More Information
ISBN: 9781783685431
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 22
Publication Date: 31/12/2018
Pages: 418
Language: English

African Traditions Meeting Islam

A Case of Luo-Muslim Funerals in Kendu Bay, Kenya


In many communities across the world traditional beliefs and practices are passed down generations and are a feature of day-to-day life, despite the influence of outside sources. Focusing on Luo Muslims in Kenya, Dr Lawrence Oseje looks at the interaction of Islam and traditional Luo practices, especially those around death and burial.

Dr Oseje’s research with Luo Muslims in Kendu Bay investigates the impact of the traditional Luo conceptualization of death with their current views, and provides new understanding of fundamental issues that affect the lives of ordinary Muslims. From his observation of this community, Oseje encourages a celebration of traditions and customs, showing that an appreciation of traditions and beliefs can help develop ministry to local communities. Dr Oseje’s findings result in a deepened understanding of cultures, how they develop from a blend of influences, and provides anthropological and missiological guidelines for cross-cultural ministry, particularly in times of bereavement.

Author Bios

Lawrence Odhiambo Oseje

Lawrence Oseje is a Langham Scholar and earned his PhD in Interreligious Studies from Africa International University (AIU). He is an ordained minister of the gospel and has served as a pastor for twelve years in one of the largest cities in Kenya. He pioneered a department in Islam for Missions and Ministry in Uganda Christian University (UCU). Currently he is a lecturer and adjunct faculty in Missions and Interreligious Studies at a number of other universities and seminaries across Africa, including Africa International University, Nairobi, Kenya; Africa College of Theology, Kigali, Rwanda; and Regent University in the USA. His travels in many nations of the world training pastors, missionaries and other Christian leaders have given him a richer appreciation of people and their cultural values. Lawrence is married to Dorcas, and together they are blessed with three children, Jael, Emmanuel and Rosebell.


Dr Oseje takes painstaking effort to present the insider’s religio-cultural perspective of life and death among the Luo Muslims. His work provides us with many insights into intriguing realities of ordinary Muslims. I am certain that this book will be a source of invaluable information on cultural features that have been missing in the field of Islamic studies.

Caleb Kim, PhD
Director, Institute for the Study of African Realities
Coordinator, Centre for the Study of Religions,
Africa International University

A study into cultural issues of death such as this is indeed a milestone into seeing the very fabrics that hold, guide and inform the day-to-day experiences of the life of ordinary Muslims in Africa. His research has no doubt demonstrated the need to understand every culture from its own context.

Josephine Mutuku, PhD
Senior Lecturer,
Africa International University

This study on the impact of Luo traditional views on the contemporary Luo-Muslim conceptualization of death is simultaneously relevant and articulate. His focus on Luo-Muslim funerals narrows the larger conversation to one ethnic extraction’s point of view in respect to the question of death. The Luo-Muslim community discussed here not only presents the significance of the place in which one should be buried, but it also provides meaning and value attached to one’s ethnic identity. Oseje has thus reminded us that our traditions affect our religious beliefs, our practices and ultimately our theology.

James Kombo, DTh
Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs
Associate Professor of Systematic Theology,
Daystar University

Table of Contents

  1. List of Diagrams
  2. List of Tables
  3. Acknowledgements
  4. Abstract
  5. Arabic Transliteration
  6. Chapter 1
    1. Introduction
      1. Relationships in the Triple Religions
      2. The Challenges of African Traditional Religion
      3. The Luo People in Islam
      4. The Perception of Luo on Death: A Case Study of S. M. Otieno
      5. Luo Muslims in Kenya
      6. Luo Muslims in Kendu Bay
      7. Problem Statement
      8. Research Questions
      9. Objectives of the Study
      10. Significance of the Research
      11. Delimitations
      12. Limitations
      13. Assumptions
      14. Definition of Terms
  7. Chapter 2
    1. Literature Review
      1. Introduction
      2. The Influence of Islam on Luo Traditional View of Death
        1. The Influencing Nature of Islam
        2. The Luo-Muslim Teachings of Islam on Death
        3. Outcomes of Islamic Teachings on Luo-Muslim Death and Its Related Rituals
      3. Luo Traditional Elements in Luo-Muslim Perception of Death
        1. Luo-Muslim Perspectives on Luo Traditional Expressions of Death
        2. Explaining Luo Traditionalism in Luo-Muslim Perspective of Death
        3. Effects of Luo Traditional Discourses of Death on Luo Muslims
        4. Factors Contributing to Continuity and Discontinuity
      4. Synthesis of Luo Traditional and Luo-Muslim View of Death
        1. Luo-Muslim Experiences of Luo Traditional Understanding of Death
        2. Muslims’ Explanation of Death through their own Experiences
      5. Conclusion
  8. Chapter 3
    1. Methodology
      1. Introduction
      2. Data Collection
        1. Ethnographic Interviews
        2. Participant Observation and Steps of Data Collection
        3. Combination of Both Interviews and Observation in Data Collection
        4. Interchanging Between Interviews and Participant Observation
        5. Following and Recording Funeral Procedures and Events
        6. A Work Plan for Keeping Data and Other Witnessed Funeral Activities
        7. Strengths and Weaknesses of Interviews and Participation Methods
      3. Data Analysis
        1. Approaching Funeral Experiences of the Luo Muslims Using Kim’s STA
        2. Luo Traditional Elements in Luo-Muslim Perception of Death
        3. Developing a Theory of Synthesis on the Luo-Muslim View of Death
      4. Validity and Reliability
      5. Ethical Issues in Research Field
      6. Conclusion
  9. Chapter 4
    1. The Influence of Islam on Luo-Muslim Traditional View of Death
      1. Introduction
      2. The Islamic Teachings on Death That the Luo Muslims in Kendu Bay Follow
        1. Islamic Teachings on Meanings and Causes of Death That Luo Muslims Follow
        2. Islamic Teachings on Funeral Rituals That the Luo Muslims Follow
        3. Shafi‘ite’s Three-Step Order for the Luo-Muslim Beliefs and Practices
      3. The Outcomes of Islamic Teachings on the Luo-Muslim View of Death
        1. The Outcome of Fear and Worry on the Luo-Muslim View of Death
        2. Increased Awareness of the Value of One’s Deeds
        3. Mixed Feelings and Responses to Life and Death
        4. The Significance of the Place of Burial to the Luo Muslims
        5. The Importance of Cleaning the Body of the Deceased
        6. A New Islamic Understanding of Widowhood and Death among Luo Muslims
        7. New Concepts of Time and Death among the Luo Muslims
      4. Conclusion
  10. Chapter 5
    1. Elements of Luo Tradition in Luo-Muslim Perception of Death
      1. Introduction
      2. Explaining the Existence of Luo Traditions in the Luo-Muslim
      3. Perception of Death
        1. Similarities and Differences in the Initial Stage
        2. Similarities and Differences in the Middle Stage
        3. Similarities and Differences in the Later Stage
        4. The Influence of Islam and Luo Tradition in the Three Stages of Luo-Muslim Funerals
      4. Conclusion
  11. Chapter 6
    1. The Effects of Luo Traditional View on Luo-Muslim Understanding of Death and Its Related Practices
      1. The Influence of Luo Traditions in the Initial Stage of Luo-Muslim Funerals
        1. The Effects of Luo Traditions on Luo-Muslim Perception of Mourning
        2. The Effect of Luo Tradition on the Mixing of Gender in the Luo-Muslim Funeral
        3. The Effect of Luo Tradition on Luo-Muslim Viewing of the Body
      2. The Influence of Luo Traditions in the Middle Stage of a Luo-Muslim Funeral
        1. Carrying the Body to the Graveside
        2. The Effect of Fundraising on the Luo-Muslim Funeral
        3. Secrets (weche mobuto/mopand) in the Luo-Muslim Funeral
        4. The Luo-Muslims’ View on Ancestral Land and Their Decisions Regarding Burial Site
      3. The Influence of Luo Traditions in the Later Stage of Luo-Muslim Funerals
        1. The Effects of Luo Traditions on Luo-Muslim Practice of Feeding Mourners
        2. The Effects of Luo Traditions on the Luo-Muslim View of Widow and Widowhood
      4. Continuity and Discontinuity of the Luo Traditional View of Death among Luo Muslims
        1. Initial Stage: Continuity or Discontinuity of Luo Traditional View of Death
        2. Middle Stage: Continuity or Discontinuity of Luo Traditional View of Death
        3. Later Stage: Continuity or Discontinuity of the Luo Traditional View of Death
        4. Continuity and Discontinuity in the Three Stages of Luo-Muslim Funeral
      5. Conclusion
  12. Chapter 7
    1. The Synthetic Conceptualization of Death among the Contemporary Luo Muslims in Kendu Bay
      1. Introduction
      2. Religio-Cultural Characteristics and Themes Underlying Luo-Muslim Views of Death
        1. Inter- and Intra-Triangular Relationships in the Three Stages of the Luo-Muslim Funeral
        2. The Divine and Human Causality of Death
        3. Luo-Muslim Identity Based on Relationships
        4. Person, Activity, and Time Orientation
      3. The Luo-Muslim Conceptualization of Death as Reflected in Funeral Rituals
        1. The Mental Processing of Familiar and Unfamiliar Elements Regarding Death
        2. The Concept of Luwo (to Follow) and the Naturalization Process of Give-and-Take in the Luo-Muslim
        3. View of Death
      4. Conclusion
  13. Chapter 8
    1. Conclusions
      1. Summary of Findings
      2. Implications and Recommendations to Different Stakeholders
        1. Missiological Implications
        2. Theological Implications
        3. Recommendations for Actions
      3. Recommendations for Further Studies
  14. Appendix A
    1. Ethnographic Research Questions
  15. Appendix B
    1. A History of Luo in Kenya and Their Contact with Islam
  16. Appendix C
    1. The History and the Development of Islam in Kendu Bay
  17. Appendix D
    1. Relationships in Ijma, Jumia and Ijumma
  18. Appendix E
    1. Relationship between ‘Iddah and Talāq (Divorce) in Islam
  19. Bibliography

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