By Monitor Team
Nov 26, 2003 - Monitor
KAMPALA – Muslims yesterday celebrated the Idd feast with prayers for peace in northern Uganda.
The celebrations crown the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that is observed with fasting and self-restraint from all pleasure.
Across the country, Muslims yesterday prayed for peace to return to northern Uganda.
The region has been under a brutal rebellion since August 1986 – with thousands killed or maimed by the fighting between the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels and government forces.
About 20,000 children have been abducted by the rebels since 1996 while about two million people have been displaced and forced into internally displaced people’s camps (IDPs).
Nowhere were the prayers more touching than in Teso where the LRA rebels first attacked in June this year – moving in from Acholi and Lango sub-regions.
Imam Hassan Faraj led the prayers at the Jamia Mosque in Soroti, the main town in Teso.
“I call upon Muslims to make peace and unity with other people, and also ask Allah to end the LRA war that is [decimating] our numbers,” Faraj said.
Ironically, the huge roar of a military attack helicopter, hovering above the mosque, drowned his voice even as he called for peace.
The government has deployed helicopters to help the UPDF fight the LRA rebels.
Other worshippers in Soroti visited the Islamic Maziaruni Makabuni (cemetery) to pray for the dead, especially those killed by LRA rebels.
In Jinja, the main prayers were held at the Islamic Medical Centre grounds along Muvule Crescent. Sheikhs Juma Katega and Ali Mundu led the prayers.
Katega warned Muslims against “celebrating” by indulging in adultery and drinking alcohol because such vices make fasting futile.
He said Muslims should continue worshipping Allah and provide for the needy as they did during Ramadan.
He said women should not wear provocative hairstyles and dresses because “such fashions are sinful”.
Muslim women should expose their bodies only to their spouses, he said.
Jinja sidewalks were taken over by hundreds of Muslims smartly dressed in white tunics and embroidered fezzes. The women wore flowing gowns and gracefully milled around the town to wish each other “Happy Idi-el Fitir”.
Mbarara on ebimansulo
In Mbarara, Al Hajji Abdul Noor Kaduyu officiated at the main mosque. He preached against the latest striptease shows – ebimansulo.
He said the community should fight lawless behaviour that is growing among Muslim youth in Mbarara.
"This is completely horrible. [The youth are dismissing] everything that was written in the holy book, the Quran," Kaduyu said.
"We have to fight and see that we teach our children Islam. The Quran puts it straight that if such things come into our societies, the only thing that can help fight them is the holy book," he added.
Kaduyu praised Muslims who donated money to help complete the district mosque. Worshippers raised an additional Shs 2 million yesterday.
The new mosque will open early next year.
Mbale Muslims warned
In Mbale Sheikh Ahmad Issa Masaba also preached against the striptease shows.
“Islam is totally against nudity shows and by going there you will have destroyed all the blessings you have been getting during the holy month,” Masaba said.
Hundreds of Muslims attended the main celebrations at the Sheikh Abdullah Memorial Mosque in Mbale town.
The sheikh warned parents to guard against gays in the boarding schools where they take their children.
“[Homosexuality] is another evil catching up with us. The days of Sodom and Gomorrah are here again,” Masaba warned.
Liberal academics such as Dr Sylvia Tamale of Makerere University have been demanding that Ugandans learn to tolerate gays as people with equal rights.
Hundreds at Kibuli
Kibuli Mosque in Kampala attracted hundreds of worshippers as early as 7 a.m. By 9 a.m. the traffic could hardly move and the mosque was overflowing with worshippers.
Many were forced to worship from the compound.
Sheikh Twaibu Masembe led the service here with chants of: “Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar,” which means God is great.
“Ramadan has ended so the devil is on the loose. He will tempt to you. I beg you not to succumb to evil,” Masembe pleaded with Muslims.
Like preachers elsewhere, he also cursed ebimansulo shows.
“The young and old are attending these shows. Allah asks us not to look at evil. I am also begging people to dress decently,” he said.
Tamale under attack
Sheikh Sulaiman Kakeeto, preaching at the Nakasero mosque, cursed Ms Tamale for defending gay rights, the right of women to sell their bodies, and the freedom to stage or watch ebimansulo.
Tamale wants sex work to be legalised, but her stand is not popular with some religious groups.
“What sort of an intellectual is she if she can’t sort her words. This is a shame to the university and the people that know her,” the sheikh said.
Kakeeto also criticised the Domestic Relations Bill that is due for debate in Parliament.
He said Islam has clear guidelines on marriage and inheritance. He appealed to Muslims to work hard and keep away from crime.
OLD KAMPALA – Mufti Shaban Mubajje conducted prayers at the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council headquarters here.
He called for unity and forgiveness. He also spoke against homosexuality and – yes, ebimansulo.
“All should fight these strange cultures borrowed from the West,” the Mufti said.
“The Domestic Relations Bill may not be in favour of Islam. On this issue I will stand by the preaching of the holy book. We are not going to accept laws that contradict Islamic values,” Mubajje said.
Islam allows the faithful to marry up to four wives – but only if they can love all equally.
Warning on booze
MAKERERE – At Makerere University Mosque, Ssekiranda Nasser and Kitaka Moses, pupils at Kazo West Primary School, were among the multitudes that attended prayers.
They were excited the holy month had ended and eagerly waited for the day’s feast.
Their only disappointment was that this time they would apparently not benefit from the generous nature of the Muslim community, which used to provide them with “good food”.
That should not have worried them – as long as the faithful follow Imam Ahmed Ssentongo’s preaching. Ssentongo challenged the believers to continue with their good deeds from Ramadan.
He said it is useless to feed the poor and seek Allah’s forgiveness during Ramadan only to return to the evil ways once the holy month ends.
“Continue exercising self-control and go an extra mile to refrain from the evil ways,” he said.
The preacher particularly warned Muslims against drinking and indecent dressing.
Huge feast in Masaka
According to Mr Sula Kimbugwe Lubega, at the town’s abattoir, Muslims quickly bought most of the meat – each according to his ability and number of his wives.
Taarab music filled the air in Masaka for much of the day.
The prayers were held on open grounds with Sheikh Twaha Bugembe officiating.
Masaka LC-V chairman Vincent Sempijja, though not a Muslim, joined the worshippers and also preached against “immorality” – especially ebimansulo. He also spoke out against homosexuality and the miniskirt.
Reported by Sarah Namulondo, Isaac Mufumba, Yasser Kalyango, Patrick Elobu Angonu, Kakaire A. Kirunda, Emma Mutaizibwa, Emmanuel N. Mugarura, Michael Ssali and Mercy Nalugo
© 2003 The Monitor Publications
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