National Islamic Ijtmah Committee of Malawi (NICM) is planning to extend an invitation to President Mrs Joyce Banda to grace this yearâs men Ijtmah, Malawi Muslims Official Website has learnt.
According to reports reaching this website, all members in the committee from district to national level have agreed on the matter though the official invitation letter has not yet been sent to the New Sate House.
A well placed source in the committee who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the development when contacted by thisÂ Â Website.
âYes I can confirm that at one time we discussed of inviting our President Mrs Joyce Banda to grace the occasion but we have not reached a consensus yet. We said we should finalise other things first before confirming whether we should invite her or not. But I can say that she is on the list of to be invited guests,â said the source.
When asked how a woman can speak at the Islamic function which deemed to be for men only, the source said the committee has no option following the recent political developments that have emerged in the country.
âWe have no option, which is why we have decided also to invite our sisters to attend the official opening only. Â From there, everything will be as it used to be,â said the source.
Many MuslimsÂ believeÂ that both Christianity and Islam does prohibit a woman to stand on front of men to give a speech or a sermon. Â So, inviting the president to speak on theÂ occasionÂ will be regarded as a taboo. This follows a clear hadith (Prophet Muhammadâs sayings) and Bible verses.
In Bukhari, which is âusuallyâ a reliable source of hadith, Prophet Muhammad (saw) said ‘people, will not prosper if their affairs are in the hands of the womenâ and in the Bible 1 Corinthians 14:34, says ‘Let your women be silent in the assemblies, for they are not allowed to speak, but to be in subjection, just as The Written Law also says.’
However, as the source says, this is not easy to be applied in a secular country like Malawi where a gender issue has become an order of the day- that’s why Christian women in the country are able to speak in front of men and even sometimes preach in a church.
âI can tell you that the wind about that hadith also reached the new president. There were rumours of saying that Muslims cannot support JB because she is a woman with some citing such scriptures. So, this is one of the reason we want to invite her to prove them wrong. We want to show that we are behind her. Malawi is a secular country which does not follow the Islamic law. So, putting such ideologies will just undermine our relationship with the president hence being isolated in several development activities yet we pay tax,â he lamented.
The source also revealed that the committee wants to invite the Malawiâs first female President as one way of interacting with her directly while voicing out their concerns.
He said for a long time Muslims in the country have been blaming government for not including them in some key positions the thing which has a bit changed with the new administration hence to thank her for what she has done.
Since President Joyce Banda ascended to power after the demise of her predecessor late President Bingu wa Mutharika on April 5 this year, she has appointed a lot of Muslims in her cabinet as other government key positions.
Some of the notable ones include Dr Cassim Chilumpha who is Minister of Energy and Mining, Honourable Â Atupele Muluzi Minister of Economic and Planning, HonourableÂ Sidik Mia Minister of Public Transport and Public Infrastructures among others. The President has also appointed MAM National Chairman Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad in the advisory board of National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE).
However, Muslims are worried with some of the recent developments like being denied TV and Radio licences despite submitting their applications on several occasions.
Recently, MACRA awarded 15 broadcasting licences for both Radio and Television to prospective broadcasters who had applied for the licenses two years ago. This brings the total of newly licensed broadcasters to 23, after MACRA initially released eight names (4 Radio and 4 Television) of successful applicants in November 2011. Sadly, there is no even a single license for Muslims despite submitting their applications.
Havenât they been meeting the requirements?
âThese are some of the concerns we want to raise at the function so that we can get a direct assurance from the President whom her government has promised that it will make sure everyone gets equal share,â concluded the source.
This yearâs Ijtmah is deemed to be held in September at the countryâs soccer maker Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.
And speaking to this website earlier this month, Publicity Secretary for this yearâs organising committee Abdul-Aziz Onile said the venue, which will cost K750, 000, was booked and that part payment has already been paid.
He said the committee chose Kamuzu Stadium because of its cost-effectiveness.
One of the activities at this yearâs function is a football match between Muslim legislators and sheikhs, according to Onile.