Muslims in Uganda have been discouraged against inter-religious marriages as a means to establish strong marriages built on Islamic principles and a measure to mitigate the rising cases of marriage break-ups in the country.
The call was made by Sheikh Ahamada Sentongo, during the launch of Heritage Family Center a private initiative founded by Islamic Heritage Foundation Uganda, an organization geared towards building strong family values rooted in Islamic practices and culture.
Sheikh Ahamada the patron of Heritage Family Center said there is a general concern in the Islamic community over instability of marriages in Uganda, which has proved to be a big challenge to family development, and as a consequence, cases of divorce, child neglect and perversion are on the rise.
He attributed the rising trend of broken marriages to interfaith marriages and disregard of religious principles that emphasize marriages from the same religion.
He said that many couples rush into marriage without considering the religious beliefs of their partners only for the marriages to break-up later majorly due to religious differences between married couples. He said with structures in place to provide proper guidance on marital issues, the rising cases of marriage break-ups in Uganda can be mitigated.
He said marriage between a Muslim and a non-Muslim can pose particular challenges arising from traditional differences, and seeking to effectively navigate religious rules prior to and throughout an interfaith marriage can cause great tension, requiring accommodation and mindful decision-making which is not easy.
He therefore urged Muslims wishing to enter marriage to always consider marrying from Muslim families.
Speaking from the religious perspective, Sheikh Ahamada said the Koran strictly directs Muslims to marry from Muslim families to ensure dignified marriages. He also said this also ensures stability of families and leads to better child-raising that guarantees national development.
“Even the holy books (bible or the Koran) emphasize marriage of couples from the same religion. let a Catholic marry from a catholic family, and a Muslim marry from Muslim families” he said.
He said discordant marriages are hard to maintain and more likely to end in a break-up.
Sheikh Ahamada quoted the Second Chapter of the Koran, Verse 421 “You are forbidden to go into marriage with someone who does not belong to your religion because if you do, it will lead you into hell”
The Heritage Center was launched in Nansana, Wakiso District on Thursday, to contribute to the country’s effort to build strong family values based on Islamic teaching practices and culture. Built on Islamic principles, the Heritage center is one of its kind in Uganda and founded by the Islamic foundation of Uganda offering a range of services including pre-marital counseling, family counseling, and guidance on marriage maintenance.
They also offer guidance on child-raising, youth rehabilitation services, matchmaking for people searching for spouses; all premised on Islamic teaching and principles.
Sheikh Imran Ssali, the Deputy Imam (UMSC) National Mosque and an elder at Heritage Family Center said majority of couples he receives seeking for union in marriage are uninformed about marriage issues, and said the establishment of Heritage center is timely.
“Majority of people coming to us for union in marriage are unaware of what they are rushing into. You join them today, only to hear that they separated after a short time in marriage. Heritage Family Center will help us as Sheikhs” Sheikh Imran said.
The Quran recommends that Muslim men marry Muslim women, but says that they may also marry Jews and Christians (2:221; 5:5). According to Islamic law (Shariah), if a Muslim man wishes to marry a non-Muslim woman other than a Christian or a Jew, the woman must convert to Islam.