Last updated: April 21, 2012 15:25 CAT
Former Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) Secretary General Sheikh Dr Imran Shareef says he has all what qualifies him to lead Muslims in the country. He says he did well in both secular and Islamic studies and that he was the best student in all schools he has attended.
Dr Shareef said this in response to the allegations that him, among other his friends conspired to remove Mufti Abbas Cassim from chairmanship position.
Currently, he is the Supreme Council of Ulammah in Malawi Chairman and Mufti Abbas, who was combining both as Chairman and as a Mufti is remained with the muftiship role.
However, Dr Shareef told Malawi Muslims Official Website that all procedures were followed when replacing Mufti Abbas Cassim.
âIt was done normally. We met in Balaka on October 8 2011 and had representatives of big sheikhs in Malawi present there. It was a matter of restructuring because we saw that the Mufti was occupied as he was holding two positions. He was combining both as a Mufti and as a Chairman so he could leave the organisation dormant. It was also difficult for members to give different views to the mufti when he does something wrong because he was of much respect,â he said.
Dr Shareef also revealed if Islamic principles were to be followed on how someone qualify to be a mufti then Mufti Abbas Cassim is not supposed to be one.
âA Mufti should be a well learned person and is able to give Islamic juridical opinion more specifically using Quran, hadiths and all sources of Islamic law. All these I do qualify to become one. But as this Majilis issue, when we were electing a Mufti and especially Mufti Abbas it was different. We looked at various issues not necessarily modern requirements.
âWe took him as a man who has worked tirelessly and has taught many sheikhs in Malawi â those who taught us most of them were his students. So, in recognition and special respect we have in that man, we said nobody should be appointed as a Mufti but letâs give it to him.
âHowever, it was also prudent for Ulamah Council to say we need to put a subcommittee called Ifta (verdict) of which I am the chairman so as deputising the Mufti. And this was done before I even became Secretary General of MAM.
The Chancellor College’s Law lecturer however advised Muslims in the country not to compare Ulamah councilâs affairs with MAM’s as they are different.
Â Some people were suggesting fair elections would have been done when choosing a new chairman for the council.
âIn Islam, when electing leaders, we donât do as it was with MAM elections â that was unislamic. I took part of course but because we were guided by the constitution and it was registered under the laws of Malawi. So, [saying] anything that is contrary people would have challenged against any procedure that would have been adopted. We donât employ such same type of unislamic procedures in Ulamah Council when electing religious positions.
âAt MAM you can elect anybody. You donât elect the best but the one who has money and more support as it happened. People elected the current chairman [Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad] because he was supported by then Democratic Progressive Party government through [Sidik] Mia and the former President [Dr Bakili Muluzi] through [Biton] Ajawa. They spent millions of kwachas.
â[Unfortunately], people ended up electing sheikhs who are not in the first category of sheikhs in Malawi. In the first category, we have sheikhs only who knows the laws of Islam and the current MAM chairman comes in third if not fourth category as he only did well in dawah. He is a better preacher of course, but he cannot stand to give fatwa (ruling) because he is not qualified to do that. I am not trying to discard him, he has got BA and JCE but that position cannot qualify him to lead sheikhs in Malawi. He can only be accepted as a member but not as a chairman of Ulamah Council. We cannot accept a JCE man to lead us. That time is gone. But he can be a leader at MAM because there, even a standard 8 man can become a chairman provided he has got money and knows how to castigate and insult others,â he said.
However, MAM Nantional Chairman Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad has since expressed his discontentment with Dr Shareef’s remarks.
“I don’t understand why he is saying that because I have never said I want to become Ulamah council chairman. What I said is that I don’t recognise the current leadership because it was not legitimately elected. In my view, I still do recognise Mufti Abbas Cassim as the chairman for the council,” he said.