Whole world countrywise Article - Must Visit

Other Religion



Islam takes hold in Zimbabwe

Islam takes hold in Zimbabwe





 THE Islamic religion, practised in Zimbabwe over the years, is beginning to take root in this predominantly-Christian nation of 12,5 million people.

 The religion, dominant in North Africa and Middle East countries, is particularly holding sway in Zimbabwean schools.

 It is estimated that the Muslim population in the country is more than 1.2 million people, the Ziana news service reports.

 A teacher at a Harare girls' high school, who requested anonymity, attributes the increasing conversion to Islam to encouragement from parents who feel Islam would assist in providing the proper upbringing for their children in an age of permissiveness.

 However, because of its codes, she says Muslim students at the school were finding it difficult to interact with other pupils as they did not participate in non-curriculum activities like sport.

 "Sometimes you are even reluctant to approach the Muslim student to help her if she has problems with her school work because of their attitude," the teacher says.

 The Muslim girls at the school who include daughters of Muslim diplomats are reportedly conservative to the extent of not participating in social or sporting activities for fear of exposing certain parts of their bodies.

 "Most of the girls have lost an interest in their studies because of the extreme Islamic rules," says another teacher who also requested anonymity.

 "In fact, they are even a burden to us because you can imagine teaching a student who has her ears covered ... a student who does not want to share anything with other students."

 A member of the Islamic Education Trust and Ridgeview Primary School principal Mahomed Hassan, says that in Zimbabwe, families of Malawian descent account for the biggest number of African Muslims.

 Says Hassan: "The fundamentalisms associated with the religion are making it difficult for Muslim children in schools because once they make a mistake, they will be severely reprimanded."

 Ridgeview, which was established in 1992 to primarily cater for Muslim children who were not admitted to other schools, has relaxed the rules which are still enforced in other Muslim societies.

 Amin Hamandishe, director of the Islamic centre in Waterfalls which caters mostly for orphans, feels students must be left to choose their own religion even if they are admitted to Muslim schools.

 He says Islam is doing well in Zimbabwe, despite the country being predominantly a Christian society.

 A spokesman for the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture, Stephen Ngwenya, says religion is encouraged in Zimbabwean schools as long as it does not assume proportions detrimental to good learning.

 "Headmasters have not made any formal complaints to the ministry about any extreme cases ... but the ministry will monitor such activities," he says.

 A few years ago, then foreign affairs minister Nathan Shamuyarira said Zimbabwe was opposed to the promotion of Islamic fundamentalism.

 That was against a background of press comments that some Islamic states' embassies in Zimbabwe, particularly Iran, were sponsoring students to go and study Islam in their countries.

 "We certainly are opposed to any promotion of Islamic fundamentalism in Zimbabwe. We are secular and not a religious state," said Shamuyarira.

 The general-secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Benses Mafinyane, says the government should be on guard and ensure that the Islamic religion does not assume its militant characteristics here, judging from events elsewhere in the world.

 He fears that youths in Zimbabwe are being indoctrinated and turned into fundamentalists by people who have their own hidden agendas.

"Religion is a powerful instrument."

 The religion has a strong presence in Gokwe, Gutu and Mberengwa areas where the Varemba people, the earliest group in the country to embrace the religion, live. -- Sapa

Source :