Rwanda: Inculcate Positive Values in Youth, Muslims Told

Muslims should put in more efforts in the battle to ensure the youth have the best values and steer away from all vices that may stand between them and a good future.

The call was made on Tuesday by Sheikh Salim Hitimana, the Mufti of Rwanda, during the national prayer to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, held at Kigali Stadium in Nyamirambo.

Eid marked the end of the month-long fasting period, Ramadhan.

Muslims braved heavy morning downpour and flocked to the stadium in their thousands.

Mufti Hitimana said that Rwandan youth, just like their peers anywhere else in the world, are faced with challenges and temptations that may compromise their lives, something he said Muslims should fight.

Thousands flocked to Kigali Stadium in Nyamirambo for Eid al-Fitr prayers yesterday. / Sam Ngendahimana

Such challenges, he said, include unwanted pregnancies among teenage girls, drug abuse and extremism.

"We need to impart good values to our youth to prepare them to become good citizens," he said.

Fight radicalism

While fundamentalists who do bad things in the name of Islam continue to destabilise the world through terrorism have not been very common in Rwanda, Hitimana said that Rwandans, especially Muslims should be on alert, noting that there have been some cases.

In March, the International Crimes High Court Chamber in Nyanza District sentenced 15 people to varying jail terms after they were convicted for belonging to extremist groups, including Al Shabaab and Islamic State and providing them support.

"We have cases of young Muslims who were convicted by courts for engaging in acts of extremism and they are all Muslim. My message is that this is against Islam because Islam means peace and tolerance. No Muslim should be radical, we are committed to condemn it," the Mufti added.

Sustain peace

Mufti Habimana urged all Muslims to maintain a prayerful lifestyle even after the Ramadan period and extend support to the needy.

"Over the last month, we have supported the poor, we shared a meal with the hungry and we showed love to them; this should continue, we all have an obligation to do what Allah wants us to do and we should respect all that is in our holly book, the Quran," he added.

Female Muslims listen to sermon during the prayer to celebrate Eid al-Fitr at Kigali Stadium. / Sam Ngendahimana

"Over the past 25 years, Islam has gained freedom to worship than ever before, this is thanks to good governance that promotes equality, it is also thanks to peace and stability we are enjoying and, as Muslims, we have the responsibility to sustain the gains made," he added.

"As we celebrate Eid al-Fitr, it is important to celebrate in line with the teachings of Allah. We must avoid all sorts of temptations," the Mufti said.

Muslims speak out

Hadidja Zaninka, a mother of three, said she had used the month of Ramadhan as an opportunity to create communion with Allah and seek forgiveness from Him.

"It was also an opportunity to be closer to my family members and the community, I personally managed to share a meal with the poor and the sick, especially in hospitals," she said.

"I am committed to keep doing just that and, as women, we need to be more active to ensure we educate our youth about the consequences of drug abuse," she added.

Ramadhan is the most important month for believers in the Islam faith world over and it is characterised by fasting, prayer and charitable deeds.

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