Ramadan under Lockdown: Muslims around the World to Start an unusual Month of Fasting on Friday
Saudi Arabia has announced that the holy fasting month of Ramadan will start on Friday, as Muslims round the world face unprecedented restrictions and tight lockdowns to counter coronavirus.
“Based on the sighting of the new month’s moon … it’s been decided that Friday is that the start of the month of Ramadan,” the royal court said on Thursday in a statement cited by the official SPA press agency .
King Salman of Saudi Arabia said he was saddened that Muslims could not pray at mosques because of coronavirus restrictions. “It pains me to welcome the fantastic month of Ramadan under circumstances that forbid us of prayers in Mosques and of performing the Ramadan prayers of Tarawieh and Qiyam in House of Allah. All this is due to the protective measures taken to save lives and human wellbeing in light of the global threat of COVID-19,” he said in a statement cited by SPA.
Saud Arabia announced last week the 2 holy mosques in Mecca and Medina would remain closed throughout Ramadan. Ramadan is that the holiest month for Muslims, during which they fast during daylight , congregate for prayers and share meals as a community. But thanks to the coronavirus, most Muslim-majority countries have closed mosques and asked people to wish reception additionally to imposing curfews to limit the spread of the deadly virus.
The coronavirus outbreak threatens to upend faith-based traditions that have gone on for nearly 1,500 years. The world’s nearly 2 billion Muslims won’t be ready to hold communal feasts and prayers that are an indicator of Ramadan, their holiest month, starting in the week . The pandemic has forced many governments to order restrictions on travel, gathering and collective prayers the likes of which the planet has not seen before. Around the world, mosques that worshippers swarm during Ramadan are expected to be empty or have limited attendance.
Iran, the middle of Shi’ite Islam, indicated it might imitate . In a televised speech earlier in April, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told people to wish reception . “We are getting to be bereft of public gatherings of the month of Ramadan,” Khamenei said during a speech marking the birth of revered 9th century Shi’ite Imam Mahdi as reported by the Associated Press. “In the absence of those meetings, remember to heed your prayers and devotions in your lonesomeness.”
A few thousand kilometers to the east, within the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia, the general public faced restrictions on Ramadan-related activities. “The early morning meals (sahur) and therefore the breaking of fast (iftar) are to be done individually or with core relations only,” government issued guidelines stated. The same rules applied to offering prayers or reciting the Quran. The country has also banned people from traveling during Ramadan, forcing tens of millions to spend the vacations faraway from family.
A similar fate fell upon the world’s oldest Muslim university, Jamia al-Azhar of Egypt. The famed seat of learning that opened its doors in 972. A.D. was forced to shut them last month, along side all the mosques within the country, although they were still allowed to broadcast the calls to prayer through their loudspeakers. Many governments were teaming up with religious leaders to improve compliance.
“Scholars of Islam throughout the planet are unanimous that the Prophet of Islam warned against the spread of contagious diseases and urged Muslims to stop the spread,” said Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, the president-general of Nigeria’s Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, as reported in Nigerian newspaper Politics Nigeria. His country too suspended all congregational prayers and instead was encouraging online lectures.
In the central Asian country of Azerbaijan, many people were being fined for leaving their houses.
Month-long Ramadan bazaars with stalls selling food, drinks and clothes, usually busy sites, are not allowed in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.
Meanwhile, Pakistan will allow congregational prayers at mosques during Ramadan, but worshippers must keep a distance of two metres (six feet) from one another and are encouraged to bring their own prayer mats. In Pakistan, clerics threatened to revolt against the government’s policy of limiting worshippers to only five at a time. The government relented and allowed them to keep mosques open during Ramadan but with 20 guidelines on safety.
A similar appeal was issued by neighboring Afghanistan, a war-torn country that’s already handling a shortage of COVID-19 test kits and isolation facilities. Health officials in both countries worry that the rules could be hard to implement.
Albanian Muslim leaders urged followers to stay at home, practice social distancing and encouraged them to spend more time teaching their children about Islam.
Turkey has banned communal eating during the holiday to avoid transmission.
In the US, around 3.5 million Muslims, the country’s third largest religious group, were banned from holding prayers in mosques. Congregations have offered to live stream prayer services online instead. Mosques in the United Kingdom and elsewhere will live-stream sermons, recitation of the Quran and prayers.
Germany has shut down religious places of worship to large crowds including mosques, churches and synagogues. Amid the coronavirus crisis, socializing outside of the home in groups of more than two (unless from the same household) is forbidden. “As difficult because it is for us to stay our mosques closed during the holy month of Ramadan, it’s our religious and civil responsibility to try to to exactly that in the current phase,” Aiman Mazyek, the secretary-general of Germany’s Central Council of Muslims, told the Ruhr24 group of local newspapers.
The day after Ramadan is one among the foremost festive Muslim holidays, called Eid al-Fitr. Many Muslim countries have already banned collective Eid prayers and subsequent festivities.