Iftar, breaking of the fast

Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and a holy month when Muslims all over the world fast from dawn to sunset. Ramadan is also a month of introspection, prayer for Muslims, giving back and helping people. The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day festival known as Eid al-Fitr, one of Islam's major holidays. Eid al-Fitr, also called the "Festival of Breaking the Fast", is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting (ṣawm).

One of the most significant points in Ramadan is Iftar. Iftar means breaking the day-long fast in the evening meal with which Muslims end their Ramadan fast at sunset.

They break the fast at the time of the call to prayer, called Maghrib. Traditionally but not mandatory, three dates are eaten to break the fast in emulation of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed, who broke his fast in this manner. Followed by drinking water or hot tea, this is the first part of the meal. After praying, the entire meal will be enjoyed and consumed. Breaking the fast has special meaning followed by prayer, feelings of appreciations and thankfulness.

In The Gambia, Iftar is called ˝Ndogu˝. The family eats together at home. A carpet or a big mat on the floor serves as the dining space and the food is laid in the centre while the family sits around it.

Feeding someone with Iftar as a form of charity is very rewarding and such was practised by prophet Muhammed. In The Gambia and the whole world, it is very common to share food with neighbours and relatives. Some companies and wealthy families will prepare Iftar and send it to the mosques every day where less privileged people come and break their fast. People are also able to contribute for iftars prepared by mosques.

Gambians prepare lots of food in Ramadan for the family from porridge, rice, sauce and other traditional Gambian dishes.

The fast begins with a pre-dawn meal called Sahur.

If you are in The Gambia during Ramadan, you can try to fast. It can be very meaningful and a great experience. Having Iftar with Gambians may be one of the most unique experiences.

You can also surprise the Gambian family with a bag of rice, oil, sugar or clothing. They will be delighted and thankful.



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