Indian Muslims Celebrate Start of Ramadan with Photos


India is a country with a rich cultural and religious diversity. It is home to the world’s third-largest Muslim population, with approximately 200 million Muslims living in the country as a minority in a predominantly Hindu society. According to new religious projections data from the Pew Research Centre, India will have the distinction of having the largest populations of two of the largest religions in the world – Hinduism and Islam – in the coming decades. By 2050, the country is expected to have 311 million Muslims, which will account for 11 percent of the global total.

This Ramadan, Muslims in the capital city of New Delhi have come together to celebrate the advent of the holy month according to their social and cultural customs, giving Ramadan a distinct identity. Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims, with intense prayer, self-discipline, dawn-to-dusk fasting, and nightly feasts. Al Jazeera visited old Muslim neighbourhoods, historical mosques, seminaries, and markets in its historical capital city to bring you this gallery of how Muslims observe Ramadan in India.

The Muslim community in India has a rich history that dates back to the 7th century when Arab traders first arrived on the Malabar Coast. Over time, Islam spread throughout the Indian subcontinent, and today, India is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the world. Despite being a minority community in a predominantly Hindu country, Indian Muslims have managed to preserve their unique cultural and religious identity.

During Ramadan, Muslims in India observe fasts from dawn to dusk and break their fast with a meal called iftar. The iftar meal is usually a lavish spread that includes dates, fruits, sweets, and savoury dishes. In Delhi’s old Muslim neighbourhoods like Jama Masjid and Chandni Chowk, iftar bazaars are set up during Ramadan where people can buy a variety of food items for their iftar meals.

One of the most significant aspects of Ramadan is the Taraweeh prayers, which are held every night during the holy month. Muslims gather in mosques to offer these prayers, which are led by an imam. In Delhi, historical mosques like Jama Masjid, Fatehpuri Masjid, and Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah are popular destinations for Taraweeh prayers.

Ramadan is also a time for giving and charity. Muslims are encouraged to donate to the poor and needy during the holy month. In Delhi, several organisations and individuals set up iftar tents where people can come and break their fast. These tents are usually set up in areas with a high concentration of low-income families.

Another unique aspect of Ramadan in India is the cultural diversity that exists within the Muslim community. India is a country with a rich cultural heritage, and this is reflected in the way Muslims celebrate Ramadan. In Delhi, Muslims from different parts of the country come together to celebrate the holy month. Each region has its own unique iftar dishes and customs, which adds to the diversity of Ramadan celebrations in India.

In conclusion, Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection, self-discipline, and community building for Muslims around the world. In India, the Muslim community has managed to preserve its unique cultural and religious identity despite being a minority in a predominantly Hindu country. The diverse ways in which Muslims in India celebrate Ramadan reflect the country’s rich cultural heritage and diversity.