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Ramadan in Gambia
Culture & Traditions   National Holidays   Religious Festivals   

 Start Date: * Wednesday 16 May, 2018   See also  HERE  
 End Date :   ~ Thursday 14 June, 2018 (Koriteh)  

*(Note - Dates can vary according to moon sightings).
Each year people in Gambia observe the holy month of Ramadan (the fasting month) and is the ninth month of the Muslim lunar year and is the fourth pillar of Islam.  It has double significance as this is the month that the Holy Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad and that night has been called the Night of Power - Layla-tul Qadr. Devout Gambians Muslims strive to make themselves pure, especially during this month, by ritual and spiritual observances.

During Ramadan, Muslims in The Gambia fast from sun-up to sun-down daily, not having anything to eat, drink, smoke or indulging in sexual relations. A special feast is prepared for the breaking of the fast, where everyone present is invited to partake of the dinner after the all-day fast.

It is considered rude-form to eat or drink during the day in public while others are abstaining from food or drink. If a Muslim keeps the fast during Ramadan, it means sins he committed the previous year are forgiven.

The month ends with special festivities on the Eid al-Fitr (Day of Feasting) called  Koriteh when families and friends truly rejoice for having completed the commandment of Allah by successful abstinence and by zikr (remembrance of Allah) at all times.

What is Ramadan?
The word is derived from the Arabic root word ramida or ar-ramad meaning intense scorching heat and dryness, especially the ground. From the same root there is ramdaa, sunbaked sand, and the famous proverb: "Kal Mustajeer minar Ramadaa binnar" - to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. And in a hadith the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "The prayer of repenters is due when the young camel can feel the sun's heat early in the morning." (Muslim)

Thus, the word Ramadan is so called to indicate the heating sensation in the stomach as a result of thirst). Others said it is so called because Ramadan scorches out the sins with good deeds, as the sun burns the ground. Some said it is so called because the hearts and souls are more readily receptive to the admonition and remembrance of Allah during Ramadan, as the sand and stones are receptive to the sun's heat.

Rules & Regulations of Ramadan:
Fasting in the month of Ramadan is compulsory on every Gambian Muslim adult.

Abstaining from food, liquids and sexual activity from dawn to sunset.

The intention to fast must be made every day before dawn. The intention (niyyah) may be made during night before going to sleep or it can also be made at the time of Suhoor before dawn. Suhoor is eating before fasting. It should be as close to Fajr time as possible.

What does not break the fast-
If anyone forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks, he should complete his fast, for it is only Allah who has fed him and given him drink. (A Hadith from Muslim).

Unintentional vomiting.

Swallowing things which are not possible to avoid, such as one's saliva, street dust, smoke, etc.

Brushing the teeth.

Injection or intra-venous which is solely medical and not nutritional.

Bathing (Al-Ghusul) -, provided extra caution is taken to prevent water being swallowed by the mouth or nose.

Colouring the eyelids, or using eye drops is permitted whether the solution reaches the throat or not, the reason being the eyes are not the regular passage for food or nourishment.

Kissing (Qublah) - for faster who can control himself, for married couples, expressing affection toward each other by kissing is inevitable. It may take place any time, day or night.

Rinsing Mouth (Madmadah) - Is one of the procedures of ablution (wudu). Therefore, the faster is permitted to rinse his mouth and cleanse his nose by sniffing in water and blowing it out. However, during fasting the process should be applied lightly for fear of swallowing water. If water reaches the throat unintentionally, or without negligence on your parts, the fast is still valid, but if water is swallowed intentionally, the fast is nullified.

Who is Exempted from Fasting?
The Sick - Those who are sick but are able to fast must do so. However, if fasting is detrimental to a person’s health, due to illness, then this person is not required to fast. Those who have no hope of recovery are to compensate by paying Fidyah – The feeding of a needy person for every day missed. Those who are temporarily ill are to make up the missed days after their recovery before the next Ramadan.

Travellers - A traveller who will face no difficulty in fasting may choose not to fast, but fasting in his case is preferable. If, however, fasting will cause a traveller hardships then it is advised to take up the favour and concession of Allah granted to him, and break the fast. The missed days must be made up before the next Ramadan.

Children - Fasting is not required of children until they reach the age of puberty. The signs of puberty are: the growth of pubic hair, the occurrence of wet dreams, and in the case of a female, the menstrual period. If a person turns the age of fifteen and none of these signs have appeared, then they are considered to have reached the age of puberty. Although children are not obligated to fast prior to puberty, they should be encouraged to fast if there is no fear of harm as this will train them to fast.

Gambian women who are pregnant or breast feeding are allowed to break their fast if they fear for their health or the health of their infant or foetus.

* Note: No guarantees are given as to the accuracy of the dates above.
Moon sightings or regional customs  may cause a variation of the date for Islamic holidays, which begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday.


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