Shia Islam in Kenya

Shi'a Islam in Kenya is represented primarily by members of Ismaili sects, largely the descendants of or influenced by Muslim traders from the Middle East and India who came to the East African coast for the purposes of trade.

Among the communities represented are the India-based Dawoodi Bohra, a Mustaali Ismaili denomination. The Dawoodi Bohra arrived in East Africa in the 19th century, primarily to Zanzibar and Lamu. They arrived initially as traders, later branching into hardware and glass, and then into real estate and construction.[1]

The Dawoodi Bohra number some 6,500–8,000 in Kenya overall, with some 2,500 in Nairobi and under 3,000 in Mombasa. There are also some 200 members of a breakaway faction, the Reformist Bohra, in Nairobi.[1]

However, a mainstream Khoja Twelver Shia community also exists, formed largely by Pakistani cleric Khwaja Muhammad Latif Ansari. Another Twelver Shia clergyman is Abdillahi Nassir, a Kenyan convert from Sunni to Shia Islam based in Mombasa.[2]


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