The holiest month in the Islamic calendar started this week. Muslims look forward to the month of Ramadaan when they are expected to fast daily from sunrise to sunset. But the 30 days has so much more meaning than purely denying yourself the temptation of food, and many of these values align with the values that we here at Smile 90.4FM try to live and encourage every day.
I have spoken to regular smiley and Muslim scholar Shameema about what the month of Ramadaan means to her and the Muslim community at large. She explains that observing the month of Ramadaan is one of the five pillars of Islam, but it’s also the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammad. The fasting month is also known globally as a time in which Muslims live as austere a life as possible, as they try to better themselves and show gratitude and consideration to others.
In the interview below, Shameemah explores some of the importance of the month, but also addresses my personal love for barakat, which is an Arabic word with several meanings, the most appropriate being “blessings.” Like most diasporas, Muslims in Cape Town have a vernacular that may differ slightly from the original Arabic and in this case, barakat almost exclusively refers to a parcel of food (usually delicious treats) that Muslims share with neighbours and visitors. I live in a community that is predominantly Muslim, so during the Pwasa (meaning the fast), I am often blessed with barakat from my neighbours.
In the interview with Shameemah, we have a laugh about my constant references to barakat, but she also explains that there is a deeper significance to the sharing of food with neighbours during the month of Ramadaan. It has to do with the broader definition of “family,” but also with the understanding that the barakat you share, may in fact be the only thing your neighbour has to eat. This emphasises the earlier chat around empathy and mindfulness of others, especially the less fortunate. Enjoy the interview and hopefully it gives you a little more insight into an important part of Cape Town’s culture, observed every year by the majority of its residents.