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Time of celebration . . . Oamaru Islamic Centre Imam Nurhisyam Ramli and his wife Noor Laila Abdul Latiff marked the end of Ramadan on Sunday. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

Oamaru’s Muslim community celebrated the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Sunday.

After fasting during daylight hours, Muslims enjoy Eid ul-Fitr – the Festival of Breaking the Fast. Its timing is determined by the sighting of the crescent moon, which occurred on Saturday night.

Prayer sessions were held at the Islamic Centre in Trent St on Sunday, where the premises were big enough to allow the required distancing between groups, Imam Nurhisyam Ramli said.

Observing Ramadan during the Covid-19 lockdown was “quite different” to what they were used to, he said.

The Islamic Centre was locked throughout Level 4, meaning the community could not gather there at nights for special Ramadan worship and breaking the fast together.

The fasting itself was not a problem, Imam Nurhisyam said – it was carried out within each lockdown bubble. Likewise, prayers were still held in the Muslims’ homes.

“We didn’t get the environment,” he said.

“We used to be together, pray together. Not this year.”

The Level 2 restrictions prevented the Muslim community from being able to invite other residents to join in Eid ul-Fitr, Imam Nurhisyam said.

The number of people attending the centre was continuing to grow every year, he said.

He arrived from Malaysia five years ago to take up employment as a halal butcher at the Pukeuri meat works.

The elders of the Islamic Centre had been in Oamaru for about 30 years.

Public awareness of its existence and activities increased after the Christchurch terror attack in March last year, Imam Nurhisyam said.

“We didn’t ask it to happen, but still something good happened.”

Muslims liked being accepted as everyday members of their local population, he said.

“We’re very lucky to get among Kiwis.

“I don’t think it would have happened in other countries.

“New Zealanders are very open, very kind and friendly.”

Imam Nurhisyam wished Oamaru people Eid Mubarak – blessed festival.