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Muslims welcome Ramadan

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Worshippers at the Somali mosque in Mayfair, Johannesburg perform their first Taraweeg(Night Prayers) at the start of Ramadan in July 2012. Photo: Hassan Isilow.

By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG – Muslims in Mayfair welcomed the holy month of Ramadan on Friday with great excitement and enthusiasm. Hundreds of believers congregated in the many mosques in the area to perform their first Taraweeg salaah (Night Prayers). Nearly all masajid (Mosques) in Mayfair and its environs were filled to capacity, as believers welcomed the holy month of fasting.
On Saturday afternoon worshippers at the Mayfair Jumah Masjid were seen handing out donations to a number of beggars who had gathered outside, knowing that this was a special time of the year for Muslims.”I love the month of Ramadan, because I never starve during this month. Muslims are so generous and they give out a lot of donations to the poor,” one of the beggars told Africa Witness. The start of the holy month of Ramadan has also brought Muslims of different backgrounds together. The Somali community that has been divided along ethnic and political lines is largely united during Ramadan. As a tradition, Somali ulema (Preachers) strongly advocate unity in their sermons.
On a different note, most restaurants run by Muslims in Mayfair and Fordsburg are closed during the day and only open at sunset when Muslims break fast. Ramadan is the holiest month on the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
The sick and those travelling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks. Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah (God) through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds. Some South African mosques offer iftar (Food for breaking fast) to their worshippers. During Ramadan Muslim aid organizations in South Africa distribute cooked foods to the destitute and needy. Ramadan is a month when Muslims learn to develop self control and self inhibitions from rampant and uncontrolled pleasures. It is a month when Muslims forgive their enemies and hope to be forgiven.


Written by africawitness

August 4, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Posted in Travel

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Africa Muslims Agency needs your support

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By Hassan Isilow
As the winter season gets colder, Africa Muslims Agency (AMA) is calling on Muslims to contribute R270 for their winter warmth campaign, targeting the underprivileged. According to AMA regional director, Hassan Choonara, their campaign is meant to help those who can not afford to buy winter necessities like blankets.
“Many underprivileged South Africans sleep in the cold during the winter season because they can not afford to buy blankets. So we are appealing to Muslims to contribute generously to this campaign so that we can help these people get warm this winter,” Choonara said, adding that their winter warmth packs includes a blanket, gloves, scarves and earmuffs for four members of a family.
Besides the winter campaign, AMA has also initiated its Ramadan feeding scheme. The humanitarian organization – which supports Islamic works in 34 African countries – also welcomes sponsorships for building mosques across the continent, along with boreholes and water wells in some of Africa’s worst affected areas. In a different project, donors are encouraged to sponsor an Eid gift for an orphan. AMA currently takes care of 10,000 orphans.
Choonara, who recently returned from famine-hit Somalia, said his organization had started a repatriation programme where they relocated thousands of Somalis who had earlier fled from their villages to the capital city Mogadishu because of famine. “We have given seeds to the people we repatriated as they returned to their villages where they can start cultivating their lands in places where the rains have started to fall,” he related. Elsewhere, AMA started a water catchment process to help farmers and households in drought stricken regions.
Besides, offering humanitarian assistance, AMA also runs the Simad University in Mogadishu, Somalia, which trains thousands of students. “After these students graduate from this university, we sponsor them for their Masters and PhD courses at international universities in Malaysia and other Muslim countries. Alhamdulillah, whenever they complete their studies they return to Somalia and serve their communities,” Choonara said.
To donate to any of these projects, contact AMA on 011-834 8685/6, or visit their website for more details at

Written by africawitness

August 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm

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