LILONGWE – The Muslim community in Malawi has rolled off a project to translate the Holy Qur’an into Yao, a language spoken among 99% of Muslims in the secular, but diverse southern Africa nation and in neighboring countries.
“The Yao tribe forms the bulk of Islam in Malawi. We can’t talk of Islam in this country without mentioning this group,” Sheikh Muhammad Uthman, an executive member of a supreme Muslim body, ULAMA Council of Malawi, said.
“We have also the Yao speaking Muslims in Mozambique and Tanzania, we have therefore decided to translate the Quran into their own language, so that they should be able to understand it fully.”
Uthman added, “When Islam was first introduced to the country by Arab Slave traders in the 1880s, the Yao were the first tribe to receive Islam in Malawi. We feel it is also a great honor to translate the Qur’an in their own language.”
Renowned scholar and academician, Dr. Imran Shareef Muhammad, described the development as a “turning point” in the history of Islam in the country.
“This project has opened a fresh chapter in the history of our religion in Malawi. This is an undertaking which is going to propel Islam to greater heights,” Dr. Muhammad, who is Secretary General of ULAMA Council of Malawi, said.
“The Yaos of this country have all along safeguarded the sanctity of Islam, having a Quran in their own language therefore will solidify their faith,” he added.
The Qur’an is a revelation from God, the creator of the worlds, so He is the original author.
There is only one Qur’an which is in Arabic and many translations of the Qur’an in several languages.
There could be multiple translations by different authors in the same language such as English.
The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) through the archangel Gabriel who used to make the Prophet memorize the Qur’an and made him revise it every year in the month of Ramadan, the fasting month.
Malawi Muslim scholars have disclosed other plans to translate the Noble Qur’an into other major languages spoken among Malawians in order “to take the message of Islam to all tribes.”
“We are doing this deliberately, so that people should own and understand the religion in their own languages witholut any barrier,” Sheikh Uthman, executive member of ULAMA Council of Malawi, said.
“If they understand it, it would be very easy for them to defend it to the letter against any forces. We are also doing this in order to take the message of Islam to all tribes in Malawi.”
The effort is not the first by Malawi Muslims.
Ten years ago, the Muslim community in the country first translated the Holy Qur’an into Chichewa, the country’s official language.
“A decade ago, we translated the Holy Qur’an into Chichewa as the country’s official language spoken among all Malawians irrespective of their tribal origins. We had started with Chichewa, so that all tribes should accept it in the first place,” said Uthman.
Meanwhile, Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) is appealing to well-wishers across the country and beyond to contribute in cash towards the project for it “to live up to its intended mission.”
“We are desperately in need of money for this project to become a reality. It is for this reason that we are turning to individuals and organizations to support this noble cause,” National Chairperson of MAM, Sheikh Muhammad Idrissa said.
“This project is intended to further the growth of our religion in Malawi.”
Islam is the second largest religion in Malawi after Christianity. It accounts for 36% of the country’s 16 million population.