W/Africa Muslims begin second Ramadan under pandemic

APA-Lagos (Nigeria)

Millions of Muslims in West Africa on Tuesday began marking the holy month of Ramadan characterised by dusk to dawn fasting in supplication to God.

Some 90 million Muslims in Africa's most populous nation Nigeria received an injunction from Islamic authorities to begin fasting after the moon was reportedly sighted on Monday evening.

It is the second straight Ramadan season being observed during the Covid-19 pandemic but with more relaxed health safety restrictions unlike in 2020 when much of the country was under a lockdown.

During the month-long fasting, mosques and places of Muslim worship in Nigeria will remain open.

In neighbouring Ghana, Togo, Cote d'Ivoire and The Gambia, fasting also began at the break of dawn on Tuesday but with more relaxed Covid-19 regulations.

The injunction to fast came after the bodies responsible for guiding the Muslim faithfuls in those countries announced that the moon has been sighted. 

Mosques and other sites of worship for Muslims will not be shut down during this period.

Nigeria has the highest number of Covid infections at over 163,000, followed by Ghana at over 91,000) and Ivory Coast 44,975 as of Friday April 9.

In March 2020 much of the West Africa region went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic prompting mosques to shut down to the heartfelt disappointment of millions of Muslims who had to spend the entire holy month without congregational prayers.

Aside from the trademark fasting from sunrise to sunset Ramadan is a month of intense prayers and general supplication for God's mercy on Muslim worshippers.

During this period fasting and general abstinence from food, drink and sexual pleasures during the day, gives way to festive iftars at dusk. 

North African countries including Morocco and Egypt began Ramadan 2021 on Tuesday.


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