In Malawi, some Muslims are complaining that Muslim traders tend to reduce the price of goods for Christmas festivities, but not for Islamic celebrations such as Eid.
The traders say this is because Muslims donât spend as much money on religious holidays.
Some Muslims say the difference is not fair, and fails to put Islamic and Christian celebrations on equal footing. They say despite the difference between the religions, both celebrations are equality important to their followers.
Shamima Yahaya-Binali is among Muslims who are complaining.
âThis attitude is very bad because Islamic activities are quite large and their importance to the Muslim community [should] attract everyoneâs attention including Muslim traders. What these people are doing is capitalizing on other festivities, some of which are not even encouraged in Islam,â. he said.
Imran Shiaz Mussa is a Muslim trader and the owner of a shopping centre in Malawiâs northern city of Mzuzu. He doesnât cut prices during Islamic celebrations because, he says, Muslims donât buy new clothes on their major holidays as do Christians.
â[During Eid], he explains, people donât buy things [like] new clothesâŠ.Christians are the ones who buy new clothesâ.
Christian trader Alinafe Chilinda operates a restaurant and shopping centre in the commercial capital Blantyre.
She says the problem is that during Islamic festivities the celebrations are mostly confined to the home. She says Muslims rarely eat out or go shopping for their holidays.
But Binali disagrees.
âThatâs not true.,” he says. “In fact I buy new clothes each and every year. And it is also Sunna (the teachings of Prophet Muhammad) to buy new clothes on Eid. Maybe [the explanation is] that the Christian community is quite large compared to Muslim community here in Malawi. But they [Muslim traders] need to consider us by reducing the prices during Eid festivities. [Their] attitude is very bad. I am telling you God will punish them.â
However National Coordinator for the Islamic Information Bureau Sheikh Dinala Chabulika says it is important to look at the issue from both angles.
“The concern is genuine,” he says, “but a businessman always looks at where he is going to make more profit or do more business. As Muslims we are supposed to promote our own activities. There is nothing wrong with decreasing the price of goods during other celebrations because he wants to make a profit but [itâs not good] to neglect Islam by doing nothing during Islamic [holidays].
Chabulika says businessmen and consumers will benefit from a drop in prices. After all, he says you donât have to be Christian to appreciate a good bargain.
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