- Muslims around the world commenced the Ramadan fasting this week and Africans were not left out.
- Considering the number of Muslims in Africa, Ramadan is such a big subject.
- The fasting is typically expected to last for 30 days.
Felicitations from well-wishers, global leaders, and corporate bodies are still pouring in as hundreds of millions of Muslim faithful in Africa mark the Islamic holy month of Ramadan by beginning the first daily fast on Thursday 24th March in most African countries, and on the 25th in countries like South Africa.
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, had sent best wishes to Muslims as they started the 30-days of Ramadan fasting, urging them to use the season “to project the best and finest virtues of Islam by personal conduct and not precept.” Similarly, Algerian President, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, exchanged warm greetings with his Mauritanian counterpart, Mohamed Ould Ghazouani.
The four-week period of worship requires abstinence from food and water from dawn to dusk, as well as some sober reflection, before gathering with family and friends for generous night-time meals. According to Islam, fasting draws the faithful closer to God and reminds them of the suffering of the poor. In addition to fasting, charity giving is another of Islam´s five pillars. During Ramadan, mosques and charities regularly provide meals for the poor at long tables that sprawl out onto the street.
Across African capitals, families prepare and sell culinary delights weeks in advance to mark the break of the fast each evening, a meal known as Iftar. This short commercial boom strengthens businesses even as the faithful prepare to have their faith strengthened. On the Islamic Calendar, this ninth month is regarded as a sacred period. This entire season honors the exposure of the first texts of the holy book, the Holy Quran, to the Prophet Muhammad from Allah. In addition to fasting from dawn to dusk, during this time, Muslims are encouraged to perform prayers, recite The Quran, and be benevolent.
Ramadan typically lasts a full month, about 30 days, even though the dates usually vary due to the phases of the moon. Islam is the major religion in many African countries, especially in the northern part. As of 2023, over 95 percent of the population in countries like Morocco, Mauritania, Somalia, Tunisia, and Algeria are practicing Muslims. In countries like Egypt about 92 percent of the people are Muslims. Other west African countries like Ghana and Nigeria have sizeable numbers of Muslims as well. Almost one-third of the world’s Muslim population can be found in Africa.