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Dialogue is Less Abrasive than Demonstrations

The Constitution of the Republic of Malawi states that “every person shall have the right to assemble and demonstrate with others peacefully and unarmed,” hence it cannot be disputed that protesting is a legal right. When there is unrest on any level—social, political, traditional, etc.—demonstrations take place. What position does Islam take when there is social or political dissatisfaction?

First, let’s get some spectacles that can let us see that dialogue causes less harm than demonstration does. We are aware of the wounds that the 2019 general election had left behind as a country. Demonstrations that affected urban business, destroyed buildings, stole products, and other things engulfed Malawi. Records show that 20 people died in the 2011 demonstrations against the government of the late Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika.

One meaning of dialogue is a conversation about a common topic, such changing a parliamentary law. Along with it, there are also disputes between organizations, citizen complaints, and other things of the sort. The main objective of each participant is to learn from the others so that everyone can advance and change. Malawi has to set a positive example on how to recover from a crisis.

As Mustafa Kasim Erol and Ahmad Kurucan write in their book Dialogue in Islam, dialogue is a natural expression of our humanity. We may communicate and comprehend one another since we are all inherently connected. Should we resort to protests before attempting to have a dialogue? Who may know better than Malawi which has enjoyed 58 years of independence?

After 58 years of independence, Malawi should refrain from adopting self-serving goals and instead look for practical answers to any issues that may occur. Wisdom is needed. The Noble Qur’an says: “Invite (all) to thy Lord with wisdom and pleasant teaching.” (16:125) We should use dialogue to find solutions, and wisdom should be our guiding concept.

To move forward we must recognize the diversity of life forms. However, we must join together to bring forth sustainable peace. Ali, the fourth Caliph (May God be pleased with him) said (to the people of Iraq), “Judge as you used to judge, for I hate differences (and I do my best) till people unite as one group.” Why not us today to unite as Malawians. We should dialogue to achieve unity of purpose.

Therefore, the best response to the issue about what stance Islam takes in the face of social or political unrest is to declare that dialogue is the only course to pursue. This question came from a village of readers of this column. Even while it is within our legal rights to demonstrate, as a country we should choose dialogue over protest.