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Faithful mark fete amid sharp split over holiday

Muslim faithful across the country celebrated Eid-ul-Adha by gathering for morning prayers at local mosques, with some leaders cautioning the Chief Kadhi against antagonising the government.

Chief Kadhi Sheikh Murdhar Khitamy had opposed the gazettement of yesterday as a public holiday by Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i, saying today should have been the proper date.

The timing has caused a major rift among Muslims with National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale warning the Chief Kadhi he will petition the Judicial Service Commission to discuss his conduct over abuse of office in the discharge of his duties.

“Muslims in Kenya will be part of the Muslim  community everywhere else in the world,”Duale said, adding: “Idd ul-Adha is anchored in the Hajj pilgrimage. Of the five days of Hajj, one of the most important days is when the pilgrims are in the Mount Arafat. And the second day after Mount Arafat is when Eid ul-Adha is held.”

Duale called on all the Muslims, Supreme Council of Muslims of Kenya (Supkem) and all the Imams to tell the Chief Kadhi “that he is out of order”.

However, some Muslim leaders differed with Duale and asked him to apologise to the Chief Kadhi for his unwarranted attacks.

The leaders, who spoke in Mombasa after the prayers, said Duale’s “attack” on the office of Chief Kadhi was not doing any good to the Muslim fraternity.

Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) secretary general Mohamed Khalifa urged leaders to respect one another and keep off politics in matters of religion. “Divisions in religion are there but when they happen, we should not quarrel each other, this is a religious matter which should not be used to spread hatred,” he said.

Former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar said: “There is no need to bring divisions, it’s not right for Duale to collide with the Chief Kadhi. Duale has no right to exchange words with the Chief Kadhi.”

Tourism Cabinet secretary Najib Balala called for the establishment of office of Mufti (an Islamic scholar who interprets and expounds Islamic law) to advise on Islamic matters. 

Despite divisions over the date of the celebrations, Mosques in Mombasa, Nairobi, Garissa and Kisumu were filled up with faithful, who sent messages of peace to the country. 

Translated as ‘Festival of the Sacrifice’, Eid ul-Adha commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son Ishmael. 

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