LILONGWE – Using Christmas spirits to unite Malawi faiths, the Muslim minority has appealed to Christian leaders to dedicate Christmas prayers to socio-economic and political challenges affecting the southern African nation.
“This is very rare in a nation where there is diversity of religion.,” Rafique Hajat, Executive Director for an economic and governance think tank, Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI), told OnIslam.net.
“This move from the Muslim community clearly signifies the level of peaceful co-existence between Muslims and Christians in Malawi and at the same time this would foster unity among religions.”
Hajat was speaking about a recent appeal made by the leaders of Malawi Muslim minority to Christian leaders to dedicate Christmas prayers to their country
The Muslim leaders asserted that similar calls were made to the Muslim minority in their mosques in the face of the deteriorating economic conditions in the southern African country.
“For some time now, Muslims throughout the country have been asked to set aside some time during their daily prayers to pray for the socio-economic and political challenges which are threatening the core foundation of this country and adversely affecting lives of poor Malawians,” Sheikh Dinala Chabulika, Publicity Secretary of the country’s supreme Muslim body, Ulama Council of Malawi, told Onislam.net.
“We therefore thought we should appeal to our Christian brothers and sisters to join us in these prayers during this time of Christians.
Christmas is one of the most significant events in the life of Christians and therefore, it is necessary to appeal to them to make use of this time to dedicate themselves to prayer for the good of the country, because these challenges haven’t spared anybody, be it a Muslim or Christian.”
“Both Muslims and Christians really need to pray to God so that we should have solutions to the economic meltdown which is affecting both of us. As leaders, we need to take a lead to sensitize our followers on these matters,” Chabulika added.
Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar. Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.
In the NobleQur’an, Jesus is called “Isa”. He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).
The appeal has been greeted with wild enthusiasm across the Christian community in the country, describing it as a move towards national building and tolerance.
“As a leader of one of the major Christian denominations in the country, I have reacted to this appeal with a sense of humility and great respect,” Anglican Bishop Brighton Malasa, who leads a diocese in the southern part of the country, told OnIslam.net.
“I’m mobilizing my followers to dedicate their time to pray for our nation as we celebrate Christmas.
“The current economic situation in the country is insulting humanity. It has subjected Malawians to untold suffering and reduced them to second class citizens, therefore as religious leaders we really need to take a step to seek solutions to the situation. But on our own, we can’t do anything. We need to turn to God to address this for us.”
The Muslim move has cemented solid relations between both faiths in Malawi.
“This appeal is cementing the already existing unity and peaceful co-existence which has been there between Muslims and Christians since time immemorial,” Bishop Malasa said.
“We take heed of this appeal and we also ask all Christian denominations in the country to follow suit.”
On his part, Fr. George Buleya, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) the mother body of the country’s largest Christian denomination, the Roman Catholic described the appeal as a “goodwill gesture” towards religious tolerance and mutual respect.
“I have to put it straight that the Muslim community has gone ahead of us in this regard.
“This appeal is a goodwill gesture that promotes tolerance among religions and at the same time, mutual respect for each others’ beliefs,” Buleya told OnIslam.net.
“As a largest Christian denomination in Malawi, we are going to consider this appeal for the sake of the nation. It’s true that the current picture is quite worrying and depressing.”
Praising the Muslim goodwill gesture, Malawians were urged to find common ground for all faith leaders.
“I would like therefore to appeal to all faith leaders to take this as an opportunity to address the worrisome trends affecting Malawians,” Hajat, IPI executive director, said.
“Although there are no joint prayers organized at a specific venue to this effect, but the fact that Christians and Muslims are praying in their respective prayer houses tells us something that we are one nation.”
Sheikh Chabulka has also appealed to all economically able Christians to share whatever they have with the less privileged Christians during the festive season.
“The spirit of sharing should be encouraged during Christmas in the face of the economic hardships. This is the spirit we encourage during the time of Ramadan,” he told OnIslam.net.
“Through this way, every Christian will be able to appreciate the value of Christmas. This is the time they have to reach out to the poorest of the poor.
“Despite our differences in beliefs, we need to turn to God to guide us on a straight path towards economic emancipation, political tolerance and the wellbeing of the country’s citizenry. But unless we do that, we are likely to sink as a nation,” said Chabulika.
Islam is the second largest religion in Malawi after Christianity.
Muslims account for 12 percent of the country's 14 million population. But MAM puts the number at 36 percent according to the census it conducted a few years ago.
Related Links:Malawi Muslims Dedicate I`tikaf to Country
Muslim Charity Welcomes Malawi Ramadan
Islam Program Sows Malawi Coexistence
Malawi Muslims Urged to Live Qur'an
Malawi Muslim Leaders Fight Pornography