In 1989 Islam was practiced by an estimated 2.6 million
Ugandans, representing roughly 15 percent of the
Islam had arrived in Uganda from the north and through
networks of the East African coastal trade by the
century. Some Baganda Muslims trace their family's
the period in which the kabaka Mutesa I converted
in the nineteenth century.
Islam is a monotheistic religion based on revelations
received in seventh-century Arabia by the prophet
life is recounted as the early history of the religion,
with his travels from the Arabian town of Mecca about A.D.
Muhammad denounced the polytheistic religions of his
preaching a series of divine revelations. He became an
and in A.D. 622, he was forced to flee to the town of
which became known as Medina (the city) through its
with Muhammad. The flight (hijra) marked the beginning of
Islamic era and of Islam as a powerful force in history.
marked the year A.D. 622 as the beginning of the Islamic
calendar. Muhammad ultimately defeated his detractors in
and consolidated his influence as both temporal and
leader of many Arabs before his death in A.D. 632.
After Muhammad's death, his followers compiled his
they believed were direct from God (Allah) and produced
Quran, the holy scripture of Islam. Muhammad's teachings
actions as recalled by those who knew him became the
hadith (sayings). From these sources, the faithful
constructed the Prophet's customary practice, or sunna,
they emulate. The Quran, hadith, and sunna form a
comprehensive guide to the spiritual, ethical, and social
the faithful in most Muslim countries.
The central requirement of Islam is submission to the
God, and accordingly, a Muslim is a person who has
will to God. The most important demonstration of faith is
shahada (profession of faith) which states "There
God but God (Allah), and Muhammad is his prophet."
(daily prayer), zakat (almsgiving), sawm
and hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) are also required of the
When Idi Amin, a Ugandan Muslim, became president in
his presidency seemed to be a victory for Uganda's Muslim
community. Then in 1972, Amin's expulsion of Asians from
reduced the Muslim population significantly. As his
administration deteriorated into a brutal and unsuccessful
regime, Uganda's Muslims began to distance themselves from
in power. After Amin's overthrow in 1979, Muslims became
victims of the backlash that was directed primarily
Kakwa and Nubian ethnic groups who had supported Amin.
Lule, who served a brief term as president from 1979 to
also a Muslim (and a Muganda). He was not a skillful
but he was successful in reducing the public stigma
In 1989 President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni appealed to
Muslim community to contribute to national reconstruction,
warned other Ugandans not to discriminate against Muslims.
the same time, Museveni admonished Ugandans to avoid
allegiances, and this warning was directed at the Islamic
community as well as other ethnic and religious groups.
Data as of December 1990