World Muslims prepare for unusual Ramadan - GulfToday

World Muslims prepare for unusual Ramadan


Photo has been used for illustrative purpose.

Days before the Holy 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 before Ramadan begins on or around Thursday.

In Algiers, Yamine Hermache, 67, usually receives relatives and neighbours at her home for tea and cold drinks during the month that Muslims fast from dusk till dawn. But this year she fears it will be different.

“We may not visit them, and they will not come,” she said, weeping. “The coronavirus has made everyone afraid, even of distinguished guests.”

In a country where mosques have been closed, her husband Mohamed Djemoudi, 73, worries about something else.

“I cannot imagine Ramadan without Taraweeh,” he said, referring to additional prayers performed at mosques after Iftar.

Saudi Arabia urged Muslims not to gather for prayers or socialise because of the rising number of coronavirus cases in the region.

“We are all in one boat, if we commit together we’ll safely reach the shore. We used to have a lot of social activities during Ramadan, this year it will be different and I urge everyone to commit to social distancing,” Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah said in a televised address on Monday.

Around the souks and streets of Cairo, a sprawling city of 23 million, the coronavirus has been disastrous.

“People don’t want to visit shops, they are scared of the disease. It’s the worst year ever,” said Samir Al Khatib, who runs a stall by the historic al-Sayeda Zainab mosque. “Compared with last year, we haven’t even sold a quarter.”

Mohamed Aslam, an engineer from India who lives in a three-bedroom apartment in downtown Abu Dhabi with 14 others is unemployed because of the coronavirus. With his apartment building under quarantine after a resident tested positive, he has been relying on charity for food.

The UAE launched a campaign on Sunday to provide 10 million meals or food parcels to communities hit by the outbreak in the country.

In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, some people will be meeting loved ones remotely this year.


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