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Ramadan begins amid high costs, hopes are high for peace

Muslim faithfuls perform the Compensation Prayer (Fay-Faat), on the last Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, in the street near the Blanchot mosque, the oldest mosque   -  
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CARMEN ABD ALI/AFP or licensors


The first daily fast of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan began Thursday, as hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide enter a four-week period of worship.

This comes as rising costs have left shoppers unable to splurge on Ramadan food shopping as they might have in past years accross the African continent.

During the coming four weeks, hundreds of millions of Muslims will abstain from food and water from dawn to dusk, before gathering with family and friends for indulgent nighttime meals. According to Islam, fasting draws the faithful closer to God and reminds them of the suffering of the poor.

Accross African capitals, families prepare and sell culinary delights weeks in advance to mark the break of the fast each evening, a meal known as Iftar.

In addition to fasting, charity giving is another of Islam´s five pillars. During Ramadan, mosques and charities regularly provide meals for the poor at long tables that sprawl out onto the street.