Tuesday’s Idd el –Fitr celebrations were peaceful in most upcountry towns visited by our reporters. At different places Muslims were called upon to remain united and continue with alms giving.
In Rwamagana district, where the national celebrations were conducted, the Mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Saleh Harelimana, who had earlier presided over the national prayers at Gadaffi Mosque, in Kigali, reminded Muslims of the importance of fasting, saying it renews their commitment to Muslim virtues.
“Fasting is important because it reminds Muslims of their roles which include following commandments of the Islamic faith and helping the poor,” Harelimana pointed out in Kigabiro sector.
He explained that they took the national celebrations to Rwamagana because since last year they started a programme of shifting venues until they will cover all the provinces. Previously celebrations were confined to Kigali City.
Last year’s celebrations were in the Southern Province.
“From there, (Southern) we have come to the Eastern Province and next time we will go to a different Province among those where we have not gone,” the Mufti said.
He added that it is important to celebrate the end fasting together as a sign of love and care.
He commanded the government for giving Muslims freedom in carrying out their several activities, saying before 1994 Genocide, they were denied their rights and their security was at stake.
On behalf of the Governor of the Eastern Province, Ephraim Kabaija, Rwamagana Mayor, Valens Ntezirembo said the district was committed to supporting development initiatives of the Muslims in the area.
At Nyabindu Mosque, in Muhanga district, Sheikh Ramadhan Nyamushanje, the Imam, called on the Muslim faithful in the area to remain united and work for development.
Hundreds of Muslims faithful in Muhanga attended the prayers and the subsequent celebrations and the weather worked out well for them.
Sheikh Nyamushanje also called on Muslims to embrace the government’s unity and reconciliation drives and forget the past history of segregation and division.
“Allah (God) is a source of unity and brotherhood. Muslims need to hear the calling of Allah and follow the Koran teachings each day,” he said.
Muslims who talked to The New Times, said that the fasting period was successful and most of them have tried to settle the problems facing the community, especially divisions and segregation among Muslims in Muhanga.
The Muslim community in Muhanga was last year, caught up in a row between leaders over some issues including finances, faith, and preachers.
Sheikh Nyamushanje said that situation changed with time through education and sensitisation of the believers.
“We have been sensitizing and educating the faithful on the importance of unity. It takes a long time but at least there are some measures in place,” Sheikh Nyamushanje added.
Meanwhile, at Kamembe Mosque in Rusizi district, over 2,500 Muslims attended the prayers.
Imam Rajab Hategekimana, the Acting head of Muslims in Cyangugu, who led the prayers said: “I encourage you as Muslims who love God to always help your fellow residents who are poor like the vulnerable and orphans because the Quran requires us to do it.”
He also urged the Muslim faithful to continue exhibiting discipline-even after the fasting, to love one another, fight against genocide ideology and ethnic discrimination in their localities.
He challenged the faithful to develop uniform understanding of development aspects and to always participate in all government programmes like community work (Umuganda).
In Nyamasheke district, the Muslims in Kagano sector were asked to work hard and to always be exemplary.
Rashid Humuriza, who attended the Idd prayers at Kamembe Mosque, told The New Times that this year’s Idd celebrations were successful compared to last year.
“According to my analysis and observation this year’s month of Ramadhan was conducted very well in Rusizi compared to that of last year because the turn up (at the mosque) was so high and even Muslims were very smart and organised,” Humuriza said.
BY FLORENCE MUTESI, DANIEL SABIITI AND STEVENSON MUGISHA