Inspired by TCI, Plateau State Religious Leader Campaigns for Child Birth Spacing
Malam Mukhtar Ibrahim Abubakar is a 40-year-old Qur’an scholar who teaches women about Islam at the Masalacin Owodunmi Mosque in the Dilimi area of Jos North local government area of Plateau State, Nigeria. As a member of the interfaith forum, he was inspired by an intensive two-day orientation The Challenge Initiative held on religious perspectives related to child birth spacing (CBS) that was attended by 40 religious leaders of both the Christian and Islamic faith. Following the orientation, Malam Mukhtar decided to help people in his community understand the importance of child birth spacing by carrying out a one-on-one, door-to-door campaign among his followers and network.
“It works and it changes the narrative and understanding about child birth spacing especially in our [Islamic] community,” he said of his campaign.
He also said most of the women he teaches want to know more about family planning and want to be referred to clinics where services can be obtained. He has referred these women to the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) Clinic and contacted the leader of the FOMWAN in the State, also known as the Amirah. The Amirah is a nurse and member of the interfaith forum, and has since offered family planning services to seven women taught and referred by Malam Mukhtar.
Malam Mukhtar said a man in his community told him about a neighbor who died due to frequent, closely spaced pregnancies. Because so many members of his community can relate to this story, they readily accept the idea of child birth spacing when they learn that verses in the Qur’an support it.
The changes in attitudes spurred by Malam Mukhtar is significant because the large Muslim population of Jos North was previously unaware of the benefits of child birth spacing. Malam Mukhtar believes CBS will reduce maternal morbidity and improve the economic situation not only for families in Jos North, but in Plateau State and Nigeria overall.