Muslim clerics in Wakiso district have supported the decision by the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) to register all the mosques and their Imams across the country.
According to UMSC spokesperson, Hajj Muhammad Nsereko Mutumba, the registration is aimed at weeding out what he described as half-baked ‘imams’ who commit mischief and taint the image of Islam.
Mutumba said the registration process will have four stages; village, county, district and regional structures.
Mutumba told The Sunrise in an exclusive interview that Islam has been infiltrated by impersonators who commit mischief in the names of imams in Uganda.
“The rationale behind the registration is to ensure that people who masquerade as Imams and doing evil things, are eliminated,” he said.
He revealed that on several occasions UMSC has received complaints from different Muslims across the country that half-baked Sheikhs and Muslim leaders extort money from the public to help them get blessings and spiritual healing.
“Some of the fake sheikhs have reached to the extent of defiling innocent girls and I think you have heard of a recent scenario where an alleged Imam married a fellow man. An Imam leads prayers in a mosque so he should act as an example to his followers, the more reason to identify the imposters,” Nsereko stressed.
He also noted that, under UMSC structures, no one can call himself an Imam without having a mosque where he leads.
“UMSC IDs are totally different from the National Identity cards. They are needed for proper identification so that people are not confused, some people including journalists mistake these titles by calling some Sheikhs, Hajat or Imam something we want to eliminate,” he said.
Mutumba said that although the registration has been planned, they have not set a specific period for the exercise.
“These imams were voted by the villagers but we are just supervising and creating policies for them to implement. We are also still a little busy skilling and teaching them the methodology of leadership and also establishing their secretariat before the process begins.”
Habib Kasozi, the Imam of Masjid Asswalihiina Kawuku in Wakiso district supported the exercise saying it will help determine the salaries and allowances that should be given to Imams.
“Imams are not paid because we are not known, but through registration UMSC will find it easy to determine how much Imams should be paid and who should be pay,” said Sheikh Kasozi.
Sheik Umar Turyatunga, the Imam of masjid Ahmad Makandwa Kitende, in Wakiso district also added that registration should set minimum academic qualifications for any Imam to be registered.
“An imam should have at least a S4 or S6 Arabic certificate and must be well conversant with the Quran. The challenge is that many half-baked Sheikhs want to make Fatwa on matters of Islam, “he said.
Nsereko urged all Imams in the country to embrace the initiative so that all impersonators are eliminated in Islam.
However the creation of 13 additional zones of districts like Kiruhura, Buvuma, Entebbe, Buikwe, Kibaale, Kiryandongo, Gulu, Kanungu,Kyenjonjo,Kibuku, Kakumiro Luuka and Kamwenge to make 78 Muslim districts is likely to trigger some debate as some argue that it will enhance service delivery while others say it could entrench overstay in office by the incumbent leadership of UMSC.