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Ramadan in The Gambia

My Magazine 2023/02
7 min
Ramadan is an important time of year for Muslims worldwide, including those in The Gambia. The Gambia is a predominantly Muslim country, and Ramadan is a significant part of the country's religious and cultural identity.

Celebrating Ramadan and the importance behind it

Fasting

Muslims in The Gambia, like those around the world, observe a strict fast during the daylight hours of Ramadan. This means abstaining from food, drink, and other physical needs from dawn until sunset.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Gambians see fasting as purifying their souls, developing self-discipline and self-control, and empathising with less fortunate people.

Dates are eaten after sunset to break the fast, and are often given away as a form of charity

 

Prayer

Muslims in The Gambia also spend more time in prayer during Ramadan. They attend daily prayers at the mosque, and many also perform additional voluntary prayers called Taraweeh at night.

Beaded necklaces are used while praying

Ramadan is a time of spiritual renewal and growth for Gambian Muslims. It is a time to focus on their faith, connect with God through prayer and worship, and deepen their understanding of Islamic teachings.

 

Charity

Giving to the less fortunate is a significant part of Ramadan in The Gambia. Muslims are encouraged to donate to charity, feed the poor, and aid those in need.

This spirit of generosity and compassion strengthens the bonds within the community and helps to alleviate poverty and hardship.

Colorful prayer mats are sold by street vendors on roadsides

 

Family Gatherings and community building

Family and community gatherings are also an essential part of Ramadan in The Gambia. After breaking the fast in the evening, families and friends often come together for a meal called Iftar, which is usually a large feast.

Ramadan is a time for Gambians to come together as a community. Muslims in The Gambia often break their fast together in groups, sharing food and conversation. They also attend daily prayers at the mosque, which fosters a sense of solidarity and belonging.

 

Gamo nights

During Ramadan, special night markets known as "Gamo" are set up where people can buy food and other items for Iftar or Suhur (the pre-dawn meal) and listen to Islamic preaching and songs.

 

Celebrations

The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a three-day festival called Eid al-Fitr, locally known as Tobaski. On this occasion, Muslims in The Gambia wear new clothes, visit relatives and friends, and exchange gifts. This is an important time for Gambians to come together and celebrate the end of the holy month. It is a time of joy and happiness, and it strengthens the bonds between family and friends. 

Overall, Ramadan is a time of great spiritual and cultural significance in The Gambia. It is a time for Muslims to come together, reflect on their faith, and strengthen their connection to God and their community.

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