LILONGWE – In a country where the majority lives below the poverty line, a Malawian Muslim businessman has been sponsoring hajj journey for needy and poor Muslims to Makkah, in a gesture many described as a “rare sacrifice”.
“There are scores of Muslims in this country who desire to set foot in Makkah for Hajj prayers before they die, but they can’t raise money on their own to realize this wish,” Lada Chimbalanga, a Muslim businessman, told Aboutlslam.net.
“I’ve therefore been compelled to sponsor at least one needy and poor Muslim at least every year to go for Hajj.
“I have been able to save money from my businesses so that I should be able to help people. I’m not doing this for fame, but I want fellow Muslims to follow and honor what their religion dictates them to do. We can be genuine Muslims only if we fulfill what Islam requires us to do.”
“Where I first went for Hajj a few years ago, I was inspired when I came home to assist needy Muslims to make the pilgrimage journey, so that they could experience a similar level of religious transformation I went through while I was there.”
A successful businessman in hospitality industry with no formal or academic education, Chimbalanga said he “sacrificed his personal wealth to sponsor needy Muslims as one way of sharing what God has bestowed on him.”
“I have never been inside a classroom. I can hardly converse in English, but God has blessed me with wealth. It’s against this background that I have been compelled to help other Muslims to go for Hajj to demonstrate my deep appreciation to God for what he’s bestowed on me,” he said.
“By sponsoring people for Hajj,” he said, “I am able to share with them in a noble way what has been given to me by the Almighty. And at the same time, we are contributing towards the growth of Islam in Malawi.”
He said rising levels of poverty in the country were affecting people’s faith.
“In poverty, people ask so many questions. Therefore, sponsoring them for Hajj was a practical way to boost their faith. Poverty shouldn’t be a stumbling block for people to fulfill their religious obligations.”
The 60-year-old philanthropist said Hajj prayers have a reward attached which “Muslims can’t afford to lose.”
Over the past years, numbers of Muslims making it for Hajj journey have been on the decline, due to the poor performance of the country’s economy, which is going through some reforms.
“It’s in situations of this nature that some Muslims who have been blessed with wealth should come forward to help those who desire to go to Hajj. We are not losing anything, but honoring God and our religion,” said Chimbalanga.
Landing his gesture as rare sacrifice, Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) National Chairperson, Sheikh Mohammad Idrissah, commended Chimbalanga for his sacrifices, which he said has enhanced the growth of Islam in the country.
“Our brother Chimbalanga has sacrificed a lot for the sake of Islam in Malawi. The fruits of his sacrifices can be seen across the country. He might not be rewarded in this world, but Allah will reward him abundantly in the hereafter,” Idrissah told AboutIslam.net.
Idrissah then appealed to all wealthy Muslims in the country to emulate what Chimbalanga is doing, “so that poverty shouldn’t be a stumbling block for the poor to travel to Makkah,” said Idrissah.
“This task is so daunting. Let all other Muslims who are blessed with wealth come forward to assist needy Muslims who are ready to go on a pilgrimage. In this way, we are increasing the knowledge of Islam to the people regardless of their social statuses,”
“It is the wish of every Muslim to go to Makkah in his or her life time. But in a country like ours, numbers of Muslims going on a pilgrimage are quite small due to poverty levels. It’s therefore important that we need to encourage selfless people like Chimbalanga to assist others to embark on a Journey of their life time.”
So far, according to Chimbalanga, 10 poor Muslims form the rural parts of the Eastern region of the country have been able to go on a pilgrimage under his auspices.
One of the beneficiaries of this initiative, Sheikh Cassim Lajabu said Hajj had transformed him spiritually and “opened his eyes” as a Muslim to understand what Islam is and what is not.
“On my own, there is no way I could have been able to make it. I went through a wonderful spiritual renewal. I’m now able to take Islam to people, because I understand what it is. I’m able to defend it well, because I know it,” Lajabu told AboutIslam.net.
Malawi is ranked by the World Bank as one of the poorest nations in the sub-Saharan Africa, whose majority poor struggle to survive on less than 1$/day.
Malawi is a diverse religious, but secular nation. Islam is the second largest religion after Christianity. Muslims account for 36% of the country’s 15 million population.
Despite poor performance of the country’s economy, Chimbalanga said he’ll continue where possible to sponsor many Muslims for Hajj.
“I am very committed to help fellow Muslims understand what their religion wants them to do. Let’s try to uplift each other as Muslims, whether spiritually or otherwise.”