By The Coast Newspaper Team
The Muslim Community has once again lost a prominent scholar and elder in the person of Prof Muhammad Hyder Matano who passed on Thursday at his residence in Kizingo Mombasa.
Prof Hyder will be remembered for his immense contribution to education, especially in Zoology at the University of Nairobi where he was the Principal of the College of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry.
He mentored many young graduates during his time at the University of Nairobi and among the Founders of Sheikh Khalifa Secondary School which has become a shining example in the whole country.
Later upon his retirement from the University of Nairobi he teamed up with prominent Muslims in Mombasa to form Muslim Civic Education Trust (MCET) which spearheaded Civic Education among the Muslims especially during the clamor for Constitutional reform.
But as the BBC World Service Alison Hilliard discovered when doing a documentary on MCET was that Muslims were finding new, constructive ways of making their faith work for the 21st century.
The MCET, a leading Muslim think tank, was guided by the able Professor who guided Ms Alison to visit the Mandhry Mosques – one of the oldest and most beautiful in the Mombasa city.
The BBC documentary also presented a workshop where young Muslims learned traditional crafts such as woodcarving and joinery skills which bring them close to their Islamic heritage as well as helping them earn a living.
This aside, the Professor was also concerned by the spate of bomb attacks in East Africa ascribed to Muslim extremists that encouraged him to think about how to make the spirit of Islam relevant to a new generation of Muslims today.
Through Praise of God (a weekly programme), Prof Hyder helped inter-faith reflection and experiential side of faith from Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist worship and other religious traditions.
Born on October 11, 1932, the Professor started school at Serani Boys School (1941-1949) where he achieved the Cambridge School Certificate (II Div) before proceeding to Uganda, Makerere University College where in 1953 he obtained Diploma in Education.
After teaching for a while at MIOMI, he went to Scotland where in 1959 was awarded First Class Hons at St Andrews before capping it with a PhD at Leeds University in 1962.
Locally, Prof Hyder was also involved in the Mombasa Islamic University project with the late Prof Mohamed Juma Lugogo, Hon Shariff Nassir, and Prof Khalfan Mazrui among others where the Zayed Foundation bought land for this project at Utange.
May the Almighty grant him Jannah.
Allahu Maghfirlahu Waarhamhu waskinhu fil Jannah