The National Council of Ulamas and Imams have urged the government to constitute a new body that will see to the organisation of Hajj in the country to avoid “harrowing experiences” in future.
They threatened to constitute a body by themselves if the government failed to heed their call.
At a press conference in Kumasi yesterday to buttress their point, the members expressed concern about the failure of the National Hajj Council to organise successful Hajj over the years and the problems they had encountered, and contended that it was time a new body was constituted to ensure successful organisation of Hajj for the Muslim community in the country.
The press conference was attended by Imams from all the 10 regions and leaders from the Muslim community.
In an address read on behalf of the Council by Alhaji Mohammed Ghazah who represented the Imam from the Northern Region, the council suggested that the new body, when constituted, should have an Executive Director and consist of 21 members.
They said the body, which should either be called Ghana Pilgrimage Committee or Ghana Hajj Board, should be broad enough to ensure that “as many stakeholders as possible get representation”.
“It will also ensure that the organisation of the Hajj is fairly decentralised,” it stressed.
The council also suggested that the 21 members should have representatives from all the 10 regional Imams and three members from the National Hajj Council.
It said a member each from the Ahlul Sunna Wal-Jamaa (ASWAJ, the Federation of Muslim Council (FMC), the Tijjaniyya Muslim Movement of Ghana (TMMG), the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Ghana (FOMWAG), the government and two representatives from the Ghana Muslims Agents Association should constitute the 21 membership.
It further suggested that the new body, when constituted, should be “supervised by the National Chief Imam and the 10 regional Imams”.
With such representation, the committee shall have offices in the various regional capitals to enhance effective interaction among the Muslim community, especially during Hajj.
The council made it clear that notwithstanding the fact that the National Chief Imam would supervise the new body, “It shall be given freehand to operate and execute its mandate.”
On the fare for next year's Hajj, the council suggested that it should be pegged at $2,000 and explained that studies undertaken by a section of the Muslims revealed that pegging the fare at $2,000 would enable the ordinary Muslim to participate in the Hajj, which constitute one of the pillars of Islam.
Story by George Ernest Asare