An insight into Ramadan and the effects of COVID-19
It has been nearly two weeks since Ramadan started, but what implications have COVID-19 had on a time where community and gatherings are key focal points during this religious event? Our very own Learning and Development Co-ordinator, Mariya, has kindly given us an insight into Ramadan and how COVID-19 will have a big effect on herself and other Muslim's this year. This is what she had to say:
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is a month devoted to the revelation of the Islamic holy book, the Quran. During this month Muslims refrain from food and water from the hours of sunrise to sunset. Fasting helps Muslims practice self-discipline, self-control, and empathy for those who are less fortunate and encourages acts of generosity and charity.
Why does the date of Ramadan change every year?
Muslims follow an Islamic calendar that is based on the cycles of the moon and so every year the date of Ramadan changes slightly.
How will Ramadan be different with COVID-19?
In Ramadan, there is a large focus on the community through congregational prayers and gatherings for Iftar (the meal to break your fast). During Ramadan, Muslims gather at mosques every night after sunset for a special ‘Taraweeh’ prayer that takes place only in Ramadan. Every Ramadan in my local area, Muslims will gather in their local mosque for Taraweeh prayer. However, this year, mosques will be closed, and most Muslims will be completing these prayers at home.
It is also common for Muslims to gather for ‘Iftar’. I have quite a big family so it is normal for us to come together most nights to break our fast together, but some communities will come together and break their fast in mosques. This year we will all be breaking our fasts at home, only with those who live in our household.
In this holy month, many Muslims make a holy pilgrimage known as ‘Umrah’ to the holy place of Makkah in Saudi Arabia. This year Makkah is closed for the first time in history which will have an impact on those who planned to make this holy pilgrimage and others such as myself who follow the prayers in Makkah which are broadcasted.
Ramadan will be different this year, never in history have we not been able to go to the mosque for prayers, gather for the breaking of our fast or follow prayers in Makkah. It will be strange and something to adjust to throughout the month.
Eid-ul-Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan and will most likely be impacted by COVID-19. Eid prayers and visiting family and friends are common on Eid day. Congregational Eid prayers will be cancelled, and Eid will be celebrated only with those in your household.
Putting things into perspective
Although things may be different this year it is important to remember some of the core concepts of Ramadan which is gratitude and appreciation for some of the things, we might take for granted. Despite not being able to gather for prayers and iftar (the meal to break your fast) it is important to appreciate the seclusion and comfort of our homes, the food we have to break our fast and the family we are able to share this with. Despite not being able to gather for prayers and iftar, the core concepts of Ramadan will not be lost.