Ramadan in South Africa 2

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

About the interviewee

I am a young South African Muslim women. I stay in a small Muslim majority town 40km away from the city Of Johannesburg.

Yumna Kasoo

1. Tell us a little bit about how Muslims in South Africa prepare for Ramadan? Is there anything they do specifically before the first day of Ramadan?

Muslim people start by preparing for Ramadan starting from the month of Rajab spiritually. Once the month of Rajab comes we know and can feel Ramadan. Not far off. The women usually prepare in the month before Ramadan more as far as food is concerned. We prepare savory finger foods that we can freeze making it easier in Ramadan to break iftar as a starter. So that we spend less time in the kitchen and more time on good deeds. People gift each other boxes of dates and Zam Zam as we welcome the blessed month of Ramadan.

2. How would you describe the overall Ramadan spirit in South Africa? Does it have a different feeling on the streets when you go out in Ramadan?

Ramadan in South Africa has a very warm welcoming feeling. People get more in touch with their religion and try to learn more as well as trying to get as many good deeds as we can. People are kinder towards each other, employers allow the women who work early off from work. Neighbors and friends give each other some savory finger food platters to have for iftar. Those that cannot afford food are also given iftar every day by people in the community. Families/friends invite each other to their homes some nights for iftar. The evenings are lively and the whole feel is just different this holy month. Everyone is more charitable as well compared to usual times.

3. How does a typical iftar would look like?

Breaking the fast with dates and zam zam. Iftar would consist of starters of the savory finger foods that we make, with a cup of chai/tea. For most households, after praying maghrib is followed by whatever meal is on the menu that night. The majority of the cuisine is Indian food in South Africa while some parts are Malaysian infused dishes. We do however try different dishes from all over the world, last Ramadaan a dessert trend was mash on Ali which is not Indian. Desserts are for later on after Taraweeh.

4. How does a typical suhur (suhoor) would look like?

Waking up for suhoor, everyone usually has their own kind of food that they feel would keep them sustained for the day. So we as women if we are the cooks, we wake up a little earlier to prepare. Most individuals would have leftovers from the previous iftar while others prefer cereal and fruits. Thereafter would be Fajr prayers.

5. Is there any food or drink that is specifically consumed in Ramadan? Yes, please tell us about the deserts.

Food: the most common savory finger food made are different varieties of samoosa, pies, spring rolls. Drinks: we enjoy tea, milkshakes, or a type of milkshake Called falooda which is made often as well for iftar. Desserts commonly made are cooling desserts; Such a dessert called firni a pudding that’s left in the fridge, as well as choc mousses, tiramisu, fruit salads, and other desserts.

6. How do people celebrate Eid al-Fitr?

The night before we wait for the sighting of the Moon to bring in eid, we await the decision if the moon has been sighted by the theologians (ulema) in our country. Eid is always celebrated as a one. Everyone in our towns greets each other and everyone is happy. Families celebrate the eid together by having breakfast, lunch, and supper together. Men go early in the morning for fajr and not long after comes the eid prayer. Men read in the outdoors, women don’t usually go to the eid prayer. Going to families and friends’ homes and having a meal within your town to greet and celebrate eid Mubarak. Giving gifts. on eid day. Kids get gifts and money gifted to them, children are a big part of the celebration. We all wear new or our best outfits. Make food parcels during Ramadan and are gifted to the needy on eid day. Inviting over anyone you know that doesn’t have family or food to celebrate with you and your family. Trying to make everyone’s eid a special and celebrated day, as it is such a holy day as well.

7. What makes South Africa special in Ramadan? Tell us about any activities, festivals, bazaars, etc..

South Africa has bazaars for shopping for eid day The thing that makes South Africa Special I would say is the emphasis that is placed not only on being better as individuals but being better as a community in our country. Also, it’s a time where communities help out the needy and orphans a lot making sure that they would also have a lovely eid to celebrate. It’s a lovely brotherhood of the Muslim communities here in South Africa during Ramadan.

8. What should travelers expect to experience if they visit South Africa in Ramadan?

Travelers will not see much of the spirit of Ramadan in cities as this isn’t an Islamic country. However, to experience the Ramadan spirit of togetherness, one must go into the towns and suburbs with Muslim communities.

9. If I was visiting South Africa in Ramadan, where would be the best place to have iftar?

The best places to have iftar would be at a Muslim household as that’s where the warmth is and the food is delicious.

10. Anything else you want to share about Ramadan in South Africa?

Even though we might all be in different countries and have different cultures, we are all brought together by this beautiful religion of Islam. In the month of Ramadan, most of us just use this as a stepping stone to become better Muslims and people, no matter where we come from. This month of Ramadan allows us to be united as an ummah. This month we all pray when we have to and do the best that we can. Families are together, friends are together, and it’s such a beautiful time to grow closer and give priority to that which is truly important.

And finally, feel free to share your message with your fellow Muslim brothers and sisters around the world.

During this time everyone is praying extra for everyone else, and there’s so much love. I hope everyone has a lovely and blessed Ramadan and would love to one-day experience Ramadan in another country InshAllah. May Allah allow us to see another Ramadan with our loved ones and give us all a blessed one this year. Even in all these uncertain and scary times, may we all have an uplifting, healthy Ramadan, and our good deeds and prayers get accepted, Ameen.

Keep safe my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.

RAMADAN 2020 PROJECT: Fellow sisters and brothers around the world joined Halal Travel Experts to spread the joy and knowledge of Ramadan. To become a part of this exciting project, email us at blog@halaltravels.com. It is just 10 simple questions but the answers go beyond the oceans.


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