The Islamic community in Seychelles joined believers across the world on Wednesday to mark Eid-ul-Fitr, a celebration that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
For the fifth consecutive year, Islamic groups in the archipelago of 95,000 people came together at Stad Popiler in the capital, Victoria.
Imam Ibrahim Lebon said that the message for this year is to spread peace and love among the people especially within the “Muslim community, as it needs to start with us.”
“We need Allah more than ever with all the turmoil that is going on around the world. Today is not only a day of celebration but a day of reflection after Ramadan. Our commitment to Allah does not end with this celebration, we need to live with him in our prayers and thoughts every day. We need to continuously ask him to hold peace and love in the world,” said Lebon.
|Imam Ibrahim Lebon said that the message for this year is to spread peace and love among the people. (Patrick Joubert) Photo License: CC-BY|
He added that for those giving the Islamic community a bad reputation the message for them is “it is never too late to repent and ask for forgiveness, while those doing good should keep on strengthening their faith.”
Eid-ul-Fitr is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and marks the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting and prayer. Many Muslims attend communal prayers, listen to a sermon and give charity in the form of food.
Eid-ul-Fitr is not a public holiday in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, but the law stipulates that it is at the discretion of the employers to allow Muslim workers a day off.
SNA spoke to some believers who were attending the ceremony.
Waseem Gerry, 44, who converted to Muslim nine years ago, said that the strong message that has come out today is to spread love instead of following those wrongdoers like ISIS.
“This is not all Muslims committing these actions. In fact, the Muslim community in Seychelles is very peaceful, tolerant and respectful towards others’ belief,” he said.
|Eid-ul-Fitr is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and marks the end of Ramadan, which is a month of fasting and prayer. (Patrick Joubert) Photo License: CC-BY|
Gerry said his life has changed since he joined the Islamic community. “Before I was a heavy drinker and did not take care of my kids. Now I feel that I am a better person and has been thought by the Muslim to take my responsibility.”
Afmad Kilindo, 34, said that before joining the Muslim community 10 years ago he was not following Ramadanor the Christian celebration of Lent.
“I did not know what it was. Ten years have elapsed since I converted to Islam and now I know that I need to dedicate my life to prayers and to sacrifice for Allah as he is the one that provides for my everyday needs. Without him life is meaningless,” said Kilindo.
He added that he is going to celebrate this day with his family with a special dinner later in the evening.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, around 1.6 percent of the population in Seychelles say they are Muslims.