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Fasting Is A Must, Moslems Say 

By Hugues L.T Kamga & Gabrielle D.K Ngaleu* — Moslems in Cameroon have, amidst hardship, joined their fellow faithful around the world in the Ramadan or a month of fasting. Prices of consumables used mostly at this time, like beverages, sugar, flower and other food items are record high. The date fruit used in breaking their fast is very scarce.

This year’s Ramadan is different by the fact that the Moslems are going though a lot of hardship. In spite of the hardship, they say they must fast because fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. During Ramadan, Moslems eat before sunrise and only eat again after sunset. They pray five times a day plus special prayers at night, as the Imam of Buea, El Hadj Mohamed Aboubakar, explains in an interview elsewhere in this issue.

To followers of Islam, Ramadan represents the ninth month of the Islamic calendar as legislated in the Koran. The respect for this month is one of the five pillars of Islam and the month is noted for its rigorous fasting and prayers. The benevolent and sharing spirit of the Moslems is explored during this month too, with works of charity and sharing of food in their communities.

Most of the Moslems The Post spoke to agreed that there are many distractions and temptations but the period of Ramadan is not only one of fasting but also a time for abstention.
Observing the Ramadan for the first time out of his hometown, Douala, Ahmed Abdoulaye said: “I have fasted two days in a row. I journey on foot a lot so when I do that, hunger and other desires leave my mind. Mecca is really far so I could not go on Pilgrimage. I do not have the means. I have a lot of will so it is difficult for me to be tempted.

“I plan and buy what I will use to break my fast in the evening (gestures to a cluster of bananas). The fast is broken at 6.30 pm at the time when we do the fourth prayer. The night is an exceptional period, it is really calm and quiet and it is said that God is very accessible at night; that is why the Taraweeh prayers are said at night. If the prices of our necessary food stuff have added, it is God’s will,” said Abdoulaye. Ben Karima from the Extreme North said his family provided him with the required food stuff for Ramadan.

“Ramadan – the holy month – comes every year.  It cannot be said to be very special this year because it is in itself already special. We give ourselves to God during this month. We cannot criticise during this month, everything happens by the will of God. The Taraweeh prayers are optional. One could almost say they are prayers that provide a bonus. Apart from sugar, everything came from the North,” he disclosed.

“It is my second time of fasting in Buea. I live in Douala but I came here solely for the fast. During the fast I cannot do extra physical activities at the wrong times. The temptations are there but it is for each one of us to find the strength to abstain”. Another of Mohammed’s followers, Mahamat, said temptations are there but there are ways to handle misdemeanors during fasting.

“In the beginning, there are a lot of temptations especially during the first three days. Sometimes you could even forget you are fasting and would get something, eat it, before realising that it is Ramadan. When it is not intentional, the act is not that bad. You just have to make sure you continue with the fast for the month. But if you decide to stop after such an error, then you have not respected Ramadan at all.

During Ramadan every part of your body: your eyes, ears, mouth… everything abstains from evil. Being in a quiet area where there is less temptation, helps to perform a proper fast.” Mohamadoul Amin, Arabic Teacher in the Arabic School of the Buea Islamic Complex Central Mosque holds that the community, during Ramadan, is urged to come together and learn the Koran.

Not only are there extra prayers throughout the month, but there is a blessed night too, he says, adding that: “Ramadan is the best month in the Islamic calendar. It is in this month that the Almighty God sent down guidance to mankind in the form of the Holy Koran from the Seventh Heaven down to the First Heaven.”

Amin explained that: “We also observe special congregational prayers. Here at the Buea Central Mosque, we break the fast together at 6.30 pm after that, from 8 pm we start the Taraweeh prayers. Also, when the month of Ramadan is left 10 days, we have some special prayers we do as from 1.00am to 5 am. This is done on the blessed night during the Ramadan called Lailat Al-Qadr. 

“In the Koran,” Amin continued, “that particular night is better than 1,000 months. The worship in that one night is equivalent to 83 years. We also do consume a lot of fruits to break the fast. The Imam has been inviting everyone to come for a congressional “Iftar”- breaking the fast and Taraweeh prayers.

He has also asked the community to come and study the Koran since it is the month during which the Koran is recited and taught very carefully for the faithful to learn properly. During these sessions, the Imam tells us how to behave during Ramadan; how to fast and other pieces of advice. Ramadan is not a burden for the community; those who come close to Islam are able to understand it,” Amin said.

*(UB Journalism Students on Internship)
First published in The Post print edition no 01447

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