Wits lawns may be a more subdued place next week, with less hubblies bubbling and coloured with more girls covered in head scarves, as the Muslim students enter their fasting month.
Next week marks the beginning of Ramadan, when Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking, intimacy and intercourse, from before the break of dawn until sunset.
Saum (fasting) is one of the five pillars of Islam that is obligatory for every responsible and fit Muslim. This month of fasting is a unique moral and spiritual characteristic of Islam.
In a different routine, Muslims wake up at pre-dawn (4.30 am) to partake in the early morning meal called Suhur.
Iftaar (the sunset meal) is the time of day that most look forward to, not only because one can indulge in the many delicacies that are synonymous with Ramadan but also because it is the time of day when the prayer of a fasting person is said to be answered.
Fasting is not just a test on the body but also of the mind and soul. One doesn’t just abstain from food and liquids but from seeing, hearing and doing evil as well. A fasting Muslim is taught how to practise self-restraint, patience as well as appreciation in this month.
Muslims break their fast with dates and water, along with a variety of different snacks and savouries.
The fasting day does not end at sunset, but continues to additional night time prayers (Taraweeh) that are read after the fifth compulsory daily prayers.
This month is also special as it is the month when Islam’s Holy book (the Quraan) was revealed. A lot of emphasis is placed on reciting as much of the Quraan as possible during this month.
Ramadan lasts 29 or 30 days depending on the moon’s position and ends with the feast on the Islamic holiday of Eid ul-Fitr.