17 Jun 2015

Muslims prepare for holy month

8:44 pm on 17 June 2015

More than 40,000 New Zealand Muslims will eagerly await the new moon tonight, marking the start of the month of Ramadan.

The Auckland Muslim community celebrated the coming of Ramadan on Saturday.

The Auckland Muslim community celebrated the coming of Ramadan on Saturday. Photo: Facebook/ Auckland Eid Day

It is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, and is fasted by nearly two billion people around the world.

Auckland residents held a night market in Mount Roskill this week to bring together Muslims and non-Muslims to celebrate.

On Saturday, hundreds of people crammed into the Wesley Community Centre, and more than 40 stalls were set up, selling everything from chicken satay sticks to custom-made hijabs.

It was the first time an event like this had taken place in Auckland.

One of the organisers, 31-year-old Mohamed Jaballah, said it was about bringing together the melting-pot that is the Muslim community.

"We are so diverse. We are literally from all over the world."

He said this diversity was what made the community so unique, and with so much to offer.

"It's very interesting seeing them all coming together and it's the different colours, the different traditions, the different languages that are spoken wittin the small Muslim community in Auckland."

The invitation was also extended to those outside the community, and Mr Jaballah said events like these would allow the public to get to know real Muslims.

Auckland Eid Day

Photo: Facebook/ Auckland Eid Day

"It's always a positive thing to see non-Muslims coming to these events, to interact with us and to see real Muslims, not the Muslims you see on TV, but actually us."

He said he had seen many non-Muslims attending the event with friends, and even coming along on their own.

Stall owner and high school student Mohammed Al-Diery said he had friends who had shown an interest in Ramadan, and one was even taking part in fasting with him this year.

"That's the way people understand and learn more about Islam, just through trying these things."

Fasting was one of the five pillars of Islam, and involved abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset during the month.

For Muslims, it was a month of prayer and reflection, but it was also about thinking of those less fortunate.

"Ramadan is the month to actually remember all the other people across the world who aren't as fortunate as I am, to have water, basic food and basic needs," says Mr Jaballah.

"It reminds me of the essence of life, the essence of being blessed with having a cup of water to drink, having family around, all the things we take for granted."

Auckland Eid Day

Photo: Facebook/ Auckland Eid Day

Tonight, Muslim families around the country will look to the skies in search of the new moon.

If it's sighted, it will signal tomorrow as the first day of Ramadan.

If it isn't then fasting will begin on Friday.