Tanzania: Ramadan - Traders Should Avoid Raising Food Prices

TANZANIAN Muslims yesterday joined their counterparts globally to observe the holy month of Ramadan, which is considered the holiest month of the year for Muslims. It commemorates Allah (God) revealing the first verses of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, to the prophet Muhammad in the year 610 A.D. In this month, Muslims fast during daylight hours as a means of learning self-control, gratitude and compassion for those less fortunate.

The month is also intended to be a month of spiritual rejuvenation and devotion, during which Muslims spend extra time reading the Quran and performing special prayers.

The ultimate goal of fasting is gaining greater God-consciousness or taqwa -- state of constant awareness of Allah. From this awareness, a person should gain self-restraint and a greater motivation to do good things. It is this desire of doing good things on this pious occasion that has compelled us to warn Tanzanian traders to refrain from the habit of inflating prices of foodstuffs, which is often the case in this holy month, if the past is anything to go by.

This habit of using Ramadan as a special occasion to milk the poor is immoral, especially in these times of economic hardships. Traders should make foodstuffs affordable not only to our fellow fasting Muslims but also to the general populace now swimming in strong currents of economic difficulties.

Ramadan is a month full of grace and restraint from all sin, the moon where all charities both folded duplicate reward. Hopefully we can run it smoothly and get a lot of reward. Indeed, rising food prices can lead to millions of Muslims across the country breaking their fasts during the holy month.

Based on past experience, families who gathered together for Iftar at sunset had complained about how food has become much more expensive and how this has been an incredibly tough Ramadan for them. Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and remembering those that are less fortunate and hungry.

We must ensure that people always have enough to eat, especially at the end of a fast when people need to replenish themselves.

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