Islam is a religion of love, peace and tolerance. And you will absolutely not have any bad experience in The Gambia because of the religion. Media usually misrepresent muslim countries in general. In fact, it’s the opposite. The majority religion of the Gambia, with more than 90% of the population being Muslims, this country is showing high tolerance towards others. And the best to feel and face this is to be part of their celebrations, both Muslim or Christian holidays, to learn about daily life, food sharing on daily basis and strong connections they have between family, friends and communities.
Each year people in Gambia (and all over the world) observe the holy month of Ramadan (the fasting month). During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down daily, not having anything to eat, drink, smoke or indulging in sexual relations.
The month ends with special festivities when families and friends truly rejoice for having completed the commandment of Allah by successful abstinence and by zikr (remembrance of Allah) at all times.
Ramadan, a month of sacrifice, compassion and forgiveness, a month of fasting, giving, sharing and praying has ended. Today starts the first day of Koriteh.
KORITEH – A fulfilling moment for Muslims
Eid Al Fitr known as Koriteh is a special day in Islam and a fulfilling moment in the life of Muslims across the world. As courtesy calls on fellow Muslims, socialization and harmonization are entreat.
Like all other Muslim feast, it is observed and celebrated by Muslims all over the world as a religious norm. It is a religious obligation for all Muslims to observe this day and give it a befitting celebration. The day is well prepared for, welcomed with joy, peace and love with a sense of camaraderie and social harmony. After twenty-nine days of fasting; religious steadfastness, devotion and exemplifying of total submission to Allah (swt), Muslims all over the globe settle for special feast, buy and sew new clothes to observe the day. However, in the Arab world Muslims are usually saddened as Ramadan comes to an end. They cry and harrow because a blessed month is going and there is no certainty as to whether the next Ramadan would meet them alive, thus this make them saddened.
In Gambia, Koriteh is normally prepared for in wide scale with huge expenditure on dresses, necessitated by children’s’ needs. As a result parents and guardians are compelled to buy new clothes, shoes and food stuff for the special day with their families. Thus, children are given prior attention for their happiness and comfort safeguarded rather than shattered.
It is a phenomenal and breathtaking experience should Koriteh meet you in a Muslim community – food is abundant, the environment is frenzy, festive and colourful as children roam around and about seeking for what is called “Saliboo” in (Mandinka), “Ndewenal” in (Wolof). These moment project colourful ambiences, everyone in their African attires which are well sewed [showcase of dexterity] and from the elderly who rest the day visit love ones and pray for one another down to the younger generation who just want to have a day to enjoy, have fun and socialize. The day promotes moral indulgence, peaceful coexistence, harmony, love and religious solidarity among the Muslim communities.
Ramadan Kareem to all Muslims around the world.
Text: Lamin Njie
Photo: Jana Snuderl