Dr. Halkano Wario


E-Mail: halkan007@yahoo.com

Completed Project

Networking the Nomads: a Study of Tablīghī Jamāʽat among the Borana of Northern Kenya


This PHD project was published and is available online:



warioTablīghī Jamāʿat is a transnational lay Islamic movement started by Māwlanā Muhammad Ilyās in 1920s in the British India. It came to Kenya in mid 1950s and found transnational partnership with the Kenya’s Sunni Muslims of Asian descent. Despite its early establishment the Tablīghī Jamāʿat remains one of the least researched religious phenomena in Kenya. The movement bring together diverse ethnic groups, maintains a low profile focusing on re-spiritualisation of everyday life of individual Muslims and shuns politics and modern means of publicity opting for face to face preaching and voluntary travels for proselytisation. This study attempts to describe, document and analyse the localisation of the Tablīghī Jamāʿat in Kenya in general and among the Borana of northern part of Kenya particular. The Borana are a nomadic community that straddles the Kenya-Ethiopia border. The study asks what happens when religious ideas travel across different forms of boundaries to establish itself in new grounds far away from its point of origin. Based on this general guiding question, it explores the growth, establishment and consolidation of Tablīghī Jamāʿat in northern Kenya. It examines the Tablīghī innovative religious practices, pragmatic strategies for membership increase and maintenance, dynamic approaches to deal with the larger society, working faith bureaucracy, politics of space use and place making and engaged interpersonal and inter-regional networks that link local, zonally, national and international adherents in a bond of solidarity and purpose. It investigates the relations between the Tablīghīs and existing Islamic traditions as it navigates an already competitive religious landscape and seek recognition as an equally authentic religious movement based on the core teachings of the faith. It particularly concerns with how the Borana Tablīghīs fit within their own region in the north and also within the national movement. Hence it explores how they preach among their own kin through contextualised outreaches, what motivates them, where they mainly travel to and the implication of movement on religious and ethnic identities and relations with the established religious leadership. The study employed interdisciplinary approach that incorporated diverse but related disciplines to give the subject of study a holistic perspective. The approaches used in the research were historical, analytical, ethnographic and comparative. The thesis, a seminal one on the Tablīghī Jamāʿat in Eastern Africa, is a timely contribution to the growing literature on the Indian-borne transnational Islamic movement currently on the rise in Africa and it is a notable addition to interdisciplinary studies that focus on the theme of mobility, transnationalisation and religious revivalism in a globalising world.