History of Bilal Muslim Mission – Kenya

In December, 1964 The Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaats of Africa – at its Conference held in Tanga (Tanzania) – passed a unanimous resolution undertaking to convey the Message of Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w.w. and his Ahlul Bait a.s. to the indigenous Africans.

The efforts to spread Shia Madhab among indigenous Africans had been made long before this famous resolution. These efforts, however, were by individuals on their own and not made in unison and organised manner.

The Resolution gave them an impetus and as a result Organisations under the name of Bilal Muslim Mission were established in both Tanzania and Kenya in honour of Hadhrat Bilal, the first Muaddhin of Islam. Thus the obligation of Call to Islam original was given an additional motivation.

The Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya was registered as a Religious Charity Organisation on 11 November, 1971

Even before formal registration of the Mission, contacts had been established with learned people from non-Shia Muslim Community, some of whom later on embraced the Shia Madhab. The Message was also being conveyed to the non-Muslims and one of the first to accept Islam from Christianity was a Mr. Njoroge – a member of Kikuyu Tribe. In 1964, he was sent to Pakistan to study Islam under Peermohamed Ebrahim Trust. He stayed there for six months and obtained his Islamic Education. The Mission is grateful to Marhum Haji Hassanali P. Ebrahim for his services in this respect. May Allah, s.w.t., grant him lofty abode.

In 1971, Ngala Chuphi -of Duruma Tribe- the Chief of Mackinnon Road accepted Shia madhab and adopted the Islamic name “Yusuf”. Hundreds of members of his tribe accepted Shia mazhab and today the Mission has many centres in the areas dominated by this tribe.

This was all because of the efforts of Kassamali Gulamhusein Family – particularly Haji Mohamedjaffer Kassamali Gulamhusein. It was as a result of their tabligh that the Chief and members of his tribe accepted Islam. The Kassamali Gulamhusein Family actively participated – physcially and financially – in providing facilities like Mosque, Madressa and School for the new Shias.

May Allah, s.w.t., bless with maghfirat members of “K.G. Family” who have since passed away from this world and increase the tawfiqaat of those remaining to continue doing tabligh. Aameen.

The Impact

The impact of Bilal Muslim Mission’s work can be gauged from the comments of non-Shias and the reaction of those who oppose its message. The following will give a clear idea of the success or otherwise of the Mission’s activities.

• Professor Muhammad Bakari, Department of Linguistics: University of Nairobi, in his paper “Asian Muslims in Kenya” Delivered at National Seminar on Contemporary Islam in Kenya States:

“The Ithnaasheri have become better known through the missionary activities of the “Bilal Muslim Mission,” with its network of bookshops in Nairobi and Mombasa. Although Sunni/Shia relations are still uneasy, the activities of the Bilal Mission have helped somewhat to deflect some of the earlier, and often blind prejudice against the Shia in general.” (pp.65).

“The Shia have also attracted some young Sunni, who were fascinated by rhetoric of Khomeini and the success of his revolution. It is also a reflection of the disillusionment of these young people with ineffectiveness of their Ulama. While a number of these young people now openly profess Shia doctrines, a smaller number has chosen t remain crypto-Shia for fear of social ostracisation. Even where there is no overt profession of Shia doctrines and practice, some important Sunni individuals, with fiercely independent views have shown open sympathy towards Shia.” (pp.66)

“The Bilal Muslim Mission also organizes the annual Muharram Majlis at their headquarters. The majlis is dedicated to the preservation and perpetuation of the memory of the ‘martyrs of Karbala’. A series of lectures is organised to coincide with the mourning period, in which aspects of Shia political history is narrated by the speakers. Not all the guest speakers nor the audience are Shia. A number of Sunni scholars have also been invited to give the public lectures. The lectures are video-taped and disseminated for viewing by a much wider audience, and through this strategy, Shia history and political concerns are made more accessible to non-Shias. This has the double advantage of educating non-Shias about Shiism and on the basis of this, eventually minimising anti-Shia sentiments within the country. “ (pp.66).

[ ISLAM IN KENYA published by MEWA]

• In another paper The New ‘Ulama in Kenya, delivered at the above Seminar, Professor Muhammad Bakari has detailed anti-Shia activities of some of the Wahhabi Ulama in Kenya. Under the section The Modern Ulama and Shia Posturing, writing about Dr. Muhammad Salim Badamana, a traditionally educated Alim as well a veterinary doctor who teaches in the University of Nairobi, he writes:

He has also emerged as a relentless and articulate crusader against the increasing Shia influence in Kenya. ………

He believes in waging an intellectual war against the Shias by, for example, countering their accusations against the companions of the Prophet ….. “ (pp.197)

Describing yet another anti-Shia Wahhabi – Sheikh Ahmed Msallam – he writes:

“ Msallam’s pet subject is that of the attack of Shiism. Conscious of the spread and popularity of Shiite ideas in Eastern Africa since the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979, he has campaigned vigorously against their kind of Islam as nothing short of shirk. He has translated polemical works written in Arabic into Kiswahili to show the dangers of Shiism to modern Islam. His translation efforts have been financed and supported by the Nairobi branch of the Saudi based Dar Al-Iftah. (pp.185-186)

[ISLAM IN KENYA published by MEWA]

Following are excerpts from a letter by Seif M. Seif, which appeared in a local daily The Standard (December 8th, 1989):

“Daystar sinister campaign against Muslims deplored A copy of a policy document purported to be Minutes of proceedings of a seminar sponsored by Daystar University entitled “Exploring Islam Seminar” is around Mombasa. The aim of the seminar is to evangelise Muslims and to dismantle Islam in Kenya instead of co-existence.

Such recommendations as were adopted include: bribery of the poor under the guise of humanitarian assistance; destabilising Muslim Teaching Institutions, such as Bilal Muslim Mission ; exploiting differences between Sunnis and Shias; infiltrating and spying on Muslim homes; reclaiming Christians (?) converted to Islam, etc., etc. All these activities are to be financed from a 56 million pound fund from abroad, yet the body would like to investigate sources on Muslim funds, including those of Muslim wealthy men.

Your Obligation

In his sermon at the plain of Ghadeer on 18th Dhilhajj 10 A.H;after announcing the wilayat (leadership) of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib a.s., the Holy prophet exhorts:

• Let the one who has heard me convey this message to others

This is an instruction to be fulfilled by everybody at all times. You, too, have a role to play in discharging this obligation:

You can provide support by:

• Praying for success,
• Visiting our centres,
• Providing moral support,
• Donating finance.

Inshallah you will be one of the benefactors who will contribute towards the cause of our Deen.

This article is taken from the website of the Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya.
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