Understanding Ramadhan the Holy Month

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For many Kenyans with Muslim neighbours, Ramadan is synonymous to getting a plate of delicious, colourful, spicy meal every evening. We sought to understand why it is a significant period for Muslims globally.

 

Ramadan-meal

The popular Biriani dish

 

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar in which participating Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs during the daylight hours (such as smoking or sex). However, Ramadan is much more than not eating and drinking; it is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention to God and practice self-discipline and sacrifice.

Why is this month of fasting so important for Muslims?

During Ramadan, Muslims ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance and help in refraining from everyday evils, as well as purifying themselves through self-restraint and good deeds

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is considered one of the 5 Pillars of Islam that shape a Muslim’s life. These are daily Prayers; pilgrimage to Mecca (Makka) is done once in a lifetime; charity and professing one’s faith are both ongoing. Fasting for the month of Ramadan is an annual observance; where Muslims take an entire month out of their lives to observe this strict fast and rededicate themselves to worship and faith.

Ramadan-friendship

Hannah with Customer Service Senior Managers.

Muslims are called upon to use this month to make peace with those who have wronged us, strengthen ties with family and friends and do away with bad habits. The Arabic word for “fasting” literally means “to refrain”–and it means not only refraining from food and drink, but also from evil actions, thoughts, and words.

Ramadan is a time to practice self-restraint; a time to cleanse the body and soul from impurities and re-focus one’s self on the worship of God and charity to mankind.

Besides fasting from food, drink, and other physical needs, what other activities do Muslims engage in?

The physical effects of the fast are felt by Muslims as a reminder of those who suffer throughout the year, that is the poor, homeless, and refugees as they cannot meet their basic needs. It is also a reminder to Muslims not to be wasteful and to feel empathy for those who face hunger daily. For instance, here in Nairobi, on the streets, you will find Muslims distributing dates and water to those stuck in traffic because they forgot to carry something edible to open their fast with.

 

Ramadan charity event

Distributing food at an orphanage for girls

Muslims also visit children homes and give food to families that do not have means to get food for Iftar. Additionally, in mosques such as South C food is cooked daily and at Iftar, Muslims who experience lack are all served food so as to enjoy a decent meal.

Roles are reversed as all year round, the poor stay hungry but during Ramadhan people who have never been hungry or poor, get to fast. Consequently, the rich empathize with the poor on how they feel. In this way, everyone appreciates what they have as well as aquire humility.

Therefore, fasting is not merely physical but is rather the total commitment of the person’s body and soul to the spirit of the fast.

Any tips for those planning to travel during Ramadhan?

For places like Mombasa and Watamu, shopping malls are closed during the day and opened after opening fast till late at night. Be discreet when eating your lunch, smoking your cigarette or even publicly showing affection to your loved one. Visit the markets in the evening hours if you are looking for sweet treats.

Hannah Rehman Global Head of Control Jumia Travel

Hannah Rehman Global Head of Control Jumia Travel

Hannah Rehman is the Global Head of Control. That is to stay, she has a keen eye for spotting fraudsters and giving them cold feet.

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1 Comment

  1. Alisha

    May 26, 2017 at 8:42 am

    Great Article, and Ramadan Kareem to all fasting

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