KAMPALA: The Mufti of Uganda His Eminence, Shiekh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, has partly blamed the continued disunity among Muslims in the country on a section of the government that he says has been fueling disunity among them, to the extent of using corrupt means to mess up Muslim unity.
Sheikh Mubaje made the remarks at Gadhafi National Mosque at Old Kampala Hill while addressing Muslims who had gathered for Eid al-Fitr prayers on Monday morning.
The Mufti noted that although Muslims have internal problems that they have been trying to solve, all efforts to unite Muslims are made impossible by forces traced within the government who support different sections to achieve their personal, political, and economic agendas.
Sheikh Mubaje added that on many occasions, government officials have been seen supporting factions by offering them money and official recognition, thus encouraging them to drift away from the known leadership under the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council-UMSC.
Premier Robina Nabanja, who represented the government in the Eid prayers, was moved by Mubaje’s words. In her own words, Nabanja revealed that she felt like the Mufti was somehow indirectly referring to her recent visit to Kibuli, where she offered some money and other items from the central government.
In her defense, the prime minister noted that, personally, she is not among those fueling disunity but rather acting as a tower of communication with the intention of playing the part of a mediator. She further told the congregation that her visit to Kibuli was at the invitation of Hajj Moses Kigongo, the national NRM vice-chairperson.
The apologetic and humbled Nabanja said she didn’t know that her visit to Kibuli projected a picture of dividing Muslims. She, however, added that as a leader she is striving to ensure that there is harmony, thus promising the current efforts of UMSC to unite Muslims through their ongoing constitution review and expected election.
She further informed the congregation that the government’s role in nurturing reconciliation is going to be done by facilitating the up-counting of Muslim elections, which are geared to having one Muslim leadership in the country.
Islam came to Uganda in the 1850s, two or so decades before Christianity. However, Muslims have a long history of disunity over several issues, but there have been efforts to unite them, with the first post-independence attempt happening in 1965 when they formed the National Association for the Advancement of Muslims (NAAM) with Adoko Nekyon as President and Sheikh Obeid Kamulegeya as Vice President.
In 1972, the then President Idi Amin banned all factions and forcefully united Muslims under the umbrella of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, UMSC. But, factionalism laid low for a time, and when Amin’s regime was toppled, the old beast raised its head, and it has been on the loose to date.
Recently, a delegation of Muslim leaders led by Mufti Mubaje met President Yoweri Museveni at State House Entebbe to report to him about their success in the reconciliation efforts that started over five years ago. In the meeting with the Mufti, there was an agreement reached between the factions to unite as one body.
But the Kibuli-based faction distanced itself from the efforts. They noted, however, that they are open to honest, genuine, and sincere engagements leading to Muslim unity and quality service delivery to the Muslim community.
Hajj Ramathan Mugalu, the UMSC secretary-general, noted that amidst disagreements, there are efforts to unify Muslims under one umbrella. He noted that all concerns raised by different factions can be addressed through the ongoing constitution review.
“We want to streamline Muslim leadership in the country. We have differences on different issues, all of which can be addressed by a new constitution. Later, we will hold an election to have new leadership of the Muslim right from local mosques across the country. So far, some faction leaders have come on board, and we are still communicating with others to have a mutual understanding as we move forward, “Haji Mugalu noted.
URN understands that the said constitution review is nearing its end, with the 21-man-team headed by Dr Edris Kasenene expected to present a draught constitution. The new constitution is expected to address issues concerning the election and term of office of leaders, including the mufti, how Muslim property can be managed, and the creation of regional offices, among others, which have been the point of disunity.
Meanwhile, during Eid prayers, speaker after speaker was telling Muslims to maintain the good behaviour they had exhibited throughout Ramadam. They also called on Muhammad Ali Aluma, the secretary for social service at UMSC, also called on Muslims to ensure that while celebrating, they do it in conformity with Sharia.