Muslims begin 30 days of prayer, fasting on Tuesday

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this file photo, Muslims participate in Ramadan prayers at a mosque in TT. –

THE crescent moon, on which the Islamic community depends to start and end its holiest month, has been sighted.

As a result, March 12 will mark the start of 30 days of intense fasting and prayers from sunrise to sunset, culminating in the celebration of Eid-Ul-Fitr.

It was anticipated that the moon would have been sighted on Sunday for the beginning of the holy month on Monday, March 11, but the crescent was not seen.

After the sighting of the moon, Saudi Arabia, where the observance originated, declared Monday, March 11 as the first day of fasting.

Imam Raffaic Mohammed of the ASJA said while some local Muslims follow the Saudi Arabian calendar, this year all local Muslims will observe the Holy month at the same time.

Despite the different sects which make up the Muslim community, the Imam said all Muslims will be unified in their celebration in 2024.

During this month, observed worldwide, all Muslims who have reached puberty and are in good health are expected to avoid food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Fasting, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, is seen as a way to cleanse the soul while empathising with the less fortunate who go hungry.

Muslims break their daily fast by sharing meals with family and friends, either at the Mosque or at family homes. In addition to no food and drink, Muslims are supposed to avoid smoking, sexual activity as well as impure thoughts and bad behaviour.

It is a time to practice self-restraint and self-reflection.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar, speaking on a UNC platform in Pointe-a-Pierre on Monday night, said March is a blessed month when Muslims, Hindus and Christians are all celebrating deeply spiritual occasions.

It is a time, she said, when Trinidadians and Tobagonians see grace and not race.

The month of March is also being observed by Christians celebrating the Lenten season. Hindus celebrated Maha Shivaratri on March 8.