As the Muslim community prepares to celebrate Eid al-Adha this week, the leadership of the Islamic faith in the country has announced that celebrations will be different from the usual, due to measures in place to contain Covid-19.
Known as the “Festival of the Sacrifice”, Eid al-Adha is considered the holier of the two Islamic Eid festivals as it honours the famous story of the willingness of the Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God’s command.
However, before Ibrahim carried out the heartbreaking request, God, known as Allah in Islam, produced a lamb for him to sacrifice instead.
Muslims across the world will be celebrating this year’s holiday on Friday July 31.
As usual, among other activities that will be done to mark the day, is the observance of the tradition of slaughtering animals as a form of sacrifice to God and to reflect on Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son.
Muslims also share meat, food items among other stuff with poor people.
With Covid-19 turning a number of things abnormal, the Islamic holy day has not been spared.
Besides the obligation to celebrate while observing social distancing measures, Muslims in Rwanda will also experience a massive reduction in the number of animals to sacrifice this year, as compared to previous years.
Speaking to The New Times, Sheikh Suleiman Mbarushimana, the Advisor to the Mufti said that according to the figures they have currently, about only 1500 animals will be slaughtered this year.
This is quite a small number compared to the 3,000 to 5,000 animals that Muslims in the country have been slaughtering on average in the previous years, according to him.
He said this is caused by the effect of the pandemic on the finances of the Muslim communities.
“Covid-19 has affected the economy and thus reduced the ability of those that would have bought animals for slaughter in big numbers. Arab countries used to send some financial support to Rwandan Muslims to buy animals for Eid al-Adha, but this year, they could not send much due to the challenges of the pandemic,” he said.
“Even locally in Rwanda, many faithfuls would buy animals for celebrations, however, this year the numbers are low,” he added.
Talking about Eid al-Adha prayers that will take place on Friday, Mbarushimana emphasized the need for Muslims to pay attention to social distancing; where among others they should avoid the usual gatherings for sharing meals in homes or such places.
Main prayers are expected to take place at Kacyiru Mosque in Kigali where Mufti Salim Hitimana will lead the service.
Other mosques that have been allowed to reopen are also expected to host congregants and all must observe social distance and other measures in place to fight the pandemic.
So far, about only five mosques have been reopened in the country, though there are some more on standby for reopening – according to information from Sheikh Mbarushimana.
Speaking about the message he has for Muslims in the country, Mbarushimana urged them to use the Eid al-Adha day to pray earnestly to God to the Covid-19 ease the situation for Rwanda and the whole world,
“Because of the value of Eid al-Adha as a great day of remembering Abraham’s sacrifice, we should use it for prayer - asking God to ease the situation for Rwanda and all the world, praying that Covid-19 will have a cure and a vaccine for it,” he said.