The photo opportunity of President Peter Mutharika, First Lady and Muslim youth he hosted at Mzuzu State Lodge on Wednesday as part of Christmas celebration has raised eyebrows from the Islamic community.
The Muslims who spoke to Nyasa Times say while they appreciate the Head of State hosting a treat to the children, it is unfair to involve Muslim youth to a highly mythical account of the Christian version of the birth of Jesus which is celebrated as Christmas on December 25.
They say it will bring confusion to Muslim young faithfuls by their being involved in Christmas celebrations.
Sheikh Salmin Omar Idruss, chairman of the Muslim Association of Malawi, said he considers parading Muslim youth in their religious regalia celebrating Christmas as un-Islamic
And Islamic scholar Sherif Kaunde, who is also an expert in Islamic Law, said there is no doubt that Islam does not allow Muslims to celebrate any other festival other than Eid al-fitr, a celebration that marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and Eid Al-Adha as prescribed in the Holy Quran and Sunnah.
“Therefore anything outside these two is considered either an innovation or imitation of others,” Kaunde told Nyasa Times when interviewed.
“It is an innovation in a sense that they are celebrating as a means of drawing close to the Almighty God but with no origin in the scriptures or religious texts. Also an imitation of non-Muslims who celebrate their festivals as a tradition and not as an act of worship,” he argued.
Kaunde, who is also chair of an association of Malawi Muslims in UK , explained that the Holy Quran venerates both Jesus and Virgin Mary by sharing their story of Jesus’ miraculous birth and his ability to perform miracles with the help of God.
However, he said, it is not the practice of Muslims to celebrate the birth of their prophets.
“Christmas has become such a cultural phenomenon and is observed as a tradition and not an act of worship for some people if not the majority. Therefore, imitating these people or taking part in them implies that one is happy with what they are following and in the end that could make them take this opportunity to mislead those who are weak in faith especially the children,” said Kaunde.
He continued: “For many, Christmas is a fun and joyous occasion about being with family and giving. However, celebrating it with those that oppose such a belief no matter their age is unexplainable contradiction and misleadingly wrong.”
Addressing the children who were drawn from Mzuzu city, President Mutharika urged them to work hard in school so that they are able to take up different public positions, including that of state presidency, in the future.