Thousands of Liberian Muslims last Monday joined the Islamic community worldwide to observe the annual fast and prayer month of Ramadan. And since Monday, the faithful have besieged their various mosques in the evening to offer prayers, called Traweeh, which will continue throughout the month of June.
Ramadan, according to Islamic sources in Monrovia, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The observance began across the country with the Ruyat-e-Hilal (moon-sighting) a day earlier. The moon-sighting methodology can lead to different countries declaring the start of Ramadan a day or two apart.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity and performing the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.
According to an Islamic authority in an interview with the Daily Observer, Ramadan is sacred to Muslims because tradition says the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed during that month.
Speaking at midday prayers to a large body of Muslims on Saturday at the Gurley Street mosque, Sheikh Abubakar Sumaworo urged Muslims to prepare to observe the holy month.
Today is the third day of the observance and believers will observe it later in joint mass prayer sessions that will be held at mosques across the country.
According to Islamic sources, on each day of the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset. Even a sip of water, coffee or a cigarette can invalidate one’s fast. There are exceptions to fasting for children, the elderly, the sick, women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating, and travelers.
And while believers spend the month of Ramadan in mosques for evening prayers, their free time during the day is often spent reading the Quran and listening to religious lectures.
Many break their fast as Prophet Muhammad did around 1,400 years ago, with a sip of water and some dates at sunset, followed by prayers.
Grand Mufti Sumaworo said the fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the sufferings of the less fortunate.
The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day holiday called Eid al-Fitr.