Today marks the beginning of the Ramadhan fast by Muslims around the world. The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar II, who is the spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria, had earlier, on Sunday in Sokoto, directed the Muslim Ummah to commence fasting on June 6. This was after the sighting of the new moon had been verified by the National Moon Sighting Committee and that of Sokoto. The Sultan appealed to Nigerians to intensify their acts of worship during the month-long fasting and to fervently pray for the nation’s leaders to succeed, at all levels as well as pray for sustained peace, unity of Nigeria and the world, as well as inter- religious harmony.
In related news, Muslims in the UK are facing the longest Ramadhan in 33 years as this year’s fasting coincides with the Summer Solstice meaning long days of fasting. As Muslims will not eat or drink during daylight, the fasting can stretch to about 19 hours in the UK. The Muslim Council of Britain advised UK Muslims to drink plenty of water during the period between iftar and suhoor as dehydration is a big risk during this hot weather.
Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a time when Muslims will fast during the hours of daylight. It lasts for 29 or 30 days. Muslims believe the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) during this month. As one of the five pillars of Islam, fasting is obligatory for all healthy Muslims (apart from the sick, aged and the traveller) – a test of patience and endurance whilst refraining from eating, drinking, and sexual activity. It is common to have one meal, known as the Suhoor, just before dawn and another, known as the Iftar, directly after sunset.
The end of Ramadhan is marked by ‘Eid-ul-Fitr’, the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast.