LILONGWE – As world Muslim commemorate the occasion of Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) birthday, Malawi Muslims are marking the event by revisiting images from his simple life in a celebration shared by the country’s Muslims and Christians.
“Through the celebrations, we are sending a message to the Muslim community in the country to live in the likeness of the Prophet,” Rizwana Omar, Media Coordinator of At-Tariqatum Qardriah Sunni Association (AQSA), an organization organizing the celebrations in the largely Muslim dominated southern region of the country told OnIslam.net.
“This is the only way that we are going to prosper in life.”
The Prophet’s birth falls on the 12th day of Rabi-ul-Awwal (the third month in the Islamic calendar). This year, it falls on Monday, January 13.
Around the world, celebrations of the prophet’s birthday include stalls selling Islamic books, leaflets, clothing, prayer mats and other materials.
Many Muslims see the prophet’s birthday as an important time to learn about and reflect on Muhammad’s life.
Lectures and speeches are often recorded and published as podcasts.
In Malawi, Muslims have organized a special celebration with the theme of “The simplicity on the life of the Prophet”.
Muslims from all walks of life are taking part in the celebrations slated for Tuesday 6 January with a parade around the country’s two major cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre.
During the occasion, Muslims will be encouraged to live in the likeness of the Prophet Muhammad by living in humility.
Muslims in Malawi have been actively celebrating his birthday consecutively for the past few years.
Omar said during the celebrations, the Muslim community in the country will also pray for solutions to the socio-economic challenges weighing heavily on the lives of the majority poor Malawians, who according to the World Bank struggle to survive on less than $1 a day.
“Much as we are praying for the country during our every day prayers, we are also taking advantage of the celebrations to ask God to provide solutions to the socio-economic challenges affecting our nation which are having a large bearing on poor Malawian irrespective of their religious beliefs,” he added.
As Muslims celebrated the blessed occasion, Muslim leaders extended an invitation to the country’s Christian majority as a “goodwill gesture” towards fostering unity and peaceful co-existence in the religious–diverse southern African nation.
“Islam is a religion of peace. It’s for this reason that we are seizing this opportunity to foster unity and peaceful co-existence between Muslims and non-Muslims by extending an invitation to all Malawians of other faith groups to participate in the celebrations,” Omar, AQSA media coordinator, said.
“We would like through these celebrations to demonstrate that despite our diverse religious beliefs, we can attain peaceful co-existence and live in absolute unity.
“This is a goodwill gesture that as Muslims we have to show to our Christian counterparts during this important event in our religion,” he added.
He said invitations have been extended to the country’s mainline and Pentecostal churches across the country.
Omar described responses from the invitations as “phenomenal.”
“We are humbled by the positive responses we are getting from our Christian brothers. This clearly underscores the facts that we are all one and we can achieve unity even in diversity.
“By extending invitations to our Christian counterparts, w e are demonstrating that unity among all humans is the ultimate aim of the teachings of Islam,” said Omar.
Meanwhile, Influential leaders within the Christian community have described the invitations as a catalyst for togetherness among Malawians of diverse religious beliefs.
“This gesture will help bring about togetherness among Malawians of various beliefs and at the same time, it accords Christians an opportunity to learn more about Muslims and Islam,” Dr. Felix Chingota, the country’s renowned scholar and National Chairperson of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC),a quasi-religious organization told OnIslam.net.
“These are some issues about Muslims and Islam which are often misunderstood by Christians and disputes stem from these misunderstandings to a certain extent.
“Some of these gatherings are therefore important for us to learn more things,” he added.
Islam is the second largest religion in the southern African country after Christianity.
Official statistics suggest Muslims constitute 12 percent of the country’s 14 million people, but the umbrella Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) puts the rate at 36.
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