Muslims around the world are preparing for Eid al-Fitr, an important religious holiday at the end of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a month-long period in which Muslims fast during the day by abstaining from eating, drinking liquids, smoking and engaging in gossip or sexual relations from dawn to dusk. The month signifies a time of peace, forgiveness, kindness, introspection and prayer.
SEE: Ramadan 2018: Travel tips, Halaal dining & in-flight Iftar boxes
After the month of Ramadan, Eid al-Fitr is celebrated on the “1st of Shawwal” says Islamic Finder. The actual date that Eid al-Fitr is observed is based on the sighting of the moon of Shawwal which is the 10th month in the Islamic calendar. Observers will determine the actual date of Eid al-Fitr by sighting the moon on Thursday night, 14 June.
Significance of the moon
Al Jazeera reports that according to the International Astronomical Centre (IAC), the first day of Eid al-Fitr is expected to fall on Friday, 15 June, in most Islamic countries including Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar.
The official announcement depends on the moon sighting, if the new moon can be seen on Thursday, then the holy month of Ramadan will end on Thursday and Friday will be the first day of Eid.
The IAC expects the crescent moon to be visible from all Islamic countries with the naked eye or through a telescope on Thursday night.
With the moon playing a significant role in determining the date of Eid al-Fitr, as well as in other religions including Hinduism, special lunar sightings are a spectacle on its own.
Those who are passionate about the cosmos will take pleasure in keeping track of the major celestial events and wonders that cannot be missed throughout the rest of 2018. Click here to see a stargazer's guide to the galaxy in 2018.
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Eid al-Fitr celebrations are different across countries, while the common practice is to start the day with the Eid prayer and greet other Muslims with the words “Eid Mubarak”.
With the Islamic holy month coming to an end, we take a look at some of the places where families can celebrate, and tourist destinations that local and international Muslim travellers can enjoy in SA.
Celebrating Eid al-Fitr in SA
South Africa is one of the ten most Muslim-friendly travel hot spots for 2018, according to the annual Mastercard-Crescent Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI), among countries that are not predominantly Muslim countries. This spurs efforts to expand an appeal to the Muslim tourism market.
According to Avukile Mabombo at Protea Hotels by Marriott, an increasing interest from Muslim travellers is an opportunity for the tourism industry to "up its game".
There are a few faith-based needs that most Muslim travellers will consider when choosing where to visit, such as halaal food (halaal means permissible), water-friendly washrooms and prayer facilities, and special recreational facilities.
Here are some options for Muslim travellers to consider:
In Cape Town, try out Taj Mahal, a halaal restaurant in Hout Bay that specialises in “unique and modern” Indian cuisine, or certified halaal restaurant On The Square at the Capetonian hotel in CBD which is popular for its buffets and a-la-carte dishes.
For something a little different, Muslim travellers can also check out The Butcher’s Wife in the Cape Flats for wholesome flavourful burgers and pizzas, Gold Restaurant for African cuisine from Morocco, Egypt, Tanzania, Namibia, and South Africa, or try out authentic Turkish food at Anatoli.
For a taste of traditional Cape Malay food, visit Bo-Kaap Kombuis, situated in historic Bo-Kaap, the oldest settlement of Malay people in South Africa. Not only is the restaurant known for serving delicious Cape Malay food, it also boasts stunning views of the city.
SEE: Ramadan: Halaal-friendly places to check out in SA
In Johannesburg, do check out Oriental Kitchen in Midrand or Bismillah in Fordsburg, which both specialise in Indian cuisine.
In Durban, visit Vapor Cafe Restaurant for delicious prawn meals, Canvas Grill for “fusion meals” and Capsicum for vegetarian halaal dishes. Even franchises such as RJ’s in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, have become strictly halaal to cater for the growing market in specific areas in South Africa.
If you are planning to celebrate away from home, and looking for a place with Water-friendly washrooms among other requirements, then check out StayHalaal, a platform that provides insight on halaal-friendly places across the country for travellers to stay at.
With Cape Town being the place for SA’s first Muslim settlers and home to the oldest mosque in SA, there are many spots in the Mother City worth exploring to learn more about Muslim heritage, including Bo-Kaap and the Cape Flats, as well as kramats and mosques to visit.
SEE: Cape Town positioned to become 'global leader' in Halaal tourism
Tour companies are also geared towards Muslim visitors, offering tours that incorporate places of cultural interest and employing Arabic-speaking guides too.
There are also a number of safari tours and lodges in South Africa that offer Halaal meals at their destinations. From Kwantu Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape, Idube Game Lodge in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and in the Kruger National Park, Lukimbi Safari Lodge caters for halaal guests, offering meals in several outdoor settings too.