President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni met with Ugandan Muslim leaders Yesterday 11th July 2023, promising to assist them in developing themselves in accordance with Sharia law if they encounter any challenges under the present Parish Development Model (PDM) initiative.
“Let me study it and see how I can incorporate Sharia principles into the PDM.” We can look into it, and if there are any issues, we can set up a separate budget and channel for Muslims so that you can develop in their own way,” H.E Museveni stated.
Sheikh Obeid Kamulegeya, who leads a 21-member Muslim arbitration and reconciliation committee, Sheikh Silman Kasule Ndirangwa, Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoga, who are also Heads of Jumiat Dawa Al Salafiya at Nakasero Mosque, and Professor Muhammad Lubega Kisambira, the National Chairperson of Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC), were among those who attended the meeting at State House Entebbe. Sheikh Shaban Ramathan Mubajje, Uganda’s Mufti, was returning from Morocco for official duties at the time of the meeting.
Muslim leaders claimed that various government efforts aimed at alleviating poverty discriminate against them and requested that the President adopt their alternative Islamic Parish Development Model.
They claim that programs like the PDM provide loans with interest, which is considered riba and is severely banned under Islamic law. It is considered haram, or forbidden, because it is considered exploitative.
Riba is an Arabic word that means “to increase” or “to exceed” and is frequently used in regard to uneven exchanges or borrowing charges and fees. Interest is considered riba, or an unjust, exploitative gain, and is therefore prohibited under Islamic law.
The President initially lectured the Muslim leaders on the benefits of the Parish Development Model to Uganda, emphasizing that the government intends to combat inflation by holding no more than 10% of the PDM monies.
President Museveni started the PDM in Kibuku’s Eastern region last year, with the goal of eradicating poverty through parish-based development activities.
“The PDM money we’re putting into your SACCOs is a government grant, not a loan, and it’s your money.” I also dislike riba in which people try to grow rich by using the money of the poor. “This money is yours, and the challenge is to keep it from losing value,” President Museveni addressed Muslim leaders.
Sheikh Yunus Kamoga previously notified the President that they are required by Islamic law to share both gains and losses in any money provided to them.
“If we have a problem in our business, we share the losses collectively between the business owner and the SACCO members-operators, but others, like PDM, you have to pay back with interest whether you have made profits or losses.” That is the issue,” Sheikh Yunus Kamoga told the President, adding that the business owner owns 60% of the company and the SACCO owns 40%.
Sheikh Kamoga also informed the President that they are successfully running Nakasero Muslim Foundation SACCO based on Islamic laws, with three branches currently operating; one at Kamukamu plaza, one at Owino market, and one in Masaka, and that the model has proven the capacity to successfully develop the people.
“Write to me about it, and once I understand it, I will educate these other Ugandans,” President Museveni said.
Sheikh Kamulegeya thanked President Museveni for allowing the passage of the Income Tax Amendment Bill No.2 of 2023, which removed all legal impediments to the launch of Uganda’s long-awaited Islamic banking products.
Prof. Muhammad Lubega, the delegation’s leader and the National Chairperson of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, stated that a plan for how the PDM can operate under Sharia law has already been developed.
The President pledged to research the notion and re-invite them to a final meeting.
Prof. Kisambira also complimented President Museveni for allowing the election of Muslim leaders around the country. He stated that over 7 million Muslims aged 18 and up participated in the polls from 14,900 mosques spread across the country’s 78 Muslim districts.
“This was a sign of unity, and we thank you, Mr. President, for supporting this cause,” Prof. Kisambira said, adding that a constitutional review commission had been established to streamline the Muslim constitution.
He stated that the next stage is to mobilize all Muslim families to engage in income-generating activities and to find a way to utilize mosque-owned land.
“Our message is that every mosque must have a revenue-generating project.” Prof. Kisambira underlined that “each mosque has at least 4 acres of idle land.”
He also praised the President for the Shs7.5 billion donated to repair the Old Kampala Mosque, noting that Shs2 billion has already been provided and correctly utilized.
President Museveni also offered to help them with goat rearing programs to increase meat output.
Other issues highlighted by Muslim leaders included the development of at least four regional Muslim theological institutions and the establishment of income-generating initiatives on Muslim-owned land in towns and municipalities, which the President agreed to.
Sheikh Silman Kasule Ndirangwa praised the President for signing the anti-homosexuality bill, saying it has hoisted Uganda’s flag in terms of respecting cultures and morality.