Muslim Martyrs’ Day shifted to June 10

The national chairperson of the Muslim Martyrs Committee, Prof Badru Kateregga. PHOTO/ FILE

The chairperson of the Muslim Martyrs Mosque Development Committee, Prof Badru Kateregga, has announced a new date to commemorate Uganda Muslim Martyrs.

Prof Kateregga says the day, which has always been marked on June 1, will starting this year be commemorated on June 10 to avoid confusion with the celebration of Christian Martyrs.

“Muslims were the first Ugandans to be martyred way back in 1874/75, but they are little known. It has taken us 15 years to raise awareness about Muslim Martyrs because we didn’t write history,” Prof Kateregga said in an interview at the weekend. 

He said the commemoration of the Muslim Martyrs Day will start with prayers at the Shuhadah Mosque in Namugongo on June 8.

“We shall follow the trail of the Muslim Martyrs before concluding with a massive event at the national mosque to create awareness,” he added.

Prof Kateregga explained the significance of this day saying “Islam upholds martyrdom and holds martyrs in high esteem. Our goal is to preserve our heritage and promote religious tourism to both local and international standards.”

He expressed his gratitude to the government for acknowledging his efforts towards pushing for a Muslim Martyrs Day.

Prof Kateregga also revealed that Parliament has allocated Shs200 million towards the commemoration of the day.

Mr Sulaiman Musana, the coordinator of the Muslim Martyrs Mosque Development Committee, revealed that they have already presented a development plan for the Muslim Martyrs site to the Finance ministry.
Dr Sheikh Ziyad Swaleh Lubanga, the director of Sharia at Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, said Muslim martyrdom began during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad.

“Fourteen Muslims were killed during the battle of Badr. At least 230 Muslim martyrs were recorded in the 23 years of the Prophet Muhammad’s mission,” he said.

Dr Lubanga added that Islam honours people who die defending their faith saying, “Never think those who have been killed are dead. They are alive with their Lord.”

Muteesa I Mukaabya Walugembe, the 30th Kabaka of Buganda converted to Islam and enforced changes in the Buganda lifestyle. 

He led daily prayers, made fasting mandatory, and gave the Muslims licence to slaughter animals, among other things.

However, in 1874 (some sources say 1876) grave disagreements broke up with the coming of a section of Muslims from Egypt and Turkey. They detested the fact that Muslims did not face in the direction of Mecca during prayers and that Muteesa was not circumcised yet he was the fountain of Islam in the land.

The disagreements split Muslims to the extent of refusing to stand behind Muteesa when he led congregational prayers. Abstaining from the meat of the animals he slaughtered. They labeled him Kafir (nonbeliever). Muteesa reportedly ordered the murder of disobedient Muslim martyrs “because they failed to give Islam a chance to reconcile them”.

Over a hundred Muslims were killed at Namugongo, Nateete, Mulungu, Namungoona and other places.