When you travel through most of Malawi’s major towns and trading centres, you will un-mistakenly notice magnificent structures which happens to be Muslim prayer houses. The same is the case enev in deep, remote areas in the villages; new and imposing Masjids are being erected every year. Thanks to the untiring efforts of Muslim organisations in the country.
Zam Zam Foundation, Africa Muslims Agency, Muslim Association of Malawi, Munazzamat Dawa Islamia, Bilaal Trust, Al-Barakah Charity Trust, are some of the major organisations amongst the many individual Muslim Asians who are doing a tremendous job in refurbishing dilapidated Masjids in Malawi.
However, one notable thing that has disappointed me most is the poor state of the structures that were constructed some ten to fifteen years ago. They are in dire need of rehabilitation and nobody seems to care. Making me wonder as to whose duty it to look after and maintain these Masjids? “Kodi tikudikira a mwenye?” (Are we waiting for the Asians?)
“Give Us A New Masjid And We Shall…”
It is not uncommon to hear communities yelling on top of their voices that they have moulded and baked bricks and that they are ready to donate free land but that they cannot practice their Islamic faith to the fullest because there is no well wisher to consider their plight by erecting a new Masjid structure for the sake of the development of Islam in their area!
Often such calls attract swift responses and well wishers rush in their numbers with their architectural designers to make a kill and rake in heavenly virtues. By the way, who doesn’t want to give Sadaqatu-ul-Jariya (perpertual charity) if you have the means to do so and when an opportunity arises like in the case of constructing a prayer house?
When it is all said and done, the building has to subsquently go through the forces of nature – the normal wear and tear. The painting weras off, the ceiling weakens, the carpet tears away and there is a desperate need for man to come in for a rescue. How time flies!
At this juncture, a section of the community blames the well wishers for just constructing the building and abandoning it without caring for it.
“Didn’t the know that after some time the building shall require some maintainance works?… Go back to them, and tell them that they should come and rehabilitate their Masjid…, thus we command you, oh the members of the Masjid Committee!” So they implore!
Honestly speaking, does it really make any sense, when it is the members of the community themselves who molded the bricks, it is them who donated their ancestral land and it is them who fully enjoy the facilities at the new Masjid, that if the roof happens to leak, then they should call upon a person who is miles away to come and fix it? His only crime: he funded the construction of the Masjid and therefore he has to repair it. Oh my God!
The donors, please try to make an imprompt and surprise visit to the localities where you constructed the Masaajid and you shall feel sorry at the state of affairs there. You shall cry your lungs out that your multi-million dollar Sadaqat-ul-Jariya investment is slowly but surely oing down the drain.
Therefore, I am requesting all the donors that whenevr they are called upon to construct a Masjid anywhere in the country they should first of all get a commitment from the community that the community shall be responsible for all the rehabilitation and maintainance works. They should actually demand the community to produce an action plan on how they intend to raise funds for the exercise, failing which I feel that it shall be wasteful to construct the House of Allah in that area.
While it is also natural to produce a maximum benefit out of the facility that you the donors have constructed and therefore you ‘import’ an Imaam from another locality and impose him on the community even though I understand that you bear the burden of paying for his wages, please leave the whole administration to the community. Let them decide who they want to be their Imaam and how they intend to administer the facility.
To the communities I say: “Wabwino wanji wonga fumbwe?” (A Chichewa adage that figuratively means “Who is bether than the one who foots all your bills?”). What more do you really want?
These donors spend millions of their hard earned money to construct decent prayer houses in your communities. Apart from that, they also pay wages of the new Imaam, cleaners, gardeners, utility bills, etc, why should they be laboured again when a water pipe burst in your toilets as if there is no plumber within you who can repair it for the sake of Allah? Are the heavenly virtues only for the well to-do people and that your talents and skills are for worldly benefits only?
Furthermore, what is the use of your Masjid Committees? Are they formed solely to share the booty that befalls like manna during the months of Ramadhaan and Dhul Hijja?
If you can manage to source loans from your employers and build poshy personal houses to accomodate your family, can’t you spare a dime (or even reserve a quarter of your one month salary) and donate it for the rahabilitation of your Masjid?
All what I am saying is that it is high time that we pump some sense into the members of our communities that the facilities are ours and that it is our primary responsibility to take care and look after them. Allah will surely demand answers from us on the Day of Judgment on why we let His Houses to become dilapidated yet we slept in well maintained and air conditioned houses.
And Allah knows best.