Holy Quran translation into Kalenjin language brings joy to Kenyan tribe
Acquainted with Kalenjin dialects, Arabic and English, Sheikh Suleiman says it took him 10 years to translate Muslim Holy book
The Kalenjin indigenous community in Kenya has over 6.3 million members, according to the country’s 2019 national census.
The Kalenjin people are a southern Nilotic ethnic group that is comprised of 11 tribes – Ogiek, Nandi, Keiyo, Sabaot, Lembus, Tugen, Terik, Nandi, Marakwet, Pokot and Kipsigis.
The Muslim faithful from the community have always found it hard to understand some scriptures in the Holy Quran as most are not well versed neither in English nor Arabic.
“We used to have a serious challenge. Many people in our community love their language. We are not well versed in English or Arabic, so we normally rely a lot on our mullahs (religious teachers) who teach us in our madrasahs and Islamic schools to translate the Quran,” Bilala ibn Kipkorir from the Kalenjin community told Anadolu Agency.
Kipkorir, who attends religious services at Masjid Fahillah in Eldoret, thanked those who worked tirelessly to ensure that the Quran was translated into a Kalenjin dialect.
“We can’t wait to have this translation to get published and sent all over our region,” he said. “So many people will acquire it because we badly need it and I am thankful that he took such a long time to perfect his work.”
“Generations to come will forever be grateful to him. Everybody is filled with joy. We are just waiting for it.”
The translation is the first-ever in the Kalenjin language and is set to benefit hundreds of thousands from the community.
Sheikh Suleiman Kiptoo Sugoi, who is acquainted with Kalenjin dialects, Arabic and English is the author of the translation. He said he collaborated with Muslim scholars and clerics to ensure that the work was perfect.
His goal was to promote a better understanding of the Quran and Islam among the Kalenjin community who mostly live in Kenya and Uganda.
“We have launched the first Kalenjin Quran which took me 10 years to do the translation. My aim was to ensure that the Kalenjin nation understands the Quran and put it to practice," he told the reporters.
Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago hailed the translation, saying it will boost cohesion and bridge the gap for many of the Muslim faithful in his region to understand Islam.
“The biggest challenge to understanding Islam has been the language barrier. This translation makes it way easier to understand the ways and religion of our Muslim brothers and sisters and this initiative is going to make us a community more cohesive to understand ourselves,” he said. “I want to congratulate Sheikh Sugoi for this noble course. I am proud of you as your governor.”
Hassan Ole Naado, chairman of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), in a statement lauded Sugoi’s work and pointed out that the Holy Quran contains all teachings of life and touches on culture, law, leadership as well as peace and cohesion, adding that “this is why peace is central to Islam as a way of life.”
Jamia Mosque, Kenya’s biggest mosque, said: “Following Shiekh Sugoi's initial translation, the work will now be subjected to editorial scrutiny for grammar and context before finally being launched as an officially adopted Holy Quran translation in the Kalenjin language.”