The Muslim community is joining the celebration of the Uganda Martyrs by tracing the history of Islam in Buganda (Uganda). The campaign will involve a tour to a number of historical sites of significance to the entry and growth of Islam in Uganda.
The journey will take them to Mulungu landing site in Munyonyo, where the first Arabs Ahmad bin Ibrahim, and Snay bin Amir landed in Buganda in 1843 and Nateete, where more than 500 Muslims were killed and buried following the Buganda religious wars.
They will also visit Kasubi tombs where the first mosque – Masjid Qiblatain – was built and continue to Wamala tomb where Kabaka Suuna II, received the first Quran, which is currently kept at Kasubi before visiting Mende-Kalema to visit the Palace of Kabaka Kalema, the first Buganda King to be circumcised.
The journey, planned for June 1, will end at Masjid Noor Shahadau ‘Muslim Martyrs’ Mosque at Namugongo, where they will hold prayers and later break the fast. This is partly in remembrance of more than 70 Muslims who were burnt in an inferno on the orders of Kabaka Muteesa I, close to a decade before the death of the Uganda Christian Martyrs.
According to a book titled a brief on shahada-u, the Muslims were killed for flimsy reasons like calling the Kabaka a pagan, refusing to eat meat slaughtered by the Kabaka and criticizing him on leading prayers (swala) because he was uncircumcised.
Hajj Suleiman Kawanguzi Musana, the martyrs’ coordinator at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) reflects on the painful and torturous journey that the martyrs endured.
Hajji Musana says that although their Christian counterparts pay homage to the martyrs by making the pilgrimage to the shrines in Namugongo, the pilgrimage of that nature is not acceptable in Islamic teachings. The only accepted pilgrimage in the Muslim faith is to Mecca.
Hajj Musana, however, notes that the Muslim community in Uganda will use the day to remember and pray for the said martyrs. The same activities will be used to mark 46 years of the
Prof Kateregga, a member on the committee handling issues of Muslim martyrs says that they are currently trying to popularize the martyrs by disseminating information to Muslims across the country who were ignorant about the subject.
“The subject is no longer disputable. Although we are not going to pilgrim to the site as it will be in conflict with Islamic teachings, we need to know about these brave men who died in the name of Islam. Disseminating information and awareness about the Muslim Martyrs will promote faith-based tourism,” Kateregga says.
Kateregga notes that they are challenged with little documentation about the martyrs. He, however, adds that efforts to carry out more research on the matter have been embarked on.
In the same development, Kateregga decries the encroachment on the Muslim martyrs’ site. He says that the land of about 15 acres which was bought by the then President Idd Amin has been encroached on and part of it sold out which may affect the proposed development plan.