Who is funding Uganda’s new high-rise mosques?

Prayer house. Masjid Jamiee Mosque in Kisenyi, Fort Portal Tourism City, which is still under construction. PHOTO BY ALEX ASHABA

What you need to know:

  • While some of the mosques have been built with support from Muslim development partners, others have been constructed by local communities.
  • In eastern Uganda, the Muslim communities in Kibuku and Pallisa districts have a reason to smile after the Good Hope Foundation handed over 30 well-constructed mosques following decades of praying in semi-permanent structures.

The second largest mosque in the country named after former president Idi Amin sits at Senior Quarters B, Bazzar East, Central Division in Lira Municipality.

This place of worship, which seats 3,000 people, is the second largest in the country after Gaddafi Mosque in Kampala.

It was commissioned in December 2018 by the Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Mubajje.

The Idi Amin Mosque will house a radio station, which will be used in propagating Islamic religion in the Lango Sub-region.
Plans are also underway to establish a modern medical facility and a shopping mall at the Muslim land adjacent to the Idi Amin Mosque where Juba market is operating currently.

Sheikh Othman Eden, who is in-charge of propagating Islam in Lango Sub-region, told Daily Monitor that the mosque was constructed through a donation from their friends from Turkey.
However, Sheikh Eden did not divulge details of the funding.

“You know in Islamic faith, we are not supposed to disclose a donation because this was a charity from Turkey, and even the Bible says that what your right hand has given, the left hand should not know,” he said.
Currently, there are about 5,000 registered members of the Muslim community in Lira Municipality alone. Also, there are more than five other high class smaller mosques in Lira Town in addition to the Idi Amin Mosque.

“Our number is growing very fast because in a year, each man produces between three and four children depending on the number of wives he has. Legally, we are supposed to have four wives,” Sheik Eden said.
The secretary of Lira Main Mosque, Sheik Salim Molo, said the construction of the main mosque, now Idi Amin Mosque, was started in 1975.

It was, however, halted during the overthrow of Amin’s government in 1979. From 2000 to 2016, the incomplete concrete giant structure hosted the people who had been displaced by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, he explained.
“During the same period, we were using the underground structure for teaching young children the Koran and we would also use the place also for prayers,” Sheik Molo said.

The Kiboga district kadhi, Sheik Musa Luwaga, said although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have helped to erect new mosques in the area, the local Muslim community has also played some role.
Of the 70 mosques in Kiboga, Sheik Luwaga said, four have been constructed by district woman MP Ruth Nankabirwa, while the local community has erected 10 mosques.

“It is true we have continued to get support from some organisations like the Islamic Guidance and Development, Precious Hands –Uganda Tafamoh Charity Organisation –Uganda, Africa Muslim Agency (AMA), but we have also done our part as Muslims in the district to put up better places of worship,” he said.
Despite making progress in constructing mosques, Sheik Luwaga said they still lack better health facilities and nursery schools.

“We have built enough mosques and our next step is to lobby for other facilities such as health centres and kindergartens,” he said.
Hajj Twaha Kivumbi, the Lyantonde Muslim District spokesperson, said of the 34 mosques in the area, only one has been erected by a Muslim Charity organisation.
“We believe in self-help projects and those who want to lend a hand will find us moving,” he said.

Sheikh Ahamad Nsanja, the Amir [leader] at Masjid Jamia in Masaka Town, said with the financial assistance from organisations like AMA, at least nine new mosques have been built in Masaka city and its environs.
However, he said of the traditional mosques in the area were constructed by local Muslims.

Kabale Muslim District Council has constructed about 14 new mosques in Kabale, Rubanda and Rukiga districts, mainly to bring religious services nearer to the believers.

They include Muhanga, Kabimbiri, Mubyara, Kamwezi, Kyogo, Rushaki, Maziba, Rwakihirwa, Karengyere, Mpungu, Mukitengye, Rwamahano, Mukatojo and Rubanda central mosques, among others. Hajj Issa Tindyebwa, the Kabale Muslim District Council chairman, said some mosques are not yet complete although the believers have started using them for prayers.

International support
The mosques are being constructed using local contribution with support from “international friends”.
“The main objective of establishing these mosques is to promote our religion by bringing religious services nearer to the believers. The mosques are not for income generation but services to the people,” he said.

He added: “We are so grateful to our international friends that have always given us funds for the construction activities besides the willingness of the local Muslims to raise money for the same cause.” In Ntungamo, several projects including the construction of major mosques, have been supported by various Muslim organisations from Arabia.

Today, at least 12 mosques, 20 shallow wells, a technical school and a primary school have been constructed.

The Ntungamo District Kadhi, Sheik Swaleh Kashangirwe, said the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy in Uganda, Muzanamat Dawa Islamia of Qatar, the Red Crescent of the UAE, have funded the constructions.

In Fort Portal, the Khadi for Tooro Muslim District, Sheikh Ghalid Talib Hussein, said they are constructing the Masjid Jamiee Mosque in Kisenyi.

He said they have raised funds from members of the Muslim community in Fort Portal and Kampala.
The project is expected to cost more than Shs1.5 billion.

In eastern Uganda, the Muslim communities in Kibuku and Pallisa districts have a reason to smile after the Good Hope Foundation handed over 30 well-constructed mosques following decades of praying in semi-permanent structures.

The country director, Good Hope Foundation, Sheikh Hussein Mwase, said the construction of the 30 mosques was initiated by the community.

“The Muslim community had a big challenge of mosques, which indeed, they requested us [Good Hope Foundation] for support,” Sheikh Mwase said.
“This is a big milestone to the Muslim communities in Kibuku and Pallisa districts, and this will partly attract Muslims back.”

Sheikh Mwase noted that NGOs being speared-headed by the Muslim development partners to support Muslims communities in various programmes have been branded ‘enemies’ of the government.

“We have no ill-intentions to cause insecurity in this country, and have never been agents of wrong elements as we have been branded but just partners in development,” he said.

He added: “This has been in the mindset of the security agents to put all eyes on the operations on the organisation. We do all the activities in line with the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council.”

Late last month, the minister for the Presidency, Ms Esther Mbayo, said government was investigating some NGOs for allegedly being part of insecurity in the country.

“Some of these NGOs are being funded to cause illegal activities in this country but the government has unearthed that information…,” Ms Mbayo was quoted to have said.

By Bill Oketch, Patrick Ebong, Robert Muhereza & Mudangha Kolyangha, Alex Ashaba, Perez Rumanzi, Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa & Malik F Jjingo


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