Looking at Ramadan and Islamic banking in Rwanda


As the holy month of Ramadan draws to an end, CNBC Africa spoke to the Mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Salim Hitimana about the religious fasting period as well as the issues currently still faced by the Muslim community with regards to Islamic financing.

Sheikh Salim Hitimana says Ramadan helps by boosting the economy because people use more to fast and for arrangements through the period, especially since the period is associated with sharing, a lot of the quantities purchased are larger.


The Muslim community around the world invites individuals, families and groups from all walks of life into their homes to partake in the feast when breaking fast and although its significance is mainly spiritual, it has been a crucial driver of unity among communities.

“If you share with your neighbour and you cooperate with them, you are secure because they will see you as a good partner, so our prophet said: don’t forget your neighbour – when you prepare something you have to take some and the other part take it to your neighbour, that is our culture,” said Sheikh Salim Hitimana.

Across the region and internationally, Islamic banking is gaining momentum due to its rapid growth and resilience to financial crisis; however Sheikh Salim says the progresses in Rwanda could be hastened.

Islamic banking according to Investopedia is one of the principles of Islamic law where two basic principles are prioritised – sharing of profit and loss and the prohibition of the collection and payment of interest.

“We are still struggling to reach there but we need it,” adding that there used to be a bank before which operated on the system of Islam but because of a lack of experience and management the bank no longer functions on that.

On a positive note he says Atlantis has implemented that system which has pleased a lot of Muslims but the community calls upon more banks to do the same.

“It is a business, when you open it, all Muslims will come to you and you will gain customers – if we get five or seven banks which will help Muslims to enter in the economy, we will appreciate that initiative,” he said.

Sheikh Salim says discussions with banks in Islamic countries are still underway about bringing their business into the East African country.