Religion and politics : a critical study of the politicization of Islam in Kenya.
Ndzovu, Hassan J.
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In Kenya, there has been a tendency to portray a separation of Church and State. However, attempts made by political leaders to separate Church and State have not successfully severed the relationship between religion and politics. The interweaving of religion and politics is the subject of this project. In particular it studies the changing relationship between Muslims and various political orders in Kenya from the pre-colonial times to the present. The study traces the role of Muslim individuals and associations under different political regimes. It explores the ways in which Muslims have politically mobilised in a context of political authoritarianism and limited space for protest. This has led to increasing politicization of Islam in Kenya with the formation of the Islamic Party of Kenya (IPK) in 1992 crystallizing the growing process of radicalization of sections of the Kenya's Muslims. Therefore, this study focuses on the politicization of Islam in Kenya and discusses the factors that triggered the process of its politicization and its challenges in Kenya's politics. Over a period of one year, a structured interview with selected informers and informal discussions was conducted. The finding of the study indicates that the emergence of politicization of Islam in Kenya is a reflection of the exclusionary-repressive politics of the various Kenyan regimes. This political system is alleged to have contributed to the perceived political marginalization of Muslims in the country. It is this perceived marginalization which Muslims are striving to overcome. The formation of the IPK was an attempt by Muslims to address this perceived political marginalization. Fearing Islamic oriented political competition the Kenyan government refused to offer the IPK recognition. It is concluded that despite the registration setback the Muslims faced in Kenya's politics, they are still a significant opposition to political leadership in the country. None the less, this study shows that Muslim political engagement is not a monolithic. There are political differences among Muslims in relation to Kenya's politics. These differences are attributed to ethnic and racial binaries exhibited within the Muslim community.