Tension Among Kumasi Muslims
("Accra Mail," December 9, 2003)
The Kumasi Police are on alert to curb any further breach of the peace as witnessed last week when an intra-sectional clash claimed the life of a teenaged boy and confined some persons to hospital beds.
Meanwhile the temperature of the Garden City's densely populated Islamic community remains high as the hotheads on the side of Malam Maikano and his rival from the same Tijanniya sect plan acts of revenge.
It was an unusual clash because such altercations occur only between the sects and not within. The Tijanniyas are generally not good bedfellows of the Ahlin Sunnas and records of clashes between them are well documented.
In Tamale in the late 60s, there were clashes between supporters of Sheikh Abdulai Maikano and Alfa Ajura, representing the Tijanniya and Ahlin Sunna sects respectively.
The Islamic community in Kumasi is no stranger to such unsavory developments.
In the 70s the city's Central Mosque was closed for a few years because of a struggle over the imamship of the facility. Whereas the Dagombas felt it was one of them who should head the mosque their Hausa brothers felt otherwise.
Some dangerous skirmishes were recorded as a result of which the facility was shut, and the mosque at the main military barracks served as the place for the Friday congregational prayers for some years until the impasse was resolved.
The Kumasi Police say they are searching for , Sheikh Abdulai Maikano, a leading Islamic cleric in the country who is generally regarded as head of the Tijjaniya sect, who they suspect played a role in the murder of the teenaged boy.
The attack occurred after a joint Christian and Muslim religious session organized to pray for the nation. When the function ended at the Jackson's Park in the city, according to the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of the Ashanti Region, Mr. Ofosu Gyeabour, one group attacked the residence of the leader of the mainstream Tijanniya sect wielding offensive weapons during which Adam Issa, the 14-year-old son of Alhaji Shehu, was killed.
A victim of the mayhem, Sani Awal from whom valuable information could be extracted is currently speechless and being treated at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in the Garden City.
A man who claimed to have witnessed the mayhem told the ADM that after the prayer session which involved both Christian and Muslim faithful, Malam Maikano, a resident of Prang in the Brong Ahafo region was on his way to his residence at the end of the prayer session, when a car belonging to one Alhaji Wadudu brushed the side of his car with his.
The supporters of Malam Maikano were angry and allegedly beat him up.
According to the eyewitness, news about the nasty scene spread among members of the sect who are now polarized between the two main clerics. They armed themselves and charged on the scene and the residence of the leader of the mainstream Tijanniya sect in the Garden City causing acts of arson.
According to an Islamic scholar who explained the differences between Tijjjaniya and Ahlin Suna, every Muslim is an Ahlin Suna. The latter refers to the strict adherence to the teachings and practices of the Holy Prophet Mohammed.
Whereas the Tijjaniyas have besides, the five cannons of Islam certain optional practices those dubbed Ahlin Sunnas condemn such additions as not conforming to the strict practice of the religion. The Tijjaniyas also recognise certain Islamic personalities whomthey regard as saints.
The Ahlin Sunas regard this reverence as inordinate for such personalities as the late Sheikh Ibrahim Niass of Kaolack in Senegal and others. The disagreement has often resulted in clashes both in Ghana and Nigeria.
In another development in Accra there was nearly a repeat of an annual breach of the peace in Sabon Zongo over who precisely should mount a horse during the street carnival to commemorate the eid el fitr festival.
The annual disagreement is a family affair between the son of the late Shaibu Baako, who was the Sarkin Zongo and his junior brother.
The succession problem has been raging for years now and until a solution is found it would remain a potential flashpoint in the city of Accra in general and the Islamic community in particular.
The ADM has gathered the Council of Muslim Chiefs are planning to organise a conference to tackle this image-denting altercations which do not conform with the tenets of the Islamic religion.
| Sectarian Violence