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 vow Saturday when he officially opened the 2017 Ijtmah at Mama Khadija Orphanage Centre in Lilongwe whose theme was “The Role of Muslims in Economical and Educational Development in Malawi”
Mutharika said he cherishes the peaceful co-existence and tolerance among Moslems, Christians and members of other faiths, must continue adding that other countries were failing to attain this.
He assured the gathering that under his rule he would accepted religious institutions to promote intolerance and hate among themselves.
“There was a time in the country when people from other religious denominations (Jehovah’s Witnesses) were persecuted just because they worshiped differently. I want to assure you that this never will get back to this country for individual to face religious oppression. Liberty of worship will continue in this country because religion is a gift that must be guarded jealously,” Mutharika pointed out.
He said Muslims and Christians have guiding principles of love and respect for humanity which unifies both sects.
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 of oneness.
He pointed out that any freedom one enjoys comes with great responsibilities hence the need to uphold it.
“There is no freedom without responsibility and similarly there is no freedom of worship without responsibilities that comes 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,” Mutharika added.
The President thanked the Muslim community for their role in promoting food security, provide water and sanitation service and education amongst others which complements government’s efforts in developing the country.
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 the President saying this freedom of worship is not only enjoyed by Muslims and Christians, but rather it encompasses all religious beliefs.
He added that by the virtue that the President is always available during the numerous religious ceremonies proves that he respects and values freedom of worship.
National Chairman of the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM), Sheikh Idrissa Muhammad added that the President has shown in different ways that he is a true friend to the Muslim community.
He said not only does he attends the Ijtimah’s, but he helps a lot in the preparations for the event.
Muhammad noted that, “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 the country, 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 are Sheikh Muhammad Osman; Chairman of the Ijtimah main organizing committee, Sheikh Saleem Banda who provided a key note address and guest speaker Dr Al-Tamaam.
The speakers expressed gratitude to the President 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.
Ijtimah is an annual gathering of members of the Muslim community in the country which aims at uplifting each other’s spiritual lives and personal development.