Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

How Ghana Sets and Example for the World to Follow in Religious Tolerance


Independent now for just over 50 years, Ghana has become a model for the world in the area of religious tolerance. With a population nearly equally divided among Christianity, Islam and traditional religions, it is truly remarkable how Ghanaians are both so passionate about their individual religions—celebrations are very outward here—but tolerant of others. The mantra that it doesn’t matter where one comes from or what he or she believes in—when in Ghana he or she will be welcomed and treated as Ghanaian—is something this nation lives and breathes every day.

It is even common to have a peaceful religious divide within families—traditional parents with Christian children who are happy for their Muslim cousins’ success. This harmony is evident  from the top-down as well, with a government that for the past half-century has strongly supported religious freedom. While Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter are national holidays here, as they are in many countries, so are Muslim holidays like  the Idul Fitr and Idul Adhia. Because they are acknowledged and people here have a basic knowledge and understanding of another belief, there is not the fear and impending hysteria it has created in much of the world.

This is thanks in large part also to the Ghana Peace Council, which was created by the government to raise awareness surrounding the use of nonviolent strategies in response to conflict through networking, coordination and campaigning. The 11 members include the most prominent members of the Catholic, Muslim and traditional religions in Ghana, as well as some top legal and business professionals, academics and youth representatives. During its existence, this group has built an impressive track record, with one of its most important duties being to decide otherwise-deadlocked national elections. In one notable example, the leader of the group—the head of a Muslim mission—made a deciding vote against the political party he personally supported, because through deliberations with the entire group it was evident that the opposing party would better serve Ghana at the time. Such sacrifice of one’s personal beliefs for the betterment of a nation surely has a trickle-down effect, providing an example that is difficult for individuals to go against.

Ghana may have its share of problems, but when it comes to religious tolerance, it is truly a nation to behold.


IDistanbul: Five Times a Day? Please, No!!


As any of you who have been to the Middle East know, it’s not unlikely that you may be wrestled from your first-morning jet lag by the croons of an imam with the first of his five daily azan, or calls to prayer–at least if you’re anywhere within earshot of a mosque (which you probably are). That served as my alarm clock on my first visit, and though it’s not exactly hummingbirds singing to the daisies, there’s a certain romantic, haunting quality about it–certainly a great way to remind you where you’ve awoken. Given that the call of the imam, or muezzin, is considered an art form, it’s usually somewhat melodic, albeit a bit tinny depending on the quality of the speakers…

Apparently, not everyone’s experience is so pleasant. Istanbul’s head of religions affairs has responded to complaints by setting up singing lessons to make sure that all 3,000 of the city’s mosques have a pleasant tune for the

neighbors. And for those voices that are just beyond repair?

The loudspeaker in the mosque will be linked to a central recording system that will broadcast a professional voice! Which begs the questions–why not just do this to begin with, and who exactly determines what the threshold of being able to sing vs. not sing is?

Istanbul's Blue Mosque