Muslims in Kenya will start observing holy month of Ramadhan on Monday, Chief Kadhi Ahmed Muhdhar has announced.
Sheikh Muhdhar said the crescent moon, which signifies the beginning of the sacred month, was sighted in Hola, Tana River County.
"We received the news from a cleric called Said Jillo from Tana River and we want to announce that we will start our fasting tomorrow (Monday),” said Sheikh Muhdhar at the Wakf Commission offices in Mombasa on Sunday.
Countries like Saudia Arabia, Algeria, Qatar, Libya and Turkey will also start observing the holy month on Monday.
Ramadhan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is considered the holiest by Muslims.
The holy season lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on the lunar cycle. According to the Quran, Muslims are required to start the fast only after seeing the new moon.
Sheikh Muhdhar urged the faithful to be united as they start observing their fast and avoid anything that would interfere with their saum (fast).
“Unity and cohesion among all Kenyans is key to the development of our country. Ramadhan is a month of peace and we all need to practice it for the betterment of our country,” he said.
This comes as security bosses at the Coast assured the faithful of tight security during this season.
Mombasa County Police Commander Johnston Ipara said they will intensify patrols at night to ensure the safety of those attending evening prayers.
“Our Muslim brothers and sisters will be attending evening prayers and we want to tell them to count on us. We will deal with anyone who tries to destroy this peaceful month,” said Mr Ipara.
During Ramadhan, Muslims observe evening prayers known as Taraweeh. The special prayers are conducted after Isha (the daily evening’s last prayer).
In the past, the Muslims have complained of being harassed by security agencies while coming from the mosques in the evening. There have also been attacks by knife-wielding youth.
Traders in Mombasa County have started making preparations to usher in the holy month, with expectations of a business boom.
Most of the food vendors within Mombasa the central business district have started displaying delicacies while targeting Muslims.
Mr Hassan Hamadi, dates vendor on Mombasa’s Digo Road said: “We know business will be good when Ramadhan starts. Dates is something that people would not want to miss including some Christians and we pray that business goes well.”