This year – as happened in 2020 – Ramadan is being celebrated worldwide under exceptional circumstances due to the pandemic caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In this article we remind you how social and movement restrictions will affect the celebration of this sacred Islamic holiday.
As is widely known, fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, and during Ramadan – which this year begins at sunset on April, 13 and ends on May, 12 – Muslims must fast from sunrise to sunset. In fact, Muslims cannot suspend this worship unless a Sharia fatwa is issued by one of the highest Islamic institutes in the Muslim world.
As the coronavirus has continued to spread throughout the vast majority of countries over the past year and this current year, we have been undergoing measures of confinement and social distancing. As a result, many Muslims are wondering how this may affect the usual Ramadan rituals.
Is it advisable to fast during the coronavirus pandemic?
According to studies issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), drinking water and gargling are beneficial for hydration of the body and maintaining moisture, but it is not proven that these practices can prevent or protect someone from contracting the coronavirus, so fasting remains mandatory for the Muslim community.
Exemption from fasting for the infected people
However, it is allowed not to fast if the health status of a coronavirus-infected patient is critical and his doctor advises him not to fast because he needs to continue drinking water and taking medicines.
What activities can be affected?
Muslims around the world will be able to celebrate Islamic worship in mosques, which are now open, but by taking into account the precautions and biosecurity measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Therefore, this year, crowds and mass gatherings should be avoided, and the faithful are advised to reduce as much as possible the time spent in the places of worship. In addition, it is essential to keep safety distances and wear masks.
Prayer in the mosques
It is not advisable to perform the iftar – the evening meal that breaks the fast – in the mosque, in order to avoid crowds and the risk of infection.
Many mosques will close each day after the last prayer preceding the breaking of the fast.
In cases where there is a curfew and there is no time to perform the prayers and return home, the ‘tarawih’ should be performed in the family at home, and not in the mosque or in a designated place.
Organization of iftar meals
Some mosques and charities organise group fasting meals as a break in the fasting process, which are shared with the needy and friends of all religions, but this year it is expected that they will not be able to be held in the usual way.
The practice of fasting is not affected
The practice of fasting during Ramadan depends entirely on each person and does not depend on the opening of mosques. Therefore, unless there are reasons of force majeure or people are at risk of illness, pregnant or breastfeeding, the practice of fasting should not be exempted. In this case it is advisable to discuss each personal situation with the doctor and with the authorized religious authorities.
Ramadan, giving and sharing
During these months not only will Ramadan be affected by the new global reality, but the celebrations of most of the world’s great religions, such as the Easter mass, the Easter seders, the Hindu Rama Navami or the Sikh festivities of Vaisakhi have been affected by social and grouping restrictions on a global level.
But we at Moneytrans believe that precisely at this time we should take them as an opportunity to reflect on what is important in life and help others in any way we can.
Ramadan is also a month for giving and sharing, so it is important that we all come together in this difficult time and take care of all our communities that make our diverse society the greatest strength of our world. How? We can help by donating to food banks, supporting local businesses or checking in on our neightbours.
Each Muslim country has its own traditions and ways of celebrating Ramadan, but the 1.8 billion faithful – even those living in Western countries – will have the opportunity to celebrate their worship in a less hostile environment, but with the precautions against Covid-19.
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