President Peter Mutharika has vowed to safeguard the freedom of worship Malawi is enjoying, saying this is a gift that must be guarded jealously.
He made the commitment when he officially opened the 2017 Ijtmah at Mama Khadija Orphanage Centre in Lilongwe.
Ijtima is the annual gathering of Muslims where they share experiences on various developmental projects and challenges affecting their religion.
Mutharika said the peaceful co-existence and tolerance he cherishes among Moslems, Christians and members of other faiths must continue adding that this is only the case in other countries.
He assured this would never end under his watch.
“There was a time in Malawi when people from other religious denominations (Jehovah’s Witnesses) were persecuted just because they worshiped differently.
“I want to assure you that never will this country go back to religious oppression. Liberty of worship will continue in this country because religion is a gift that must be guarded jealously,” said Mutharika.
He said Islam and Christianity both have the same guiding principles of love and respect for humanity which unifies both believers.
Mutharika added that the mutual love and respect that exists between members of the different religious denominations must be extended in order to continue building the bonds.
He however counseled that any freedom one enjoys comes with great responsibilities.
“There is no freedom without responsibility and similarly there is no freedom of worship without responsibilities that come along with it. Let us promote this freedom by observing mutual respect.
“Religion must never be used to bring about chaos and pain in the country but should be used to promote peace and prosperity and development. When we do that, it means we are using religion to develop God’s people and I am happy you chose this theme (The Role of Muslims in Economical and Educational Development in Malawi),” said Mutharika.
He subsequently thanked the Muslim community on what he said were various commendable works in food security, water and education amongst others which complement government’s efforts in developing Malawi.
Mutharika who has graced the previous two Ijtimah’s of 2015 in Thyolo and 2016 in Mangochi said he looks forward to being part of future Ijtimah’s as well.
Minister of health and population, Atupele Muluzi commended Mutharika saying this freedom of worship is not only enjoyed by Moslems and Christians, but rather; it encompasses all religious beliefs.
Muluzi added that by the virtue that president Mutharika is always available during the numerous religious ceremonies proves how Mutharika respects and values freedom of worship.
Also speaking during the ceremony was the National Chairman of the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM), Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad who said Mutharika has shown in different ways that he is a true friend to the Muslim community.
He said not only does Mutharika attend the Ijtimahs, but he also helps a lot in their preparations.
“On the other hand, he delivers everything that he promises. For example, when we were in need; he promised us a piece of land in Mangochi and as of now we have already been given that land.
“As a leader of the Muslim community in Malawi, I want to assure you that we will always be with you and support you in good and bad times.
“Problems will always be there but we will provide you with advice and we will not go behind your back because we are not hypocrites and also because Islam teaches us to stand by and respect our leaders,” he said.
Other people who spoke on the day were Sheikh Muhammad Osman; Chairman of the Ijtimah main committee, Sheikh Saleem Banda who provided a key note address and guest speaker, Dr Al-Tamaam.
Almost all of the speakers expressed gratitude to president Mutharika for the recent approval by the Reserve Bank of Malawi for banks to be able to introduce an Islamic Banking Window in their banks. This is a banking system that follows the teachings of Islam which amongst others forbids interests.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :