JOHANNESBURG – Braving bad weather and heavy rains, thousands of South Africa Muslims have celebrated `Eid al-Fitr with open door prayers as imams led religious sermons urging the religious minority to keep Ramadan spirits of unity and helping the poor.
"Despite the drizzling, we prayed outside a sports ground in Mayfair and the turn-out was very good Alhamdulillah," Sheikh Ahmed Mahmud of the Mayfair mosque in Johannesburg told Anadolu Agency on Saturday, August 10.
`Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.
Marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, it was marked on Thursday with `Eid prayers early in the morning.
On `Eid morning, Muslims awoke to heavy rains which disrupted prayers in different cities.
"We were expecting between 5,000-7,000 people to attend the Eid prayers outside this sports ground, but unfortunately due to rain we had to change the venue to a mosque in Erasmia, which is a bit smaller in size," Sheikh Ebrahim Tayob, the organizer of the Pretoria Eidgar, said.
While imam Tayob was forced to change the prayer venue to mosque, other imams decided to delay `Eid prayers in the capital Pretoria because of the heavy rains.
"Most Imams I spoke to in different mosques told me they had delayed their prayer time from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. because of the heavy rains," he said.
After special prayers to mark the day, festivities and merriment start with visits to the homes of friends and relatives.
During `Eid days, families and friends exchange visits to express well wishes and children, wearing new clothes bought especially for `Eid, enjoy going out in parks and open fields.
Muslims make up some 1.5 percent of South Africa’s 49 million-strong population, according to the CIA fact book.
After joyous `Eid prayers, leading Muslim scholars hosted a breakfast for members of the community, where recitations of the holy Quran and lectures were given to attendees.
"We have been united during the month of Ramadan and I encourage all of you to continue with the same spirit," Sheikh Imad Kishtah, who led the Eid prayers at the Erasmia mosque, told the congregation.
Hafiz Ismail Hazarvi, the Deputy Principal of Darul Uloom Pretoria, voiced a similar message.
"Let’s continue behaving like we did in the holy month of Ramadan by helping the poor and doing other good deeds which Allah wants us to do," he told attendees.
Sharing Muslims their `Eid, South African President Jacob Zuma offered happy `Eid wishes to the Muslim community.
"On behalf of government and the people of South Africa, I am pleased to celebrate the end of Ramadan by wishing the Muslim community in South Africa and around the world a happy Eid al-fitr," the president said in a statement.
Zuma also encouraged Muslims to continue with the spirit of Ramadan which teaches Muslims to be disciplined, patient and dedicated to their faith.
The leader of the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s main opposition party, Helen Zille also offered her best wishes to Muslims.
"May this day be one of peace and joy for you and your family," Zille said in statement.
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