Slowly, slowly, Malawi Muslim community is to embark on the new chapter. The Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) wants to change its constitution because of what they call ‘it has so many mistakes’ which need to be rectified.
MAM general secretary Sheikh Dr Salmin Omar Idruss confirmed of the development in an exclusive interview with our reporter recently.
He cited the way MAM conducts its elections as one of the mistakes.
”According to the constitution, we conduct elections just like political parties. It is time to change these things because aspiring Muslims engage themselves in altercation, insulting ones’ opponent,” he explained.
Prior to MAM election which were held in April 2011, aspirants had to use undesirable means to get support from the voters reaching the extent of castigating each other in public and allegedly dishing handouts.
The SG said such acts are not in line with the principles of Islam hence the development of changing the statutes that give room to such unislamic acts.
Most Muslims were unhappy with the conduct of most aspirants hence being prompted to appeal to the Majlis Ulama Council of Malawi to take full responsibility of appointing MAM chairperson claiming the sheikhs’ grouping is the only one that is suitable to appoint a good leader for Muslims in Malawi.
The county’s Grand Mufti Abbas Qassim heavily criticised the aspirants for MAM offices during the presentation of prizes to winners in 2010 edition of Qur’an competition at Mpingwe, Blantyre.
”I wonder what are you fighting for, what have you seen in the association [that you should be castigating each other]? This only entails that you do not have the interest to serve Islam but you have your hidden motives.
But, surely this would not take us anywhere,” he lamented.
Meanwhile MAM has started getting inputs from stakeholders at all levels including the district.
The previous executive committee, which was led by Alhaj Yusuf Kanyamula and Sheikh Dr Imran Shareef Mahommed as its Secretary General also wanted to amend the constitution.
”We are continuing from where our predecessors left, ” he said.
Asked on whether MAM wants to change whole process of choosing its leaders, Sheikh Omar said:
“I haven’t said that we want to change the process but we are only proposing. We want Muslims to tell us what they want to be in the constitution. This is why we are engaging Muslims from different backgrounds, levels. Whatever shall be put in the constitution, will come from Muslims,” Omar said.
He then urged Muslims to contribute to this initiative saying it is important for the religion of Islam in Malawi.
When he quizzed if majority of Muslims would want that choosing a leader by voting should be abolished, Sheik Idruss had this to say:
‘Not necessarily what people may say. We will have to say what people have said and what the Holy Qur’an and hadeeth are saying. If Majority view will not be inline with the Holy Qur’an and Hadeeth ,we will definitely go for the miraculous book and hadeeth.”
In a related development, the Muslim mother body is in a process of developing its strategic plan for the coming five years.
This is to ensure the organisation move towards the right direction.
It is the first time for the association to have such a plan since it was established over fifty years ago.
The development comes after the current committee under the chairmanship of Sheikh Idriss Muhammad has been there for only six months after being elected and this could be his vision.
MAM Secretary General Sheikh Dr Salmin Omar Idruss said the document is very vital since it will make the association achieve its goals.
‘‘Nowadays for an association to prosper it need to have a strategic plan. We cannot do anything if we do not know what we intend to do or achieve. As MAM we need to plan, we need to know what the Muslim community wants,” he said.
According to the Secretary, the plan will enable the association to know how many mosques, boreholes and schools should be built in the next five years.
”We cannot achieve anything without planning. Therefore we have already started developing the plan by soliciting inputs at regional levels through consultative meetings.
”As of now we are remaining with the southern region because just recently we conducted a consultative meeting in the Central region after a successful one in the Northern region where we had committee members from the districts and the region,” he said.
Sheikh Salmin said the plan will be ready by early December and that it will be launched in the same month in Blantyre.
Undoubtedly, Muslims in Malawi anticipate a lot of positive strides from this development since they are lagging behind in some area. For instance, Muslims do not have their own University, though they have quite a number of Primary and secondary schools across the Southern African country.
No wonder if implemented, Muslims will see a complete change in the near future. It is therefore, important to work as a team for this to be achieved. Muslims have to distance themselves from backbiting and gossiping. They have to come together and see how they can develop the Muslim community.
Indeed, the issue of castigating and blaming each other will not take us anywhere.
Marshall Dyton in Blantyre also contributed to this report