Ramadan (Begins) in
Days to go:
Ramadan is the most sacred month of the year for millions of Muslims worldwide. As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, its observance aims to help Muslims grow spiritually and purify themselves by stirring compassion for the less fortunate. During Ramadan, Muslims partake in fasting, prayer, self-reflection, and community acts of charity. The fast held from dawn until sunset requires abstinence from food, drink, and other physical needs. It is believed that through sacrifice and self-discipline, Muslims can draw nearer to God and cultivate a sense of humility and gratitude.
In South Africa, Islam arrived in the 17th century with the influx of slaves from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Indian subcontinent, bringing with them the tradition of Ramadan. Today, over one million Muslims, or roughly 2% of South Africa's population observe Ramadan annually. To South African Muslims, Ramadan's key aspects include Taraweeh prayers (additional evening prayers), community iftars (breaking of the fast), and charity drives. During this time, mosques become hubs of spiritual activity, fostering unity and a sense of communal identity.
For those observing Ramadan in South Africa, the start of the fasting period is announced by the sighting of the moon, following the lunar Islamic calendar. This practice varies in dates each year due to the lunar cycle but often falls within the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Community groups coordinate efforts to sight the moon sighting and relay this information countrywide, often through local radio stations. Typical South African Iftar meals might include samoosas, dates, and haleem, a rich meaty stew. Ramadan concludes with Eid-ul-Fitr, a celebration marking the end of the fasting period, involving prayer, feasting, and festivities.
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