Exclusive: “Frustration Forced Us to Form Muslim Women Association’’

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Muslim Women: Divided?'
Muslim Women: Divided?’

Recently, Muslim women in Mangochi launched their own organisation called Muslim Women Association (MWA). Malawi Muslims Official Website’s Ali Blessings Idi caught up with the organisation’s Chairlady Hawa Shaibu to find out more about MWA.

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Ali Blessings Idi: Your organisation is new in the Muslim community. When did it start?

Hawa Shaibu: The association was established last year in May.

Ali Blessings Idi: What are the objectives behind the establishment of this grouping?

Hawa Shaibu: Our objective is to spread the religion of Islam through various means such as conducting dawa meeting in the country and beyond. Another objective is that we want to take a leading position in taking care of the elderly, the sick and those suffering in different forms as a way of preaching what Islam says about kindness. Another thing is that we want to be encouraging Muslim girls to stay in schools as you know some people always say Muslim ladies don’t take education seriously. Therefore we want to give them support so that they should get educated and be role model in the future.

Ali Blessings Idi: There are several women organisations in the country, why did u establish another one instead of joining the existing grouping?

Hawa Shaibu: it’s true there are a lot of organisations but what has prompted us to start this grouping is that we saw some weaknesses in them which we thought could be rectified once we establish our own organisation and compliment what our colleagues in other organisations are doing so that MWA should be vibrant in many years to come hence uplifting the religion of Islam in the country.

Ali Blessings Idi: Many organisations in the country differ in terms of catchment area; some operates at district, region or national level. What is your targeted area?

Hawa Shaibu: Our organisation targets the whole country. This is why it is called Muslim Women Association of Malawi. We have already spread to Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Zomba, Machinga, Dedza, Monkebay and Ntcheu. We are encouraging our fellow Muslim women to be engaged in charity by assisting the needy and the elderly. The important thing is to strive in working for the sake of Allah .We should not expect that all the time some people should come forward and assist –we should also give whatever little we have. For instance, we are assisting the needy and the sick with the little that we contribute. And just recently in the month of Ramadhan we gave iftaar to prisoners during the entire month. This was the second time for us to do this. So I believe with the resources we are generating within ourselves indeed we are trying and want to achieve more.

Ali Blessings Idi: Who is funding your organisation?

Hawa Shaibu: We have donors including Sidik Mia. Infact, Sidik is one of the Muslims who welcomed the establishment of the grouping. He is helping us a lot. At first he gave us 1 million kwacha. From that amount we used half of it in arranging the event that marked the official launch of MWA. The other money was used in establishing a garden for us to be generating money for the operations of the organisation so that we should stay away from begging. We have acquired a 30 hectare garden so that we should be cultivating different crops that we plan to be exporting. Mia has since promised us to find markets outside the country. We believe with this aspect, we will be able to sustain our programmes.

Ali Blessings Idi: It is surprising that this organisation has come when some women from Mangochi have been pushing for Muslim Women Organisation (MWO) to conduct elections. Is it due to this frustration that led to the establishment of MWA?

Hawa Shaibu: It is true we asked for the elections after noting some shortfalls in MWO. It is inevitable that sometimes one no matter how wise is, reaches a point where her input is below par for staying in the same position for several years…so we thought we should put other people into leadership positions to continue where their collegues have left from. But by asking the leadership to conduct the polls, it’s where we were frustrated in the way they responded to our call. They said they don’t know us and we just waste our time by claiming to be members of MWO. With that response we thought we should establish our organisation which shall benefit all females regardless of their age since senior member of MWO told us their organisation is for women only .So we thought where our girls will get assistance from.

Ali Blessings Idi:  Don’t u think there were will be some misunderstanding between u and MWO since you have branched off from it?

Hawa Shaibu: I don’t think so because we are not here to make enmity. After all we are all Muslims; they are our relatives, our friends. I as a leader am very ready to work with them without any problem.

Ali Blessings Idi: You have come here in Blantyre to attend Ijtima, were you invited since you now have your own organisation?

Hawa Shaibu: We just heard that there is Ijtima and we thought of coming here. We knew we will benefit a lot by listening to lectures from several People.

Ali Blessings Idi: You attend this annual meeting which by tradition is organised by your counterpart. As MWA, do you have any plan of having such gathering?

Hawa Shaibu: Yes, we have that plan of organising Muslim women Ijtima in the country . There have been problems with these ijtimas. Insha-Allah our hope is we want to make our Ijtima organized in a very proper way because we have been seeing some shortfalls in the past ijtimas in the country.

Ali Blessings Idi: You have been accused of causing havoc including booing sheikhs at the just ended ijtma. How true is this?

Hawa Shaibu: It’s not true that we were behind the booing and jeering of the sheikh. I wonder why some are saying like that. All of us (MWA) members dressed in Black robe and white scarf had to sit at the back because our presence was not officially recognized by the organisers.

Even me as a chairlady, I just learnt this sad development in the following morning (Sunday). Therefore, it is really very unfortunate that our grouping is accused of this malpractice at this ijtima which we suffered most including being denied access to necessities such as food.

Ali Blessings Idi: Thank you very much for the interview and I am wishing your organisation all the best and may the Almighty Allah make it easy for you in fulfilling your objectives.

Hawa Shaibu:  You are most welcome brother.

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