BLANTYRE, Malawi - Reaching out to the Muslim community, Malawi President Joyce Banda has hosted a special iftar for Muslim women to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan, urging Malawi women to stand united for their country.
I thank Allah for giving me a chance to meet you Muslim women, said the President during the iftar meal served earlier this week, Malawi News Agency reported on Tuesday, July 30.
It has always been my wish to host you, she added.
Banda was speaking on Monday at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre when she hosted about 370 Muslim women to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with an iftar.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started in Malawi on Wednesday, July 10.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.
Around the globe, Muslims observe Ramadan with a set of traditional rituals including family gathering at iftar, religious lessons, special evening prayer and helping the poor.
Hosting a Muslim iftar, the President said that she followed the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on giving to others who have nothing.
"If you give people who are fasting, you will be rewarded in heaven. God is allowing us to prosper so we have to give back to others.
"And having come from a Muslim background, I know the importance of Ramadan to the Muslim community and I found it deserving to hold this dinner with you," said Banda.
According to assistant State House press officer, Fally Ngalauka, President Banda said Ramadan is a time of reflection, a chance to demonstrate ones devotion to God through prayer and through fasting.
The President also told the women that Ramadan is also a time for family and friends to come together.
She also urged the women to pray hard for Allah's intervention in everything they are doing in their communities.
In this time when you are fasting it is good to sit together and share word of God, as you are praying it is important to pray for our nation so that it propsers, President Banda told the women.
The President's special iftar meal touched Malawi Muslim women, saying it was the first time for the Muslim women to be given such an audience in their lives.
"Madam President, you are uplifting women, we now feel respected, Asiyatu Lipenga, National Coordinator for Muslim Women Organization, said.
We do not take this for granted. We thank you for recognizing Muslim women in the country.
May the good Allah bless you," said Lipenga.
She said the President has brought unity among the Muslim women since the dinner brought together women from different mosques, promising to support the president's good work.
Islam is the second largest religion in the southern African country after Christianity.
Official statistics suggest Muslims constitute 12 percent of the country's 14 million people, but the umbrella Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) puts the rate at 36.
Recently, the Muslim minority have praised Malawi Christian President Banda decision to construct decent places of worship for Muslims.
The project, announced several years ago, has so far resulted in the construction of 14 mosques across the country.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net