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24.03.2006 General News

Eclipse is sign of the end times - Islamic scholar


Cape Coast, March 24, GNA - Mallam Muniru Hamidu, an Islamic scholar and head of the Hifzil Islamiyya Arabic school in Cape Coast, on Friday said next Wednesday's eclipse, would be one "of the signs that the world was coming to an end", and that everyone must be committed to the service of God and refrain from committing sin. According to him, it is stated in the Koran that when the end of the world was near, God would cause the sun and the moon to come together. Mallam Hamidu, who was speaking to the GNA in Cape Coast on the impending phenomenon, said it signifies and serves as a reminder to people to stop offending God and serve Him well.

"There is no doubt that a day will come when we would return to God and account for all our deeds in this world". He said the practice whereby some Muslims beat drums and make noise during an eclipse must be stopped saying those acts are anti-Islam. Rather, they should enter the mosque and offer a congregational prayer. The regional Chief Imam, Sheikh Abubakar Hassan, also said held that the phenomenon was an occasion for people to desist from sin.

On his part, the Bishop of Cape Coast Diocese of the Methodist Church, Reverend Isaac Quansah, described an eclipse as "a divine phenomenon", and said the impending one "will give people an experience of a life time that God is real". "This divine direction by God would deepen the faith of Christians and also warn mankind that there is a God who owns the heavens and the earth," Bishop Quansah held.

According to him, the celestial bodies, including the sun, moon and stars have been moving on the orders of God and that it was through that divine ordination that the eclipse would occur. "This shows that God controls the affairs of not only man, but all heavenly constellations and mankind should therefore be in awe of Him". The Bishop said historical records indicated that the first eclipse that occurred in Ghana in 1911 was more intense, than the second one in 1947 and that next Wednesday's event is expected to last longer. He urged all Ghanaians to acquire knowledge and experience by watching it with the prescribed solar shades.

However, Reverend Father Michael Ocran, administrator at the St Francis de Sales Cathedral in Cape Coast, said eclipses are of no religious significance and that they are natural occurrences. It could best be described by the faithful as "wonders" of God, he said adding that it shows how mighty God is and his control over nature to the admiration of mankind. "Anyone seeing the solar eclipse for the first time will have the feeling that there is someone great behind creation and by faith you have to believe in God since no man can do it except the lord."

Rev Ocran observed that some people were fearful of the phenomenon, instead of being excited, because they have little knowledge about it. He suggested that the Ghana Education Service (GES) should supply school children, particularly those in the rural areas, with free solar goggles because some parents will not be able to afford them. Mr Kwaku Opoku-Agyemang, a Senior Auditor with the Audit Service, also told the GNA that an elderly friend, had told him about his experience of the 1947 eclipse, describing it as "quite an experience which all must have". He said he was very expectant of the day and had already acquired the solar shades. "I will not want to miss it."

Mr Joseph Hyde, Administrative Assistance at the Ghana Commercial Bank, said he would be very disappointed if the eclipse did not occur because he had been "waiting impatiently for it" to enable him have a feel of what it would be like. Mr Martin Duku, a Court Registrar in Cape Coast, said he would come to work early on that day, but might stay indoors, if he is not able to buy the shades on time. Mrs Elizabeth Dzani, a Teacher and Mr Kofi Tsibu, a taxi driver, both said they were ready to watch the occurrence to enable them give

account of it in future to their children. Ms Lydia Koyag, Sales Assistant, said: "I am happy that I'm going to experience the solar eclipse in my life time and will not be left out. I will come out that day to watch". Ms Koyaq however expressed the view that the shades should be given out for free, especially to schoolchildren. She also suggested that the day should be declared a holiday for school kids. Ms Koyag advised people in areas that would experience the eclipse to buy the goggles to enable them watch it instead of locking themselves in their rooms.

Mr Dan Bebemaalu, a trader, was happy that the eclipse was going to take place in his lifetime, but said he would lock himself up that day because he cannot afford the special goggles. Ms Jane Dong, a JSS student, appealed to parents to buy the glasses for their wards to enable them witness this rare natural occurrence.