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The following is an extract from an upcoming book by Dr. Abdulkadir Hashim, Senior Lecturer in Sharia & Islamic Studies and an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya, which will cover Muslim intellectual contributions along the East African coast.

View entries chronologically by clicking below:

1. Sayyid Umar bin Amin
2. Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Muslim (Mselem) al-Amiri
3. Shaykh Abubakar ibn Muhammad ibn Abubakar Al-Maawi (Bwenye Kai)
4. Shaykh Ali bin Abdalla bin Nafi’i bin Abdalla al-Mazrui
 

1. Sayyid Umar bin Amin bin Umar bin Amin bin Nasir al Ahdal


Sayyid Umar al Ahdal was among the pioneer intellectuals of the East African coast.  Little has been written on his life and his intellectual contributions.  Sayyid Umar was born in 1798 and died in 1870.

Kadhiship
Sayyid Umar al Ahdal was blind.  He was appointed as a Kadhi of Siu (Lamu County) in 1856.

Intellectual works
Sayyid Umar al Ahdal left a number of poems on religious themes the famous one being Utendi wa Wajiwaji (The Exhortation) which has 29 verses.  The title of the poem is given in the last verse, isimu ya dura mandhuma a Swahili rendering of the Arabic words al-Durr al-Mandhum translated as ‘String of Pearls’. 

The poem is written following the Arabic alphabet sequence for the beginning of each verse.  The first syllable of the verse begins with a sequent letter of the Arabic alphabet together with the vowel-signs fatha, kasra and dhamma respectively.
    
Opens: Alifu  أ Andika mwandishi khati utuze Bai ب Baada ya ina kulibutadi
    أ Isimu ya Mola utangilze     ب Bijahi rausli tutahamadi
    أ Utie nukuta na irabuze     ب Bushura ya peope nasi tufidi
    أ Wasiilahini wenya kusoma     ب Mola atujaze majaza mema

References
J.O. Hunwick and R.S. O’Fahey Arabic Literature of Africa, eds., Vol. 1, The Writings of Eastern Sudanic Africa until c. 1900, ed. R.S. O’Fahey et al. Leiden: Brill, 1994.

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