The holy fasting month of Ramadan begins in Nigeria today, Thursday, March 23 2023, according to the Sultan of Sokoto, Saad Abubakar’s announcement.
Mr Abubakar, who doubles as the president of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), said this in a broadcast Wednesday night.
The holiest month of the year in Islam, Ramadan is observed by more than 1.9 billion Muslims. It is said to be the month the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammed. The fajr morning prayer marks the beginning of obligatory daily fasting.
It is typically a time for reflection and spending time with loved ones. Fasting during the holy month is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is mandatory for all Muslims who are in good health.
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Ramadan is also considered a nocturnal month for Muslims who end their daily fast at sunset, then begin longer-form taraweeh prayers, and an additional extended evening prayer performed after isha. Taraweeh prayers are then traditionally followed by social gatherings that last into the night.
This year, Muslims in Nigeria will begin the month by fasting for about 14 hours and 45 minutes. The fasting time will increase steadily as Ramadan goes on, by the last day of the holy month the fast will be about 46 minutes longer than it was on the first.
The fast entails abstinence from eating, drinking, smoking, and sexual relations to achieve greater “taqwa”, or consciousness of God.
“Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may learn piety and righteousness,” Qur’an 2:183 stipulates.
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, five daily prayers, charity, and performing the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca – the site of Islam’s holiest shrine, the Kaaba – if physically and financially capable.
During the period, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and sexual activities from dawn to dusk for 29 or 30 days – depending on when a new crescent is sighted. Last year, fasting across the world ranged from 10 to 20 hours a day.
At the end of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr. In Arabic, it means “festival of breaking the fast”. Depending on the new moon sighting, Eid al-Fitr this year is likely to fall on April 21.