A Palestinian vendor displays traditional lanterns known in Arabic as "Fanous" outside his shop in Gaza City.
Days before the holy fasting month of Ramadan begins, the Islamic world is grappling with an untimely paradox of the new coronavirus pandemic: enforced separation at a time when socialising is almost sacred.
The holiest month in the Islamic calendar is one of family and togetherness - community, reflection, charity and prayer.
But with shuttered mosques, coronavirus curfews and bans on mass prayers from Senegal to Southeast Asia, some 1.8 billion Muslims are facing a Ramadan like never before.
Across the Muslim world the pandemic has generated new levels of anxiety ahead of the holy fasting month, which begins on around Thursday.
In a country where mosques have been closed, her husband Mohamed Djemoudi, 73, worries about something else.
"I cannot imagine Ramadan without Tarawih,” he said, referring to additional prayers performed at mosques after iftar, the evening meal in which Muslims break their fast.
In Jordan the government, in coordination with neighbouring Arab countries, is expected to announce a fatwa outlining what Ramadan rituals will be permitted, but for millions of Muslims, it already feels so different.
From Africa to Asia, the coronavirus has cast a shadow of gloom and uncertainty.
‘WORST YEAR EVER’
Around the souks and streets of Cairo, a sprawling city of 23 million people that normally never sleeps, the coronavirus has been disastrous.
During Ramadan, street traders in the Egyptian capital stack their tables with dates and apricots, sweet fruits to break the fast, and the city’s walls with towers of traditional lanterns known as "fawanees".
But this year, authorities have imposed a night curfew and banned communal prayers and other activities, so not many people see much point in buying the lanterns.
‘ALL KINDS OF TOGETHERNESS MISSED’
In Algeria, restaurant owners are wondering how to offer iftar to the needy when their premises are closed, while charities in Abu Dhabi that hold iftar for low-paid South Asian workers are unsure what to do with mosques now closed.
In Senegal, the plan is to continue charity albeit in a limited way. In the beachside capital of Dakar, charities that characteristically hand out "Ndogou", baguettes slathered with chocolate spread, cakes, dates, sugar and milk to those in need, will distribute them to Koranic schools rather than on the street.
Meanwhile in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, some people will be meeting loved ones remotely this year.
Prabowo, who goes by one name, said he will host Eid al-Fitr, the celebration at the end of the fasting month, via the online meeting site Zoom instead of flying home.
Despite quarantine restrictions, the pandemic seems to be having only a minimal effect on day-to-day life in this country ravaged by strife and poverty.
The plan was outlined in a letter to tour operators and airlines detailing the measures Cyprus is taking to ensure the safety of its tourism sector.
Palestinians rejoice and prepare traditional food and decorations to welcome the upcoming Eid Al-Fitr holiday which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
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