Obituary – Marhum Shaykh Abdillahi Nassir – An ICON of TABLEEGH


“Inna Lillahe Wa Inna Ilayhi Rajeoon”

“To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return”

(Surah Al Baqarah – 2:156)

Marhum Shaykh Abdillahi Nassir (1st June 1932 – 11th January 2022)

With deep grief and sorrow, we have received the sad news of the demise of Shaykh Abdillahi Nassir on Tuesday 11th January 2022 in Mombasa, Kenya.

Who was Marhum Shaykh Abdillahi Nassir?

Shaykh Abdillahi Nassir was very well known in Kenya and highly revered across Africa. He was born and brought up in Mombasa, Kenya, into an Ahl Sunnah family of scholars, poets, teachers, healers and men of religion. His maternal grandfather was a religious preacher, and his mother was a Madrasah teacher. He started his Madrasah studies before he even commenced secular education. He completed his primary education in Mombasa and later went to Zanzibar to pursue further studies in religion as well as secular education (teaching). Upon his return to Mombasa, he started to teach at Arab Primary School, the same school where he acquired secular education, and continued teaching there till 1954.

His Early Career

In 1955, Marhum joined the Mombasa Institute of Muslim Education (MIOME) as an accounts clerk and part-time religious Instructor until 1957. He took an active interest in Pre-Independence Kenyan politics from 1957-1963 and was elected to Kenya’s Pre-Independence Legislative Council in 1961. In 1963, as a member of the Kenya Legislative Council, he also attended the historic Kenya Constitutional Conference held at the Lancaster House in London.

In 1964, he worked as an Arabic/Swahili monitor with the BBC in Nairobi. Later, he joined the Oxford University Press and worked as a Swahili Editor with its Eastern Africa Branch in Nairobi from 1965-1973. In 1973, he left the Oxford University Press to form his own publishing house “Shungwaya Publishers Ltd”; however, in 1974, he was recalled by the Oxford University Press to head the Eastern Africa Branch as General Manager. He served the position in this capacity from 1974-1977.

His Journey towards the Path of Ahlul Bayt (as)

Despite being active in Kenyan politics and business activities, Marhum Shaykh Abdillahi devoted part of his time in Tableeghi activities delivering lectures and having intra-faith discussions. He spent 20 years of his life presenting discourses on translation and exegesis (Tafsir) of the Holy Qur’an during the holy months of Ramadan while living in Mombasa, and later when he settled in Nairobi.

He also worked as the Representative of East Africa at the Jeddah based WAMY (World Assembly of Muslim Youths) from 1978-1980.

In the early 1980s, at Mombasa, he was a regular lecturer in Kiswahili for the Muharram Majalis at Huseini Imambargah, organised by the Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya (BMMK). When the BMMK Assembly Hall was formally opened in 1988, the Muharram majalis and lectures during Shahr Ramadhan and other occasions  were transferred to the Bilal Hall. Marhum would be amongst the main speakers attracting a good crowd, and in due course, he declared himself as a practicing Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim.

Marhum was an ICON of TABLEEGH propagating the mission of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) with zeal and fervor. He was an eloquent speaker who always came well prepared and engaged in dialogues with other faiths and denominations with facts and logic presented academically and in a very polite, persuasive and assertive manner.  His lectures on various topics contained historical and political backgrounds as well scientific and economic facts and figures making them livelier and more attractive especially to the youth. Marhum would mingle freely with the young and old, and people would crave for his company.

In a video that aired on ABTV in October 2017,“Reborn, Marhum narrated his entire journey towards Shi’ism by reading books where he found Imam Ali (a.s.) to be ahead of all other Sahaba-e- Kiram.

He has written/assisted in writing several books and booklets on the Swahili Language (seven in all) and Islam (twenty), some of which have been translated into English and Rwandese. Just before his demise, he was engaged in writing a Swahili translation and commentary of the Holy Qur’an.

Marhum’s Life in a Snapshot

Marhum Shaykh Abdillahi Nassir’s in-depth analytical ability to diagnose problems at a community level will be extremely missed.  He was able to provide commensurate recommendations to societal problems/issues purely from a Quranic and Ahlul Bayt perspective.  Marhum had a comprehensive view of Practical and Active Islam – a solutions-oriented approach that uniquely catered for the needs of society.

Marhum’s relentless emphasis in the promotion of ‘organisation’ – formation of solid structures/programs for the benefit of the community, across social, educational and political plains has been instrumental to the community at large.

His Demise

The Marhum passed away on Tuesday 11th January 2022 in Mombasa, Kenya, at the age of 89.

The President of The World Federation, Al-Hajj Safder Jaffer, who knew Marhum Shaykh Abdillahi personally and had the opportunity to travel with him, also expressed his sorrow on the Marhum’s demise. He posted the following on social media, “I had the pleasure of spending quality time with Marhum Shaykh Abdillahi Nassir and once when I asked him about his journey to the path of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.)., he replied  ‘it was the event of Fadak that moved him so much that showed him the light of the path of ‘Saqalayn’. Another fond memory I have with him was his trip to Pakistan and we frequently visited the Urdu Bazaar together (where books are sold) and one book I distinctly remember he was craving to have his hands on was (not available in Arabic) was ‘Khilafat & Mulukiyat by Mavlana  Mawdoodi.’ Truly a sad day for the entire community. We continue to pray for him.”

The Khoja News team offers our deepest condolences to the Family of Marhum Shaykh Abdillahi Nassir, to the Africa Federation, his esteemed students and our community members, especially in Africa. We pray to Allah (swt) to grant the Marhum maghferat and elevate his position in Jannah, Ameen.

We request our readers to remember the Marhum with a Surah Al Fateha.


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