August 31, 2016 will remain a memorable day for Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad after he retained leadership mantle of Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) in an election held at Comesa Hall in Blantyre.
It was kind of a walk over considering the margin between him and his contender, 114 votes against 7. Despite some controversies that characterized the first half of his tenure, there have been several positive activities worth giving credit to Sheikh Idrissa as a leader.
In 2011, Sheikh Idrissa took the position while MAM was sailing through troubled waters and was at a glimpse of collapse. At that time, the organization was nursing donor drought for over 20 years, a situation which the youthful leader was supposed to change against all odds. It was then or never.
Notwithstanding lack of stable source of income in MAM, Sheikh Idrissa faced a lot of criticisms from some quarters of the Muslim populace – from political to personal hatred. Suffice to say, the first three and half years of his five-year term was a nightmare for Sheikh Idrissa – he made so many enemies on petty grounds.
Nevertheless, as a leader, he never lost hope and never gave room to anyone to disrupt his vision for Islam and Muslims in the country. Apparently, his popular zakaat (alms) and sadaka (charity) campaign won hearts of many Muslims, no wonder he got the seat. His first term centred on this drive as he aimed at moving from donor dependence.
Unfortunately, his call hit a snag as very few people understood him. However, as a leader, he didn’t give up, but switch to plan B, which was; to start knocking again on the doors of donors. He had to humble himself on his knees, assuring them that he is a new Messiah. A new broom that would sweep all trash. He did this after observing that it would take years to convince Malawian Muslims on the importance of giving – and five years was not enough to achieve that.
Sheikh Idrissa does not believe in the spirit of begging and he is not comfortable to always depend on donors especially when some of the minor problems can be sorted by local Muslims. But this, could only be realized if Muslims were ready to contribute towards programs of the organization. Unfortunately, all he got were accusations and condemnations of his leadership.
He was not swayed and he embarked on a campaign to convince donors. His first destination was Kuwait where after communicating his vision, they were able to understand him and decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. One of these organizations is Revival of Islamic Heritage Society – Africa Committee led by Sheikh Muhammad Ainati.
The society started helping MAM with small projects such as distribution of relief items to the households that were affected by hunger in different parts of the country before drilling of boreholes and construction of mosques among other things. However, this was not the end of Sheikh Idrissa’s leadership challenges. Consequently, it was the beginning of another wave of trials as malice started within the association.
Some people again started making unfounded accusations by writing the donor that the MAM chair was diverting the funds into his personal account. The matter was all over major media outlets and the people took the case to police to get him arrested. It had to take the donor himself to fly to Malawi to clear Sheikh Idrissa of all the accusations. The donor’s advice to Sheikh Idrissa was to get rid all bad ‘apples’ which he eventually did.
It was not easy though for Sheikh Idrissa to get rid of the bad apples knowing that doing so would mean creating more enemies. However, for the interest of Muslims and Islam in the country, he didn’t hesitate and was strong enough to face any consequences because he knew that this would also be a threat to his chances of retaining the seat come 2016.
Allah makes no mistakes and He chooses whom He wills. Sheikh Idrissa has been given another mandate, perhaps he does not harbor any ill intentions. Sheikh Idrissa says he has no plans of self-enrichment but to develop the Muslim community. He urges those who are skeptical to give him the benefit of the doubt and see what he has for the Muslim community.
With all donors now trusting him, there are high chances that Sheikh Idrissa will continue where he stopped and bring back MAM’s lost glory. This is why we agree with what Salima South parliamentarian, Dr Uladi Mussa said at a recent food distribution exercise by MAM in Salima Central, where he noted that Sheikh Idrissa’s first term has been promising despite the challenges he faced and that MAM is now moving in the right direction, describing Sheikh Idrissa as development oriented and selfless.
The management and staff of Malawi Muslims Official Website would like to congratulate Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad for his re-election and we challenge him to continue walking the talk as he leads the Malawian Muslim community for the next five years.