Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Lawyer Ahmednasir: Kenya’s Grand Mullah of Islamic and Constitutional Law

By Adan Makina

I’m writing this article in praise of a Kenyan lawyer of Somali descent–a man I’ve never met face-to-face before though we communicated electronically in the past. Hardly in Kenya’s history of constitutional and Islamic religious law has a man of his caliber popped up in the law society of Kenya. Though it is common for writers to associate someone with a historical personality of the past or the present, Kenya’s Grand Mullah is a unique person that I wouldn’t place in par with any currently living lawyer in Kenya. With his prolific knowledge of constitutional secular and Islamic law, it is absolutely hard to find someone who wields such broad combinations.

Kenya’s elite lawyer Ahmednasir aka Grand Mullah-photo/Nation Africa/Kenya

Even though Kenya has experienced Somali magistrates and judges of secular law and kadhis whose judicial practices are restricted to Islamic law, this article is exclusively about an individual lawyer of literary repute. He is none other than Ahmednasir who has been shining in the media circles for years depending on their specific coverages that could include his past and present legal wrangles, political exposures, his material and economic might and his personality and sagacity.

You could be mistaken if your distorted mind drives you to an unknown worldly imagination by assuming that the esteemed lawyer gave the writer of this essay something equivalent to Kitu Kidogo or small tips to shower him with praises. No, that is not the case. On October 20, 2020, I wrote an article whose title was In Honor of Kenya’s Living Grammarian, Literary Doyen Philip Ochieng who passed away recently. In praising Grand Mullah, I’m only communicating my ideas and concepts and it is up to the reader to reject them or grasp the contents with an open mind. Furthermore, it is better to praise the living person than applauding him or her after one departs the world. Though not a biography, the essay simply excavates a single man’s uniqueness.

Hailing from Mandera–a town that borders Somalia’s Belet Hawa town and whose name is an adulteration of the Mareer tree having two scientific species names Cordia sinensis and Cordia novellii–Ahmednasir grew up in a region blessed with a tree having many benefits. The raw and ripe fruits can be consumed for their nutritious tastes since they are edible, including the gums. The wood can be used for making furniture and charcoal while the leaves are valuable fodder for livestock and wild animals. The Cordia novellii is the Somali and Masai species. Somalis call it Mareer while for the Boran it is Mader. Somalis have Mareer Qoox while the Boran have Mader Bor. To the Gabra and Rendille it is Madeer and the Wardei know it as Marer. The naming category of this tree species is an indication of the linguistic semblance of the Cushitic ethnic group.

Our Grand Mullah attended primary school in Mandera and thereafter moved to Nairobi for his high school education. Upon finishing high school, he enrolled for his undergraduate in law at the University of Nairobi and completed his Bachelor of Legal Letters ((LLB) in 1990. He ventured for further studies in the United States at Cornell University matriculating in 1992, a university that is part of the consortium of schools known as Ivy League. There, he obtained a master’s degree in law (LLM). The doyen of Kenya law accumulated numerous diplomas from international educational institutions notably The Hague Academy of International Law. Between 1992 and 1997, he was a lecturer at Nairobi University School. His wide variety of legal practices automatically makes him an undoubted polymath as noted earlier. A distinguished and highly-regarded legal practitioner, he was a member of the Kenya Judicial Service Commission.

Hailing from a historical family that is known for Islamic religious propagation and great humanitarians who served the poor, needy and wayfarers since time immemorial and vigorously virtuous warriors who defended their territories without fear of any kind, his character could have been shaped by the genealogy and hereditary traits of his forefathers.

The name Nasir (ناصر) that is co-joined with Ahmed is an Arabic word and it means protector, helper, or one who gives victory. Undoubtedly, it is no secret that he is generous since Kenya’s media jargons have revealed it before. A Muslim’s generosity should not be restricted to members of one’s faith only and that it is encompassing and universal as defined in the Qur’an and Hadith. His benevolence is unlimited since he has been on the forefront of uplifting those who seek his help financially, educationally, and mentoring. He is neither a recluse nor one who only restricts his friendship to those of equal levels of education and professionalism. Prior to starting my higher education in a faraway land, at first, I wanted to venture into the arena of law and justice. However, only one phrase dissuaded me from pursuing the sciences of law and that is “my lord” that I found incompatible with Islamic etiquettes. But, according to Practicing Lawyer Abdirahman Abubakar who is my nephew, etymologically, even though it was borrowed from the English legal system, “my lord” has several meanings.

During the Islamic Golden Age (622 AD–1258), Muslims had numerous polymaths and philomaths, unlike in this contemporary era where graduates choose to specialize only in one subject or specialization. Apart from specializing in philosophy, Muslims set the stage in algebra, physiology and anatomy, surgery, dermatology, modern medicine, modern economics, sociology, and historiography. Some mastered clinical medicine, Muslim international law, anthropology, geodesy, trigonometry, robotics and automation and comparative religions and pediatrics. Anglicized names like Avicenna for Ibn Sina, Algebra for Al-jabr which is the “reunion of broken parts”, Averroes for Ibn Rushd, Avempace for Ibn Bajja and many others commandeered the translation of specific subjects Muslims preserved from Hellenistic Greek that was passed on to Christianity during the Medieval Age. It was the Assyrian Empire that gave refuge to the fleeing Greek immigrants and their manuscripts after their land was occupied by the Romans.

What gave Muslims of the Golden Age the privilege to tower above other civilizations was their craving for knowledge–knowledge that was attained by working with others having the same preference in certain fields, through research and constant reading and writing. Likewise, Kenya’s Ahmednasir is no recluse in anyway, but a friendly patriot and an openminded lawyer who learns from others. Through hard work and determination, the courageous Kenyan American-educated Ahmednasir, served his clients and nation to the best of his ability until he rose to the rank of the top elite contemporary lawyer in Kenya. Besides law, he spent considerable time learning Islamic law or Islamic jurisprudence. Thus, inspired by polymathy, the master of Islamic and constitutional laws, was nicknamed “Grand Mullah” by a former Kenyan Chief of Justice. Not to be confused with the Shia Grand Mullah of Iran–with Mullah being a supreme title, Kenya’s Grand Mullah is a wisdomatic individual who has mastered the Kenya legal system.

In terms of legal or judicial expertise, a lawyer may be evaluated by the client by focusing on the number of years s/he has been in the profession, the number of cases lost or won, his or her professionalism, whether s/he has the right experience handling specific cases, and if s/he is a good communicator. On his Twitter page, Ahmednasir is a “Constitutional Lawyer, Senior Counsel, Chairman of the Senior Counsel Committee, Law Society of Kenya and also Publisher of the Nairobi Law Monthly.”[i] The contents of his nairobilawmonthly.com magazine–a magazine that is available through subscription must contain things beyond the comprehension of the common man who is devoid of legal jurisprudence.

From what I have learned from friends, the warhorse of Kenya’s constitutional and Islamic jurisprudence, Ahmednasir is a friendly person, open-minded, a man of wisdom, very generous to whom he wishes to give regardless of race, religion, creed and color, national origin and political and religious affiliations and full of exuberance. Very few Kenya-Somalis or Muslim lawyers have the courage to intervene or take some of the most challenging cases in a land known for corruption. Following the Qur’anic injunction, “Do not fear men, fear Me (Allaah)”, Ahmednasir is a man guided by Allaah’s divine revelation which is the Qur’an and the Sunnah (Tradition) or Hadith of the Messenger of Allaah, Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him. In terms of wealth, prestige and dignity, our Fidus Achates has been capable of overcoming the difficulties of this world and he seems to be on the right path for the challenges of the Hereafter. As a brotherly advice, I hope he will be guided by Islamic etiquettes and likewise excoriate himself from falsified and unfounded human condemnations either by forgiving those who intend to demean him or apply the most painful retaliation.

Like the fearless African lion that is known as the King of the Jungle for its ferocity, Lawyer Ahmednasir does not shy away from spilling the beans especially when it comes to corruption in law to an extent, he castigates anyone who violates the judicial system including Chief Justices. He constricts the law breaker like the African python using debilitatingly well versed legal expressions and fumigates the law courts with fierce strangulation. To Ahmednasir, the president alone is not responsible for fighting corruption. He is correct in the sense that it is the society that is responsible for strangling corruption until it is totally denervated.

Lawyer Ahmednasir and his Bentley Car; photo credit/Standard

Lawyer Ahmednasir drives a Bentley–a car that is considered to be one of the best make of cars that is worth between 30 to 50 million shillings. In a previous incident during a road construction, the windscreen to his favorite Bentley got smashed by a flying rock between Nairobi-Namanga Highway. In retaliation, the lawyer lodged a complaint with a court in Kajiado claiming more than 750,000 Kenya Shillings.[ii] Magistrate Mulochi ordered the Kenya National Highway Authority (KENHA) to compensate the extraordinary lawyer. Those civilians who ply that highway and were interviewed by the Kenya Television Network (KTN) unanimously agreed that KENHA did not place roadworks signs as warnings.

Unlike Kenya-Somali supernumerary or ominous political speculators who squander money meant for the constituents who voted for them during their beggary campaign rallies, Ahmednasir gained his assets through the right channels without deviating from the law of the land. Unlike those redundant politicians who regurgitate lies day and night to seek Islamically unjustified misappropriations or engage in prebendalism or are deserving of aversive conditioning for squandering equitable social distributions or contributions meant for the poor, needy, and wayfarers, our esteemed lawyer applies halal systems to advance his monetary gains.

When high profile Warya (Somali) political figures and leaders from other ethnic groups keep aloof from criticizing the government of Kenya and its corrupt leaders for reasons best known to them after witnessing issues that clandestinely appear unpolitical, unsocial, and uneconomical and deserving of exposure, Ahmednasir becomes the first to take up the gauntlet. He does not even shy away from blasting politically misguided politicians in neighboring Somalia–an impoverished, beleaguered, and war-ravaged nation that has failed to stabilize for over three decades. Kenya, a nation of “Tumbocrats” deserves to have men and women espousing fearlessness like Ahmednasir.

According to an authentic Hadith, out of every three judges, two will go to hell. Narrated Buraydah ibn al-Hasib; The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “Judges are of three types, one of whom will go to paradise and two to hell. The one who will go to paradise is a man who knows what is right and gives judgment accordingly; but a man who knows what is right and acts tyrannically in his judgment will go to hell; and a man who gives judgment for people when he is ignorant will go to hell.”[iii] Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr Al’As: “The Apostle of Allaah (Peace Be Upon Him) cursed the one who bribes and the one who takes bribe.”[iv] Whether the judges mentioned in the Hadith above apply also to the prosecutors and the defendants or plaintiffs is one reserved for Muslim religious scholars deliberations.

Professionally, a lawyer is the defendant of the accused against the complainant who also may engage a lawyer. The complainant first lodges a complaint with the police who then record it in an Occurrence Book (OB). While the motto of the Kenya Police is “Utumisho Kwa Wote” in Kiswahili which translates to ‘Justice for All’, it is the most corrupt institution in Kenya. While corruption has grown roots everywhere, bribery demands begin right at the police station. In the past, the OB recorder would demand “Toa Kitu Kidogo” or TKK, meaning ‘give a little’ which then changed to “Toa Kitu Kubwa” for ‘give something big’ and finally, corruption boomeranged to “Toa Kila Kitu” that denotes ‘surrender everything you have’.

In a nutshell, Lawyer Ahmednasir is a popular fashionista who wears the best and the most appealing suits at work and conventions. It is strange that there are people who complain and feel jealous about his suits. These are people who don’t understand the value of appearing appealing in everyday life. Furthermore, a Muslim is required to be clean, charming and above all appear visually appealing to others. While all Muslim communities have different styles of fashion such as the loose ankle-length thobe that is common in Kuwait and known as Dishdasha and Kandourah in the United Arab Emirates, other body garments include Ghutra and Egal, the Serwal and Sharwal Khameez plus the Somali Kikoi that do not belong to the courtrooms of Kenya. Keep up the good work Fidus Achates, Lawyer and Grand Mullah Ahmednasir.

Adan Makina
Email: [email protected]

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Mr. Makina is the author of the book: Northern Frontier District- The Struggles of Deghow Ma’alim Sambul. Makina is also the former Chairman of the Editorial Board for WardheerNews–the most scholarly and journalistic Horn of Africa online magazine.  Currently, he is an Editor and Head of the Interviews and Books Reviews Section.


[i] https://twitter.com/ahmednasirlaw

[ii] Court orders KeNHA to compensate lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi for car damages. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3O_JHUNBBWg.

[iii] Sunan Abu Dawud. Hadith 3566. Retrieved from www.searchtruth.com.

[iv] Ibid, Hadith 3573.


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