The Riyadha Mosque Manuscript Collection in Lamu: A Ḥaḍramī Tradition in Kenya

in Journal of Islamic Manuscripts
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This article focuses on the manuscript collection currently located in the Riyadha Mosque in Lamu, Kenya. From its foundation in the late nineteenth century, the Riyadha has had a close connection to the Ḥaḍramī-ʿAlawī scholarly network of the Indian Ocean, through family and intellectual links. The article investigates the impact of the ʿAlawī devotional, Sufi and genealogical traditions, as reflected in the manuscript collection of the Riyadha.




Ali Mohamed Toibibou, Ahmad Qamardine (1895–1974). Un intellectuel Comorien et ses réseaux, PhD Thesis, University of Paris Diderot, 2010, pp. 53–54 and passim; A.K. Bang, Sufis and Scholars, pp. 50–51, and ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muḥammad b. Ḥusayn al-Mašhūr, Šams al-ẓahīra fī nasab ahl al-bayt min banī ʿAlawī. Furūʿ Fāṭima al-Zahrāʾ wa-Amīr al-Muʾminīn ʿAlī, ed. by Muḥammad Ḍiyāʾ Šihāb, Jiddah, ʿĀlam al-maʿrifa, 1984, 2 vols., [2nd ed.], pp. 485–498. This Abū al-Ḥasan is also known as Abū al-Ḥasan al-Kabīr, not to be confused with Abū al-Ḥasan b. Aḥmad Ǧamāl al-Layl (1888–1959) who was a poet and “daʿwa activist” born in Madagascar and whose carreer was spent in Zanzibar. See A.K. Bang, Sufi Networks.


Farsy/Pouwels, The Shafiʿi Ulama, pp. 66–68 and passim.


K. Kresse, Philosophising, p. 117.


Farsy/Pouwels, The Shafiʿi Ulama, pp. 80–82.


Ismail Farjie Alatas, “Becoming Indonesians. The BāʿAlawī in the Interstices of the Nation,” Die Welt des Islams, 51 (2011), pp. 45–74.


Engseng Ho, The Graves of Tarim, p. 154.


Reinhard Schulze, “The birth of tradition and modernity in eighteenth and nineteenth century Islamic culture: the case of printing,” in Jakob Skovgaard-Petersen (ed.), “The introduction of the printing press in the Middle East,” Culture and History, 16 (1997), pp. 29–72.


Bradford G. Martin, “Notes on some members of the learned class of Zanzibar and East Africa in the Nineteenth Century,” African Historical Studies, 4/3 (1971), p. 530.


  • A graphic overview of the Riyadha network showing its complexity and density

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  • Figure 1

    Sample of physical decay of paper. Qurʾān manuscript on paper showing sūra 2:79–87 (EAP466_RM 32_005).

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  • Figure 2

    Sample of a richly worked leather binding of a Qurʾān manuscript (EAP466_RM 44_001).

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  • Figure 3

    Title page of Kitāb Uns al-sālikīn fī manāqib baʿḍ al-ṣāliḥīn, a manāqib compilation of Sufi scholars and saints by ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. ʿAlī BāHārūn, this copy is dated 1314 (1896–1897). (EAP466_RM 42_002).

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  • Figure 4

    Title page of Kitāb maǧmūʿ Dīwān al-Ḥabīb al-ʿAdanī, by Abū Bakr b. ʿAbd Allāh al-ʿAydarūs, known as al-ʿAdanī. The manuscript was copied by Sālim b. Yusallim b. ʿAwaḍ BāṢafar in 1346 (1927) and was once owned by Habib Saleh. (EAP466_RM 19_002).

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  • Figure 5

    The final folio of the Marsūmat al-ʿAyniyya, authored in Zanzibar, bearing the colophon with mention of the date of copying Sunday 15 Rabīʿ I 1315 (1897) and the name of the copyist Muḥammad b. Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Barāwī (EAP466_RM 60_63).

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  • Figure 6

    Illuminated beginning of sūra 7 of the Qurʾān (EAP466_RM 44_003).

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