Nairobi: Muslims in Kenya Monday joined other faithful across the world to celebrate Eid Ul Adh-ha or the “Feast of Sacrifice” amid merrymaking and cheer.
The big day in the Muslim calendar was marked as millions of Muslims including, 5,000 Kenyans who are currently in Mecca for the annual pilgrimage begun the final religious rites including sacrificing animals, shaving their heads and the symbolic stoning of the devil.
Faithful in the country kicked off their celebrations with special morning prayers conducted in open fields and mosques and listening to religious sermons from Muslim leaders.
In Nairobi, faithful dressed in flowing robes and dresses gathered in Sir Ali Muslim clubs and other places where sermons by religious leaders emphasised sharing with the needy members of the society and strengthening the family and community bonds.
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“This is the time to rededicate ourselves to maintaining a meaningful and strong relationship with God and our fellow human beings,” said Sheikh Fathuddin Thangal, Chairman of the Council of Muslim Scholars who delivered the main speech.
He added: “Muslims should strive to play a positive role in the development of the country by upholding peace and harmonious coexistence with other Kenyans and creating opportunities for all Kenyans.”
On his part, Majority Leader Aden Duale called on Muslim leaders to play their part against individuals and groups who misuse the name of religion to take the lives of innocent people and creating disorder.
“Let us all stand up to such people by being good ambassadors of Islam and Kenya by upholding good character and relating well with others. If we stand on the sidelines, we will be doing a disservice to our religion and country,” he said.
He condemned the recent attack on Central Police Station in Mombasa saying investigations will soon reveal the motives of the attackers.
Duale expressed gratitude to President Uhuru Kenyatta for agreeing to gazette this year’s Eid ul Adh-ha as a public holiday for all Kenyans saying the move will enhance goodwill.
It was roaring business Monday for sellers of goats and sheep as faithful sought to purchase the animals for sacrifice.
In Eid Ul Adh-ha, Muslims who can afford are strongly encouraged to sacrifice animals in the footsteps of Abraham, who almost sacrificed his own son according to religious scripture.
Part of the meat is then shared with the needy members of the society, neighbours and friends to strengthen the community bonds.
Shopping malls and supermarkets were also full as people made last-minute shopping for clothes, food and drinks to garnish the celebrations while parents and their children filled amusement parks.
“I feel happy today as I am able to spend quality time with my family and friends. It is not everyday I get this time and space to be with my family. I thank God for this,” said Yusuf Ahmed, an Accountant based in Nairobi.
On his part, Sheikh Abdulmalik Kipsang of Bungoma’s Tawhid Mosque urged Muslims to share Eid festivities with the rest of Kenyans in order to enhance goodwill.
“Let us invite our friends and neigbours who are not Muslims into our homes and share our special Eid meals and company with them. This will enhance unity among Kenyans. Let all Kenyans feel part of Eid,” he said.