International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

The influence of Islam on Bukusu indigenous beliefs and practices relating to inheritance, Kenya

Janet Nasambu Kassilly Barasa and Kennedy Onkware*
Department of Peace and Conflict Studies Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, P. O. Box 190 – 50100 Kakamega – Kenya.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 04 August 2010
  •  Published: 31 August 2010


The article examines the influence of Islam on Bukusu indigenous beliefs and practices relating to inheritance. The persistence of indigenous beliefs and practices among a predominantly Christian and Muslim people provoked this research. Thus, the article aims at investigating the influence Islam has had on the Bukusu indigenous inheritance beliefs and practices. It is guided by the premise that the Bukusu have patriarchal inheritance rules which are different from Islamic inheritance rules. The enquiry is guided by the conceptual framework which combines aspects of Bunger’s (1972) islamization theory and Bascom and Herskovits (1959) change and continuity concept. This will help us identify areas of convergence and divergence between Islam and Bukusu indigenous beliefs and practices in relation to inheritance. The methodology employed to collect data consisted of qualitative techniques for primary data and documented analysis for secondary data. Qualitative techniques included the interview guide for oral interviews, group discussions and observation method, the data collected was analyzed qualitatively and from the analysis, conclusions were drawn. The research findings revealed that the Bukusu indigenous inheritance rules are so entrenched that they have not been altered by the islamization of the people. Most Bukusu Muslims still practice the indigenous patriarchal inheritance rules. Thus, the Bukusu Muslims practice syncretic Islam, the study recommends that the issue of gender disparity as portrayed in the Bukusu indigenous inheritance beliefs and practices is a thorny issue that should be addressed.


Key words: Islam, Bukusu, Bukusu culture, inheritance.