Malawi Muslims plead for Ziyarah holiday

Malawi Muslims on Tuesday pleaded with government to nationalize the birth of Prophet Muhammad  as a public holiday.

The Ziyarah Parade held each year on January 14th, which is regarded as Tuesday 12th Rabiul Awwal on the Moslem calendar brings together people of Islamic faith to commemorate the birth of their prophet Muhammad, the originator of Islam.

This year’s parade, which started from Limbe Mosque to Kamuzu Stadium was joined by the President Joyce Banda and former President Bakili Muluzi, Minister of Transport,Sidik Mia and Minister of Home Affairs Uladi Mussa who attended the Ziyarah Parade prayers at the stadium.

Ziyara Parade: President Banda taking part.
Ziyara Parade: President Banda taking part.

However, the Altariqatul Qadiria Sunni Association (AQSA) has bemoaned failure by government in turning the event into a national holiday just like Christmas and Easter are for Christians.

“We have been petitioning government for the past two years to make this event a national holiday, but there has been no positive response. In Islamic countries it is regarded as a holiday and we will love it if it’s same thing here in Malawi; this day is extremely significant because it’s the birth of our Prophet Muhammad,” explained Mahommad Raidhan AQSA spokesperson.

Raidhan described this year’s parade as most successful comparing to previous years, saying the event unified Muslims while giving them opportunity to demonstrate good will to others.

Speaking to journalists after a short walk from Independence Arch to Chichiri Shopping Mall round-about, President Banda lamented the let-down by organisers in turning the parade into one big event.

“It is my biggest concern that the parade was not properly organised and was not much publicized. There is a need for every Malawian to join this celebration. I urge the organisers to make it big next year,” said Banda.

On the holiday plea, President Banda refused to give an assurance as her two-year term in office ends in May this year.

Banda said: “I can’t promise anything as my term ends in May but we will see to that after the elections; however, I support the proposal, it’s nothing wrong as Christians have Christmas, and it will also be important for the Muslims to have this day as a holiday as well”.

Muluzi described the Ziyarah Parade as a moment of peace in which the Muslim world is unified and urged Malawians to unite regardless of their spiritual affiliation.

During the prayers at Kamuzu Stadium, people of Islamic faith prayed for peaceful tripartite elections and unity amongst Malawians regardless of political and religion, and prayed to God (Allah) to heal the nation from some of the problems it is facing such as hunger.

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