Zimbabwe Muslims welcome Ramadan through fasting, charity

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SHAFAQNA - Fatima Mohamed takes a long walk to the vegetable market to buy enough food for the next few days, as she caters not only for her own family, but also for the greater community

Despite cash being hard to come by, Fatima Mohamed takes the long walk to the vegetable market in Zimbabwe’s Mbare township to buy enough food for the next few days.

The 53-year-old is a mother of three sons and two daughters. In the back of her mind, she thinks of the sacrifice ahead.

She would not just be catering for her own family, but also for the greater community.

As a widow, Fatima is dressed in a black robe. In her left hand is the basket that she fills with an assortment of items, including Indian rice, peanut butter, spices, fresh sweet potatoes, cassava and yams.

Fatima is not preparing for a traditional banquet, but rather for a very important time in her religion, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“It makes me proud to be making such preparations as I know this is the time I will be fasting, full of prayers and giving,” Fatima told Anadolu Agency.

The $20 worth of food Fatima has just bought is typical of the special type of food Muslims treat themselves to when they break their fast.

True meaning of Ramadan

“Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam,” Sultan Adam Salamu of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe told Anadolu Agency. “Its time comes once a year on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.”

Having started on Thursday and lasting for 29 to 30 days, depending on the sighting of the next moon, close to five million Zimbabwean Muslims aim to fulfill the Islamic obligation of fasting.

The sick, elderly and pregnant women are all exempt from fasting if it could harm their health. Young children below the age of puberty are not obligated to fast, although some choose to do so as practice.

For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of increased prayer, fasting, charity and self-accountability.

Charitable activities

During Ramadan, mosques run various activities for orphans, widows and the needy who look forward to benefiting from the month’s spirit of giving.

In Mbare, the Charitable Foundation For Development has already started distributing food hampers.

A few days ago, 1,500 hampers catering for 9,000 families were donated in Mbare alone, said Hassan Chipanga, the foundation’s manager.

“The spirit of giving is associated with Ramadan, so as a charitable organization this is the time we go all out to give to the needy, orphans, widows and even non-Muslims,” Chipanga told Anadolu Agency.

According to the Charitable Foundation For Development, nearly 5,000 hampers will be distributed in Mbare alone courtesy of funding from Islamic Relief in South Africa and Germany-based WEFA.

“Most of the donations are given out on the day of Eid al-Fitr, a festival celebrated for finishing the month-long fast,” Chipanga said.

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