – a Newsnight interview wouldn’t come near it.
  • how frank some married Muslim women are (between women) about living with men – they love their husbands, and I’ve no doubt their husbands love them, and perhaps it’s this shared sense of commitment and security which seems to allow for a more relaxed approach.

It was a lovely evening and wholly appropriate for the Monday of Holy Week.


This entry was posted on 19 April 2011 by in Ghana, London and tagged , , , .
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