Sheikhs in Ndirande township have spoken out on the new Majilis Ulama executive that was ushered into the office on January 1, 2013.
The elections were conducted at the Iqra Islamic propagation centre in Blantyre.
At the elections, Sheikh Mussa Matola was elected the new chairman of the Majilis Ulama of Malawi.
Majilis Ulama is the association for Muslim theologians in the country that is aimed at sitting on decision making on matters do with Islam. The association is comprised of well learned sheikhs and make decisions under the guidance of the grand Mufti Abbas Cassim.
However, in reacting to the outcome of the elections, sheikhs in Ndirande have expressed their views on the new committee.
Sheikh Paison of Paison Masjid congratulated the new committee but advised it to refrain from politics and that the selected leaders should be exemplary.
“The selected sheikhs are well learned and of high calibre. It is something we should be proud of. However, my advice is that they should not use their positions as the weapon for personal gains. They should think of Muslims at glass root levels first. They have to know that they have been given the mandate to lead the Muslims not to take Islam as a political party. Therefore, they should be free from any form of political interference. Islam is the religion of Allah and they should serve the Muslims community,” said Sheikh Paison.
Sheikh Issa Yassin Masoud of Mussa Masjid has since asked the council to get it registered and execute its affairs independently.
He said Malawians do not know the difference between Muslim Association of Malawi and the council.
“Therefore, there first duty should be to inculcate the purpose of their establishment because there is also Muslim Association of Malawi. So, most Muslims do not know the difference between the two associations. It is all because the selected people just stay in the office they don’t go out telling people what is Majilis Ulama council and what is Muslim association of Malawi and their agendas. If they can embark on this mission, people will be able to know who to consult on what problem at a right time and place. The Majilis Ulamah is a big organisation that can not work effectively if it is under a certain organisation. Any organisation in the country including MAM should be going to the council to seek any advice,” said Masoud.
Sheikh Hussein Madi of Ndirande main Masjid has said that the council should look at a number of issues for the council to succeed. He said that his main concern as the sheikh is the welfare of sheikhs. He said that sheikhs are leaving in very disgraceful conditions as their employers overlook the issues to do with their welfare.
“The life of the sheikh must be looked into. The sheikh is the one who is keeping the religion but the salaries that are being given to the sheikh leaves with a lot to be desired. Nowadays you cannot find a Muslim boy dreaming of becoming a sheikh one day, this is because the role of the sheikhs in our community is not recognised that is why we are given peanuts. You can imagine a sheikh is receiving a salary less than Mk10, 000.00, how do you expect that sheikh to survive with the current economic crisis rocking this country?” worried Madi.
He further said that if we really want Islam to continue to grow in Malawi the new Majilis Ulama council should take the welfare of the sheikhs as a priority.
“This country needs a lot of sheikhs, but if Majilis Ulama overlook the welfare of sheikhs, one day we will wake up and found that Malawi is without a sheikh because all the sheikhs will be migrating to neighbouring countries looking for green pastures or no one will be interested to join the job of being sheikh,” he said.
The Ndirande sheikhs have also reminded the Majilis Ulama to also remember that there are other sheikhs in the villages and need to be remembered. The sheikhs said that the sheikhs that are in the villages are also part of the council hence they are the subjects of the organization.
Madi said the council should borrow a leaf from other religions who whenever they are to come up with a pastoral letter they consult all the churches from Nsanje to Chitipa.
“Therefore when making a decision they should also be consulting them, ignoring them in decision making will not be good. It should be an all inclusive decision making council, not a one man show because no man is an island,” he concluded.
Reporting by Hassan Bhoma Phiri