The Council of Islamic Scholars alias Majlisul Ulama of Zimbabwe has responded to the ban imposed on Mufti, Ismail Menk from entering Singapore for his alleged divisive preaching.
This comes a few hours after the Singaporean government banned the renowned Muslim preacher from entering the city-state, saying his views promote religious discord.
Mufti Menk had applied for a short term work pass to enter Singapore to participate in the Islamic cruise. The ban on Mufti Menk has not gone down well with the Council of Islamic Scholars in Zimbabwe.
In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, Shaikh Umar Phiri, the President Council of Islamic Scholars in Zimbabwe notes that, the allegations against Mufti Menk are based on an inaccurate perception of one of his lectures where it was concluded Menk prohibits greeting people of other faiths on their religious festivals such as saying Merry Christmas or Happy Diwali.
“We would like to place on record that our Mufti has never prohibited greeting others during their festivals. However, he has maintained that the wording should be inclusive to ensure that it is agreeable to all. In his opinion, greetings such as Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Have a Good Day are fine,” he said.
Adding that, “To claim that his preaching is divisive because of this is unfortunate, unfair and seems to be done without understanding the middle ground he has always taught in this regard”.
He notes that “We are aware of a very short edited clip that was used to prove the allegation against our Mufti. The entire sermon was not heard.
This, we believe is the reason why such a misguided decision was made”. Shaikh Umar Phiri notes that Mufti Menk has been an asset to multi-cultural and religious Zimbabwe where they have never seen any religious tension. “Similarly, he has proven his value on the world stage and in similar settings,” he said.
Shaikh Phiri explains that Mufti Menk has played a pivotal role in the global war on extremism by maintaining a very balanced approach and educating Muslims regarding their duty to respect people of other faiths and inclinations. “Among the Muslims too, Mufti Menk has been a breath of fresh air, strongly promoting the respect of other Muslim sects”.
He explains that many of them serve on several interfaith boards working with members of several religious dominations under the guidance of Mufti Menk. He also discloses that “Mufti Menk is himself a graduate of a Christian College in Harare and holds a doctorate of Social Guidance from a Christian University.”
He advises those concerned to listen to some of the sermons of Mufti Menk, which are available online in full and not an edited clip of a few minutes. “We stand with our Mufti and are very proud of his achievements and guidance over the last two decades,” he said.