Muslims in Ghana have joined their counterparts around the world to commence the annual month-long 29 or 30-day fast.
Muslims follow the lunar calendar and so the commencement of the fasting which falls within the Ramadan month is not fixed but dependent on the sighting of the crescent of the moon.
The first watching for the moon as announced by the Hillal Committee – a body of Muslim clerics – was fixed for Saturday evening (4th May, 2019), which coincides with the 29th day of the Islamic calendar of Shaaban. Failing to spot it automatically suggests that the month is a 30-day one and so today (Monday) is the beginning of the month-long fast.
During the period, Muslims qualified to fast should mandatorily abstain from the eating of food, drinking of water and other bodily pleasures, such as sexual intercourse, from dawn to dusk. It is a month during which the faithful are enjoined to engage in bountiful acts of charity.
The date for the commencement of the fast has often been mired in controversy resulting in a non-uniform date for the start of the religious process. This year, it appears most Muslims in the country have started the ritual today.
Those who are not required to fast are persons who are infirmed but such persons would atone for the missing days by fasting for the equal number of days they missed the fast.
Those travelling and for whom engagement in the ritual is not ideal must also not fast but like the infirmed they too would atone when the rituals are over. It applies to lactating mothers and women experiencing their periods.
Those who as a result of chronic health conditions are unable to fast because if they do the ritual could have serious health implications on them should not fast but feed a prescribed a number of poor persons on a daily basis for the period of the religious process.
The month-long fasting is one of the five canons of Islam. The others are the declaration of faith in the monotheism of God, praying five times a day, zakat or giving alms from one’s possessions annually to the poor and performing the Hajj at least once in one’s lifetime.
National Chief Imam Sheikh Osman Nuhu Sharubutu has on the occasion congratulated all Muslims in Ghana and around the world for living to witness another Ramadan month.
Speaking through his spokesperson, Sheikh Armeyaw Shuaibu, he said: “Muslims should be mindful about the tenets of the religious process which are geared towards the attainment of the highest standards of piety, personal, social and moral discipline. We should be compassionate, be united and avoid unnecessary divisions and name-calling, hold each other’s hands so that Ghana can benefit from the blessings of this holy month.”