Multitudes of Muslim faithful yesterday morning flocked various mosques in the country to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, a day that marks the end of the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadhan.
Eid-al-fitr, or simply Eid, marks the end of the holy month of fasting observed by Muslims around the world and is perhaps one of the most joyous days in the Islamic calendar.
The day is celebrated with special prayers, family gatherings, and feasts of all kinds.
The traditional and loved salutation ‘Eid Mubarak’– or Happy/Blessed Eid–reverberated as the morning prayers concluded with faithful greeting and hugging each other.
President Paul Kagame in a Twitter message yesterday said: “EidMubarak and best wishes to our Muslim brothers and sisters celebrating Eid-el-Fitr across Rwanda and the world.”
In Kigali, hundreds of Muslims – young and old – thronged Kigali Regional Stadium in Nyamirambo to celebrate Eid al-Fitr.
The Mufti of Rwanda, Ibrahim Kayitare, who led the prayers, preached love for one another, as well as caring for and providing for the poor and vulnerable.
Reminding Muslims that Eid is a day when they all show a common goal of unity, the head of the Islamic community in the country told Muslims – in Kinyarwanda and Arabic – that God is great as he has provided peace and blessings.
“As we celebrate, today, ensure to do what is good, what makes God happy. Look to build stronger, happy and faithful families,” Kayitare said.
“This is a day also for personal reflection for every Muslim. We need to understand that we shall be responsible for all our actions, and mind our deeds, every day. Let us all be responsible so as to make the world a better place.”
Preaching unity, the significance of Eid, the Islamic faith and fasting, Kayitare also called upon believers to take a leading role in national development in order to ensure a better future.
Shortly after the prayer, Amin Nizeyimana, 23, one of the faithful said Eid is a “day full of happiness for all Muslims.
Nizeyimana said: “I take our Mufti’s message with all my heart. It is all about loving and sharing with one another, without any segregation. We are going to feast and celebrate in our homes, after here. This is also a day for serious personal reflection for every Muslim, centering on doing good.”
He noted that Muslims observe their prayer to show “devotion and obedience to Allah,” because prayer is one of the greatest forms of worship that Allah likes His servants to offer, and to thank Him for “creating us.”
Even though the largest prayer gathering was at the stadium in Nyamirambo, other Muslim communities countrywide gathered at various mosques for morning prayers as the festival bringing an end to a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset, begun.
In Huye District, crowds of Muslim faithful men clad in robes and veiled women, lined the streets as they hurried to Huye ground where the morning prayers were held.
While addressing the faithful, Sheikh Abdulrahman Nkusi, the Imam of the Southern Province, said the month-long fasting period was a sign of sacrifice and faith to Allah (God) and told the Muslims that Eid brings with it many blessings.
“This is a day of happiness for all Muslims around the world,” he said, urging the hundreds of followers who had turned up for the prayers to “remain faithful and fearful to God’.
He said Ramadan is an occasion to strengthen their faith in God and continue to champion righteous values and practices in their lives.
He called upon Muslims to avoid anything that might compromise their unity but rather put efforts in building and cementing good relations between them.
“Islam needs your strength and skills, thus the need to remain united,” he said.
He urged them to respect leaders-be it religious, civil or political and encouraged them to always endeavour to help the poor.
Ibrahim Kabura, a follower, said Ramadhan brings him ‘closer’ to God.
“The fasting period was an occasion for me to review my relationship with God, Muslims and other members of the community,” Kabura said.
“Throughout this period, I have gained the strength to remain committed to championing better relationships with others, love each other and keep praying.”
Beef prices hike
Meanwhile, in several districts of the Eastern Province, beef sellers cashed in on Eid celebrations.
Beef sold at between Rwf2,000 and 2,400 a kilogramme up from the usual Rwf1700 a kilogramme, according to a survey by this paper. However, prices of grains remained unchanged.
Abdullah Ruhumuriza, a resident of Kirehe complained:
“It is unholy for sellers of beef and all animals to deliberately hike prices during the Ramadhan celebration.’’
Joseph Rutabingwa, a resident of Ngoma District also said the festivities were being marred by high prices.
“The exorbitant prices of beef prevented most families from buying meat…it is becoming common knowledge that during these celebrations meat becomes unaffordable,” he said.
Ali Mwiseneza, a meat dealer in Rwamagana District, said price increases were due to increase in demand during the festivities.
He said restaurant operators had equally been affected by the rising beef prices, adding that when prices go up, it hurts everybody.
“This is the law of demand and supply affecting consumers… for a market economy to function, producers must supply the goods that consumers want. Unfortunately, if the prices are too high, only a few consumers will purchase the goods and demand will go unmet. This is what is happening, but it is temporary,” he said.
Meanwhile, similar celebrations took place around the world. Muslims gathered at mosques and other designated places to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, also known as “the feast of breaking the fast,” which occurs with the sighting of the new moon.