Editorial: The Muslim girl at Wey Gey Hey deserves applause
When the German sociologist and economic theorist, Karl Max, said in the 19th century that “Religion is the opium of the masses,” many were those who thought he was an extremist. But close to two hundred years down the line, it has now come to dawn on us that the sociologist spoke the truth.
In the modern world we live in, people are addicted to their regions to the extent that all other national issues are relegated to the background so long as it runs counter to the dictates of their faith. It, therefore, came to The Chronicle as no surprise when a student who believes in the Rastafarian faith chose the latter over his admission to a prestigious school like Achimota Senior High School. Students in the past had tried many times to gain admission to the Achimota School without success, but this boy had the opportunity but decided to throw it away because of his firm belief in his faith.
It is on the basis of this that The Chronicle congratulates Bushira Ishmael, a student of Wesley Girls Senior High School in Cape Coast for not allowing her religious dictates to take precedence over her future. According to a story published by myjoyonline.com, Bushira is a devout Muslim who started the annual Muslim fast whilst she was in primary school. But she has been told in the face by authorities at the Wesley Girls Senior High School that they would not allow her to fast whilst she is on campus.
The student was taken aback at the decision and subsequently informed her father, Ishmael Zakaria Alhassan. The father, who was livid over the action, drove to the school with the sole objective of withdrawing his ward.
Upon his arrival, the Headmistress reportedly took her time to explain to both father and daughter why they had taken such a decision, reminding them that Christians are equally not allowed to fast whilst on campus.
The online portal quoted Bushira: “I really like the school a lot; it has inspired a lot of changes in me, but I wish something is done about their decision on fasting.” The Headmistress then put the question to the student: “Bushira, would you want to leave the school?” And she responded: “I would want to stay and learn.” Agreeing to stay means she would not fast whilst on campus.
In our view, this is a most profound decision Bushira had made, and we highly commend her for that. The Chronicle is equally grateful to the father, Ishmael Zakaria Alhassan, for not forcing the girl out of the school, because her religious faith has been breached, but respected her decision.
It would have been most unfortunate if the father had insisted on her religious rights and withdrawn her, thereby, jeopardising her future. Our understanding is that the Muslim fast can even be postponed to a later date. This means Bushira can still fast whilst on vacation to compensate the lost period.
Even if this leeway was not available, she was going to spend just three years in the school, and after that, she can go back to her faith and practice it to the fullest. This is the reason why we insist she took the wise decision not to leave such a prestigious school, but stay put. This is what we were expecting the Rastafarian student to have also done.
No university in Ghana – both public and private – can refuse a student admission because he or she is carrying dreadlocks.
Cutting your hair to enable you go through your secondary education for just three years, after which you can start growing your hair again, should not have, under normal circumstances, raised any eyebrow, but the student and his parents thought otherwise, because, to them the, the Rastafarian faith takes precedence over everything, including the future of the boy. It is our hope that the shining example that has been exhibited by Bushira will be emulated by students who face similar situation in future.
One belief does not put food on his or her table, but education does. That is why parents need to tread cautiously when confronted with such situations, and take decisions that will serve the best interests of their wards going into the future.