Sonia Salim

Uganda Muslim Youth of Boston: Preserving Values and Promoting Development

This article sheds light on the Uganda Muslim Youth of Boston and their preservation of values and promoting development in their community.

In an exclusive interview with Zaminna, Qudra Adam Mbaziira, Chairman of the Uganda Muslim Youth of Boston (UMYB) for the term 2021-2023, sheds light on the organization's objectives and the challenges faced by the Ugandan Muslim community in Massachusetts. The UMYB is a nonprofit organization aimed at unifying Ugandan Muslims, preserving their religious values, and establishing development programs within the state.

Q: Can you tell us about the Uganda Muslim Youth of Boston?

A: The Uganda Muslim Youth of Boston is a nonprofit organization that seeks to organize Ugandan Muslims residing in Massachusetts. Our primary goal is to unite the community under one umbrella, protect our religious values, and establish development programs tailored to the needs of Ugandan Muslims in the area.

Q: How is Eid Adha celebrated in your community of Ugandan Muslims in Boston?

A: During Eid Adha, we strive to follow traditional practices and mobilize ourselves to contribute to the celebrations. As Ugandans, we gather in a designated place for prayers. Some individuals book abattoirs in advance to slaughter animals, such as cows and goats, which are then shared among the community members. However, due to the high cost of slaughtering locally, some individuals choose to send money back home for the Eid sacrifices.

Q: Are there any public health concerns associated with the Eid Adha celebrations?

A: The state restrictions prohibit slaughtering animals at home, and Muslims are encouraged to utilize professional slaughterhouses to ensure proper sanitation and public health standards are maintained during the process.

Q: How do you organize prayers, including the five daily prayers, Juma prayers, and Eid prayers?

A: Most Ugandan Muslims in Boston regularly pray their four of their five daily prayers in local mosques, as there are numerous public mosques available to the community. For Juma prayers, there is a dedicated Luganda Juma held at the West Inn Hotel in Waltham for Luganda-speaking Ugandans. As for Eid prayers, we outsource suitable venues since there is no designated area exclusively allocated for Eid prayers.

Muslims performing prayers in a congregation
Muslims performing prayers in a congregation

Q: What is the hierarchy of Muslim leaders for Ugandans in Massachusetts?

A: The organizational structure is still being established. Uganda Muslims in America fall under the Ugandan Muslim American Association, which has a representative, known as the chairman, in each state. Additionally, there are other groups such as the New England Muslim Association, the Chairman of Ugandan Muslims in Massachusetts, Muno mukabi Muslim support group, and a women's group

Q: Apart from slaughtering, prayers, and feasting, what other activities do you engage in?

A: Aside from the religious observances, our community members also participate in various activities. Many Muslims dress up in traditional outfits, supporting small business owners and purchasing from online shops. Additionally, there are events focused on visiting friends and exchanging gifts.

Q: How do you practice Zakat (charitable giving)?

A: Zakat ul mal and zakat ul Fitr, are paid annually and are practiced to provide assistance to fellow Muslim brothers and sisters who are in need.

Q: According to you as the Chairman, what are some of the challenges Muslims face in America?

A: Some of the challenges faced by Muslims in America include feelings of loneliness, depression due to uncertainty, and the pressure of meeting societal expectations.

Q: Do you have structures in place to assist Muslim families dealing with various challenges?

A: Yes, we have informal structures to support Muslim families facing family and financial instability, as well as education challenges. These include marriage counseling, financial assistance through Zakat, Muno mukabi support groups, and volunteers who encourage Ugandan immigrants to pursue educational opportunities in America.

Q: Are there Madrasas in Boston for Islamic education?

A: Yes, there is Rahima Madrasa, which focuses on instilling religious values in our community from grade 4 to high school. Additionally, most mosques also offer weekend programs for further religious education.

Q: What do you consider to be the landmark of Muslim contributions in Boston?

A: One significant contribution of the Muslim community in Boston is the increased awareness in the education sector, particularly among Ugandans. Additionally, efforts have been made to educate the youth about their religion, instilling strong morals and values.

Q: Is polygamous Muslim marriage legal in America?

A: Polygamy is against the law in America, and it is not even compulsory for Muslims to practice it. Therefore, most Muslims in America practice monogamy.

Q: Any parting message for our audience?

A: As immigrants, it is crucial to learn more about the host country and adapt to its systems and ways of thinking. Muslims in the diaspora should remember that Allah is always ready to protect our religion and values, and embracing our faith does not mean losing anything in the process.

In this interview, Qudra Adam Mbaziira, Chairman of the Uganda Muslim Youth of Boston, highlighted the organization's mission, discussed the celebration of Eid Adha, elaborated on prayer organization and leadership structures, and shed light on various challenges faced by Muslims in America. The interview also touched upon the support structures available to Muslim families, educational initiatives, contributions to the community, the practice of Zakat, the stance on polygamy, and a final message encouraging cultural integration while maintaining religious identity.

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