It all started with a protracted legal tussle between the Muslim Association and the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) over ownership of a parcel of land.
The row that lasted decades, ended in October this year after a Land and Environment Court in Kisumu declared that the parcel belonged to the Muslim community.
In an effort to build bridges and heal the rifts, the Muslim community have chosen a new name for the mosque that has caught the attention of many and become an Internet sensation.
The mosque that lies in the once disputed land in Kaloleni in Kisumu County is named The Mosque of Jesus Christ the son of Mary.
But why the unique name?
The faithful say the choice of the name signifies the decision of the Muslim community to demonstrate to the SDA church that they are one.
“We have had a long tussle for the parcel and that is one of the reasons we opted to settle on the name. We are not enemies with Christians,” says Abdul Rashid, a muezzin. A muezzin is the official who proclaims the call to prayer.
He notes that Muslims also believe in Jesus and that he was one of the prophets alongside four others that also included Prophet Muhamad.
“Muslims believe in Jesus Christ. The choice of the name is also our appreciation of Jesus Christ who we believe will come back,” says Rashid.
Plans to construct a permanent mosque are also in the offing although the Muslims worshiping at the place have already constructed a temporary structure for their prayers.
A senior government official who worships at the mosque and is one of those who lodged the suit against the SDA church said the name is not unique, adding that Jesus is also recognised in Islam.
“Jesus was given Injil while Muhamad was given the Quran. The choice of name is a message to them that we are together. We have always been together,” said the official.
Several Christians in the region welcomed the move saying it would build peaceful coexistence.
“It is a good gesture. I think that is a strong indication that Muslims and Christians regard each other as brothers and sisters,” said Joseph Odhiambo, a Christian.
The quest for the land began on September 25, 1985, when the then association Secretary Mohammed Abdo Saleh wrote to Commissioner of Lands, applying for a site to build a new mosque.
At the time, a 40-year lease to Ramisi Sugar Authority had expired, but there were controversies as the authority had used the title to secure a loan from a commercial bank, and had defaulted.
However, after back and forth correspondences between the Muslim Association and the Provincial Commissioner, the District Lands Registrar and the District Land registrar for 12 years, the association decided to engage the Bank which cleared the air by stating there was never charge on the land.
The association then took over the parcel without clearance from the relevant lands authorities. But in 2010, the SDA Church moved into the same parcel laying claim to it. This forced the Muslim Association to head to court. In October, the Muslim association breathed a sigh of relief after Justice Ombwayo determined that the church was not the legitimate holders of the land.