LILONGWE - Resorting to their faith to fight the deadly pandemic, Malawi Muslim women have been using the Noble Qur'an to preach love and compassion towards those infected or affected by HIV and AIDS, in an attempt to create a happy environment for all Malawian Muslims.
The solution to deal with HIV and AIDS and its challenges lie within us. We don't have to look elsewhere for a solution. We can only find the solution in the Qur'an, Khadijah Hamdan, an executive member of Muslim Women Organization in Malawi, told OnIslam.net.
HIV and AIDS has been there for a long time now. Messages have been passed on, but the rate of infection is still very high.
We can only successfully fight this pandemic if we follow the teachings of Islam, which we find in the Qur'an.
The southern African nation has one of the highest prevalence rates of HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
According to the country's National Aids Commission (NAC) over a tenth of the population is HIV positive. Malawi records an average of 1000 new cases weekly.
Hamdan said the pandemic has devastated the country's communities and affected all people irrespective of their religious affiliations, fuelling high levels of stigma and discrimination.
It is for this reason that we resolved to use the Qur'an as a weapon to guide us through the path of love and compassion in our attempt to create a happy environment for all Muslims in Malawi. Those either affected or infected by the pandemic are going through pain as a result of stigma and discrimination. They are being rejected by their loved ones, she said.
We are doing this to let everybody realize that despite our health statuses, we are all one. We are a united Muslim family, she added.
Through this approach, Hamadan said, the Muslim community was being sensitized on love and compassion towards those living with the virus and those affected in one way or the other.
We are advocating for love and compassion towards orphans and widows whose numbers are on the increase in our communities. We are also preaching for love and proper care for all those who are dying.
We are also preaching about mutual fidelity among married couples as the first step towards slowing down the rate of infection, she said.
Hamdan said her organization was taking across the message of love and compassion to the communities through open rallies and other social gatherings.
As Muslims, we need to stand in solidarity with all those who are in pain, she said, describing people's response as electrifying.
She noted that the levels of rejection those living with the virus were going through, was sending them to their early graves.
We have to comfort those who mourn after losing their loved ones. We have to provide for those who have lost their bread winners, Hamdan noted.
We have to love those who are being discriminated against by the society. We have to love and care for those who are dying and provide hope to those who have lost it,
Mariam Khan, a founding member of Muslim Sisters AIDS Network (MUSANET), an organization that advocates for the rights of Muslim women living with HIV and AIDS said her organization has also adopted the use of the Qur'an to reunite families broken and scattered by the pandemic.
Since the first case of HIV and AIDS was recorded in Malawi in 1992, we have witnessed collapse of the family units. We have witnessed love being put on trial in times of adversity, Khan told Onislam.net.
But through the use of the Qur'an in our fight against the pandemic, we have sent out messages of love and compassion which have helped to bring back the lost love and mended broken families.
Using the Qur'an to fight the pandemic has proved to be an effective weapon in restoring love and compassion, Khan added.
She said some Muslims living with HIV and AIDS were being discriminated against by fellow Muslims, denying them the right to worship alongside others.
But through our approach, Muslims despite their sero-statuses can freely mix and worship Allah without fear of discrimination, she said.
Unless we adopt the teachings of Islam, which we find in the Qur'an, Malawi is on a dangerous path which would lead to ruin. As women, who are mothers of the nation, we are taking the lead to fight the pandemic and its devastating effects, which have caused misery to humanity.
While commending the women for the unique approach in fighting the pandemic, Sheikh Dinala Chabulika, National Coordinator of Islamic Information Bureau (IIB), which provides civic education on various aspects of Islam, said the Qur'an was the only hope for Malawi to fight HIV and AIDS with love and a sense of humanity.
For this country to fight this pandemic while taking care of those who have been affected, we should look up to the Qur'an for solutions, Chabulika told OnIslam.net.
We have to live by its dictates or we are bound to perish.