Ramadan in Kenya


Ramadan in Kenya

***** Location: Kenya
***** Season: Varies from year to year (Muslim calendar)
***** Category: Observance


Kenya’s Muslim population is distributed unevenly throughout the country and is by far the most numerous in Mombasa and along the Indian Ocean coast. In Nairobi, Muslims constitute some 10 percent of the population, many of whom (particularly those with Somali roots) are concentrated in Eastleigh, while others (with roots in Pakistan) live in Pangani and others again are scattered throughout the city.

The introduction following below was drafted and compiled by the Peacocks Haiku Club of St Mathew Secondary School, Kayole (Nairobi), and was orally presented as a haibun on 3 November 2006. It has been only slightly edited by me for this kigo page.

A big THANK YOU to the Peacocks!

Isabelle Prondzynski

Photo by Patrick Wafula, 2006


What is Ramadhan?
It is the holy month in which Muslims worldwide fast for normally thirty days. The days of fasting start and end with the sighting of the crescent moon by the Imams.

The action of fasting is called saumu. Muslims wish each other saumu makbol, happy feasting, or successful fasting.

saumu makbol --
muslims in white robes
whisper to each other

Ann Nechesa

Expectations during the month of Ramadhan

Muslims are supposed to fast from dawn to dusk. They are not to take anything, not even by swallowing excess saliva :

men and women
with dry lips and full of silence --
scent of delicious meals

Husseini Haji

However, there is a group exempted from the fast and allowed to eat. This includes those seriously sick, women having their monthly periods, pregnant women, breastfeeding women and babies.

smell of garlic
pregnant sister throws up --
her face is wrinkled

Loise Wangechi

Muslims try not to engage in any sinful activities whatsoever.

They do much praying as they believe that Ramadhan is the month of seeking forgiveness.

allah akbar --
sound the horn speakers,
dawn and noon prayers

Jelidah Kerubo

The time they start fasting each morning is called Suhur and the time they stop fasting each evening is called Iftar. These times depend on sunrise and sunset in the relevant place and are given each day in the Press and on television following the news bulletins. Even within Kenya, each location has its own Ramadhan timetable.

wake up! wake up!
it is time for daku
mum calls at night

Khadija Rajab

(daku is a meal served at 4.00 am -- it is a heavy meal)

Married couples are not supposed to indulge in sexual activities during the day, as the act is considered sinful.

Ramadhan in Kayole and Soweto

During Ramadhan, the Peacocks observe the following things in their own environment :

(1) Markets are full
This is caused by the Muslims who go shopping for their foodstuffs to cook at night.

all day fasting --
shopping in the evening,
food aromas at night

Alex Murage

(2) Prices of foodstuffs increase
Sellers increase their prices due to the increase in customers (Muslims).

having meals together
and being kind to all people --
it is Ramadhan again

Husseini Haji

(3) Much spitting of saliva
As Muslims are not allowed to swallow the excess saliva, they have to spit it out.

(4) Shying away from work
Although during Ramadhan Muslims are expected to work, some shy away from work and remain passive through the day.

(5) Multitudes visit the Mosque
The number of Muslims visiting the Mosque tends to rise abruptly.

allah akbar --
sound the horn speakers,
dawn and noon prayers

Jelidah Kerubo

The Mosque programme changes as follows :

5.00 am Fajir (two rakaats)
1.00 pm Dhuhur (four rakaats)
4.00 pm Asir (four rakaats)
6.00 pm Magharib (three rakaats)
8.00 pm Isha (four rakaats)

Rakaats : These are the number of times that the worshipper bows down. The rakaats are compulsory and the above are the minimum times per visit.

Taraweh : This is the longest prayer, prayed at 8.00 pm during Ramadhan only and comprising of 21 rakaats. It is not compulsory.

Tahajud : This is a prayer consisting of 8 rakaats, of which one rakaat can take twenty minutes. Prayed only during Ramadhan.

bending in mosques
obeying rules of fasting --
it is Al-Ramadhan again

Beth Mwangi

(6) Men, women and children shine
During the holy month, men put on kanzus (white gowns), women put on buibuis (black wrappers) and diras, and children also are kept smart looking.

men in robes and turbans
whispering to each other --
evening shopping

Beth Mwangi

(7) Distribution of food to the less fortunate
Muslims visit rehabilitation centres and homes of destitute children and donate things like foodstuffs, clothes, stationery and many other things during the month of Ramadhan.

women in black wrappers
serving street kids with food --
Ramadhan karim

Peris Wanjiru

These are some of the observations, there are many other minor ones.

How does the holy month end?

Idd-ul-Fittr is the next day after the last day of fasting. Fasting ends when the new moon is sighted anywhere in the world. Once it has been seen, the Imams (Muslim leaders) communicate and announce the end of fasting.

Ramadhan is gone
it’s time for feast after fasting --
the new moon appears

Winnie Wairimu

First, Muslims go to the Mosque and sing Idd-ul-Takbir. Idd-ul-Takbir is sung to mark the end of fasting and the beginning of celebrations. Idd-ul-Fittr is celebrated in many ways, including cooking in the Mosques (pilau -- cooked rice with added ingredients and spices), going out to visit, and sharing with less fortunate families to make sure that everyone has celebrated.

Idd-ul-Fittr is a public holiday in Kenya and has its own kigo entry.

Pic by Jacob Otieno
Master Mohammed Yunus (right) and his brother look up as their father and other Muslim faithful pray to mark the end of Ramadhan at Sir Ali Muslim Grounds in Nairobi, yesterday.

Ramadhan may be followed by Sitah, which is the prolonged fasting for six days following Ramadhan. It is not compulsory, but one day of Sitah represents 100 days of fasting.

Why the Peacocks consider that Ramadhan is a season

Ramadhan is celebrated annually and is a holy month. Also, Ramadhan is an activity and takes a long time (30 days). Even though some of us are not Muslims, Ramadhan affects all of us in one way or another and we feel it should not be ignored.

David Caleb Mutua, Peacocks’ Chairman,
St Mathew Secondary School, Form 3.


Another view from Kayole

I feel a lot of respect for the Muslims in Ramadhan. In the first place, there is a mosque across from our residence and we hear more frequent Allah akbar Allah akbar than on normal days. The most notable aspect of it are the numerous pairs of shoes at the doorstep of the mosque at noon, and of course the very new humble and kind attitude of the Muslims...
To me the most notable thing about the Ramadhan is the 5am prayer alert which makes me wake with a start and remain sleepless till day break. This kind of Allah akbar is so shrill since dawn is very still and sound travels low at night...

numerous pairs of shoes
at the mosque door steps-
Ramadan prayers

Patrick Wafula (Patron Bamboochas)


More information here :

Worldwide use

Ramadan and Haiku Worldwide

Things found on the way



Ramadhan time --
very obedient and humble
muslims all over the country

Anges Adhiambo

muslims walk around
full of Oriental aromas --
noon prayers

Beth Mwangi

Allahu akbar
at crack of dawn in Mosques --
God is really great

Jacinta Minoo



in front of Rashid
is a cross-legged Salim-
Qurans in hand

the Muslim community
congregate in Mosques-
Ramadhan is here again

late evening,
outside Soweto Mosque-
delicious pilau

suhur and iftar-
Ramadhan timetable
is here again

busy helping
the poor and needy-
mission for all Muslims

~ Catherine Njeri

fatigued faces
ready to fill hungry stomachs

and thirsty throats

~ Depporah Mocheche

it's Ramadhan again-
Muslims clad in white robs,
fasting all day long

no food all day long-
the ninth month of their year,
fasting and praying

Nairobi streets,
flowing with Muslims
going to Mosque to pray

~ Cyprian Awino


August moon-
the first fajr adhan
in to Ramadhan

FAJR- one of the prayers of Muslims which is done early in the morning
ADHAN- a call for Muslims to pray

Hussein Haji

. . . . .

endless yawning
with strong saum-

SAUM- the act of fasting during the month of Ramadhan

Muslims rushing to the mosque
swallah time

SWALLAH- Muslims prayer (another word to mean prayer)

Khadijah Rajab

MORE : Ramadan Haiku 2010


From the Shiki Monthly Kukai August 2010

Ramadan -
she washes her feet under
August moonlight

~ Bamboocha

young August moon -
the Ramadan timetable
in the dailies

~ Patrick Wafula

. Kenya Saijiki Forum

Related words

***** Ramadan
..... Ramazan, Berat Kandil Turkey   Leylatul Berat, Laylatul Barat
..... Ramadan ends (Idd ul Fitr) Kenya


Ramadan and religious kigo
Discussion about this subject

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1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

Discussion about Ramadan and Religious Kigo
Kenya Saijiki Discussion Forum, November 2006