Shi’ites attend Christmas service in Zaria, present gifts to church

Islamic group Shi’ites joined Christians at a Christmas service at St. Joseph Catholic Church, Samaru, Zaria, Kaduna State, on Monday to strengthen religious harmony and unity between religious groups.

The leader of the Shi’ite group, Isah-Hassan Mshelgaru, said it acknowledged Christmas as a day for festivities, friendliness and unity.

He added that joining the Christian faithful as they marked Christmas was meant to renew hope for divine unity among Muslims and other religions.

Mr Mshelgaru said the group’s visit to the church for Christmas was to strengthen the relationship between the two faith groups.

He noted that Islam and Christianity were revered faiths, with more than 90 per cent of Nigeria’s population as adherents.

“When other faithful unite with the two faith groups, it means the whole of Nigeria is united,’’ he said.

Speaking on the impact of the visit, Mr Mshelgaru said that as a group, it started visits to churches more than 25 years ago, and since then, there has been improved understanding between the group and Christians.

“The visit has reduced the fears and some animosities between the two faith groups. They (Christians) are now open to us; we share sentiments and problems.

“The regular exchange of visits has bridged the gaps between us,’’ he said.

Earlier, the parish priest, Isak Augustine, commended the Islamic group for the visit and urged the group to make more visits to strengthen religious harmony and unity.

He prayed for the peace of God to come into Nigeria and to salvage the country from myriad socio-economic challenges.

The Shi’ite group later presented gifts to the Catholic church.