Ramadan and the Coronavirus

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Sarah Peddie

This year Muslims around the world will start to celebrate Ramadan on Thursday 23 April until Saturday 23 May. With the coronavirus outbreak, how will this affect the millions of Muslims around the world in their month of celebrations?

Ramadan begins on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which is a lunar calendar. Each month begins when the first crescent of a new moon is seen. 

The holy month that commences today usually sees celebrations of special prayers and community dinners that can last until the early hours of the morning. 

However, these kinds of gatherings are now in jeopardy due to the coronavirus outbreak and the risk of spreading the virus will be extremely high with the mass gatherings. Also, with strict rules in place like curfews and social distancing - it will be difficult for these kinds of ceremonies to go ahead. 

With mosques closed worldwide and restrictions still in place there has been some advice given to Muslims on how to cope with celebrating Ramadan during a worldwide pandemic. 

There are other ways that you can communicate with your family and friends during the time of lockdown and the main one is using video calls.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also advised where possible to use video calling as an alternative to religious gatherings where possible. Mosques in the UK and elsewhere around the world will live-stream sermons, Quranic recitation and prayers. Muslims will also be able to attend religious lectures on Zoom, Facebook and YouTube.

In terms of fasting during Ramadan, experts have advised to consume high-energy and slow-burning foods during the second meal of the night before dawn which will help maintain energy throughout the day. 

Food consumption throughout the holy month usually rises and this has raised concerns due to panic buying and supplies running low.

As for iftar, plan your menu in advance as this will reduce the amount of trips you have to make to the shops. 

Giving charity is encouraged during Ramadan but it is now being encouraged to give non-governmental organisations donations that help fight the covid-19 outbreak and to donate online due to the health and safety of everyone involved. 

If you are experiencing or showing symptoms of Covid-19 then it is essential to always seek medical advice no matter the circumstances. 

According to the Quran, if you are sick then you are exempt from fasting and can make up for the missed time fasting within a year after Ramadan. The elderly, pregnant and nursing women are also allowed to skip fasting. 

So if you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms then it is not advisable to fast.

The Eid al-Fitr festival marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated as an official holiday in Muslim majority countries. 

As large gatherings are banned, the festival will be scaled down this year as it is unclear when lockdown restrictions will be lifted or if lockdown will be lifted in time for Eid. 

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