Muslims divided on end of fasting

Muslims follow proceedings at Tononoka grounds in Mombasa to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadhan. [PHOTO: MAARUFU MOHAMMED/STANDARD]

A section of Muslims in Coast region defied direction by Chief Kadhi Sharif Ahmed Muhdhar and held prayers to mark the end of Holy month of Ramadhan.

Majority of Muslims in major towns and cities in coast region loyal to the Chief Kadhi who operates from Mombasa, are preparing to celebrate Idd ul Fitr marking the end of the fast this morning with ceremonies across major grounds.

Yesterday morning, thousands of Muslims mainly from Majengo and Kisauni areas of Mombasa gathered for Idd ul Fitr prayers at Tononoka, Sheikh Khalifa and Bilima grounds in Mombasa.

This signals a growing sectarian divide over the authority of the Chief Kadhi, especially over the sighting of the crescent moon to mark the end of Ramadhan. Several key imams and clerics led the prayers in Mombasa.

Special prayers

In Nairobi, thousands of faithful conducted special prayers to kick off the celebrations.

But there was drama after deputy Chief Khadhi Rashid Ali Omar, disowned his senior when he said he had credible reports of moon sighting from various parts of the country signalling the end of the fasting month.

"I sent several messages to the Chief Kadhi on the issue but he ignored," he said while addressing faithful celebrating Idd at Sir Ali Muslim Cclub in Nairobi.

On Thursday, the Chief Kadhi announced at the Islamic Waqf offices in Mombasa that the Idd prayers should be marked today upon the sighting of the crescent.

"Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, after the new crescent moon has not reportedly been sighted anywhere in the country and neighbouring Tanzania, I urge you to continue fasting tomorrow Friday and God willing offer Idd prayers on Saturday," said the Kadhi on Thursday evening.

Other faithful continued fasting and are expected to pray this morning in various open grounds and mosques across the country.

Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) Organising Secretary Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa had said that it is the mandate of the Chief Khadhi of Kenya, Sheikh Sharif Al Muhdhar to officially announce the day of the prayers
subject to sighting of the new moon.

Islamic calender

The Government has through a gazette notice, officially declared today a public holiday as sign of honour to Muslims in the country.

According to the Islamic calendar, this month of 2015 Ramadhan ended on Thursday, with 29 days and the first day of Shawal began yesterday.

In Kenya, Muslims began fasting from June 18, but competed differently with others fasting 29 and others 30 days.

Yesterday at Tononoka grounds in Mombasa, hundreds of Muslims were led into prayers with spiritual leaders calling for unity and prayers for security in the country.

At the Sir Ali Muslim Club in Nairobi where thousands of Muslims gathered for prayers, the overriding message was peace and stability.

"Muslims should abide to teachings of Quran by living in peace and harmony with other communities," said Sheikh Muhammad Swalihu, the Imam of Nairobi's Jamia Mosque.

Sheikh Abdulmalik Kipsang' of Bungoma's Tawhid Mosque called on Muslims to share the merry-making of Eid ul Fitr with the rest of Kenyans.

Today, the Chief Khadhi is expected to lead other Muslim faithful in prayers at Mombasa County Stadium.

Ramadhan is the fifth pillar of Islam, which Muslims worldwide fulfil annually, after faith (Shahadah), prayer (Salah), charitable giving (Zakah) and the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).