Profile: Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir Juma – A contemporary Scholar and a Preacher

Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir was bestowed the “Abbasi Medal” by the Chairman of the Federation of the Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaats of Africa, Alhaj Anwarali Dharamsi at the 72ndSupreme Council Session held in Mombasa, Kenya from 1stto 3rdApril 2011(26th to 28th Rabi-ul-Aakhar 1432 AH).
Following is an abstract of the Citation presented to Sheikh Abdillahi in Mombasa.
In the growth of madh’hab of Ahlul Bayt (A.S.) in Eastern Africa, Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir of Mombasa will always be remembered for his great contributions.
Noted for his intellectual depth as an Islamic scholar, his grasp of the historical perspectives and with his ability to relate to the current affairs, Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir has emerged not only as a learned Islamic scholar but a well informed individual captivating his listeners with his logical presentations.
In his writings and discourses, public lectures, Radio and TV presentations delivered in quiet and composed style, Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir is looked upon as an individual steeped in the traditional Islamic training along with modern education and approach.
Over the past four decades, Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir has been closely associated with the Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya. He has also been a frequent visitor to Zanzibar and to several parts of Tanzania delivering discourses and public lectures. For his overseas lecture tours, Sheikh Abdillahi has also visited India, Pakistan, Iran, United Kingdom, Canada and the USA.
The need for keeping the beacon of light aloft by training the new generation of Muallims and Muballigh has always been recognized. Sheikh Abdillahi has always been responsive in addressing to these growing needs. Sheikh Abdilahi has always been forthcoming with his participation and enthusiastic input for which he will always be remembered.
In recognition of his dedicated services in the cause of Islam and for promoting the madh’hab of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.), I have pleasure in bestowing the Abul Fadhlil Abbas memorial “Abbasi Medal” to Sheikh Abdilahi Nassir.
With prayers to Almighty Allah to bless Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir with longevity and good health and increased tawfiq to serve more and more. 

Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir was born in Mombasa on 1stJune, 1932.
His early education commenced with Madrasah education as he enrolled in Madrasah at a young age of four years and continued attending Madrasah from 1936 to 1946.
At the same time he had simultaneous normal school education attending the Arab Boys Primary School from 1941-49 and later joined the Zanzibar’s Bet-el-Ras Teacher Training College from 1950-51. Upon his return to Mombasa he taught at the Arab Primary School from 1951-54. Because of his health condition, he was medically boarded out. Recovering from his ailment, he then joined the Mombasa Institute of Muslim Education as an accounts clerk and as a part-time religious Instructor, from 1955-57.

Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir took active interest in pre independence Kenya politics from 1957-63. He was elected to Kenya’s pre-independence Legislative Council and served in this capacity from 1961-63. As a member of the Kenya Legislative Council, he also attended the historic Kenya Constitutional Conference held at the Lancaster House, London, in 1963.

From 1964-1965 he worked as an Arabic/Swahili monitor with the BBC in Nairobi.

Later he joined the Oxford University Press and worked as a Swahili Editor with the Eastern Africa Branch of Oxford University Press in Nairobi from 1965-73. In 1973, Sheikh Abdillahi left the Oxford University Press to form his own Shungwaya Publishers Ltd. In 1974 he was recalled by the Oxford University Press to head the Eastern Africa Branch as General Manager and served in this capacity from 1974 to 1977.

Tabligh activities:

Despite being active in Kenya politics, Sheikh Abdillahi devoted part time in preaching and tabligh activities from 1954 till 1959. During 1960-80 he engaged in translating and commenting on the Holy Qur’an during the holy months of Ramadan while living in Mombasa (1960-64) and later when he settled in Nairobi (1965-80).

From 1978-80 he worked as East Africa Representative of the Jeddah based WAMY (World Assembly of Muslim Youths).

With his intellectual knack, Sheikh Abdillahi did not blindly follow the widely held common perceptions about the Shia faith. The spirit of inquiry led him to read books written by Shia scholars. At the same time, he interacted with members of the Shia community with a view to understand the Shia faith better. In due course, he showed growing leanings towards the Shia faith and his question/answer sessions on the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation’s radio programs from 1977-80 aroused much interest.

Upon his return to Mombasa in early 1980’s, he was a regular lecturer for the Muharram Majalis organized by the Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya held at the Huseini Imambargah.

Among other speakers for the Muharram majalis were Sharif Khitamy, Sharif Badawy, Prof. Bakari of Nairobi University and a number of other Sunni scholars from Mombasa and Lamu. When the Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya Assembly Hall was formally opened in 1988, Swahili majalis for the months Muharram and additional lecture series were then held at the Bilal Hall. Sheikh Abdillahi would be among the main speakers attracting good crowd.

In due course, he declared himself as a practicing Shia Ithna-Asheri.

Through the Bilal media section, Sheikh Abdillahi has recorded various talks which have been broadcast in special Radio and TV programs organized by the Bilal Muslim Mission of Kenya. At the same time, Tabligh Section of the Dar es Salaam Jamaat and the Al Itrah Foundation of Dar-es-Salaam also extended similar cooperation to Sheikh Abdillahi. As a result, series of lecture sessions organized in Dar-es-Salaam and Zanzibar were well received.

In addition to Tanzania, Community members and organization in India, Pakistan, U.K., USA and Canada and the West Indies invited Sheikh Abdillahi for lecture tours since he was able to deliver lectures in both English and Kiswahili.

Sheikh Abdillahi has written/assisted in writing several books and booklets on Kiswahili language, (seven in all) and on Islam, (twenty), some of which have been translated into English and Rwandese. 
Currently he is engaged in writing a Swahili translation and commentary of the Holy Qur’an and working to project the Shia Ithna-Asheri outlook. Since 2004, he has also set up a free reading room public library in Mombasa.

The Chairman and the Office Bearers of the Africa Federation extend their profound appreciation to Sheikh Abdillahi Nassir for his devoted services in tabligh activities. We pray for his continued good health, long life and success in his mission.


  1. abdalla Mohamed says:

    Superb! but he did not leave any notable student or succsesor,,

  2. francis muli says:

    good work you did and still doing for our country.

  3. Umar says:

    A respected scholar.
    Please continue the good work to propagate
    the love of ahlu bait.

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