A celebration of former Mufti, Sheikh Ahmad Mukasa’s 80th birthday also marked his installation as the third Sheikh-al-Islam that the country has had.
Sheikh-al-Islam is a title under the hierarchy of the Uganda Muslim Community (UMC), one of the Muslim groups that existed before the creation of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) in 1972. Although it was not included in the UMSC constitution, the title remained but its holders do not undertake any administrative roles.
Under the UMC constitution, Sheikh-al-Islam ranked third in the administrative hierarchy but, currently, the title holder is basically a point of reference for clerics over matters concerning interpretation of Islamic doctrines.
“In appointing a Sheikh-al-Islam, we consider one’s contribution to the development of Islam, someone who has worked tirelessly for Islam, who has published books, and has sheikhs under him that he has taught,” Sheikh Hussein Rajab Kakooza, the UMSC director of Shariah told The Observer.
Kakooza was the only official from the Old Kampala-based faction of Muslim leadership that attended the October 25 event at Mende in Wakiso district.
“Based on his wide knowledge of Islam, a Sheikh-al-Islam should be able to guide his colleagues on religious matters using his understanding of the religious doctrines and guidance of the Qur’an and Hadiths [traditions of Prophet Muhammad],” Kakooza said.
The first Sheikh-al-Islam was the late Sheikh Ahmad Nsambu who was followed by former speaker of the Buganda lukiiko (Parliament), the late Sheikh Ali Kulumba. Mukasa’s new role was welcomed with a colourful celebration at his home in Mende, graced by the titular head of Muslims in the country, Prince Dr Kassim Nakibinge.
A heavy afternoon downpour that lasted two hours threatened to disorganize the celebration but organizers were determined to carry on. Various speakers praised Mukasa for being exemplary as a teacher, religious leader and family man. Mukasa boasts of more than 50 children, of whom at least 35 hold a first degree and three have PhDs. He has some who have just enrolled for school.
To thank him, his children bought him a brand new Toyota Harrier as a birthday gift.
Born as Ahmed Mukasa Mwasansimbi Musajjatagererwanzaalo on October 25, 1934, he lived a humble early life but defied all odds to become the first Ugandan Muslim cleric to fluently speak English. He started school in 1946 at Kiseke and Sons primary school Mende, run by the Church of Uganda.
The education attained from the school would later make him a teacher of his seniors at Katuumu Madarasat al-Nahdat al-Islamiyyah , one of the celebrated Islamic theological schools at the time that he joined in 1951.
In 1964, he joined Kibuli SS as a religious education teacher, which challenged him to further improve his command of the English language, and two years later, he was appointed as the Imam of Kibuli mosque, a position he held until 1972 when he became the secretary for religious affairs upon creation of UMSC.
For 21 years, he served in that position until 1993 when a special sitting of the UMSC general assembly at Lake View hotel, Mbarara elected him interim Mufti. This was part of the efforts by President Museveni to reconcile Muslims who were split between Sheikh Ibrahim Saad Luwemba’s faction at Old Kampala and Sheikh Hussein Rajab Kakooza’s faction at Kibuli.
Luwemba refused to vacate office, forcing Mukasa to operate from Kibuli until 2000, when Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubajje was elected Mufti.
Source : The Observer