By Waswa Tenywa

Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) has welcomed the constitutional court ruling throwing away the petition seeking to outlaw the practice of men marrying more than one wife in Uganda.

Yesterday, a panel of 5 judges led by the deputy chief justice Alfonsi Awinyi Dolo decided to throw away the petition which has spent 8 years in court after the petitioner’s lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi told court he cannot move on with the case as his client was nowhere to be seen.

Hala Elkarib, a Sudanese national had filed a petition seeking to outlaw the practice of men marrying more than one wife in Uganda.

In the statement, 2nd Deputy Mufti of Uganda H.E Shk. Muhammad Ali Waiswa told journalists that, in Islam, marriage in an act of worship;

“Anyone who denies Muslims in Uganda to marry as guided by Islamic teachings is infringing on their freedom of worship which is guaranteed in article 29(1) (C) of the constitution of Uganda” he noted.

He said the rules governing Muslim marriages are directly derived from the Holy Quran and the teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH.

On the issue of polygamy, Shk. Waiswa said the issue has been misunderstood by many people, noting that although Islam permits the practice, it also put in place mechanisms that regulate it.

“Indeed it can be urged that Islam moderated the existing practice according to chapter 4, verse 3 of the Holy Quran” he said.

Any Muslim man who wants to marry more than one wife must follow the following conditions:

• He should have enough financial capacity to look after the needs of the additional wives

• Marriage must be just and necessary

• He must do equal justice to all of them

• Each wife should be treated equally in fulfilling her conjugal and other rights.

He urged Muslims to reject attempts from certain sections of people in Uganda who want to change the manner in which Muslims should conduct marriages.

“Those Pushing for this direction are supported locally and internationally by people who do not appreciate why Muslims have the option of polygamy.

On the claim that polygamy undermines the rights of women, Shk. Waiswa said that those Muslims who commit abuses should be blamed as individuals.

“Any form of abuse of a spouse in a polygamous marriage is condemned because Islam protects the rights of spouses in marriage” Shk. Waiswa said.

He called for the passing of the Muslim Personal Law Bill, noting that it will provide proper explanation of marriage rights to the public and to both men and women, as one way of fostering greater marital harmony and understanding.

He also noted that;

“Any attempt to violate the freedom of worship as envisaged in Muslim marriage will be resisted”.

It later emerged that said case had been dismissed in the court, a decision that Shk. Waiswa welcomed.