By Ally Jamah
Beginning of the Muslim month of fasting was marked with divisions with a section of faithful in Kenya and other parts of the world commencing to observe Ramadhan Friday even as others are set to start on Saturday.
Reports emerged that the crescent moon signaling the entry of a new month was sighted in different parts of the world including Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
But another section of Muslims led by Chief Kadhi
Ahmad Muhdhar claimed that they would begin their fasting on Saturday having received no reports of moon sightings in the East African region.
On Thursday evening, leaders of various mosques across the country announced to curious faithful to begin fasting Friday morning, while the Chief Kadhi
went on different Islamic radio stations saying fasting should begin on Saturday. This has left the faithful divided on the matter.
Muslim scholars have traditionally had differences of opinions with regards to moon sightings, One school of thought says its is valid to accept reports of any new moon sighting in any part of the world while another school believes that for the sighting to be valid, the moon has to be seen in their region.
The Muslim fast often consists of abstaining from food, drink, sex between dawn and dusk and to spend more time in spiritual purification through study of scripture, reflection and prayer.
Questions are increasing with regard to the role of Chief Kadhi
in announcing days of beginning and ending fasts, with some Muslims saying that it is not part of his job description. They suggest that he should leave the matter to a panel of Muslim scholars from across the country.
The Saudi Embassy in Kenya has promised to scale up its humanitarian assistance to Kenya in its goodwill message to Muslims during the commencement of the month of Ramadhan.
Saudi Ambassador Ghorm Malhan said that their assessment has shown that different parts of the country, especially in North Eastern province need to be reached with relief supplies to help them cope with the demands of the Muslim month of fasting.
"We will also be distributing highly nutritious dates to various mosques in the country to be eaten when breaking the fast," he said
The envoy expressed gratitude to the Almighty God for the month of Ramadhan, which he described as having lots of blessings
"Fasting is an important pillar in Islam a special time for sacrifice and purification for Muslims to renew their commitment to God and his service," he said.
He added: "We take this earliest opportunity to wish Muslims in Kenya and around the world Ramadhan Mubarak,"
He also urged those planning to go for Pilgrimage Mecca to start preparing early in getting the needed documentations to avoid the last minute rush.
"My staff here at the embassy will be ready to facilitate those who will be willing to go in getting all the necessary documents and information about Mecca and Saudi in general," he said.