More than 440 million Muslim Africans are preparing for the month of Ramadan. With more or less strict health measures depending on the country, many parameters will determine the smooth running of this period.
The African continent has 45% Muslims, or one third of the world's Muslims. The fast of the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and the holy month carries a spirit of solidarity among all Africans. In 2020, Ramadan took place in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis. Sanitary measures were restrictive and several key cultural and religious activities of Ramadan were disrupted. Depending on the country, 2021 could be similar. For some more rigid, for others more accommodating.
During Easter Mass on April 4, Pope Francis addressed his best wishes to Muslims in Africa on the occasion of Ramadan: “The fasting of Christians has barely ended, and the month of Ramadan will begin next week. Used by Muslims to strengthen their faith, through penance and sharing, ”announced the Pope, who also insisted on his wish for an end to violence in Africa.
"From Mali to Burkina Faso, from Niger to Nigeria via the Ivory Coast and now in Mozambique, the terrorist hydra is spreading towards the coastal regions where it has just struck a big blow with the catch," he said. he lamented. “Once again, we will pray for the end of terrorism and the Covid pandemic, but also for peace on the planet,” the Pope concluded.
In France, in Rennes, this morning of April 12, racist tags were drawn on the walls of a mosque. Two days earlier, the door of a mosque in Nantes was set on fire by a neo-Nazi.
In India, regional authorities in the north and east of the country fear that the wave of anti-Muslim violence of last Ramadan will resume this year. New Delhi's Jamaat Tabligh Cultural Center said, "We are concerned that the violence, the shop boycott and hate speech of May 2020 will resurface this year."
In Africa, on the other hand, Muslims need not fear religious violence. In African Muslim countries especially, Ramadan is a month of prayer and celebration, where most live at night.
Prayers, overconsumption and hopes
The religious and socio-economic aspects of Ramadan are multiple in Africa, and the health context greatly influenced the course of Ramadan last year. One of the purely theological questions that arose this year was the anti-Covid vaccine. This debate was quickly settled by scholars and imams around the world, the administration of the vaccine during Ramadan not invalidating the fast, according to them.
Other aspects, such as overconsumption, nightly Tarawih, Qiyam and Tahajjud prayers, as well as cultural events like Dhikr, singing performances and others, will depend on the restrictions put in place by different countries.
In Egypt, families went to markets to stock up on food. According to an Africanews report, the atmosphere is relaxed, and Egyptians are optimistic despite the economic crisis and the pandemic. There will be no nighttime prayers either. In Algeria, places of worship will be open until the fast is broken, so no night prayers. It seems that Algerians have also incorporated the social distancing that accompanies these limits. Ditto for Tunisia. In Senegal, it is a normal Ramadan which is announced, in spite of the economic crisis. It is in an atmosphere of cautious optimism that the Senegalese welcome this month.
In Mali, food products recorded an increase of 40% for most products, except rice and oil. In Niger, it is the ban on night prayers that is causing real concern. In terms of consumption, Algeria's generous supply of 58 tonnes of foodstuffs has greatly helped the new government of Bazoum to avoid the social tragedy. Finally, in Morocco, the resumption of the curfew has aroused the anger of a good majority of the population.
But Ramadan is not just a month of sustenance and prayer. A North African specificity, which has found an echo in sub-Saharan Africa, is that of media consumption. The “Ramadan soap operas” are popular with Malian, Nigerien, Senegalese, Somali, Chadian and other families.
Among all these aspects, Ramadan is also a month of peace and mutual aid, and all Africans, without distinction, hope that it will bode well for peace in Africa.