With the start of Ramadan imminent, we chatted with our Muslim conversation partners about religion.
We learnt that Ramadan in Swahili is actually ‘Ramadhani’. The ‘dh’ sound is more like ‘th’ and the ‘i’ on the end is an ‘ee’ sound. It sounds like ‘Ramathanee’.
We were interested to hear what sounded like individualism to do with religion. M told Arthur that each person has their own beliefs about what the fasting means, what it helps them with and so on, but the point is that helps everyone, whether rich or poor, to work on their beliefs.
N was reluctant to say that Islam was exclusive or ‘the right way’. While she thinks that it’s the right way for her, she said that she believes that all religions are basically the same, interested in worshipping (the same) God. Thus she compared Ramadan to any other religious festival: Easter was the example she gave.
N became most animated when talking about why she veils – only her face, hands and feet are visible and she wears a long veil and skirts. She doesn’t believe not veiling would put her in danger, (‘After all, Mama Elly, you don’t veil and you’re safe!’) but takes great pride in the fact that only her husband and father have seen beneath her veils.
Students Speak contains some of the highlights from our conversations with students each week. This isn’t about getting an ‘accurate’ picture of Tanzania so much as learning how the students we meet with each week see their world.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.