THE OBSERVANCE OF RAMADAN IN SWAHILI-LAND* (WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO MOMBASA) BY PJ.L. FRANKL in consultation with YAHYA ALI OMAR In the Islamic calendar Ramadan is the month of the year during which Muslims throughout the world observe strict fasting between dawn and sunset; this is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam. 'The fast of the month of Ramadan is obligatory [Ar. fard or MM/!7'] for every believer provided he [or she] be of sound mind, an adult, and able to support it' (al-Nawawi 1914: 99). With regard to Ramadan the entire Islamic world follows the same religious practices in all essentials; where non-essentials are concerned there is variety in local usage. The account which follows is mainly concerned with the observance of Ramadan in Swahili-land, with special reference to Mombasa.' I At the end of the nineteenth century the population of Mombasa was small and almost entirely Muslim;' today, towards the end of the twentieth century, the population and size of the town have increased enormously, largely because, since the 1960s especially, many inhabi- tants from the interior have settled and been settled in central Swahili- land with varying degrees of permanence. As a consequence
Journal of Religion in Africa – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1996
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