Essence of Ramadhaan
The moon has emerged from its dark phase over our continent in these first days of the holiest month, the most beautiful month of Ramadhaan and the African majority is, God willing, ready.
Inexplicable emotions had been welling up in the final days to the moon's approach, a mixture of anticipation and fearful trepidation, as we awaited the rising of the Ramadhaan hillel, the new moon, a thumbnail sliver of silvery brightness whose brief appearance in our eastern skies heralded the start of a month of opportunity and abstinence.
Even the most pious Muslim's knees betrayed in the moon's final approach the faintest quake of a sinner's tremble and the depths of the worst transgressor's heart harboured fearfully secret hope of God's forgiveness and renewal.
Ramadhaan is the month when Muslims fast, abstain from sexual relations and avoid unpleasant or divisive matters during the daylight hours. Not a drop of water or a drag from a cigarette may pass our lips.
Ramadhaan is the month in which the messages of all God's prophets commenced - from Abraham, Noah and Lot to Moses, David, Jesus and Mohammed - may God's peace be on them all.
Ramadhaan is the month when God orders the angels to chain all the demons, the jinn. The stage is then set for us to face our inner demons, the intimate purging of the self, to examine them, to recognise them, to negotiate with them and discipline them and to align our inner selves as closely as possible to Allah's pleasure. Only in this way can we do justice to ourselves, in seeking refuge in the pleasure of our Creator.
It is a test, a matter of endurance, as Africa's sun trawls its way through the heavens. Hunger and thirst in daylight hours are gentle reminders of joys thoughtlessly consumed in months past and of future blessings we hope to receive.
Mothers, daughters and sisters in the past weeks have been preparing delicacies to be eaten, bleary eyed, before the first line of daybreak brightens the morning skies, and for celebration and thanksgiving at the end of each day's fast.
From yesterday, the Muezzin's call to evening prayers at sunset was especially joyous as it marked the commencement of first holy evening's events. For it is at night that we feast - on food and spiritual sustenance.
In addition to our five daily prayers, we read our Tarawih prayer each night.
Each masjid will have a few Ahafiz (defenders of the Qur'an) who have memorised every word and letter of God's Final Testament as revealed through the angel Gabriel to his last and greatest prophet, Muhammad - peace and salutations be on him.
Our night time efforts have a special reward, most especially our individual Tahajjud prayers in the last third of the night, when Allah descends to the lowest heaven and calls out to ask if there is no sinner seeking his forgiveness, no oppressed begging his help, no believer in need of his guidance.
In those special hours, all prayers are answered by God.
We will feed on prayers for forgiveness and on God's greatest commandment, the Kalimah, or declaration of belief, the one that all his prophets preached, the core of all their messages, the monotheistic reminder: Laa illaha il Allah - there is none worthy of worship beside Allah - and the angels will soar in spirals up to His throne with news of our efforts. God willing, for the pleasure of Allah.
Most especially, the angels' wings will ache from the multitude of prayers, praise and remembrance above Somalia, Darfur, Chad, Algeria, the Ivory Coast and other African countries where the weight of an old oppression has resurfaced and exacts a heavy toll.
Indeed, Allah promises that he hears first the prayers of the oppressed. And we will pray that Allah has mercy on Africa, on all our brothers and sisters, and that He unite the entire continent in true faith and peace.
l Alameen Templeton is deputy news director at CII Broadcasting.