The Republic of Ghana is located along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, in the sub region of West Africa. It is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south.
Area and Population
Spanning an area of 239,567 km2, Ghana has a population of 27,043,093 as of 2014 estimate. Its capital is Accra.
Ghana is a largely Christian country as 69% of the Ghanaians are Christians, although a sizable Muslim congregation of 27% exists; some also practice traditional and indigenous beliefs.
The official language is English though some of the population talk internal tribal dialects and the Arabic Language. The currency is the Ghana cedi (GH₵).
Ghana mainly encompasses plains which stretch in the north and the south of the country (Ashanti Region). The middle of the country is a hill made up of sandy rocks that ascends in its eastern part.
Ghana has a vast river system with an array of tributaries – the White Volta being the most famous besides the Black Volta and Oti River. A Dam was constructed over Volta River which is considered one of the main and most important developmental projects in the country creating before it Lake Volta which is by artificial surface the largest reservoir in the world.
The climate of Ghana is both equatorial and tropical. The southern area is dominated by an equatorial climate, while the northern and the middle areas have a tropical climate. There are two main seasons: the wet season and the dry season. It is affected by the Harmattan season and the dry dusty wind which blows from the Sahara Desert.
The etymology of the word Ghana means “warrior king” and was the title accorded to the kings of the medieval Ghana Empire in West Africa, which fame reached Europe and the Arab Peninsula. However, it was disintegrated after the invasion of the Almoravid Empire in 1067. Later on, the empire was merged with the other coastal empires. Geographically, the Empire of Ghana was some 800 kilometres to the north and west of present-day Ghana. It controlled the territories spreading from the River of Senegal eastwards towards the rivers of Niger, Senegal, Mauritania, and present-day Mali.
Historically, the territory of the southern part of Ghana was included in the Kingdom of Ashanti, one of the most influential states in sub-Saharan Africa in the 18th and 19th Century prior to the onset of colonialism.
It gained its independence from the United Kingdom in 1957 (1377 A.H.), and it was the first colony in West Africa to gain independence. With its independence, Ghana changed its name from the Gold Coast – the name given to it by the British colonizers – to Ghana. The independence of Ghana crowned a procession of national struggle led by Kwame Nkrumah – the first president of independent Ghana since the end of World War I and the spread of the wave of national liberation movements among the occupied peoples in Asia and Africa. The national liberation movement in Ghana commenced by the formation of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947 presided by Kwame Nkrumah after his return from Britain. No soon he was arrested; however, when set free, he formed the Convention People’s Party (CPP) with the motto “self-government now”.
The CPP won the municipal elections in 1950, and Nkrumah became the first Prime Minister of the Gold Coast (Ghana) in 1952.
Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings won as president in the first Ghanaian presidential elections which took place in 1992. The presidential elections of 2000 saw the first civil president sworn into office after long years of military rule.
Form of Government:
Pursuant to the current constitution, Ghana is a republic headed by a president elected by the people for a four-year term, renewable once – meaning the president’s utmost tenure is 8 years.
Ghana is a presidential constitutional democracy. The Parliament of Ghana is the legislative power, the cabinet consists of the Ministers of the Ghanaian Government, and the Council of State consists of the Ghanaian Parliament.
The executive power is exercised by the president (also head of government) and the government.
The legislative body constitutes one council – the Parliament of Ghana which has 275 members and is elected by universal suffrage after every four years. The judicial power is the Supreme Court of Ghana which is formed of the head of the court and 12 judges.
Ghana is one of the most economically advanced countries in Africa rich in its agriculture, water, and mineral resources. However, the dominance of foreign and European capitals over the economic potencies had diminished its national economic revenues. What also affected the economic crisis are the global price dispersion of minerals and export products (cocoa, banana, coconut) and the clear variance of annual rain average.
Agriculture has a distinctive economic status in Ghana as it sustains 52% of the population; 20% work in industry, and 28% work in administrative domains, tourism, and commerce. Ghana previously was famous for producing gold and aluminium and mining diamond and nickel in addition to manufacturing textiles and various chemical products.
Accra: Accra is the capital city and the most populous metropolitan area in Ghana. It is most known for its enchanting shores, historical and archaeological buildings, libraries, and several historical museums as well as the traditional markets and art exhibitions besides the old fortresses that date back to the 17th century A.D.
Kumasi: It is the capital city of the Ashanti Region, in southern Ghana, 250 kilometres away from the capital. This city is known for its forests. Alternatively it is known as the Garden City because of its many beautiful species of flowers.
Cape Coast Castle: It is one of about forty slave castles or large commercial forts used in the trans-Atlantic slave trade when the state was a British colony. It was used to hold slaves before they were shipped off across the Atlantic. This gate of no return contained narrow dungeons which overlooks the magnificent and splendid view of the Atlantic Ocean.
Elmina Castle: It lies on the southern coast of Ghana. It was constructed by the Portuguese in 1482 A.D. It had the distinction of being the first trade center in the Desert Sahara for Europe. The castle was also used as a station for gold.
Kakum National Park: The Park is some 20 kilometres north of Cape Coast. It is surrounded by plantations especially cocoa villages. It is a green oasis of huge trees and wild animals. The Canopy Walkway, 350 meters long suspended 40 meters above the ground, provides treetop views of the forest.
History of Islam:
Muslims made a momentous entrance to Ghana four centuries – and even more – before the entrance of the British – meaning by the end of the 16th century A.D. through trade due to its commercial position on the trade routes on the Atlantic Ocean. Muslim merchants anchored their ships on the Niger Basin and founded their own empire from the Mande people who embraced Islam. There kingdom was known as Gonga which was established to the south of the Niger Basin and then moved northwards to spread Islam under the leadership of its King Jakpa. He was assisted in his wars with leader Mohammad Al Abyad. Islam had great political influence, and it included more African tribes which used to mark Muslim holidays in ceremonies over dominated by an African trait.
The Mande people further spread in the Africa territories to promulgate Islam. Their acquaintance of the famous Dagomba Language which is known by most tribes was of great help. They moved to Yendi where they established their city in the 17th Century A.D., and spread Islam in the White Volta Basin assisted by the Dagomba tribes and the Hausa people who had already embraced Islam.
The arrival and spread of Islam in Ghana was further boosted by the active movements of Muslim merchants from the Borno and Hausa peoples. As such most of the Dagomba tribes embraced Islam, and in the 18th Century A.D., the number of tribes which embraced Islam increased including the Mamprusi Tribes in middle Ghana in Slaga City. In the 19th Century, Muslims proceeded further southwards, and they had their religious, social, and political life in Kumasi City which became a major trade center. The British acknowledged the prosperity of Muslims’ trade and culture and further respected them; however, despite their respect to the Ashanti Leader, they fought him and defeated him because of their greed in his country and its mineral wealth including gold and diamond. However, African Muslim merchants became active in their trade movements and moved further southwards to Kintampo via the Volta River. They spread Islam among the Mossi, Cotto, and Coli Tribes which sought to exchange goods with them. They established their city – Kete _ on the coasts until the British stopped them totally after they spread their control all over Ghana and the neighbouring states. Muslims suffered gravely under the British colonization until Ghana was liberated from the hands of the British colonizers.
The Constitution of Ghana guarantees the freedom of belief for the people; consequently, any Dawa activity does not violate the constitution, so Muslims work on spreading Islam freely.
Ghana’s Muslims account for 27%. However, some sides try to diminish their number saying they represent a mere 15%. In fact, Muslims are present remarkably in the various cities and villages. The City of Tamale – the capital of the Northern Region – can be considered really as the capital of Muslims due to the heavy Muslim population present there. Furthermore, the city has clear Islamic aspects, and most Muslims speak the Hausa Language which is considered one of the main languages.
Islamic Dawa and Activities in Ghana:
According to Sheikh Hassan Khalid, a prominent Ghanaian Islamic Dawa activist, Islam reached through Dawa activists who visited the country from the neighbouring African countries, whose sole aim was to spread Islam to their neighbours.
He added that mosques play a major and prominent role in the life of Muslims, as besides being a place for worship, mosques are educational institutes and centers for guidance. In mosques, scholars give their religious preaches and educational guidance such as promoting virtue and preventing vice. Besides, sessions are held in mosques for teaching and interpreting the Holy Quran and teaching the Chaste Prophetic Sunna.
Sheikh Hassan Khalid talked about the impediments facing Muslims in his country clarifying that one of the main such obstacles is ignorance that spread among Muslims and the many campaigns led by perverse heresiarchs against Muslim Dawa activists what ended up in some of them being jailed and others being subject to assassination attempts. Dawa activists face the problem of lack of resources, and this has made it impossible to acquire new and modern methods and equipment to spread the message of Islam. These include printing presses and other communication equipment.
Moreover, disputes that erupt at times among those in charge of the Dawa cause impede the Dawa work or performing it improperly.
Muslims Relation with the Authority:
The authority and Muslims in Ghana have had excellent relations. The arrival of the military government to power in 1989 was characterized by vast openness to Muslims through adopting the policy of positive bias in favour of Muslims. Then the communist government wanted to weaken the growing Christian expansion in public life and create a balance in influence between both Christianity and Islam. Thus the Ghanaian government took measures which the Church viewed as unfriendly towards it such as preventing carols and Christian hymns in public media outlets and exchanging the religious education in Christian school curriculums with cultural studies. On the other hand, the government came to regard Eid al Fitr and Eid al Adha as official statutory holidays, established the National Hajj Council, and authorized several Islamic societies which are active in the field of health and education.
The Conditions of Muslims in Ghana:
The Islamic societies in Ghana suffer from several problems, and the Muslims of Ghana are no exception. That includes ignorance and poverty – the most crucial gates through which Christians move to convert Muslims to their religions as was revealed in the activities of anti-Islam institutions.
What is meant by ignorance here – relatively speaking – is the lack of knowledge of the teachings of Islam. In fact, many Muslims have a very weak knowledge of the teachings of Islam. The overwhelming majority of Muslims especially in rural areas are not acquainted with the basic teachings of Islam.
Mosques in Ghana:
Muslims built hundreds of mosques in every region that believed in their faith what contributed largely to the promulgation of their Islamic teachings. They further established schools for teaching the Holy Quran next to mosques as well as founded Islamic centers to help them in their social lives, address their educational concerns, and assist them in all sides that guard their endurance and persistence in Ghana amid missionaries led by other religious and the interest some tribes show to join these other faiths.
Larabanga Mosque: It is a mosque built in the Sudanese architectural style in the 17th Century A.D. It is the oldest mosque in the country and one of the oldest eight mosques in West Africa. It has been referred to as the Mecca of West Africa.
Al Nour Mosque: It is located in Sunyani City. Its land was granted by Sheikh Abdul Hamid more than three decades ago. He also drilled wells next to it for ablution. However, the mosque was not constructed except in 2009 A.D. Its length is 18 meters, and its width is 13 meters. It consists of two floors, and its balconies are ornamented with white plaster. A pyramid-shaped design tops its front.
Al Ahmediya Mosque: It is located in Tamale City. It is more like a castle than a mosque. It accommodates 3000 believers. It has two identical architectural fronts overtopped by two semi-circular golden domes. It comprises several sanitary and service utilities, halls for holding conferences and seminars and spreading Islam, centers for teaching the Islamic religion and Fiqh, a vast and large library for reading and research, a clinic for examining patients and first aids, lounges for receiving senior tribe heads, ambassadors, and guests, and a kindergarten.
Islamic Education in Ghana:
Islamic education spreads in most of Ghanaian areas, as Quranic schools are annexed to mosques. Some Islamic states widely contributed to achieving this phenomenon; however, Islamic education lacks a united curriculum and school books that befit the local environment.
The books now available in Muslim schools in Ghana are a mix of many curricula from several Arab countries. Most school buildings are not suitable for teaching. There is abundance in elementary schools but rarity in junior secondary and senior secondary schools. Modern subjects were introduced besides Islamic education and the Arabic language. This contributed to enhancing the conditions of Islamic schools and Arabic-Islamic education. Islamic education thus spread further, and more schools were constructed; consequently, there was more interest in Islamic education. The geographic distribution of Islamic schools in Ghana is as follows:
Greater Accra Region: It includes over 12 Islamic schools; however, most students attend public schools or evangelist schools in the morning and then attend Islamic schools in the afternoon. In Accra, there are more than 10 elementary schools which teach the Quran and the Arabic Language.
The Central Region: It includes a large number of Islamic schools spread all over this vast region. Among the most prominent schools in this region is the Institute of Memorizing The Holy Quran in Nicrom Town and Suleimaniyah Schools.
The Eastern Region: It comprises over 14 Islamic schools in konoridua City and other cities and towns. One of the prominent schools is Oura Middle School and the public Arabic Schools League which includes a group of schools.
Ashanti Region: This is one of the most important regions in Ghana on the Islamic level. It is also one of the advanced regions in the domain of education, and it includes more than 16 Islamic schools.
Brong Ahafo Region: The number of Muslims in this region is small, while the Qadiani sect is centralized there. Islamic schools spread in some of its cities such as Techiman where the Islamic Tabsheer Society is active. Several Islamic schools are also found in Kintampo – as the majority of its residents are Muslims – as well as in Asutifi, Sunyani. Wenchi, and Berekum.
The Northern Region: It is the largest region as per its area as well as per the number of Muslims who form the majority of the residents. It is the pioneer region in having Islamic and Arabic schools. The City of Tamale – the capital of the Northern Region – includes several middle schools such as the Anbariyah School, Nouriyyah School, and the Islamic Nahda School as well as several elementary schools.
Upper West Region: Wa – the capital of this region – is the seat of the Hidaya Islamic Foundation which supervises the Islamic activity there. The region includes over 8 Islamic schools, and there is a project to build a secondary school in the region.
Upper East Region: There are more than five Islamic schools which spread in the cities of this region such as the City of Bolgatanga, Bawku, and Walawala.
The Islamic Education in Ghana suffers from several problems represented in:
1- Humble edifices that require renovation and enlargement.
2 – The weakness of teachers.
3 – Lack of vocational and secondary education.
4 – The unorganized curriculums of the elementary and junior secondary education.
5 – The dire need to set united curriculums that suit Ghana. The Ministry of Education has responded to the demands of Muslims and established an educational unit for Islamic education in 1987 A.D., the mission of which is to introduce public education and its curriculum besides the Islamic education on condition that the government undertakes providing the books and teachers of this curriculum. The seat of this unit is Tamale City – the capital of the Northern Region. The very city is also the seat of the National Council for the Islamic Education Unit to serve Islamic education.
Shia Muslims in Ghana
After the promulgation of Islam and the Islamic Dawa, the sect of Ahlulbeit started to spread broad and wide. It further got to be more popular and acceptable by many especially among the learned and the educated youth. In 1984, the path of Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) found its way to Ghana via a group of believers the most prominent figure among them is Sheikh Abdul Salam Bansi. Following is a brief biography of the late Sheikh.
Sheikh Abdul Salam Abdul Hamid Bansi (May Allah have mercy on him) was born in 1955 in Torla Village. Afterwards, he travelled to another city, Bawku, where he had his Arabic language studies and learned about Quran interpretation and Fiqh; he showed an edge over his peers.
When he reached seventeen years of age, he moved to Accra. It was not too long until he received the opportunity to travel to Iran where he joined the religious Hawza in the blessed city of Qum and remained there as a hardworking and diligent student for several years. More than a decade later, in 1984, he returned to his native country Ghana with the determination to spread this noble ideology taken from Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) School of thought and to invite his fellow brothers to their path.
He was doing so by:
- Adopting an approach free of extremism and intolerance.
- Opening himself to the scholars and followers of the other school of thoughts – while at the same time communicating with the citizens of the country from other religions. His movement, aided by that of his fellow brothers, had a massive success nationwide. Oneway of evaluating this, is by looking at the large number of Muslims who committed themselves to this honourable cause in the whole of Ghana and its surroundings; the other way is by looking at the active Islamic institutions and productive projects founded by him with the support of foreign missionaries.
Shia Muslims enjoy freedom and a sublime status in the Ghanaian state. Due to their peaceful civil educational activity and good relations with most of the other religious sects, the path of Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) came to be much valued and respected by the Ghanaian government. Even senior officials pay private visits to Shia Muslim institutions and centers. For example, the Ghanaian Vice-president made an official visit to Rasoul Al Akram Mosque on the eve of Al Adha Eid last year. This respect paid to Dawa activists gave them a chance to spread the teachings of Islam, participate in Islamic occasions, mark the anniversaries of the birthdays of the Imams, and commemorate Ashura in mosques as well as visit the various religious societies on top of them comes Imam Hussein (Peace be upon him) Foundation and Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) Compound which most Shia Muslims in Ghana are members in.
Shia Most Remarkable Activities in Ghana:
Imam Hussein (Peace be upon him) Foundation: It was established in 1991 by late Sheikh Abdul Salam Bansi.
The projects of the foundation:
Rasool Allah (Peace be upon him and his Household) Mosque in Accra: It was established in 1991. It accommodates 400 believers. It includes the Shia Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) Institute which is a religious Hawza with a religious program similar to the programs of the religious Hawzas in Holy Najjaf and the blessed city of Qum. Hundreds of students have graduated from this institute over the years.
Imam Ali Reza (Peace be upon him)
Mosque in Bawku: It is located at the border with Burkina Faso. It accommodates 200 believers. Its Imam is Sheikh Noureddine. The mosque celebrates religious occasions including the Holy Month of Ramadan, Ashura, and the deaths and births of the Infallibles (Peace be upon them).
Sayyeda Fatima Zahraa (Peace be upon her) Mosque: Its seat is Techiman city – an important city which is a crossroad between four states in West Africa. The Imam of the mosque that accommodates 750 is Sheikh Hussein Temteh. Likewise it is engaged in Islamic festivals, and lately, a religious Hawza was annexed to it.
Nabi Aazam (Peace be upon him and his Household) Mosque: It is located in Tamale, accommodates 500 believers, and is led by Imam Sheikh Hassan Babu.
Sayyeda Maasuma (Peace be upon her) Mosque: Its seat is in Nyayanu, and it accommodates 200 believers.
Imam Mussa Kathem (Peace be upon him) Mosque in Nima in Accra: It accommodates 300 believers, and its Imam is Sheikh Nuhu Bandago.
Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) Complex Mosque in Goaso: It is under construction, and it accommodates 1000 worshippers. It is a part of a greater complex which includes besides the mosque, a central religious Hawza for West African students. It accommodates 700 students with all their needs (classes and lodgings). The complex further comprises a medical clinic and sports facilities.
Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) Mosque in Chuchiliga: It accommodates 300 believers.
Imam Baqer (Peace be upon him) Mosque in Cataminsu: It accommodates 300 worshippers.
Imamain Hassanian (Peace be upon them) Mosque in Widiyanga: It accommodates 300 believers, and its Imam is Sheikh Yussof Bandago.
Amantin City Mosque: It accommodates 300 worshippers.
Garutimbani City Mosque: It accommodates 200 believers.
Takoradi City Mosque: It is under construction, and it accommodates 500 believers.
Imam Hussein (Peace be upon him) Mosque in Ashaiman: It is led by Imam Sheikh Idriss Dumah.
Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) Mosque in Goasa.
Imam Mahdi (Peace be upon him) Mosque in Zetwa: It is led by Sheikh Thaleth Abu Bakr.
Imam Sadeq (Peace be upon him) School in Goasa: It is an elementary school that has a size of 300 students. The foundation will annex a junior secondary school and a senior secondary school to this edifice.
Imam Mahdi (Peace be upon him) School in Jumo: It has a size of 300 students.
Fatima Zahraa (Peace be upon her) Islamic School for Girls in Accra: It has a size of 350 students.
Sayyed Al Wasieen School in Accra: It has the size of 250 students.
Imam Hussein (Peace be upon him) School in Ashaiman: It has the size of 350 students.
Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) educational Center in Tamale: It has the size of 300 students.
Shia Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) Institute; It is attached to Rasool Aazam (Peace be upon him) Complex in Accra. Hundreds of students have graduated from this institute over the years, the best of whom are sent to Holy Najjaf to continue their higher religious education.
Imam Mussa Khazem (Peace be upon him) Hawza in Nima
The foundation likewise established Imam Jawad (Peace be upon him) Residents in Goasa for all the Hawza married teachers besides drilling a large number of wells in various areas to help lessen the crisis of drinking water shortage.
The members of the Foundation:
Sheikh Nuhu Bandago (Director of the Foundation)
Sheikh Hussein Temteh (Deputy Director and Imam of Sayyeda Fatima Zahraa Mosque in Techiman City).
Sheikh Said Idriss (Head of the schools)
Sheikh Suleiman Bandago (Project Manager)
Sheikh Suleiman Adam (Manager of Dawa Affairs)
Sheikh Mussa Hajj Lut (Manager of Hawzas and Culture Affairs)
Hajja Im Radiyah Sajid Bansi (Manager of Women Affairs)
Hajj Sajjad Bansi (Manager of Financial Affairs)
Sheikh Idriss Dumah
Sheikh Thaleth Abu Bakr
Sheikh Noureddine Tijani
Sheikh Zakariya Simbedogo
Sheikh Sibaway Abdulsamad (Imam Mahdi School Principal) in Jumo
Sheikh Fahr Ali
Sheikh Hassan Babu
This diversity in the societies and institutions sponsored by Imam Hussein (Peace be upon him) Foundation in Ghana is considered an advanced turning point in the procession of Ghanaian Muslims despite the economic and social difficulties they suffer from and the marginalization attempts they are being subject to. Still that did not weaken the wills of those in charge in these religious and educational institutions.
There are several other societies such as: World Institute for Islamic Studies and Researches which was established in the mid-90s, and its seat is in Accra.
Other societies include: The Higher Council for Islamic Dawa and Researches, Muslim Students League in Ghana, Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) Youth Center, and Imam Mahdi (Peace be upon him) Complex for Arabic and English Studies which was established in 2002 in Techiman. Other examples include the Islamic Jaafari School, Imam Jawad (Peace be upon him) Islamic Center, Ghadeer Brothers Society, and Jaafari Movement in Accra.
The Islamic University College in Ghana: It was established in September 2000 by the Ahlulbeit (Peace be upon them) Foundation, which is a semi-governmental institution affiliated to the Islamic Republic in Iran. The foundation used to supervise several cultural, religious, and educational institutions in Iran and several other countries worldwide. The university was granted accreditation from the National Accreditation Board provisionally in 2001 and finally in 2002.