Controversial Masjid Musa in Mombasa’s Majengo, now has a new imam, a 19-year-old graduate of local Islamic schools, who will serve in acting capacity.
Salim Fuad sat his Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education at Allidina Visram Secondary School in Mombasa last year. But why such a young man to serve in such a turbulent position?
Chair of the caretaker committee that was to choose a new imam Khatib Hamisi Mwijee, said they had approached several able candidates but none was courageous enough to take up the position, that’s when they settled on the boy.
“We had approached several people, including Preachers from the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya but none showed interest. Most people we approached shied away for various reasons. When we were about to give up, this young man (Fuad) approached us and said he was willing and capable,” he explained.
Although he was chosen to be Imam last November, he was unveiled at the mosque yesterday during a brief ceremony to re-brand the mosque’s name to Masjid Musa or Musa mosque erasing the name Masjid Shuhaada or Martyrs mosque, which was imposed by radical Muslim youth after they took it over late 2013.
Addressing the faithful after the Friday prayers, the young man said: “We should all cherish the teachings of Allah, learn to be tolerant and accept to live peacefully with other people in a free Kenyan society.”
“Though I am waiting for KCSE results, my main interest is religion,” said the imam, a Real Madrid fan.
But who is this young man? Speaking to The Standard on Saturday at the mosque, Imam Fuad said he grew up in the area and had his first teachings at the mosque.
“My grandfather, Maaruf Abu Salim (now deceased) was an elder here and coming from a staunch Islamic family background, I have followed his teachings,” he said.
The young Fuad attended early Madrassa teachings at Najah in Majengo, Azhar located in Majengo Guraya and Madrasaa Muadh in Majengo ya Sidiria respectively. His father, Mr Fuad Ahmed died in a road accident near Mariakani in 2012. After the death of his father who had four wives, his uncles from his mother’s side took him in.
“I was in Form Two when my father died. I was lucky to have supportive uncles who made sure I completed my secondary school education,” he said after conducting the Friday prayers.
For almost two decades, the Musa Mosque has emerged as the leading centre of radicalisation producing such radicals as the late Sheikh Aboud Rogo and activists like the late Sheikh Sharif Abubakar Makaburi.
When Musa Mosque was shut down last year, the State said it would only be reopened under a new committee and an Imam. That is how the young teenager found himself at the dicey seat. Faud made a passionate plea to Muslim youths to come for daily prayers.
”We should all cherish the teachings of Allah, learn to be tolerant and accept to live peacefully with other people ,” he said. Mwijee used the occasion to reach out to Islamic scholars, Sheikhs and Muslim of repute.
”We need everyone. Let out Sheikhs not fear coming to Masjid Musa as we seek a new beginning,” he said.
Mombasa mosque renamed Masjid Musa as normalcy returns
Mombasa’s controversial mosque, Masjid Shuhadaa (Martyrs Mosque), on Friday got back its original name, Masjid Musa.
The mosque has been at the centre of controversy after suspected radicalised Muslim youth, led by slain Muslim cleric Sheikh Abubakar Shariff (aka Makaburi), changed the name on March 7, 2014.
Masjid Musa chairman Musa Khatib Khamis said they had resolved to restore the old name after consultations with the worshippers.
“Since November 27, 2014, when we officially took over the mosque from the security agents, we have had our prayers going on smoothly. I’m calling upon fellow Muslim faithful to come join us in worship. Calm has now returned to Majengo,” he said.
He urged other sheikhs and imams to join them in restoring normalcy at the mosque.
Mr Khamis said the mosque was known as Musa since his days of youth.
“This name must be maintained. Those youths came and changed it without consultation, and with their twisted doctrines messed up the whole mosque. We want to restore the good name that was lost,” he said.
OPEN TO ALL
Since November, he said, the number of worshippers had been growing, and thanked the county and national governments for helping them to restore order in the mosque.
Mr Khamis advised young people to embrace education and follow parental advice if they want to succeed and bring positive change in the society.
He said lack of formal education among Muslim youth had made them an easy target for extremists.
“It is my desire that the youth take education seriously. We are in communication with the parents and elders to teach our youths the right ways,” he said.
Mr Makaburi announced the change of the mosque’s name outside the Shanzu Law Courts before he was killed on April 1, 2014.
He said the new name was to honour four slain Muslim clerics (Sheikh Shaaban, Sheikh Sameer Khan, Sheikh Aboud Rogo and his successor Sheikh Ibrahim Ismail), who he believed were executed by the police.