Ramadan is underway and more than 1.8 billion Muslims are observing the holy month, but in very different ways than they’ve been used to.
As countries around the world fight to flatten the curve, mosques are shuttered and there are bans on mass gatherings for prayers to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Imams, scholars and the World Health Organization have called for daily prayers to be performed at home, fasts to be broken without extended family or friends, and charity to be given in the form of monetary donations to organisations rather than meals.
The Muslim Council of Britain has published a list of guidelines for this year’s #RamadanAtHome. In addition to virtual prayers and gatherings, they suggest meal planning to limit trips outside the home and paying special attention to mental health.
Not all Muslims will mark the month under lockdown, though. Pakistan will allow congregational prayersat mosques during Ramadan, but worshippers must keep a distance of two metres from each other, and will be encouraged to bring their own prayer mats.
While many Muslims are worried about the impact of the pandemic on the holy month, others say turning a month of socialising into a month of separation is not a bad thing. It will allow for focused reflection and prayer, getting to the root of what the fast is supposed to be about.
On the next episode of Stream we’ll meet members of the Muslim community and ask what Ramadan means in a pandemic, a historic first.