Recognizing their efforts to spread Islam in the southern African nation, a special award has been granted to a group of Malawian Muslim organizations and individuals for their sacrifices and contributions towards the growth of Islam and socio-economic development of the diverse country.
“We decided to come up with this initiative in order to recognize various contributions and sacrifices some Muslim organizations and individuals have made towards the growth of Islam and other aspects of socio-economic development of the country,” Marshall Dyton, Coordinator of the awards told the media.
The awards, an initiative of the Malawi Muslim Official Website, published by Dayton himself, are the first of their kind within the Muslim community in Malawi.
“Through this initiative, we wanted the world and the nation to appreciate the beauty of Islam through its contributions to the socio-economic development of Malawi,” Dayton said.
“Through the international media, Islam has been subjected to bad publicity. We have been portrayed as terrorists and associated with all sorts of bad things. We wanted therefore to demonstrate to the world that there is a good side, about Muslims and Islam that people should be grateful for.”
The Muslim figure added that without Muslims, various aspects of development would have been missing, referring to a rich history of Muslim contributions over the past five decades.
“In Malawi, it would be difficult to talk of progress in various aspects of development, without Muslims,” he said.
“We have been part of the country’s development process during the 50 years of our independence and even before independence. We wanted the level sacrifices some individuals and organizations have made, towards Islam and the nation. Their sacrifices have not been in vain.”
Introduced in the 1880s, Islam came to the Southern African nation with Arab traders who spread across the African continent.
Islam is the second largest religion in Malawi after Christianity.
Muslims account for 12 percent of the country’s 14 million population. But Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) puts the number at 36 percent according to the census it conducted a few years ago.
The initiative has received wild applause from a cross-section of the Muslim community in the country.
“The initiative honored efforts from the Muslim community towards the socio-economic development of the country and growth of Islam,” renowned scholar Dr. Imran Shareef, who is Secretary of the country’s supreme Muslim body, ULAMA Council of Malawi told the media.
“For so long, our efforts towards Malawi’s socio-economic growth have not been recognized. Islam has received a great share of ridicule and marginalization as if nothing has been done in this country by Muslims. This initiative has therefore lifted our spirits and rejuvenated us. This is a great honor to us,” Shareef added.
On his part, the National Chairperson of Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) Sheikh Idrissa Mohammad appealed to institutions of “goodwill” outside the Muslim community in the country to emulate the initiative in order to boost the image of Muslims.
“I appeal to other institutions of goodwill outside the Muslim community to follow what the Muslim Website has demonstrated. Let people all over the world value what we have done to accelerate the country’s development. Let all what we have done be brought to light for people to appreciate,” Mohammad told the media.
“Time has come that our contributions to the world should be valued. Time has come that the world should stop looking at Muslims and Islam with negatively. We have contributed massively to the development of the human being. But why do people choose to focus on negatives only?”
The Muslim Official Website was founded to raise the profile of Muslim and Islam in the country; where, according to the publisher, the mainstream media does not give much space for Islam.
“We are starved in terms of publicity. The country’s media normally focuses on the negative side of things when it comes to Islam. This compelled us to launch this website, which provides official information about Muslims and Islam in the country,” said Dayton.
“We are geared to continue honoring all initiatives in the Muslim community. We will continue to be a mirror to the world. Through us, the world will learn to appreciate good things Muslims in Malawi are doing,” he added.
“Through us, Muslims and Islam will be treated with respect and honor. Through us, the world will look at Muslims with new lens.”