In the Letter of the Day of May 27, Mr Hussen Amin, in his piece titled: ‘Namugongo: Stop religious sectarianism on Martyrs Day,’ attacked Christians for religious sectarianism with regards to Muslim martyrs.
He said Muslims lost more believers than either Catholic or Protestants. I would like to correct the perception of what the Martyrs’ Day is all about.
The Namugongo story is a spiritual one – now turned into economic or tourist attraction. The purpose for the day is being lost. Mr Amin talks of “neglect of the mosque area at Namugongo compared to the billions of money the State gives for developing Catholic and Anglican Church areas”.
The Catholic Church believes in praying for the dead and in the intercession of saints, details of which are beyond the scope of this letter.
In the Koran, God forbids believers from asking forgiveness for the disbelievers and idol worshippers regardless of whether they are dead or alive.
Muslims only pray for those still on earth (Sura 42:5). They are not allowed to intercede (Sura 2: 254). Also read the following Suras: 39:19; 40:60 and 53:39, among others.
The activities at Namugongo were triggered by the Catholic Church when Pope Paul IV, in 1964, canonised the 22 Catholic martyrs and later in 1969 made a pilgrimage to Uganda. Serious pilgrimage then started and it has now become international.
So the pilgrimage, though it has become of a tourist nature, it was strictly spiritual.
The State has a duty to protect, facilitate and provide security for these pilgrimages by improving facilities at the site.
It would be of no value for a religion with deferent belief to make a pilgrimage of this nature. This pilgrimage is not for a historical purpose; it is for enriching the spirit of the believers.
The Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina are for historical purpose, not spiritual since they cannot pray to or for the dead (saints).
Dr Josue Okoth,