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Kenyan Muslims ask world to intervene in Israel-Gaza conflict

By Benard Sanga and Patrick Beja | May 15th 2021
Muslims pray at Masjid Ummu Kulthum in Mombasa. The prayers mark the end of the holy month of Ramadhan. 14th May 2021. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

This year’s Idd-ul-Fitr celebrations were marred by the conflict in the Middle East, with clerics accusing the international community of abandoning helpless women and children of Palestine.

Muslims in Mombasa held Salat al-fajr (prayers performed at dawn, before sunrise) in mosques and open grounds, where they accused Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians.

“Israel has continued to kill Palestinians while big nations are looking the other way. It is unacceptable,” said former Chief Kadhi Hamad Kassim, who led prayers at Ronald Ngala grounds.

He said the war has escalated into a full-blown out tribal and religious conflict between  Jews and Arabs on the streets of Israel, and asked the United Nations to end it.   

Jomvu MP Badi Twalib, who also prayed at Ronald Ngala grounds, called on the UN to end the conflict in Gaza.

“Israel’s aggression against Palestine is a threat to peace in the world. The UN cannot continue to remain silent. It must make a stand and defend the rights of the Palestine people,” said Twalib.

Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir said the world marks this year’s Idd during a very difficult period when the people of Palestine cannot pray like other fellow Muslims.

“It is a very difficult moment because our colleagues in Palestine have not had an opportunity to pray because of a war. Israel bombed them while they were fasting,” said Nassir.

Yesterday, divisions over the day of celebrating Idd continued with some clerics criticising their colleagues for attacking the Chief Kadhi over his position on the sighting of the moon.

Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council (Kemnac) national chairman Sheikh Juma Ngao defended the Chief Kadhi Ahmed Muhdhar, saying he advised the faithful on moon sighting based on the East African calendar.

Mombasa businessman, Abdikadir Ibrahim displays his goats at Kikowani goat market in Mombasa. Business is booming as Muslims buy goats for Eid Ul Fitr celebration. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Sighting of moon

“It is wrong to hit out at the Chief Kadhi over moon sighting. There are those who follow the Saudi Arabia calendar while the Chief Kadhi has adhered to the East African calendar,” explained Sheikh Ngao.

He noted that the Chief Kadhi consults with other faith leaders across East Africa on the sighting of the moon before giving direction to Kenyan Muslims.

Speaking after Idd-ul-Fitr prayers yesterday at Masjid Turkiy, Sheikh Ngao said, scientifically, there has been no proof that sighting of the lunar moon can be done on the same day across the world.

On Thursday, some Muslims defied the Chief Kadhi and celebrated Idd-ul-Fitr.

The Chief Kadhi had on Wednesday night said the Hilal (crescent) had not been sighted in Kenya or Tanzania and called on Muslims to fast on Thursday to complete the prescribed 30 days of Ramadhan.

“We have received several reports that the crescent has been sighted. All those telling us so say they were told. We cannot go with hearsay,” he said. 

But Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya national treasurer Sheikh Hassan Omar dismissed the Chief Kadhi, accusing him of dismissing credible reports on the sighting of the moon. 

Most notable sheikhs celebrated Idd yesterday.

Former Chief Kadhi Kassim called on Muslims to continue assisting the less fortunate in the society even after the Ramadhan period, saying Covid-19 has pushed many Kenyans to the state of hopelessness. 

Meanwhile Ngao said the congregants have been advised to start fasting when they sight the lunar moon and end when they also sight the moon.

At the same time, Sheikh Ngao advised Muslim leaders to adhere to the Covid-19 safety protocols to counter spread of the disease.

“I am urging all Muslim leaders to observe all the regulations to counter Covid-19. We have to ensure the congregants are safe,” he said.  

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