Ghana’s chief imam is a man of few words, but the 100-year-old Muslim cleric certainly knows how to make waves – by attending a Catholic Church service as part of his birthday celebrations.
Pictures of Sheikh Osman Sharubutu, sitting attentively in the pews of Accra’s Christ the King Catholic Church for an Easter service, went viral on social media.
The grand mufti, leader of Ghana’s minority Muslim community, wants to ensure that his legacy is peace – the fruit of inter-faith harmony.
His church attendance was given even more resonance as on the day he was being pictured alongside parish priest Father Andrew Campbell, Islamist suicide bombers unleashed attacks in Sri Lanka, killing more than 250 people at churches and hotels.
Those on social media championing the imam’s approach described him as a light shining in the darkness.
Not everyone was happy – some critics condemned his actions as an abomination, for a Muslim to participate in Christian worship. But Sheikh Sharubutu insisted he was not worshipping but moving the relationship between Muslims and Christians from mere tolerance to engagement.
“The chief imam is changing the narrative about Islam from a religion of wickedness, a religion of conflict, a religion of hate for others, to a religion whose mission is rooted in the virtues of love, peace and forgiveness,” his spokesperson Aremeyao Shaibu told the BBC.