Chief Kadhi Abdulhalim Hussein seeks to end Ramadhan row

Kadhi Abdulhalim Hussein

Chief Kadhi Athman Abdulhalim addresses participants during celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims in Mombasa in November last year.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Chief Kadhi Abdulhalim Hussein has urged Muslims to wait for his guidance before beginning fasting for the holy month of Ramadhan.

In an interview with Nation on Sunday, Sheikh Abdulhalim said it was unacceptable for Muslims to differ every year on the observation of the crescent moon, which signals the start of Ramadhan, when the Islamic calendar is clear on the issue.

The month of Ramadhan is a time of fasting, introspection and prayer for Muslims. Throughout the holy month, Muslims fast from just before sunrise, Fajr, to sunset, Maghrib.

The Chief Kadhi urged those following Saudi Arabia's position of observing the moon a day earlier to stop causing confusion and wait for a formal announcement.

Important responsibilities

"We have been given the authority to guide Muslims on the issue of moon sighting, among other important responsibilities. So, all Muslims should wait for our guidance and announcement before the start of Ramadhan," Sheikh Abdulhalim said.

"There are those who will say they have sighted the moon without proof and create confusion," he added. The Chief Kadhi, whose office is responsible for announcing the start and end of the fasting period, said all kadhis in the country's 47 counties would be watching the skies for the moon today.

"We are in a different geographical location from Saudi Arabia, so Kenyan Muslims should follow what we in authority say about observing the crescent moon like other countries do," Sheikh Abdulhalim said.

While the Kingdom Saudi Arabia began the process of observing the crescent on Sunday, Sheikh Abdulhalim said that, in Kenya, it will take place today at the offices of the Chief Kadhi in Mombasa.

If the moon was sighted in Saudi Arabia yesterday evening after Maghrib prayers, the Taraweeh prayers would begin and Muslims in the Arab country will start their fast today. This is what some Kenyan Muslims follow every year. If the moon is not sighted, fasting during the holy month will begin on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (Supkem), Hassan Ole Naado, called on Muslims to remain united during the month of Ramadhan, saying, the issue of the moon sighting shouldn't divide them.

"The council is aware that, as usual, there may be differences over the exact date to start fasting in relation to the sighting of the moon. Despite the minor differences over this, Supkem calls on the Muslim faithful to remain united," Mr Naado said.

At the same time, Supkem thanked President William Ruto's administration for donating Iftar to the Muslim community during Ramadhan and waiving taxes on dates imported into the country during the holy month.

Feeling the pinch

Supkem also thanked the President for appointing Aden Mohamed as Consul General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, saying that, as a Muslim, Mr Mohamed will play a crucial role in assisting Kenyans going for Hajj and Umrah. But as the holy month begins this week, Muslims are feeling the pinch of tough economic times. Soaring food prices are forcing families to cut back on spending on other goods and services.

"We usually stock up at the beginning of Ramadhan, but I have not done any shopping at the moment," Ms Amina Mussa, a Mombasa resident, told Nation.

Ms Zaitun Ismael, a 34-year-old resident of Mombasa, said she and her husband were struggling to survive with three children on their meagre salaries.

"Everything is ridiculously expensive, from cooking oil, flour, dairy products, dates, vegetables, fruits, meat and chicken basically all the essentials for Ramadan," she said.

During Ramadan, most Muslim families invite the poor to break their fast. The holy month is followed by the festival of Eid ul-Fitr, which is traditionally celebrated with new clothes, tasty treats and gifts.