A message of understanding and tolerance as Muslims celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr in Seychelles
The Muslim community in Seychelles is relatively small, at around 2,000 followers most of which were born here, although according to Afif a fair number are people who previously belonged to other faiths, as well as expatriates. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Islamic community in Seychelles is joining many Muslims around the world in the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Muslim communities worldwide wait eagerly for the first sliver of moon to be sighted to herald in the first day of the month of Shawwal, bringing an end to the fasting month.
Various Islamic groups in the island nation of 90,000 people including Seychellois men, women and children as well as foreign workers following the Islamic faith came together for Eid prayers at the ‘Stad Popiler’ stadium in the island nation’s capital of Victoria, for the second consecutive year.
In an interview with SNA, the President of the Islamic Society of Seychelles, Ibrahim Afif, said that the assembling of Muslims in an open space “constitutes an opportunity for all Muslims to be together”, adding that the tradition dated back to Prophet Muhammad.
This year, the Eid prayers were led by Hafiz Anwar Hossein, from Bangladesh. Afif told SNA that Hossein also recited the entire Islamic holy book, the Qur'an by heart at the evening Taraweeh prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan.
|Prayers were led by led by Hafiz Anwar Hossein, from Bangladesh. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
When addressing Muslim worshippers gathered at ‘Stad Popiler’, Imam Idriss Yusuf used his ‘Khutba’ [sermon], delivered in Arabic, Creole and English, to stress on unity and also called for “increased understanding and tolerance.”
Idriss, who is the Imam of the ‘Qur'aan and Sunnah Society’, which opened its Mont Fleuri mosque doors late 2013 on the outskirts of the capital of Victoria also “urged everyone to flee ignorance and seek knowledge.”
He also highlighted some of the events happening worldwide relating to the Muslim faith, where he condemned terror attacks waged by Islamic terror groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, which he said “are being perpetrated by ignorant and misguided men contrary to the teachings of the Qur'an.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, 76.2 percent of the Seychelles population is Roman Catholic, 6.1 percent Anglican, 2.4 percent Hindu, 1.6 percent Muslim, and 13.7 percent other faiths.
The Muslim community in Seychelles is relatively small, at around 2,000 followers most of which were born here, although according to Afif, a fair number are people who previously belonged to other faiths, as well as expatriates.
Afif said that in the early 70s the number of Muslims in Seychelles was estimated at around 150. These were mostly Indo-Pakistani merchants and their families.
|Imam Idriss Yusuf addressing he Muslim worshippers this morning. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Some of the Muslims SNA spoke to this morning reflected their diverse origins.
Local businessman Ibrahim Chaka, aged 55 said he was born in India, though of Seychellois parents, originating from the sub-continent.
“I attend Eid-Ul-Fitr every year because it inculcates good moral values and we are encouraged to follow the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.”
Maryam Majah, an 18-year-old law, sociology and psychology student whose father is a Seychellois national while her mother comes from Oman said, “it’s like [how Christians] celebrate Easter after fasting. We pray, greet friends and exchange gifts.”
Her father, Yasin Majah is among a group of men given the task of slaughtering a cow at Beau Vallon, in the northern part of Mahé to be served for dinner later in the evening.
The Eid-ul-Fitr prayers are usually followed by a day of family fun and feasting.
|Eid-ul-Fitr which is celebrated by Muslim communities worldwide marks the end of their month of fasting, Ramadan. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
The first proper mosque in Seychelles - the Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Nahayan mosque opened on September 11, 1982. In 2011, it was deemed too small and was demolished to be replaced by a larger, mosque in the same location. Both buildings have been financed by Sheikh Suroor Bin Mohammed Al Nahayan of the United Arab Emirates.
A commercial complex is currently nearing completion near the mosque, which according to Afif, will go a long way towards providing the Islamic Society of Seychelles with a dependable revenue stream to pay for the recurrent costs and implement new programmes.
“So far, we have depended on the generosity of worshippers and donations from friends here abroad, notably the UAE. This worked when our community was small and we had limited activities. But, with a new and ambitious vision and strategy it is now imperative that we have a reliable and regular source of income,” he said.
|Muslims present at 'Stad Popiler' this morning greeting each other after Eid-ul-Fitr prayers. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY