Ismail ibn Musa Menk, also known as Mufti Menk (born 27 June 1975), is a Muslim cleric and Grand Mufti of Zimbabwe. He is identified as a Salafi. He is the head of the fatwa department of The Council of Islamic Scholars of Zimbabwe.
He has been named one of The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought in Jordan in 2013, 2014 and 2017. In 2018 he published a collection of his sayings as a book titled Motivational Moments.
Menk was born in Harare, where he undertook his initial studies. In the early stages of his studies, when he was young, he studied with his father, memorizing the Quran and learning Arabic, Urdu and Hanafi fiqh. He went to St. John’s College (Harare) for senior school.
He obtained a degree in Shariah Law from the Islamic University of Madinah, which follows the Salafi ideology that is prevalent in Saudi Arabia. Following this, he studied at Darul Uloom Kantharia in Gujarat, India.
He works for the Zimbabwe Council of Islamic Scholars (Majlisul Ulama Zimbabwe), which caters to the educational needs of the Muslim population of Zimbabwe. He is also an imam on a roster basis at Masjid Al Falaah in Harare. Menk is known especially in eastern Africa and also teaches internationally. He also runs a weekly Sisters Learning Programme for women under the Council of Imams in Harare.
In 2001, Menk received first prize for presenting his research on “Effects of the Media on Islamic Dawah” to the Africa Dawah Committee in Saudi Arabia. The following year he presented research to the King Fahad Symposium held in Johannesburg, South Africa on “Obstacles Facing Dawah in African Continent and their Solutions”.
He opposes terrorism and has pledged his aid in curbing religious extremism in the Maldives. On 31 March 2018, he urged Liberian Muslims to avoid Muslim-Christian violence, arguing that Muslims and Christians are brothers and sisters from one father, the prophet Adam. He blames western media for misleading the world that Muslims are generally terrorists. According to Gulf News, Menk said that everyone on this earth is a part of a family and has one maker, therefore, no one has the right to force any belief or faith on another.
Controversy concerning views on homosexuality
The Huffington Post has described Menk as an “openly homophobic Islamic preacher” who has denounced gay people as “filthy”. In 2013, he was due to visit six British universities – Oxford, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow – but the speaking tour was cancelled after student unions and university officials expressed concern about his views. Menk’s controversial statement included these words: “How can you engage in acts of immorality with the same sex?… The Qur’an clearly says it is wrong what you are doing… Allah speaks about how filthy this is… With all due respect to the animals, are worse than animals.” In a retraction, Menk has subsequently stated that he based these comments on a “misguided notion” and that he is not at all homophobic.
Ban from Singapore
On 31 October 2017, Singapore banned Menk from its borders because it believes he expresses views incompatible with its multicultural laws and policies. According to the Straits Times, he has asserted that “it is blasphemous for Muslims to greet believers of other faiths during festivals such as Christmas or Deepavali”. Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs said in a statement that its decision to reject Menk’s application for a short-term work pass stemmed from his “segregationist and divisive teachings”.
The Majlisul Ulama Zimbabwe, Menk’s own institution, released a statement to express “regret and dismay” regarding the ban. It said that Menk was an “asset to multi‐cultural, multi‐religious Zimbabwe” and that viewers should “listen to his sermons in full” and not “edited clips of a few minutes” to see the moderate path he has chosen.
Ban from Denmark
In December 2018 Denmark banned Menk from its borders.