BY INNOCENT NIYONSHUTI
63 local members of the Islamic faith Friday evening arrived in Kigali from the annual pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia which they began on November 17.
Upon arrival, they were received by hundreds of family members, friends and fellow Muslims in a celebration organised by Rwanda Muslim Association, AMUR.
Speaking to The New Times, Vice Mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Said Bakare, underscored the importance of the pilgrimage.
“Mecca is a holy place, by visiting this place, one fulfils the fifth commandment of Allah that requests every Islam faithful with capability to visit Mecca at least once in a life time,” said Bakare.
“Making this pilgrimage provides an opportunity to be close to Allah and pray as you repent. We expect a Muslim from Mecca, to be the source of peace and unity, and kind-hearted to those who cannot help themselves,” continued Mufti Bakare.
Hemedy Sibomana, one of the pilgrims, said he had waited for so long to visit the holy place.
“I am very happy; you cannot believe how relieved I feel! I prayed to Allah (God), I cried to be forgiven and I feel holiness in me now,” said Sibomana.
Making the pilgrimage by an Islamic faithful earns a man the title of Hajj while a woman is referred to as Hajjat.
Sibomana also revealed that they had a chance to visit holy places such as Mohammed’s birth place and where the Islamic Holy book, the Koran, descended from heaven.
They also took time off to dedicate Rwanda to Allah, praying for the country’s peace especially now that the country is heading to presidential elections.
“We prayed Allah to grant our country peace, and lead us through the upcoming elections, help us choose the best leader who truly understands the needs of his people,” explained Sibomana.
According to available statistics, Muslims in Rwanda make up 3 percent of the total population.