Kenya Fatwa Council Chairman holds dialogue with ICRC Nairobi leadership
In further solidifying relations with religious circles in Kenya, the Chairman of the Kenya Fatwa Council (KENFAT), Mufti Sheikh Ahmad Ahmad Badawi Jamalilayl Mwenye Baba visited the Nairobi Regional Delegation on 13 September. The Mufti, accompanied by Sheikh Ayub Abdi Sattar, KENFAT treasurer, was received by Daniel O'Malley Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Nairobi office; Martin Thalmann, Head of Operations; Regional Networking Manager Hatim Fadlallah and Nairobi Networking Advisor Mohamed Jaffer. The meeting discussed ways to enhance the cooperation between the ICRC and the Kenya Fatwa Council that was formed in January 2023 to help interpret laws for the Muslim faithful in the country on issues affecting their daily lives.
During the meeting, the ICRC team and Sheikh Jamalilayl who maintains an impressive network of contacts all over East Africa and runs two important Sunni (Sufi) schools along the Kenyan Coast, discussed the ICRC mandate, operations, and the role of the Red Cross during armed conflict. The meeting also discussed the situation of communities affected by armed conflict around the border areas with Somalia, the question of radicalization of the youth and how both KENFAT and ICRC could enhance their exchanges.
Daniel O'Malley, HoRD emphasized on the vital role that religious leaders play to uphold human dignity in times of protracted armed conflict. The ICRC has in the last two and a half decades been engaging in dialogue with Muslim and other religious scholars and clerics about humanitarian law, principles, and action. This has helped to reconfirm the common humanitarian values and opened the way for concrete cooperation to better respond to the needs of victims of armed conflict around the world.
The ICRC team also gave a perspective on the ICRC's prevention work, explaining the convergence and similarities between the humanitarian values in Islam and IHL in addition to the ICRC engagement with Muslim scholars and clerics, particularly the Zanzibar process for senior advisers from the East Africa region and the engagement with arms carriers in Somalia and other places in the world.
For his part, the Kenyan Mufti expressed the willingness of the Fatwa Council to cooperate with the ICRC and help in removing misperception around the Red Cross emblem adding that Islam does not forbid Muslims from closely working with humanitarian organisation whether Islamic or otherwise as long as they serve humanity. The meeting also helped to further highlight and clarify the work of other RCRC Movement components such as the Kenya Red Cross and other National Societies in the region.
Sheikh Jamalilayl had earlier this year been a chief guest at an Iftar dinner organized by the ICRC in Mombasa. Speaking at the Iftar, Sheikh Jamalilayl urged Muslims in Kenya to read about the history of the founder of the Red Cross Henry Dunant and its operations in the country to familiarize themselves with the organisation. ICRC has been organising Iftar dinners for Muslim scholars and clerics to improve ties with the Muslim community especially along the Kenya-Somalia border. Similar Iftar dinners were also organised in Garissa and Lamu areas that border Somalia and suffer from the extension of the Somalia conflict into Kenya.