Malawi’s Grand Mufti Abbas Qassim has expressed his dismay over his removal as the chairman of Supreme Council of Ulama in Malawi suggesting that the incumbent Sheikh Imran Shareef and other key members conspired to unceremoniously remove him from the position.
Mufti Abbas in an interview with Insight Bulletin, December 2011 edition said ‘it is true that I am no longer the chairman of the Muslim Scholars body and I heard it from some people that they have removed me from the position due to old age; I can’t do anything.’
But General secretary of the grouping which has since changed its name from Ulama Council to Supreme Council of Malawi, Sheikh Hanif Kazembe and Sheikh Shareef himself brushed off the claims saying proper procedures were followed in replacing the Grand Mufti.
Sheikh Shareef who once served as General Secretary of the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) is being deputised by Muhammad Osman Mtalika who works for the Malawi’s Islamic Information Bureau.
Ironically, both Sheikh Shareef and Sheikh Mtalika had their bids for becoming the leader of MAM in April last year crushed off miserably when they scooped a meagre 23 and 2 votes respectively against the whooping 129 votes amassed by Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad, who was subsequently given the mandate to lead the Muslim mother body for five years. Sheikh Kazembe also contested on the vice chairperson position but lost to Sheikh Shoaibu Katudu Madzi Ibrahim.
”I did not like the way they handled the whole process. They didn’t inform me in advance about their intention to have me replaced. It is not as if I was clinging to the position, but the way they did it was not professional. They would have come to inform me politely about the move,” lamented the Grand Mufti Abbas.
The removal of the Mufti Abbas raises a lot of questions on the motives of the Council’s hierachy as apparently most figures who failed to clinch positions in MAM April election have either formed or joined organisations that are competing with MAM in several developmental activities in the Muslim community.
When asked on how he was elected, as the chairperson Sheikh Shareef did not elaborate the detail saying he is an interested party in the issue and said by commenting further, he would somehow create enmity between him and his predecessor.
”Please contact the Secretary General who is in the right position to explain on what happened for me to become the chairman,” he said.
When contacted Sheikh Hanif also dodged the question on how they conducted their elections the two but said, ‘the Grand Mufti remains the leader’.
”What you should know is that by the virtue of him being the Grand Mufti in this country, he is the leader of the Council. But Sheikh Shareef and his colleague heads the Executive Committee only,” Sheikh Hanif clarified.
However, Grand Mufti said he is now a mere member of the Council – seemingly, because he is one of the greatest Muslim Scholars who has imparted knowledge to many Malawian Muslims.
Asked why they have decided in changing the positions now after several years when the Grand Mufti has been in the leadership position, Sheikh Hanif said, ‘they don’t want to overload the Mufti with several responsibilities since he is old.’
He then quashed the allegations that the Mufti was not aware of the development by saying he is always consulted on any issue regarding the Council as a leader of Muslims in the country.