Death of a Muhibbe Ahlul Baiyt (A.S.)
SAYYID AHMED BADAWY AL-HUSSEINY
On Wednesday 22nd August, 2012, a well-known Islamic Scholar, Sayyid Ahmed Badawy, author of the Swahili book “Ahlul Kisa”, passed away in Mombasa hospital after a short illness. His funeral took place on the same day and was attended by large mourners from across section of the Muslim communities.
Sayyid Ahmad Badawy Bin Muhammad Al-Husseiny was born in 1929 in Lamu, Kenya. Sayyid Ahmed was fondly known locally as Sharif Ahmed Badawy. His ancestors hailed from Comoro Islands and their lineage could be traced to the Ulema of Hadaharamut in south Yemen.
While in Lamu, Sharif Ahmed undertook Islamic studies in local Madrassa and took lessons from leading local Ulema, including Sheikhs Sayyid Abdulrahman Saggaf.
At the age of 21, he left Lamu to settle in Mombasa. While in Mombasa, he took lessons in advance Islamic Jurisprudence (“Fiqh”), “Aqeeda”, advance Arabic Grammar and “Qaida”, interstate laws and succession laws, under the supervision of well-known Aalim, Sayyid Ali Badawy.
He also studied additional Islamic subjects from Sharif Abdulrahman Khitamy, younger brother of Sayyid Ali Badawy.
While pursuing higher Islamic learning, he conducted lessons in Islamic studies at local Mosque and later enrolled as a teacher at the Mombasa Polytechnic, then known as The Mombasa Institute of Muslim Education. At the age 26 he went to teach religion briefly to areas near Nairobi.
At the age of 30, he studied various Islamic disciplines from Sheikh Al-Breik and Sheikh Muhammad Kassim Mazrui. Among his teachers, the two well-known local Sheikhs, Sayyid Ali Badawy and Sheikh Muhammad Kassim Mazrui later became Chief Kadhi of Kenya. .
His Late Father
Father of Sayyid Ahmed, Sayyid Muhammad Badawy was based in Lamu, Kenya. By early 1960’s, he was one of the early indigenous individuals in Kenya to publicly adopt the madh’hab of Ahlul Baiyt (A.S.).
Whenever visiting Mombasa, Sayyid Muhammad would always come to the Ithna-Asheri Mosque for prayers and make it a point to attend Majlis, especially on ‘wiladat’ and ‘wafat’ occasions. Though he did not understand Urdu, he would register his presence on such occasions.
At a condolence meeting held at the Bilal Hall, Sheikh Abdillahi Nasser recalled that Sayyid Muhammad would be criticised by individuals for attending Majlis at the Shia Imambara since he did not understand any Indian language. To this criticism, Sharif Muhammad would politely respond: “I am not an illiterate person. I have read the history of Islam and the religious texts. While sitting in Majlis, when a Khatib recites a verse from the Holy Quran or quotes a Hadith, I can relate to the subject and draw out the essence of the presentation. Besides, in participating at such functions, at least, I am blessed with the opportunity to recite Salawat every time the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad and the Aimmae At’har are mentioned.”
In 1970, when the rebuilt Hyderi Imambargha was opened on 13th Rajab, Sayyid Muhammad travelled from Lamu for the occasion.
Whenever visiting Mombasa during the months of Muharram, he would also participate in the Swahili Muharram majlis organised initially at the old Bilal Office when speakers like the former Chief Kadhi of Zanzibar and Kenya the late Sheikh Abdulla Saleh Farsy and other well-known local scholars would deliver discourses.
Lamu and Mombasa
Before the growth of Mombasa, Lamu was the major port in Kenya. In 1900, Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri population in Lamu was just over 250, compared to Mombasa, which then had half this number.
With the opening of the Mombasa/Nairobi/Kisumu Railway in 1901 and the commissioning of Kilindini Port, Mombasa acquired improved economic status ushering in a slow decline of Lamu in the process.
Community members in Lamu intermingled well with the local population. Individuals like Mulla Nanji Bhanji, well versed in Islamic studies, would associate with local scholars and thus help project the Shia faith in better light. The indigenous Muslims in the East African coastal belt were mostly Shaf’ee. So were the many Arabs from Hadharamut and Yemen. Shaf’ee are known to be close to Shia in their reverence for the Ahlul Bait.
In 1964 Sayyid Ahmad Badawy wrote the acclaimed book “Ahlul Kisaa” which became very popular in Kenya and Tanzania and helped generate growing interest in the study of the role of Ahlul Bait.
A total of 15,000 copies of this book were published over a period. The first edition of 5,000 copies was published in 1964 by the Islamic Research Organization, Mombasa. Bilal Muslim Mission of Tanzania published 5,000 copies each in 1989 and 1996.
For many years Sayyid Ahmad Badawy served as the Imam of Mahuru Mosque in the Kibokoni area of Mombasa Island, close to the Hyderi Masjid and Imambara. When Mahuru Masjid was expanded after renovation, at the opening ceremony, Shariff Ahmed spoke on the role of a Masjid and how the Holy prophet (SAWW) and Imam Ali (A.S.) used to settle the affairs of Muslims while sitting in the Masjid.
Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya was formed in 1967. By mid 1970’s, Swahili majlis were arranged during the months of Muhrram at the small Bilal Office adjascent to the Hyderi Mosque. As attendance for the Swahili majlis was growing, by 1978 the venue for Swahili majlis was shifted to the Huseini Immabara until the opening of the Bilal House in 1988.
Sayyid Ahmed was one of the regular speakers for the Muharram majlis, along with Sheikh Abdillahi Nasser, Sheikh Sharif Abdulrahman Khitamy, Dr. Ahmed Khatib and many well know local individuals. Besides, Sayyid Ahmed was also a popular speaker at the Meelad-un-Nabi and Husein Day gatherings held in Mombasa, Tanga and Nakuru.
A humble, unassuming person, quietly dedicating his life in the service of Islam and in promoting the teachings of Ahlul Baiyt (A.S.) for half a century, the loss of Sayyid Ahmed Badawy will be greatly felt not only by members of his immediate family but by many who came in close contact with him over the years.
We send our heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and all the community members on the sad demise of Sayyid Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.
May Allah, in His Mercy grant him maghferat and place marhum in high abode in the Jaware Ahlul Baiyt (A.S.) Ameen.
Please remember marhum with Sura-e-Fateha.
BILAL MUSLIM MISSION OF KENYA