Package Of Togetherness Malawi Can Learn From Islamic History
By Hashim Msusa
Today’s world is highly diverse. There is no single country in the world which is homogenous and without diversity. Malawi is such one country with a population of diverse tribes, regional, belief, exotic and indigenous calling it home. It is therefore imperative to build a spirit of coexistence and togetherness. What package of togetherness can Malawi learn from Islam?
Diversity is one of the laws of nature; it is not something human beings can claim to have made. The Noble Qur’an states that diversity is created by God Almighty for us to benefit from: “Had God willed, He would have made you one nation but [He intended to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good.” (5:48) Thus, diversity is God’s Will and it is a test for us to live in peace and harmony with each other despite our differences.
It is a fact of life, though, that good people, of whatever tribe, faith, social or political, do not poke fun or try to insult or undermine one another. This could be relevant as Malawi has ushered in a new government with a philosophy based on “tonse” (togetherness).
Islam teaches respect for others, their properties, and ownership. Through the history of Islam, we learn respect of cultural aspects. In Madinah for example, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) lived side by side with Jews and polytheists. Yet Madinah provided the first Muslim nation.
In Jerusalem, when the second of the Rightly Guided Caliph, Umar Ibn Khataab (May God be pleased with him), entered Jerusalem in 638 AD, he entered the city on foot, out of respect for the holiness of the place. This was the spirit of togetherness despite differing in faith.
Why should Malawi learn from Islamic history? The very same Jerusalem, unlike the slaughter of 70,000 men, women, and children, which accompanied the arrival of the Crusaders in 1099, the Muslims entered Jerusalem peacefully.
The peaceful entry followed the signing of a treaty with the Patriarch Sophronius, which guaranteed their rights to worship, their lives and their properties. All these are a valuable package for Malawi to spice the newly “tonse” philosophy.
Discover Islam wants Malawi to explore about Islam. What is known and what is speculative about it. This is critical today when there seems a rush to make sweeping statements about the nature of Islam and its followers.
One aspect Malawi can learn from Islamic history is on fair trade. Fair trade is the modern world paradigm. Historically, trade and commerce played a crucial role. Makkah and Madinah was a centre of commerce and caravans from Asia to Africa passed through on a regular basis. As such Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) promoted fairness and equity. He categorically indicated that one should not be involved in transactions that would cause greater harm than benefit to the community and the environment.
The above is what today is considered as social responsibility. While the modern world lately brought the need for social responsibility, Islam brought it 14 hundred years ago with a clause of trade that benefit the community and preserving the environment. Even if this article may not completely present all valuable packages to learn from Islamic history, the above provide the foundation to explore more.