BY BASHIR AMIN
BLANTYRE:One’s misfortune is someone’s luck, so they say. But in all fairness, we do not celebrate at the misfortunes of other people. What this adage tries to convey is that we should tread carefully where a colleague wronged or exceeded bounds. The traditional maxim is a call for people to learn from the mistakes of others. But even to the victims themselves, the rough encounters are lessons, hence the adage: once bitten twice shy. One Richard Hooker once said, “Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.” This brings me to the conclusion that forewarned is fore-armed.
If you are one of those people who sniff at every feast that you hear, then the following story should caution your greed:
Just a few days after a historic Ziyara Parade in Blantyre, a celebration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad, Malawian Muslims got a shock when they were chased out of a feast which was organized at Mpingwe Sports Club Hall, as part of the celebration.
Confiding to Malawi Muslim Official website after Dhuhr prayers in Limbe, a group of brothers said the ordeal happened on Sunday, four days after the parade. Yaseen Aufi, one of the brothers said:
“A few days ago, all Muslims celebrated the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) together as one family. We gathered and marched in large numbers in various places for the celebrations. Just last Sunday, the celebrations reached the climax when Muslims around Limbe convened at Mpingwe Sports Club to share a meal. But to the surprise of Muslims of Malawian origin, only Asian Muslims (Amwenye) were allowed into the dining hall.” Aufi continued to lament that he endeavored to enter but he could only salivate at the mouth-watering food.
“When I entered and I was about to dish out for myself, one Asian (name withheld) grabbed my plate and said that I was not allowed to enter the hall. ‘It’s only Asians who are allowed here!’ exclaimed the Asian” said Aufi.
“When I asked why, this Asian pushed me out. I insisted to know the reasons for their hostility, and then I was told that if we were to eat, we had to wait for left-overs. This didn’t go well with me because I wanted some answers as to why Malawians should be subjected to such dog-like treatment, but my curiosity became more disconsolate. He only told me that it was their arrangement that Asians must eat first and Malawians later if at all there were left-overs. He told me to obey his authority because he was in-charge of the hall. He got furious that it took the intervention of on-lookers to separate us.” worried Aufi.
“We are worried and tired of this racist behavior. What is most ironic is that just a couple of days ago, these same people (Asians), sent trucks to ferry people (Malawians) and we responded positively. Now that they have fulfilled their objective, today they don’t want to dine with us. They only use us and continue to segregate us just because we are black.
“This is total racism and I don’t think it can be condoned in Malawi. Surprisingly, on the day of the parade, there were thousands of Malawians against a handful of the Asians. This is not even the first time, last year the same man exchanged blows with some Muslims over similar issues. It’s high time we spoke out and something must be done. No one should suppress us. We need to speak about this attitude so that it must stop. We are all humans and we deserve respect as citizens of this country.” he complained.
Another brother, Adam Taipi, who also suffered the embarrassment, concurred with his colleague. Taipi said Asian Muslims have no single respect for Malawians as witnessed by their conduct even at Mosques. He wondered what kind of Islam they practice. “Islam promotes peace and love, humbleness and empathy. But you will rarely see these people interact with us (blacks). They live a closed life of high esteem and pride. They think lavishness is anything to grant them Jannah. Their character and attitude to other races are far from our noble prophet Muhammad (SAW). We have seen how Arabs show love to their fellow Muslims. When you meet at the Mosque, they would greet and embrace everyone. But Asians would never do that. They are selfish.”
It is also reported that a son to Sheikh Muhammad Ismail, a renowned and long time employee with Limbe Muslim jamaat, Salim Ishmail, was told off at the feast. His father was only allowed on compassion.
Also commenting on the issue of Asian Muslims being racist, another brother noted persistent nepotism and ill treatment against Malawian employees in their companies. He mentioned the pathetic conditions and wages that Malawians get in Asian organizations and companies. “We are subjected to risks when discharging our jobs but they offer us peanuts yet their fellow unqualified and inexperienced Asians enjoy good perks and conditions at the expense of well qualified Malawians. Merit does not exist in these people. They feel no remorse in their conduct. They treat as like dogs.” he said.
Similar sentiments were also uttered by a cross section of Muslims in Limbe. Speaking to Malawi Muslim Official Website, one brother cited as an example some Asians who do not want to share a space with Malawians during prayers in a Mosque. “On several occasions, I have been pushed away by a certain Asian in Limbe Mosque. He doesn’t want to sit close or get into contact with Malawians. He is so rude.” said the brother.
One sister also recalled an incident at Lilongwe’s Area 2 Mosque where Asians would walk out of the Mosque when a Malawian was reading Khutbah (Friday sermon), saying they would not allow to be led by a black man who they believe is cursed.
Malawi is one of the few countries in this part of Africa where financial status earn Asians undue respect from indigenous locals.
The celebrations were organised by Attariqatul Qadriyah Sunni Association (AQSA). This year, the Ziyara parade (Eid Melaad-un-nabee) hit a record of about 130 000 patrons in Blantyre alone. Eid Melaad-un-Nabee is an annual celebration of Muslims on the birth of prophet Muhammad (SAW), who was born on the 12th day of the lunar Islamic month of Rabi-ul-Awwal in 570 AD. However, some schools of thoughts express reservations about the authenticity of the celebrations because the prophet himself neither observed his birthday nor did he advise his followers to do so.
This Muhammad, whom Muslims were celebrating his birth, was commanded to warn people and call them to the worship of one God. He preached about truthfulness, fidelity, honesty, charity, and compassion. He taught man to be just, to treat lovingly and kindly, to bring goodness to every orphan, the weak, the oppressed and the poor. He said all human are equals; race, colour, creed, wealth or power, are nothing in the sight of Allah. Slaves and prisoners were ransomed. He died at the age of 63 after completing his prophetic mission.