Christians look to join Muslims to mark end of fasting month of Ramadan
Christians leaders urge their community members to celebrate Eid festivities with Muslims to promote culture of dialogue
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania
As Muslims all over the world await the festivities of Eid al-Fitr, to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, many Christians in the East African country of Tanzania are also awaiting to join Muslims in the celebrations.
“I think it is a day for everyone to rejoice. We love our Muslim brothers and sisters therefore we have every reason to join them in happiness and in sickness,” Vera Kibodya, a resident of the port city of Dar es Salaam, told Anadolu Agency.
Kibodya, a devout catholic, said this is a special year for followers of the two religions because Ramadan coincided with Lent – an observance recognizing the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert. Christians in Tanzania abstain from eating animal products during this period.
“The period of fasting has important religious significance, for Muslims and Christians alike,” said Kibodya.
Christians are urging their neighbors to celebrate the festivities together to promote fraternity and the culture of dialogue.
“Humans are not perfect. As people from two different religious orientations, we may have some differences here and there but I think talking to each other can be a great remedy,” said Kibodya.
Analysts say peaceful coexistence of religious groups in Tanzania has its deep roots.
At the height of tensions between Christians and Muslims in the 1980s, President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, nicknamed Mzee Ruksa, intervened powerfully and imposed precise rules, which helped maintain peace.
In the light of smoldering religious tension over the sale of pork, analysts say President Mwinyi, a Muslim himself, allowed the public sale of pork.
“President Mwinyi made a very risky but important decision, which had defined the future and mutual respect between Christians and Muslims,” said Leons Maziku, a teacher at the St. Augustine University of Tanzania.
Although Mwinyi is hailed for defusing religious tensions, observers say religious tolerance in Tanzania is the fruit of good policies of the country’s founding president, Julius Nyerere.
“President Nyerere played a very important role to unite Tanzanians. He did not allow religious matters to interfere with the affairs of the state,” said Maziku.
At Maandazi road street, Msasani peninsula in Dar es Salaam, 68-year-old Ismail Sabiti, who serves as an imam in a local mosque, is preparing to invite his Christian neighbors to have an Eid feast with his family.
He said since Islam preaches peace, progress cannot be made without promoting good relations with neighbors.
“I strongly believe in the peaceful coexistence of all citizens irrespective of their religions. For me, peace and harmony between people are essential," he told Anadolu Agency.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.