By: Ada Muqqadus — Correspondent
Unlike most years, this year, Ramadan will look different. Monday, April 12 marks the start of the holy month of Ramadan for many Muslims. I myself am a Muslim, and I will see traditions that remain and traditions that will change.
Many places of worship have been either closed this year or completely under lockdown due to the pandemic, and because of this, the holiday may look a little different this year.
Generally, Muslims fast on a 30-day basis during daylight hours from sunrise to sunset. Fasting is a practice that is seen as one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims can eat before sunrise and break their fast after sunset each day.
Muslims believe in the Holy Book called the Quran, and this book was shown to our Prophet Mohammed during this month.
As Muslims, we are prohibited from consuming any food and water. Muslims are also expected to abstain from any sexual intercourse as well.
During this month, Muslims are to practice ‘sadaqah’ or charity, another one of the five pillars of Islam.
Ramadan references ‘extreme heat’ meaning it is a spiritual process where we wash away our sins with good deeds.
Instead of visiting any religious temples or mosques, we are asked to pray at home. Even the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem–Islam’s third holiest place–will remain closed this year.
According to NPR, Iran was the ‘hardest hit’ country by the pandemic with more than 87,000 cases positive with nearly 5,500 deaths. Given this deadly toll, we must take precautions and do our part in the community by simply washing our hands, sanitizing, taking showers every day as well as cleaning every surface we touch.
In Pakistan, where I came from, there have been more than 11,000 cases, and because of this the Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered to shut down all mosques. For many, this will be a very difficult time because there are not many places they can go or celebrate Eid as they have done in the past.
I personally think many will remember this and that it will become a part of our history whether we like it or not, but we will go through this together.
In Egypt, it has already been decided that all group iftars and charity tables are banned.
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests, using virtual alternatives where Muslims could still host and attend religious gatherings.
What has become almost impossible in some countries like Singapore and Brunei is the closing of bazaars. Bazaars are no longer allowed to sell food, drinks, and clothing.
Because food consumption rises in Ramadan, there are many complaints and concerns of the panic of buying supplies and running low amid lockdowns.
Muslims stress over not being able to attend congregational prayers. However, Muslims will be able to attend religious lectures via Zoom, Google Meet, or any social media platform.
For Muslims, social connectivity is very important, whether it’s reciting the Quran or listening to an instructor’s lecture. Muslims will be able to do so by listening to a motivational speaker who will give daily lectures live on Facebook during Ramadan.
Giving charity is a blessing. It is highly encouraged during Ramadan. Not only do you understand what it’s like to be hungry, but you learn to be a better person just by giving to the poor and unfortunate.
According to health experts, they have advised using online methods to donate to NGO in helping those affected by the outbreak.
In the Quran, it says, If one is infected or is diagnosed with COVID, they are exempt from fasting and can make up for the missed fast within a year after Ramadan. Any elderly, pregnant, and nursing women are also allowed to skip fasting.
If one is experiencing serious symptoms, they are advised not to fast. In Islam, it is very clear who should fast and who is exempted from fasting. It all depends on the immunity of the person.
Usually, after Ramadan ends, Muslims celebrate Eid-al-Fitr which is meant to be a big celebration to end fasting.
Sadly, this year we cannot have a big celebration. This year’s festivities will be measured down. People will have to stay home and can only celebrate with a small unit of family members. This will be an era to remember and every kid right now will grow up to tell their kids about the novel coronavirus and it will become a part of our history.
What can Muslims learn from this?
Muslims can learn about the true meaning of pain. They will witness something they never witnessed in the past. Muslims will learn to be more patient and only pray god will listen and end the pandemic. Ali Ibn Talib once said, “A moment of patience in a moment of anger prevents a thousand moments of regret.” Patience is a virtue. To be patient is to endure without discomfort without complaint. To have self-control, humility, and generosity. In psychology, patience is the ability to keep calm in the face of disappointment, distress, or suffering which is worth cultivating.