May 5, 2008

The Challenge of Islam in Uganda

[Video - The Gaddafi National Mosque in Uganda]

How great a force is Islam in Uganda?

Gaddafi National Mosque In April we toured the newly dedicated Gaddafi National Mosque. Financed by Libyan leader Muammar Al-Gaddafi and built atop one of Kampala’s highest hills, it’s by far the largest mosque in sub-Saharan Africa, visible from nearly every point in the city. (While in Uganda for the March 19 dedication ceremony, Gadaffi also created a scandal by declaring the Bible a fraud.)

Gaddafi Mosque DomeThe mosque is simply immense. My house could nearly fit inside its main dome. I couldn’t take a good picture of the interior—it was far too large. And it’s obvious that Gaddafi spared no expense. Our guide described various construction materials imported from Egypt, Morocco, and other countries.

My heart was saddened as I gazed across the vast carpet of the main hall. Ornately decorated, it directs all who enter to kneel and pray to Allah while facing Mecca. Gaddafi Mosque CarpetThere were thousands upon thousands of places to pray, and I imagined the mosque filling with people prostrating themselves to a god who cannot save them.

Perhaps what grieved me most was looking up to see a poster announcing that "Islam the destiny of humanity ... the religion of humanity." The Gaddafi mosque is a powerful symbol of Islam in Uganda. Islam is gaining ground, and the latest statistics indicate that Muslims now make up almost 20% of the population. Especially challenging is the financial factor; it’s well known in Uganda that a university student who converts to Islam can virtually count on having his or her tuition paid.Gaddafi Mosque Poster In a country where poverty and unemployment are widespread and young women often look to "sugar daddies" to underwrite their education, Islam offers an alternative means to pursuing a more prosperous future.

With this in mind, consider the long-term challenge that Islam poses for Christians in Uganda. Churches in East Africa need help in confronting the spread of Islam with compassion and courage. Lord willing, the Africa Center for Apologetics Research will enable pastors and lay believers to understand, answer, and effectively evangelize the Muslims around them.

Join us as we work to defend God’s truth in Africa. Thankfully, we’re not left to ourselves to tackle this problem; our Lord will be with us!

(Previous posts on our recent mission trip: Advancing Biblical Discernment in Uganda)