Mufti Menk has got Ugandans in his hands!

By Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
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Doing something innovative and excelling at it, is something very few like the Mufti of Zimbabwe, Ismail Menk, do so effortlessely.Yesterday's Juma preaching at Gaddafi mosque, and the lecture later on at Corporate dinner, was one such situation where Mufti Menk kept the audience spell bound with his creative explorations of quranic verses and traditions.He was in complete command ,as always, and in a great mood which reflected on his face and his indomitable spirit,right from start to finish.

I followed both events on Facebook live page of Salaam TV, and there were interesting comments from non- Muslims too- particularly on Menk's point of " protecting private parts" from adultery and fornication- a handy point that exactly rubs in a Mama fina Vs Peng "wrestling" in Sweden.

The way he was welcomed at Gaddafi mosque was nothing short of presidential. He came in an open car roof followed closely by a convoy, but he managed to sneak his head out to wave at people who were eagerly waiting for him.The sheikhs and other VIPs that were paraded outside the masjid to officially welcome him added all the required ingredients to make this visit a memorable one, and that which will stay in the minds of Ugandans for a very long time. I heard one woman whispering while Menk was being guided to enter the mosque, 'Omusajja mulungi ' meaning ' the man is handsome '.

Menk didn't need any help getting the audience in his hands while in the masjid, as the beautiful Adhan did that for him. He even had time to sneak out his phone to capture the moment while Adhan was being heard. Then the preaching started, and that's where he had people eating out of his hand. They followed every word he said like a baby stuck on their mother's breast. I must admit that I learnt something new there- when he said that the greatest supplication one can make is in Surat Al fatiha- the one we recite in every Salah, and the supplication Is, "Guide us to the straight path ". I guess, we just have to find time to read Surat Al fatiha wholly outside prayers - as many times as possible.

Of course Menk wouldn't be Menk without his sense of humour. He joked that he delayed coming to Uganda because he was following the A-Z alphabetical order. He said that his invitation letter had someone called Ramandhan, which meant that he must be fasting all the time. Then he went crazy with Islamic calendar names relating them to the people in Uganda named after them.

Then while at the Corporate dinner, there was a sheikh who kept calling his name in a funny way- " Menky "( sounded like monkey). This very gentleman got up to introduce the presence of Sheikh Rajab Kakoza, and made it a point that he, Menk and Sheikh Rajab had done Hajji together in 1968. I guess it was a figure of speech but , at that moment, I was surprised to hear Menk loudly correcting him that it's not true he did Hajji with them in 1968. I guess he isn't as flawless as he clearly stated in his lecture at the dinner. I felt like shouting at him, ' look man,we don't correct our elders in public here'.

So far, there's a lot our Ugandan preachers could learn from the style of Menk's preaching. Since at least the 1980s, Uganda has done a fine job of nurturing its budding preachers within a large and well-funded network of Islamic organisations that function either as independent institutions or else as agents of our Muslim friends in Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and several other muslim countries. The grand venture of transplanting the pinnacle of Middle East Islam into the fertile soil of Uganda has been a spectacular success. As a result, we have sheikhs following different Islamic ideologies, but we try to pick and choose what they sometimes preach to us.

In fact, some of our Uganda preachers now frequently fill the ranks of celebrity status around the country and represent some of the finest human beings available --including, among others, sheikh Nuhu Mazata, sheikh Bruhan Mursin, Imam Kyeyune, Imam Idi Kasozi, e.t.c. I haven't met most of them but I've met Imam Kasozi in London. He may not be as gifted as Menk but he represents " OBUNTUBULAMU " in all his bones, and he is a very humble guy ma sha Allah.

Overall, I'm happy that Menk is in Uganda. My eldest daughter and wife follow him keenly on YouTube. Yes, he told us to do something that contributes to our communities. I guess, he is doing exactly what he preaches, because he has intensely revolutionised our minds globally. He will definitely leave a mind revolution in Uganda too, especially after his Namboole Stadium grand appearance tomorrow inishallah !

"In tribute to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Uganda, two bastions of strength in a world filled with strife, discrimination and terrorism."