Nigeria is a secular country, with a mixture of Christian, Muslim and animist religious beliefs. Certain Nigerian states also observe the sharia law. Despite the multicultural nature of Nigeria, Ramadan is observed in pretty much the same manner across the country.
A typical day of fasting consists of increased prayers, charity and refraining from consuming any food or liquids, sinful thoughts or deeds, and sex. It is a time for meditation, forgiveness, and refocusing one’s attention on God.
Fruit is a major part of Ramadan in Nigeria. Many Nigerian muslims break their daily fast with fruit before settling down to have a full evening meal. As a result, Ramadan is accompanied by a hike in price of fruit. In Lagos State, the commercial hub of Nigeria and former capital city, 100 Naira (£0.40 pence) now buys 3 or 4 oranges instead of usual 6 as local traders capitalise on the increased demand.
Sahur, the first meal of the day, is eaten at sunset usually between 04:00 and 05:30 hours, with fasting ending at sunset between 18:45 and 19:00 hours. The evening meal is referred to as Iftar, during which the sombre mood of the day gives way to a festive atmosphere. Many muslims prefer to break their fasts with friends and family, however one may also eat alone. The Iftar meal consists of light foods like corn flour, fried eggs, bread, plantain, fried yam, roasted corn on the cob. Nothing is prohibited except pork.
Many employers make allowances for staff observing Ramadan, permitting them to take breaks to pray and eat, but general working hours in governmental and corporate organisations are not affected.
The final day of Ramadan in Nigeria is dependent on the sighting of the moon, and may fall on the 29th or 30th day of August this year. Scholars will start to look out for the moon on the 29th. The appearance of the moon on the night of the 29th day indicates an immediate end to Ramadan whilst its absence means that fasting continues to the 30th day. However, the duration of Ramadan does not exceed 30 days, irrespective of the appearance or non appearance of the moon, in accordance with the Islamic calendar.
The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a two-day national holiday known as Eid el-Fitr (Festival of Fast-Breaking). Elaborate festivities are held across the country.
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