In an attempt to reduce soaring rates of divorce, the Muslim community in Malawi has intensified efforts to use teachings from the Holy Quran in order to safeguard the sanctity of marriage.
“Islam considers marriage as bedrock of faith. And in one of his hadiths, the Prophet (Muhammad peace be upon him) exalts marriage as one of the dictates for a believing Muslim,” Sheikh Muhammad Uthuman, a marriage Counsellor at the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) told OnIslam.net.
“Revelations, therefore that there is a rise in divorce rates among married couples in the country are quite disturbing to us as believers.”
“As a Muslim community, we have therefore valued the sanctity of marriage basing on the teachings of the Holy Quran. It is on this premise that we intensify our teachings for a stable family. And these findings will reinvigorate us to intensify our efforts towards cementing marriages.
“A family is a building block for a successful society. If we therefore let the rate of divorce to remain as high as it is been reported, our society will have no values to be proud of and in the end, the fabric of our society will be destroyed.”
Recently, there have been media reports that the country was registering one of the highest divorce rates in Africa.
In a step to fight the worrying trend, Muslim leaders, like sheikh Uthuman, started using the Holy Quran to reach out to troubled families.
The process has proved very effective in promoting reconciliation and tolerance in families.
“One of the challenges affecting the stability of our families is lack of tolerance towards each other. By using the Quran we have managed to preach on the value of tolerance and need for reconciliation. Families shouldn’t at all cost depart from the teachings of the Holy Quran if there are to live life to its fullness.”
Gender Based Violence (GBV) has been singled out as one of the challenges fuelling divorce rates in the southern African nation.
“Escalating levels of domestic violence has robbed marriages of comfort and love. As a result, homes have been turned into battle fields, where a wife and a husband become sworn bitter enemies. As a result, they can’t continue staying under one roof. This has been a worrisome trend both to Muslims and non-Muslims alike,” Fatima Ndaila, National Chairperson of Muslim Women Organization (MWO) told OnIslam.net.
Ndaila, whose organization has been in the forefront fighting GBV in Malawi said through intensified families have been saved from breaking up.
“We are reaching out to families with an all embracing approach. Through our approach, Muslim couples have been able to appreciate the value of a stable family ad what it means to Islam and the society. While we are working to minimize escalating levels of GBV, we are also at the same time saving marriages.”
Other sections of the Malawian society stressed need for more efforts towards cultivating stable marriage relationships.
“The current situation in the country has put marriages on the rocks. Husbands are going through pain in meeting the needs of their immediate and extended families. This has created a fertile ground for conflicts within the families,” Psychologist Dr Chiwoza Bandawe of the University of Malawi, College of Medicine, told OnIslam.net.
“There is therefore need for religious leaders to take a leading role in normalizing the situation.
Dr Bandawe noted that the prevailing socio-economic challenges, the country was experiencing, has impacted negatively on the stability of marriages.
“Marriage means a lot to nay society and religion. Instability in marriages affects the success of nay society and how people can worship God. Stable families mean a lot. Both Muslims and Christians should value what a stable marriage is before the eyes of God and every effort must be made to safeguard the sanctity of this institution,” said Bandawe.
Concurring with Bandawe, Senior Chief Kadewere, from the Muslim dominated south, said settling disputes among married couples from a religious perspective as been a “rewarding experience.”
“Settling disputes using teachings from the Holy Quran has brought peace and tolerance among rocky families. There are soaring levels of divorce in our villages. But through talking to them about what the Quran teaches about marriage, we have managed to restore the dignity of marriage and at the same time brought peace and mutual co-existence,” Chief Kadewere told OnIslam.net.
“It is a fact that divorce rates are hitting a record high. Therefore, both traditional and religious leaders have a huge task to correct this bad image. God values marriage, we should at all cost respect this.
“For us to fight rising rates of divorced, we need to adopt a religious approach. Unless, we take this stand, it will be a tall order to have stable families in our community,” he added.
Malawi is officially a secular state where Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity. Muslims account for about 36% of Malawi’s 16 million people.
“We can’t claim to be religious, if we don’t respect the sanctity of marriage. We should therefore safeguard the value of a stable family to the society,” said Uthuman.
“Both Muslims and Christians should intensify efforts to drastically bring down soaring levels of divorce rates.”