Malawian Muslims who want to get married will now have to dig deeper into their pockets as some sheikhs in the country have started demanding money for officiating nikahs, Malawi Muslims Official Website has established.
Confirmed reports reaching this website indicate that some sheikhs in the country’s commercial city of Blantyre are charging as high as K5, 000 per Nikah.
The investigation has also found that other sheikhs are demanding K20 or K30 for slaughtering a chicken.
One of the victims who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the development in an interview with Malawi Muslims Official Website.
“Yes it is true. In my case, at first the sheikh said I should pay K5, 000 so when I tried to negotiate with him he reduced the amount and I paid K3, 000. But I was very shocked and I asked myself, how could someone charge me such huge amount for Allah’s work?” said the source.
The tendency is mostly common in villages where life is hard and they take this as a remedy to ease their economic hardship since the salary they get can’t help to run away from abject poverty. However, it is surprising to see the malpractice spreading in the urban areas where things are better off compared to the remote areas.
However, some people say that the problem of low salaries is not only applying to the sheikhs of remote areas but also those living in town.
Sheikhs are the very lowest paid people in Malawi regardless of the amount of services they render in their respective workplaces and communities. This website understands that most of the sheikhs’ salaries are in the range of K6, 000 to K15, 000 per month.
In either way, Malawi’s council for Muslim theologians (Majilis Ulama) has strongly condemned the malpractice.
Publicity Secretary for Majilis Ulama Sheikh Dinala Chabulika has described the development as unfortunate and unethical.
“That’s unethical. Sheikhs are not supposed to charge this kind of services. It is something that should not be entertained because by the moment you choose to be a sheikh, you sign a contract that you will be giving your spiritual services for free,” he said.
Sheikh Chabulika however said there is nothing wrong with giving sheikhs a token of appreciation for their services but that should not be compulsory.