Dear Brothers and sisters,
There is a Luganda saying “Okutambula Kulaba okudda kunyumya” translated as “traveling is seeing and the return is telling a story”. I apologize if that is not the true translation. I am currently on a working visit to Canada, I am not yet back and I can’t wait to be back to tell the story let me tell it now.
When I left home on 16th June 2011, I had all kinds of mental pictures about Canada especially based on what I have previously watched on TV, what I hear and read about in terms of western culture Vs Islam. When I visited London ten years ago I saw the cultures not very much compatible with Islamic teachings and so I knew that perhaps I won’t find a different life style all together. But this does not mean that Islam is diluted in London. I had my IDD EL FITTR prayers that year at a Mosque in Woolich and I was amazed by the numbers of muslims I saw there then. Now as I moved to Canada I went with my research topic I always carry but which has no research Variables and well defined methodologies of study i.e. The level of Islam in other places and how Muslims are generally organized compared to those of Uganda. Folks tell you what? I am so far happy with what I have seen in Ontario (Ottawa and Quebec) for the few days I have been here. Over the weekend I was fighting the Jet lag and struggling to adjust my brain and my body to the change in the timing zone I visited two places ie Ottawa and Quebec all in Ontario. Before I visited Quebec I had went out in a Mall to do a quick window shopping in Ottawa of course when you don’t have money you just move out to admire what is in the shops. But as I moved through the Mall I took trouble to see how many Muslim sisters dressed as per the teachings of Islam, I was again amazed by the numbers. I saw young girls very smartly and proudly walking in their Hijabs moving around amidst the same teenagers who were half dressed. I was only able to see one Muslim brother a bit aged(btn 55-65) putting on an Islamic cap and inside me I was saying oh MANSHA`ALLAH may Allah reward these people for being the best example and telling others this is what Allah has prescribed for us as the best attire.
Later in the afternoon I was picked at my Hotel by a Muslim brother who took me around and finally hosted me at his home for a dinner. But before we reached home he took me to two very nice mosques in Quebec. I was highly fascinated by what I saw, brothers and sisters I saw a 3 million Canadian Dollar mosque built by Muslims within that place and this is the Gatineau Mosque and with out any outside grants. To me this was extremely nice. From that one he drove me to another nearby place where I saw a much bigger mosque than the Gatineau mosque and this is the Ottawa Central Mosque. For this second Mosque it has an office, the level of Hygiene in the place of Ablution is super, they have a place where the Muslim dead body are cleaned before being taken to be buried at the Muslim cemetery, I saw two vehicles in the parking yard all labeled (Ottawa Muslim Association), well maintained and not misused i.e. parked when not on official duties. I saw Muslim sisters attending Darasa as the Youth brothers were in the other part of the mosque having Quranic lessons and I was told that is how they spend their evenings. In Uganda many youth spend evenings arguing about Arsenal and Manchester United, who is bidding for Arsenal’s midfielder, how much is he going for etc without focusing on how do we take Muslims to scale. Back to Ottawa I was told that recently the contract of the Imam expired and a new one is being recruited in an open and transparent process involving interviews and carrying out a reference checks including getting clear reference on the Imam by at least respected and trusted Muslims from that area where the Imam is coming from. The rationale is to avoid recruiting property masters, liars, thieves, less informed imams etc. All this also reminded me of Mosques I have seen in Mombasa for example the TSS mosque for some of you who have visited and prayed in that mosque, plus others I have seen in Zanzibar. Back in Uganda I tried to look of course from what I have in my mental picture I failed to see one like the Ottawa Central Mosque, TSS mosque and those in Zanzibar etc. Perhaps I saw the Arua main Mosque that houses the District Council offices having something similar, In Lira again at the District Council three years ago they were trying to have offices built I don’t know how far they stopped and a few others but all are struggling. Having seen and contemplated over this I then jumped to one big conclusion that as Muslims we can have such mosques, but we lack some level of organization like what our Canadian brothers and sisters have. The question is.
Can the Muslims of Uganda attain that level of organization?
I have worked with a Muslim community where they do not only value money but they also value Time and Knowledge. Perhaps if we can not invest in mosques can we also consider giving in time and knowledge? For instance if you are a good physics, math, history, geography etc teacher can you go out and offer a lesson or two to a very poor Muslim secondary school in any part of the country perhaps once a month, to help the young Muslims pass their exams? If you are a doctor can you offer some time to share your knowledge on Hygiene, sanitation, nutrition etc for Muslims any where in the country. Still we can organize Health clinics (in which we screen for Malaria, TB, HIV, Skin diseases) and I think Muslim Doctors can do this as a way of Giving back to the Muslim community? The question remains are we organized enough?
I will visit Toronto shortly before I come back home in three-four days to come. I will also tell you my findings. Keep on the forum