This paper focuses on the spread and expansion of Islam in Sub Saharan Africa especially East Africa. Islam reached Africa thousands of years before the introduction of other foreign religions; it reached Ethiopia during the Prophet Muhammad’s time and later established deep roots in North Africa, West Africa and Swahili coastal trading communities of East Africa. By the twentieth century, most of the African countries contained significant Muslim populations. However, to date the Muslim communities in many parts of Africa lag behind in many sectors of life. This has a lot to do with the history of these countries especially during the colonial and neo- colonial eras. Islamic religion spread more widely, carried along trade routes into the interior of Africa.
By 1900 the Muslim percentage in sub Saharan Africa were higher than that of Christianity; (19%: 9% respectively) however, by the 2010 Islam had became a religion of the minority in the region (World Religion Database 2010). The general objective of this paper therefore, is to examine the challenges and prospects to the development of Muslims and Islam in Sub Saharan Africa concentrating on three East African countries namely, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. This paper presents the character of the Muslims and their perception of Islam as the main challenge and prospect to the spread of Islam in East Africa for years.
The introduction of Islamic faith brought many changes within the religious beliefs and in various spheres of life of the The Spread and Expansion of Islam in pre- colonial Africa.
Islam can be seen as an African religion that reached African continent in the earliest days. It has been adopted in many different ways of life. In some sub-Saharan African countries like the Eastern coastal towns Islam has been seen as an integral part of life. Archaeological evidence indicates that Muslim settlements on the East African coast started as early as the 8th century, It points out the Muslims remains that were found in Shanga, on Pate Island in Kenya. However, after 1100 A.D, the Muslim presence along the coast increased considerably, due to the expansion of trade in the Indian Ocean. (Thomas Arnold, 2003:335)
Islam was mainly spread by individual traders, converted leaders and through colonial officers. The Muslim Arabs and Swahili came into contact with the indigenous Africans who lived in land. Through such contacts, the Africans became Muslims. The conversion to Islam by the native Africans was seen as civilization and raising of social status. The Yao and the Baganda are the classic examples of conversion through trade contacts. (Thomas Arnold, 2003:335) What should be noted here is that the spread of Islam in Sub Saharan Africa was largely peaceful. It was not antagonistic to traditional religions instead it co-existed with the traditional beliefs. As such, the converts practiced dual religion i.e. Traditional with Islam (Ray, 1976.184).
Through trade and economic movements that centered on the ocean monsoon winds, the Arab Muslim traders flocked to the coast for the Indian Ocean trade. They settled at the coast of East Africa and built cities. Their interaction with the local contributed to the spread of Islam.(Spencer. T, 1968:2)
East Africans. The great impact of Islam and Arab settlement at the coast was the emergence of Swahili language and resultant civilization with Islamic background. As Islam and Swahili flourished at the coast, the interior was still with its traditional beliefs.(Timothy Insoll, 2003: 374). Though, the Swahili traders tried to settle in the interior along river Zambezi, they had little significance to the spread of Islam in the interior before 19th century. (Edmond A, 2000:304)
Until the rapid penetration of the trade into the interior, Islam became a byproduct of trade as many people converted along trading markets and those Muslim traders who penetrated the interior of East and central Africa became a conduit in exporting Islam. The 19th century drive towards the Islamisation of the interior of East and central Africa was due to the increased demand for Ivory and the Arab and Swahili penetration of the interior of using the caravan routes. They interacted with the Yao and the Nyamwezi who acted as middle men and traders. Unlike at the coast, Islam in the interior advanced slowly and gradually through the trading contracts with some Africa people (Viera Pawlikova- Vilnova-Vilhanova, 2009:51).
Through the commercial expansion in the 19th century, Islam gradually got representatives in various parts of the interior of East and central Africa. This does not mean, however, that Islam reached all corners of the interior in the early days, some parts remained without Islam. Despite the existence of trade between the Muslims at the coast and the interior, the Northern parts of East Africa took long to receive Islam. It was not until 19th century when Islam started its influence in the interior. In South Africa, the spread of Islam was slow, local conversion remained on small scale, thus the presence of traders was not accompanied by a significant Islam in all sub Saharan Africa (Edward A Alphers, 1972).
It should be noted however, that the Arab Muslims’ primary target to was not spread Islam; their interest was economics, the spread of Islam was made as past time (Makaato, 2009:8). For this reasons the spread of Islam was restricted to the people they interacted with. This was evidenced on the way Islam flourished along the trade routes, way stations and settlement during trade. (Norman R. Bennett,1973:215-225). It seems that the prosperity of Islam in the 19th century concentrated on the Arabs and Swahili traders which are linked to the trade in Ivory and Slaves
Besides, Islam in the early days gained new followers due to a combination of religious ideas and attractions of Islamic culture and civilization. Islamic way on life, dress, new languages; Swahili and Arabic introduced by the Arabs attracted many people to the faith. The prestige and the honor associated with Islam in terms of increasing powers and position of converts in the social hierarchy attracted the Africans to Islam in sub Saharan Africa (Insoll, 2003: 395).
Islam also reached the interior areas of East Africa from South Tanganyika to North Mozambique and Malawi through the trade contract. The exchanging commodities like tobacco, skins developed as early as 17 century (Edward Alpers, 1972:180-200). The Yao, like the Nyamwezi were also attracted to Islam for prestige and honor. The trade contacts led to the creation of the chiefdoms based on trade links and military strength. In fact the conversion to Islam was not significant until the conversion of the Yao chiefs .e.g. around 1870 the Yao chiefs Makanjila III adopted Islam which boosted the religion in the area in the 19th century. More rulers converted to Islam, sources reveals that many Unyanyembe aristocrats observed the fasting in the month of Ramadhan by 1880s. It’s believed however, that some of the rulers and chiefs converted to Islam so as to benefit more from trade. This partly explains their partial practice of Islam. This does not mean that there were no chiefs and kings who deeply practiced Islam. Powerful leaders like Yao chief Makanila III, the Chaga chiefs Madara or Kabaka Muteesa of Buganda practiced more Islamic rituals, learned Arabic and Kiswahili(Viera Pawlikova- Vilhanova, 1972).
Besides Kenya and Tanzania, Islamic penetration into Uganda was more significant. Islam was introduced to Uganda through two routes; the Buganda route of 1840s and the northern Uganda route through the Turko- Egyptian influences. Kasozi,1986: 23) gives 1844 as the year when the first Muslim Arab trader; Ahmed bin Ibrahim reached the King’s court in Buganda, while Soghayroun (1980:10) gives 1830 as the period when the Khartoumers started Islamic influence in northern Uganda (Makaato, 2009:7-8).
Although Ahmed bin Ibrahim’s primary role was trade contacts, he introduced Islam to the Kabaka Suuna basing on the circumstances he found at the court. It’s said that Ibrahim found the Kabaka when he had paraded his subjects for death sentence. Ibrahim advised him not to do that as there was a supreme being who give and take life. Kabaka Suuna II listened and wished to know more about the Supreme Being. More Muslim Arabs and Swahili traders arrived in the kingdom later using the southern route which passed through – Tabora and Karagwe route up to western shores of Lake Victoria. Islam found the kingdom of Buganda with a strong culture and a well established political system that rotated around the Kabaka. When the Kabaka embraced it, it was easy for it to become a dominant religion.
By the time of the arrival of the Christian missionary and explorer; Henry Morton Stanely in 1975, the Islamisation in Buganda had reached its climax; Kabaka Mutesa 1 who succeeded his father Suuna declared Islam a state religion, practiced prayers, fasting, and supervised the observance of it. In fact there was one of his chief Kakolokoto who was caught eating during day time in the month of Ramadhan and that gave birth to a slogan in Buganda to refer to whoever found eating during the month of Ramadhan as Kakolokoto. Mutesa I also constructed a Mosque at his court where he was the Imam.
However, Mutesa I practiced Islam alongside the traditional religion. He refused to get circumcised because it was a taboo for the king to shade blood on his land when it was not the time of war. He continued consulting his ancestors and taking wine. This led to the rebellion of some of his subjects who refused to pray behind him. Mutesa I interpreted this as disloyalty from his subjects and consequently massacred over 100 Muslims at Namugongo, denounced Islam, and invited the Christian missionaries to his kingdom (Semakula K, 1971:169).
This followed the influx of the Christian missionary groups beginning with the Church missionary Society that arrived in 1877, then White fathers etc. The missionaries came with strong military weapons which Mutesa I thought were vital for the expansion of his kingdom and the consolidation of his authority which the Muslims had attempted to challenge. As a consequence, he made the Christian missionaries his close allies, eventually replacing the influence of Islam with Christianity (Nkonge A, 2009).
The arrival of the Christian missionary groups complicated the life of the Muslims who were the dominant group in Buganda. As such confrontations emerged along the three religious groups; the protestant, Catholic Muslims and the monarchy. Such event became to be known as the religious wars in Buganda that occurred between 1880s and 1900. The clash between the three religious groups was partly for political recognition. Initially, the Muslims using their dominance played a leading role when they allied with other religious groups to overthrow Kabaka Mwanga who had succeeded his father Mutesa. They managed to replace Mwanga with a Muslim Kabaka Kiwewa and later Kalema who accepted Islam. This caused more tension among other religious groups. Consequently, the Protestants and Catholics allied against Muslims. From 1890, the Muslims with their Kabaka Kalema were attacked by the Christians and fled to Bunyoro at place called Kijungute where Kalema died of small pox. This weakened the Muslims as his successor Nuhu Mbogo was not as strong as Kalema.( Semakula Kiwanuka, 1971: 200-18)
The Muslims were weakened further by Captain Lugard who arrived in Buganda in 1890 to expand the influence of the Imperial British East African Company. Lugard re-instated Kabaka Mwanga and together they attached the Muslims from Bunyoro. (Sekimwanyi,1947) However, Lugard in 1892 used the weakened Muslims for his political maneuvers, he signed an agreement with their leader Nuhu Mbogo who was recognized as the leader of the Muslims but this did not settle the Muslims as they were taken as the third class in Buganda. The Muslims continued to resist Lugard for being marginalized. This prompted serious attack from the British forces in 1899 which weakened them more.
In the event that followed, was the signing of the 1900 Buganda Agreement which distributed Buganda’s wealth, the Muslims were treated as the third class citizens. Islam became a religion of the minority in Buganda and Uganda in general. The spread of Islam remained at individual level.
Islam during Colonial Period
Colonialism found Islam already well established and the Muslim communities had a highly developed culture with Swahili which was wide spread in Eastern Africa. The Muslims in East Africa resisted the colonial intrusion when they deeply get involved in the anti-colonial nationalist movements. The colonialists therefore, developed strategies and policies to change the status quo. This was through promoting “civilizing” mission. However, civilization meant both converting the people to Christianity and educating them into Western culture.
The presence of Islam and Muslim communities in the East African region was a major obstacle to their mission. In areas where the Muslims were the majority of the population such as in Somalia, Sudan, Zanzibar and the Comoros. The colonialists used educational system to undermine Islam; they produced a secularized, non-religious Africans. It was hoped that such an elite or middle class would undermine the power of Islam in their own countries and prevent the emergence of an Islamic state.
In other societies where Islam had little influence like the interior of Kenya and Tanganyika, the colonialist created educated, anti-Muslim and anti-Arab elite. They used the Church, Colonial Government schools, all their resources and power to accomplish this task. The colonialists propagated racial division and hatred by using slavery as an emotive issue of creating good and bad guys. They portrayed the Arabs and Muslims as bad people. For over 70 years colonial rule in East Africa, the implementation of these strategies resulted into conflicts. Other conflicts were promoted among Clans, which degenerated into a conflict between leaders fighting for power and wealth by using unemployed youth of lineages and clans. In Zanzibar it was a conflict between the “races”, Africans, Afro-Shirazi and Arabs. In the Comoro conflict was in form of a struggle between secularists, and Islamists, and Uganda was along religion.
In Uganda for instance, the colonialists left education under the hands of Christianity missionaries who discriminated the Muslims e.g. by 1962, the Muslims in Uganda had only two graduates. Muslims were left in informal sector as drivers, domestic servants, butchers etc. (Sekatawa, 2009: 185)
The colonialists distributed Buganda’s wealth; land in 1900 Buganda Agreement according to the class stratification which based on religion and royalty. Since the Muslims had rebelled against the colonial agent; Lugard, they were the least to gain from the agreement and the government.(Sallie Simba1994:328). Whereas the Protestants and Catholics were given land on which to develop their clerical work, the Muslims were not given, yet land was the main determinant of wealth at a time. The community had to depend on the land given to their leader Prince Nuhu Mbogo who was given as a member of the royal family.
In terms of leadership, most of the positions went to the Protestants and Catholics. Out of 20 counties in Buganda the Muslims were given two; Butambala and Gomba. This greatly undermined the position of the Muslims. Since the chiefs were influential in the society, as they were law makers, tax collectors and judges, denying the Muslims meant depriving them their influence they had in Buganda. (Sekatawa, M 2009:191). After effective occupation, the colonial government’s policies did not favour the progress of the Muslim community. For instance in education sector, the colonial state left it in the hands of the Christian missionaries that discriminated other members of the society like the Muslims and traditionalists.
The few Muslims who tried to join the missionary schools were indoctrinated into Christianity. The classic example here was Yusuf Kironde Lule from Butambala was converted at Kings College Budo (Kiyimba, 2003). This scared other Muslims from joining such schools and left the whole community uneducated. The efforts by the Muslims to establish their secular schools were fruitless since they lacked finance, land and their idea was opposed by the Christian missionaries. The Muslims confined their education at the Madrasah level and studying from the sheikhs homes.
However, on realizing that the Muslims were lagging behind in education, they formed an education association in 1944; Uganda Muslim Education Association (UMEA) to promote education of the Muslims. This attracted the colonial government to extend some help towards Muslim education. However, this was too little compared to the necessary demand. E.g in 1944 out of £134.000 planned for education, the Muslims were given £ 213 (Soghayroun, 1980: 116). This was too little to uplift the already marginalized group and explains the status of Muslims throughout the colonial Uganda.
However, the political religious wars and colonialism promoted the spread of Islam accidentally. Many Muslim refugees took Islam to the regions where they took refugee for instance to Ankole region and Bunyoro. The process of Expansion of Islam continued during the expansion of colonial rule in Uganda. When Kakungulu was sent to eastern Uganda to extend colonial rule, he was accompanied by a group of the Muslims who spread Islam to Bukedi, Mbale and Teso. However, this does not mean that Kakungulu was interested in spreading Islam; it was as a result of the pressure from the Bugisu community whose culture demanded to work with circumcised men. To ease his administration, Kakungulu took a number of Muslims to help him in his administration as interpreters, police men, store keepers which facilitated the spread of Islam.
Spread of Islam in post colonial era.
The post colonial era in Africa witnessed relative peace and religious freedom that one would expect a breathing space for the spread and expansion of Islam. However, it looked opposite in East African region. For instance, the granting of Uganda independence in 1962 did not change the status of Muslims. They continued to be in a marginalized position. Though few Muslims managed to rise to the level of ministers in central and Buganda government, these did not help to over whole the existing social strata in the favour of the Muslims. Of all the political parties formed towards independence, the Muslims had none (Kasumba,1995). They chose to ally with other parties; some joined Kabaka Yekka party(KY), others Uganda People’s Congress(UPC) (Karugire 1980). In the power struggle between KY and UPC, the Muslims were used by the leaders for their political maneuvers. For instance, Obote the Prime Minister influenced the UPC Muslim Youth to form the Uganda Muslim League under the Youth winger Musa Sebirumbi. This league later turned into the National Association for advancement of Muslims (NAAM) (Sallie Simba1994). This did not mean that Obote influenced the Muslims for development, but rather for political maneuvers and divide and rule policy.
The coming of Amin to power changed the life of the general Muslim community in Uganda. Idi Amin tried to foster unity by forming an umbrella of all Muslims for united development and spread Islam; the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC). After its inauguration on 1st June 1972, the UMSC started mobilizing the Ugandans towards Islam. Schools and mosques were established and managed by the council.
During Amin’s time it was privilege to become a Muslim. On a number of Muslim functions like Mauled and other festivities, many non Muslims converted to Islam and Many mosques were constructed (Bond 1986). However, this was for strategic reasons; some people expected material gains after becoming Muslims. Thus after Amin’s time some of them reverted to Christianity.
In education sector, the problem of Muslims lagging behind in Secular education was addressed by Amin. By the time Amin came to power, he found handful number of the Muslim schools. However, by 1979 a number of primary and secondary schools had been established. For instance the prominent schools were Bombo SS, Arua Public, Masaka SSS, Kampala High School, Kololo High School, Kabukunge Teachers training College. Islam as a religious subject is also being taught at primary and Secondary Schools (Kiyimba, A (1986). However, many Muslim founded schools have been mismanaged by the Muslims and some are now managed by the non Muslims. They are featured by constant conflicts between the school management boards and the administration. Other conflicts have been seen between the mosques and schools. All these have affected the goal of promoting education and Islam.
The establishment of Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU) became the Muslims’ hope in the field of higher education. It was established by the Organization of Islamic Conference to promote education standards of Muslims from the English speaking countries in Africa. The university opened in 1988 at Mbale and since then, it has played a crucial role in the promotion of both Arabic and secular education in Uganda and sub Saharan Africa. IUIU has used that concept of the Islamisation of knowledge to spread the ideals of Islam to its graduates. Since its inception, the university has produced over ten thousand graduates of with Islamic ideals. These have been incorporated in civil service, civil society and other private sector. IUIU also organizes outreach Dawa programmes to the communities around and annual Ramadhan conventions to spread and expand Islam. However, all these are curtailed by inadequate finance. There is a great need for scholarships to help the many poor and needy Muslim students who constantly apply for dead years and at times drop out before completing their degrees and diplomas.
Politically, since Mutesa 1’s time, the Muslims came to political lime light again during the reign of Idi Amin. He had a cabinet of over 70% Muslims, employed them in public service and placed them in strategic positions in government (Sallie Simba 1994). Though some of them lost their positions after Amin, they were able to empower their families and uplift their economic and social status that later helped the Muslims in other regimes. To date quite a number of Muslims are able to participate in public Offices like parliament and local councils. When Amin expelled the Asians, he distributed their wealth to Ugandans especially Muslims (Twaddle 1975). However, most of the Muslims who received the properties lacked the ability and qualification to manage them. Consequently, the Ugandan economy went in shambos under the Muslims.
Besides, the role of Idi Amin in uplifting the Muslims increased the hatred between the Muslims and other Ugandans. After the over throw of Amin, many Muslims were evicted from public offices. In the ministry of education, the permanent secretary, Jamada Luzinda and Chief education officer Abubaker Kakembo were imprisoned, Some Muslims went to exile. In addition the down fall of Amin led to the massacred of hundreds of Muslims in Ankole, Masaka and Arua Districts by the Christians. Land was grabbed from Muslims which affected the spread of Islam in Uganda.(Kiyimba 1989)
In addition, the UMSC became a centre of Conflict among the Muslims. Power struggle emerged in the leadership circles of the council. The UMSC was formed as a company with a vague constitution that has been a centre of conflicts among the successive leaders. This explains the current status of the Muslims despite its existence for over thirty years. To date the UMSC hardly collect Zakat from Muslims, leaders are languishing in poverty and some Muslims have shunned away from praying at UMSC headquarters
Throughout the 1960s to date, the Muslims in Uganda had been characterized by conflict and friction between factions, with small spells of peace and unity once in a while. In early 1960s Muslims were divided along ideological lines for instance the Uganda Muslim Community led by Prince Badru Kakungulu established its seat at Kibuli, the African Muslim Community the Bukoto Sect, the Juma Zukuli sect at Kawempe, the NAAM etc such division continued beyond 1990(Kasumba 1995: 100). Throughout the 1980s up-to-date there has been leadership crisis in the UMSC, this started with the two Chief Kadhi- Sheikh Mulumba and Sheikh Kamulegeya, two Muftis – Sheikh Kakooza and Sheikh Luwemba then Mufti- Sheikh Luwemba and Sheikh Mukasa and today’s Sheikh Shaban Mubaljje the Mufti from Old Kampala and Shiekh Zubair Kayongo the Supreme Mufti from Kibuli.
The later was crowned after accusing Mubaje for selling Muslim properties and mismanagement. The multiplicity of factions among the Muslims has been partly promoted by the successive governments in Uganda, tribalism and theological reasons. Though such factions have promoted the spread of Islam since each sect wants to win as many supporters as possible, it has generally undermined the strength of Muslims in the country. Muslims missed the opportunity to bargain for their dues from the successive governments, Islam has been featured by fighting for and in the mosques, Loss of lives such as those lost in Kajara, imprisonment and the general stagnation of the whole community in Uganda. (Nkonge Ally Cheune, August 3, 2009)
The spread of Islam and social challenges: Here we look at how African culture has influenced Islam. There is great influence of African culture on Islam just as Islam also significantly influences Africans. Since the inception of Islam it has been practiced alongside the African culture. Whereas Islam presents the full culture in all aspects of life, the African culture is also complete. Islamic culture is enshrined in the Quran and Hadith. Yet the African culture is seen in the customs, values and traditions of different societies. The aim of the traditions is ultimately practiced to please their gods and ancestors who are believed to be responsible the death (Kasule 1992:87). Death and funeral rites for instance among the Baganda is highly observed, it may cause friction among the family members if it is not observed. The Muslims have Islamized it so as to remain embracing. They introduced in it the elements of Islam where preaching’s about the attributes of Allah are made. The holy Quran is recited and the function is led by the prayer from sheikhs to include Allah’s. Some have completely discarded the cultural rituals that are contrary to Islamic principles. However, so many Muslims practice both Islamic and African cultures. They publically praise Allah and secretly resort to their ancestors for wealth and cure of strange diseases.
Islam is also spread through marriage, many Muslims practice polygamous marriages. They claim to marry for religious reasons (Ibadah) and expansion of Islam. They marry both the Muslims and non Muslims. They convert the non Muslim women to Islam. However, some of them do not take the responsibility of neither teaching them Islam nor showing them the best example as Muslims. The products of such a couple are Muslims without Islam. Thus is that expanding Islam or fighting Islam?
Some Muslims practice polygamy however, many of them has faced a lot of hardships. It should be noted that Islam allows polygamy in the Quran Chapter 4:3
…Marry women of your choice two, three, or four, but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one…
This verse however, limits the number of women to four and emphasizes a condition of justice. Some Muslims in Uganda go ahead to marry many even beyond four and fail to fulfill their obligations for such families. This creates numerous problems and injustices that affect the whole Ummah. These include high dependence burden, lack of parental love and care to the children, income inadequacies etc. Such Muslims does not practice Islamic polygamy but traditional polygamy. They marry following the traditional belief that the more women and children one has the more respect the person would command from the society.(Makaato 2009) This has seriously affected the Muslim Ummah as such families have produced many nominal Muslims with little Islamic Knowledge and benefit to the spread and expansion of Islam. Muslims should learn and understand their religion on the concept of marriage. The task is upon all Muslims as individuals, and community.
In relation to sacrifice, some Muslims have been seen making dual sacrifice. i.e. sacrificing for Allah and ancestors. Sacrifice is a common practice in Islam and African traditions. In the pre-Islamic era in Africa, the Africans could sacrifice animals and human life to appease their gods, spirits and ancestors. This was done to invoke blessings from them. With the coming of Islam, sacrifice was highly welcomed. Many Muslims sacrifice publically as part of worshiping Allah and secretly sacrifice for their ancestors for wealth, knowledge, cure and wisdom. There is therefore great need for more teaching of Islam about sacrifice for the sake of Allah and not any other cause.
Under looking of Islamic courts in favour of secular courts of law. Secular courts are found of not settling Muslims’ disputes amicably but instead increase them. It should be noted that the east African Coast was the first region to become literate. Writing and reading in the Coastal towns was witnessed hundreds of years before western civilization. Because the Coast was the first area to become literate the earliest written documentations for East Africa’s history has come disproportionately from Coastal archives. They were the first to adjudicate on the basis of written law, especially the Sharia in Islam. For instance Kadhi’s courts and their variants in Islamic jurisprudence are a thousand years old in Kenya. These courts in Kenya were there hundreds of years before the United States created its exceptionally powerful Supreme Court and before England’s Magna Carta. (Mazrui Ali 2004)
However, the colonial rule stripped Kadhi’s courts of their jurisdiction in criminal cases and of their powers in most commercial and economic disputes. But the British were sensitive enough to create what Mazrui call Triple Heritage of Law – indigenous customary law, Islamic personal and social law. To date the Muslims only refer to the Islamic laws in terms of inheritance and signing marriage contracts. However, this works only when there is no dissatisfied party. Where there are conflicts the secular laws preside over the Islamic laws.
The spread of Islam in Sub Saharan Africa has historically largely been through trade, although Islam continued spreading through other methods like refuge, colonial rule, and the role of the converted leaders etc. A Combination of spiritual and secular factors like the introduction of many innovations and new skills played a role in the Islamisation process. Islam in East Africa was most associated with slave trade. It spread along the trade routes. This was exploited by the Christian missionaries to undermine Islam in the 2nd half of the 19th Century. Islam faced a lot of challenges during colonization and beyond, i.e. it was portrayed as a religion for the minority, a situation that exists up to date.
However, there is a tendency to over blame the colonial history for Muslim problems. The fact is the character of the Muslims and their perception of Islam is greatly responsible for some of their problems. Their behaviors can be seen in cultural mix, divisionism, hypocrisy and greed for power that characterized the colonial and post colonial era and undermined the spread of Islam in the sub-Saharan Africa. The challenge and the prospects on the spread and expansion of Islam have been and remained on the individual character basis which must be checked if we are to create the Muslim Ummah worth emulated.
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Paper written by
MR. MUHAMADI MAKAATO
(M.A History, M.A Human Rights, BA Education)
Ass. Lecturer in the Department Of History
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Islamic University in Uganda