The call was made during the annual Ziyara Parade.—File picture
By Steven Godfrey Mkweteza, Contributor
During the celebrations of the birth of Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullar in Blantyre, deputy presidential advisor on religious affairs, Hashim Abbas asked Muslims in the country to develop an interest in education if their faith is to be preserved and practiced according to the Quran and prophetic tradition.
Abbas, who was the guest of honour during the annual Ziyara Parade, asked Muslims to send their children to school to attain higher education and start handling senior positions in government, mosques and other public institutions.
He observed that various interventions have revealed there are few Muslim scholars, a development that contributes to poor participation of Muslims in development activities of the country.
“Men and women, let us work together and send our children to school to get the right education so that they should also take part in the affairs of government, community and other public institutions in the country,” he said.
Abbas added that educated people were the ones who contribute significantly to the development of the nation, saying: “We don’t want Muslims to be confined to jobs such as tailoring”.
“We want many Muslims to attain higher education so that they can become lawyers, medical doctors, teachers or senior officials in various government departments or other organisations.
“If we cannot get educated, we will remain poor, which is not in line with programmes of the current government.”
The Muslim fraternity administers the Islamic Zakaat Fund which was established in 1991 to financially support students towards attainment of first degrees in various fields from various institutions.
Since its establishment in 1991, Islamic Zakaat Fund has succeeded in financially supporting over 2,500 students towards attainment of tertiary education over 15,000 secondary school students to realise their dreams on enrolling into tertiary education.
These statistics were as of 2019, which were disclosed by the Fund’s chairman, Kassim Okhai when unveiling a partnership agreement with Malawi Relief Fund UK, which invested over K900 million over a period of 4 years to provide financial support for 224 underprivileged Malawian students to complete higher tertiary education in various universities and colleges across the country.
The first annual investment of K192,645,897 million was presented and Okhai said the landmark partnership with Malawi Relief Fund UK was centered on increasing access to higher education through the scholarship fund and to improve equity by encouraging women to enroll for tertiary education programmes.
“Another objective is to increase relevance by supporting students in enrolling for meaningful programmes likely to lead to lucrative employment, hence supporting the country’s economy, Okhai had said.
“It is also to instil spiritual, moral values and leadership skills amongst students and to discourage social responsibility through engaging in social and community programmes during students’ spare time whilst pursuing their studies.
“We are delighted with this partnership which was much needed to help Malawians from poor households access higher education.”
In his remarks, Malawi Relief Fund UK’s Country Coordinator, Yakub Valli had said: “The increase in the number of graduates will no doubt also provide graduates with relevant qualifications required in our economy to meet some of the skill shortages in key sectors like health, education and science.
“We have also tried to address the gender imbalance by supporting women from poor families to attain higher education. We hope the students will take this opportunity and complete their studies to improve their life chances and life choices,” Valli had said.
Thus Abbas encouragement to Muslims to seriously consider attaining higher education during the annual celebration.
Abbas also expressed concern over the tendency by other people within the Islamic faith, who he said were soliciting assistance from well wishers outside the country but are diverting the aid for their personal use.
He said Islam as religion was still facing a lot of problems in the country including shortage of mosques, schools, health facilities and other social amenities owned by Muslim organisations.
Ziyara Parade is part of celebrations of the birth of Prophet Muhammad ibn Abdullar, who was born in the year 570AD in the city of Mecca and played the main role in the spread of Islam as a religion.—Additional reporting by Duncan Mlanjira, Maravi Express