Muslims in Rwanda and the rest of the world will begin the holy fasting month of Ramadan on Tuesday, April 13, the Mufti of Rwanda, Sheikh Salim Hitimana has said. “I would like to inform the Muslim community in particular and all the Rwandans in general that the holy month of Ramadan will start on Tuesday April 13. I would like to wish you a fasting season filled with blessings,” he said. During the holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims are expected to fast from dawn to dusk. Since Ramadan is part of the lunar calendar, its date changes annually. The Muslim community heavily rely on Saudi Arabia to announce that the moon has been sighted before announcing the first day of Ramadan. Globally, an estimated one billion Muslims are expected to fast every year and will have to readjust to the usual Ramadan ‘culture’ of hosting large fast-breaking dinners called ‘Iftar’. This means that they wake up early to eat a pre-dawn meal and they break their fast at 6pm with a meal referred to as Iftar. While there are exceptions made for the pregnant, sick or elderly, every other Muslim is obliged to refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. Strict rules During this fasting period, Muslims are required to abstain from drinking, eating, immoral acts like sex between unmarried couples and anger. Muslims are instead encouraged to immerse themselves in worship activities such as prayer, reading the Quran and charity work. Effects of Covid-19 As all nations continue to take precautions to curb the spread of the coronavirus by limiting or banning social gatherings and closing all places of worship, just like last year, this year’s Ramadan is expected to also be less festive. They will not visit and care for the less privileged as is the norm and they won’t be able to go to mosques for prayers in large numbers as it is normally done. Last year, Sheikh Hitimana called on the Muslim community in the country to continue helping the less privileged but to do so within the guidelines issued by the Ministry of health. “During the month of Ramadan, we enjoy socialising, mostly breaking the fast together, going for prayers in groups but this year, I call on the Muslim community to stay at home so that they do not endanger themselves or others,” he said. Ramadan calendar Islam, which literally means to submit to God, is based on ‘Five Pillars’, to which all members must adhere. The first one is the Profession of Faith that states that “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet. The other pillars include praying five times a day, sharing their wealth with those less fortunate, fasting during Ramadan and making the pilgrimage to Mecca. The end of Ramadan Depending on when the new moon is sighted, Lunar months last between 29 to 30 days. If the moon is not seen on the night of the 29th day, then Ramadan lasts for the full 30 days. This year, the Eid al-Fitr celebration, which marks the end of a successful Ramadan is expected to fall between May 12 and May 14.