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7. Sayyid Abdurahman bin Ahmad (Mwinyi Abudu) | Blog


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 extracts 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
5. Sayyid Abubakar bin Abdulrahman (Mwenye Mansab)
6. Shaykh Faysal bin Ali bin Abdalla Al-Laami




7. Sayyid Abdurahman bin Ahmad bin Umar Al-Saggaf (Mwinyi Abudu)

Mwinyi Abudu was born in 1844 AH /1260 AD and died at the age of eighty on Sunday, the 20th of May, 1922 AD/22 Ramadhan, 1340 in Mombasa. He was buried by his students: Shaykh Bwana Shaibu wa Shalo, Shaykh Abud bin Zahran, Shaykh Muhammad bin Yusuf (Sheikh Badi) and Sayyid Husain bin Muhammad Al-Qadri.

Sayyid Saggaf was among the delegates who accompanied Bwana Muhammad Mataka, the defeated Sultan of Siyu, to meet Seyyid Majid bin Said (c. 1856-1870) in Zanzibar in May 1864 AD/Shawwal 1280 AH.  Upon their return to Mombasa, Seyyid Majid imprisoned the delegates at Fort Jesus for six months. During his period of confinement, Sayyid Sagaf managed to complete the memorization of the second half of the Qur’an.

While imprisoned, he also learned military tactics from his friend, Bwana Muhammad bin Mwinyi Maulana (a senior military general of Sultan Muhammad Bwana Mataka of Siyu).  There he was taught various disciplines such as the Arabic language, medicine, and astronomy by an Ibadhi scholar Shaykh Ali bin Hamdani who was brought from Zanzibar to serve an imprisonment term (Ibadhi is a Muslim denomination predominant in Oman)

Ustadh Muhammad Shariff Said described Sayyid Saggaf as a person with a high intellectual capacity with a fierce impression “utisho wa hali ya mwisho.” 

After being freed from prison, Sayyid Saggaf was returned to Siyu in 1878 AD/1296 AH where he was appointed as the Kadhi during the reign of Seyyid Bargash bin Said (c. 1870-1888).  Later, Sir Arthur Hardinge (British Consul-General in Zanzibar 1894-1896) appointed Sayyid Saggaf as the Chief Kadhi of Kenya in 1902 AD/1320 AH. In order to relieve his increasing workload as the Chief Kadhi, Shaykh Sulayman Mazrui was appointed as the Kadhi of Mombasa to assist Sayyid Saggaf.

He was known to be very generous to the extent of using his entire salary to address the needs of the poor and the needy.

Sayyid Saggaf was first taught Qur’an by his Aunt, Sharifa Mwana Tao Saggaf. He managed to memorize half of the Qur’an.

Most of Sayyid Saggaf’s teachers were from Siyu.  His main teachers were from the As-Sadi tribe who came from Somalia. They included Shaykh Uthman bin Shaykh who taught him fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), Shaykh Ali bin Umar who taught him nahau (Arabic language) and swarf (morphology), and Shaykh Faqih bin Uwais who taught him tafsir al Quran (commentary of the Qur’an) and hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)).  His other teachers from Siyu were Muhammad bin Said As-Sadi, Abubakar bin Mkufundi Khatibu, Lali bin Vuai Mbajuni, Abdulkarim Umar and Zubair bin Ali.  During his stay in Mombasa, Sayyid Saggaf was taught khutba ya minhaj (sermon of Imam al Nawawi’s Minhaj al Talibin on Shafi’i jurisprudence) by Shaykh Muhammad bin Qasim Al-Maamiri (d.1910).  He also studied in Chundwa and Lamu.  He had a good relationship with Habib Swaleh Jamal Al-Layl from Lamu and Shaykh Abdalla Bakathir from Zanzibar.

Shaykh Abdulmajid bin Zaharan (d.1945) and Said bin Ahmad Al-Kilindini (Mkilindini) were among his prominent students who became kadhis. Sayyid Saggaf tutored Shaykh Muhammad Ali Ibashiri who was also taught by Shaykh Abdulmajid Zaharan (Sayyid Abdulrahman Saggaf’s student). 

His other students were Mwenye Kombo and Mwenye Khamis wa Mwenye Haji from the Digo tribe, Shaykh Ali Salim Daran (d.1949) who held darsa at Msikiti Basheikh in Mombasa, Muhammad bin Salim Darani, and Ali bin Ahmad Darani.  Sayyid Saggaf also taught Sayyed Husain bin Muhammad Al-Qadry who held darsa for many years at Masjid Badala and also taught many students of Indian origin.

Sayyid Saggaf taught many students who travelled outside of Mombasa.  These students include Uthman Ali Al-Amudi (d. March 1964) of Shela who lived in Zanzibar and Pemba, Muhammad bin Yusuf (Sheikh Badi) of Lindi (d. 18th June, 1965), Aki bin Ahmad Al-Mutawafi of Mtwara, and Salim bin Mwinyifaki bin Juma Mwidani of Pemba. 

He also taught students from the Digo tribe including Shaykh Mwenye Kombo and Mwenye Khamis wa Mwenye Haji. Shaykh Mwenye Kombo assisted in the construction of Masjid Konzi after the Government refused to build the mosque.

Sayyid Saggaf held many darsas (lectures)  at Masjid Mbaruk, built by Liwali Mbaruk bin Salim bin Hemed Al-Mazrui, in Mombasa. He also taught at Masjid Konzi in Mombasa. His darsas at Masjid Mbaruk were taken over by his students, Shaykh Abdulmajid Zahran, and then by Shaykh Muhammad Ali Ibashiri.

Abdurahamn Saggaf Alawy (Maalim Saggaf), Tarekhe ya Shiekhil Islam Mwinyi Abudu 1260-1340 A.H.  1 1844-1322 Sayyid Abdulrahman bin Ahmad bin Muhdahr al-Saggaf Mashuhuir kwa jina la Sheikhul Islam, Mombasa (No date).

Harith Swaleh, (Ramadhan 1425/2004).Chaguo la Wanavyuoni, Mombasa: Bajaber Printing Press,



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