HUNDREDS of Muslims could not take part in the congregational prayer at the Trade Fair Centre, in Accra, to mark this year's Eid-Ul-Adha, the feast of Sacrifice, on Saturday, due to the late announcement of the change of venue.
The Eid prayers service which has, over the years been held at the Independence Square, was shifted to the Trade Fair Centre this year as a result of the ongoing renovations at the Square for Ghana's Golden Jubilee. Many of the Muslims, therefore gathered in groups around the Children's Park to pray on their own when they realised that the venue had been changed.
Fearing that they might miss the main prayer session, groups which arrived at the Independence Square looked for any available space to offer prayers.
The change of venue also delayed the start of the programme at the Trade Fair Centre, from 9.00 a.m. to about 11 a.m.
Some worshippers at the centre explained to the Times that the late start in congregational prayer meant delay in the day's celebration since all Muslims had to wait until the Chief Imam had slaughtered the symbolic ram before they could also slaughter theirs.
In an address to the worshippers, President J. A. Kufuor appealed to Muslims not to allow anybody to use undue political influence to mar the peace and harmony the country is enjoying.
He said the government has no intention of discriminating against any group of people and urged them to shun those who choose the path of hypocrisy and try to convince them that government is against them.
The President said that Ghana is seen in the West African sub-region as an oasis of peace, and this was largely attributed to the happy and harmonious co-existence of all religions.
'You should therefore not allow them to destroy the nation,' he said.
He called for prayers from all the country's religious bodies to make the celebration of Ghana's 50th Independence anniversary a success.
A member of the Islamic Council of Elders noted that there was greater goodwill and partnership between the government and muslims and expressed the hope that it will continue to grow.
He also expressed the gratitude of Muslims to the government for honouring the National Chief Imam with the Order of the Star of the Volta last July, adding that it was an honour to all Muslims.
Addressing Ahmadi Muslims at Ashongman in Accra, Maulvi Muhammed Yusuf Yawson Naib, Deputy head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission in Ghana has criticized the Hajj council for its ineptitude and apathy towards the plight of Muslim pilgrims.
He said, 'It was unbelievable and inexplicable that the Hajj council which was made up of reputable statesmen could not find solution to this crisis which has sadly become an annual recurrent problem which innocent Muslims have to face in fulfillment of their Islamic obligation.
He said there was no justification whatsoever for prospective pilgrims who have met all the conditions of the Hajj to be stranded in Accra or Mecca due to lack of aircraft or for any other reasons.
'I call on the government and individuals responsible for this regrettable situation to approach it with the idea of solving it once and for all and in a more holistic manner since, as Muslims we don't believe in falling twice to a particular problem'.
He urged those who could not make it to the Hajj, not to despair, saying it is Allah who knows best and what is right in the eyes of man may be wrong in the eyes of Allah.
Maulvi Naib, advised Ghanaians to turn over a 'new leaf' in the coming season holding dear the principles and values that hold a nation together'.