Beadwork by Maalim Hussein ensures the continuous remembrance of Allah even after the end of Ramadhan
A great Arabian poet once said that one can get a replacement for any other thing but not for Allah. This experience seems true to the 60 year old Maalim Hussein Ali who resides in Eastleigh, Nairobi. After teaching the holy Quran in Duksi (Quran memorization school) for over forty years Maalim Hussein decided to start a small business of making tasbih (a string of beads used by Muslims) which are used in prayers of remembrance of Allah. A tasbih is used for adhkar in Islam. Adhkar is Arabic word meaning remembrance of God by reciting His best names while counting on the beads. A tasbih can have either 33 or 99 beads but there have been others with much many and bigger beads! “I used to make tasbih for myself and my family only” he says. This was about three years ago when he came across a heated exchange between a commercial tasbih maker and a client in a market. “The client was complaining about a delay of his order while the tasbih maker said he had other clients who had already placed theirs before him,” recalls Maalim Hussein. It was this exchange that made him realize the business opportunity of what he had only regard more as pastime activity.
Seated in his makeshift stall next to the Fourth Street Mosque in Eastleigh, our interview kept being interrupted by customers who were interested with the ready-made tasbihs on display in front of the Mosque. “How much is this one?” asked one customer trying on a dark-brown beaded ornament with a green whisker between his thumb and index finger as if he were counting the beads. “Can you make me a tasbih in 30 minutes?” demanded another customer whose hurry seemed to have been brought to a halt by a desire to have one customized for him. This is how Maalim Hussein’s day’s work is like. “I can make at least seven tasbihs in a day,” says Maalim Hussein. This depends on the number of orders and how decorative a customer may want his orders. Interestingly he has to import the materials needed for making of tasbih. “The best quality of beads and stings come from China.” He says that currently there is a shortage of the special string needed to make the tasbih. He has been forced to improvise and use other materials instead but this has not disappointed his customers.
But like any other business, Maalim Hussein experiences both the highs and lows of the trade with the holy month of Ramadhan being the best for his business. During Ramadhan, the ninth month of Islamic calendar, Muslims engage themselves in fasting with most time committed to adhkar. The trade has not only been limited to the local customers. The word of mouth from friends has earned him customers from as far as United States and Canada. “Few days ago I sent 20 tasbihs to the United states,” he reveals. Maalim Hussein’s advice to the youth is that they can use their talents and hobbies to make a living and they should not be afraid that they might fail.
He can be contacted on: 0710803916