GUWAHATI - Praying for a new chapter of peace in their community, Muslims in India's northeastern state of Assam celebrated `Eid Al-Fitr with special prayers at mosques and open grounds for lasting peace following ethnic clashes in which scores of Muslims were killed.
"We have organized special prayers today (Monday) to pray for lasting peace in Assam," Anowar Hussain, the imam of the Burha Jame Mosque in Guwahati, which is one of the oldest mosques in the state, told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) on Monday, August 20.
The true meaning of Islam is peace and we have prayed to the Almighty Allah to empower every one of us so that we can follow the true spirit of Islam. `Eid Mubarak! (Special Coverage)
All About `Eid Al-Fitr
`Eid Al-Fitr is one the two main Islamic religious festivals along with `Eid Al-Adha.
Millions of Muslims across the world began celebrating the `Eid Al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan month of fasting on Sunday and Monday.
Hussain said that all `Eid committees in Assam had decided to organize the special prayers to pray for peace as well as for the well-being of the displaced people in three recent violence hit districts of the state so they can return home soon.
"We have also prayed to the Almighty to stop the mistrust among communities that have made several people from this part of the country flee from states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra and others," said Hussain.
Sectarian violence erupted a month ago after four youths were killed by unidentified men in the isolated Kokrajhar district.
In retaliation, armed men from Bodo tribes attacked Muslims for suspicion of being behind the killings.
Clashes spread to the neighboring Chirang and Dhubri districts over the weekend, leaving at least 22 people dead.
Thousands of people were also left homeless as their villages were set on fire in the violence.
During the prayers, Indian officials urged all religious backgrounds to maintain the age-old tradition of communal harmony.
"Assam has a history of communal harmony," Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said after offering his prayers.
The diverse communities residing in Assam has been living together since ages and we all must maintain the age old harmony, which has been a identity of the people of Assam.
Surrounded by China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan, Assam is home to more than 200 ethnic and tribal groups and has been racked by separatist revolts since India's independence from Britain in 1947.
In recent years, Hindu and Christian tribes have vented strong sentiments against Muslims, calling them Bangladeshi immigrants.
Muslims account for 160 million of India's 1.1 billion people, the world's third-largest Muslim population after those of Indonesia and Pakistan.
According to the 2011 census, 31.3 percent of Assam's total population is Muslim and there are over 300 mosques in Assam's main city Guwahati.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net