by Mandla Tshuma and Giovanni del Autore

A delegation from Zimbabwe participated in the 2nd African Muslim Religious Leaders’ Summit (AMRLS) which took place in Istanbul between 21st and 25th November, 2011. This is where a former president of Comoros Mr. Ahmed Abdullah Mohammed Sabi said Muslims in Africa must invest in information and media technology. “We need to have movies and documentaries that will be projecting the good image of Islam,” he said.

Two weeks before this event, Majlisul Ulama Zimbabwe, an Islamic welfare organisation founded in 1975, published a four-page color supplement in the state-run Sunday Mail. 

Evidently, the Muslim intellectuals in Zimbabwe are in sync with the world-wide trends. But what exactly does it mean to make the followers of Islam more visible in Africa? And how do you do it?

Whereas the answer to the first question is an interplay of complex decision still to be made by the Muslims in this country, we get the answer to the second one from the above-mentioned ad in Sunday Mail.

“Muslims worship the God of Noah, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus,” Majlisul Ulama Zimbabwe highlighted the similarities with Christianity, the major religion in Zimbabwe. 

And they also voiced an argument that could resonate with both Jews and such Old-Testament-abiding Christian denominations as Adventists.  Just like the Jews, Islamic scholars said they do not subscribe to the doctrine of Trinity, saying they believe in the concept of the absolute oneness of God.

They said they respect and revere Jesus and await his second coming. However, they do not believe in his divine incarnation while they consider him as one of God’s messengers to mankind.

The Islamic campaign also appealed to the morality underlining that Muslims denounce adultery as the “gateway to evil”, “In every upright society, adultery is regarded as one of the most immoral and heinous of sins.”

There are about 100,000 Muslims in Zimbabwe, which is approximately one percent of the entire population estimated at above 11 million.

In Bulawayo, for example,  the Islamic community has seven mosques: in the city centre, Magwegwe, Makokoba, Lobengula, Mpopoma, Parddonhurst and Barham Green where believers congregate on the day of Juma (congregation) – Friday afternoon – every week.

No doubt, media campaigns like the one discussed above help overcome prejudice. But we would like to hear more about the social ministry of Muslims in the country that lacks broader cooperation between various faith-based groups, let alone the inter-religious dialogue.