Muslims navigate coronavirus regulations for their second Ramadan in the shadow of pandemic - GulfToday

Muslims navigate coronavirus regulations for their second Ramadan in the shadow of pandemic


People shop for traditional lanterns for the holy month of Ramadan at the main market in Gaza City.

Last year, the coronavirus upended the 68-year-old Egyptian, Magdy Hafez’s routine of going to the mosque to perform those prayers, traditional during Islam’s holiest month.


The pandemic had disrupted Islamic worship the world over, including in Egypt where mosques were closed to worshippers last Ramadan.


For many Muslims navigating restrictions, that means hopes of a better Ramadan than last year have been dashed with the surge in infection rates though regulations vary in different countries.


A time for fasting, worship and charity, Ramadan is also when people typically congregate for prayers, gather around festive meals to break their daylong fast, throng cafes and exchange visits.


In Pakistan, new case numbers grew from fewer than 800 a day at the start of the month last year to more than 6,000 a day a few weeks after Ramadan ended.


ramdan12 A woman visits the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque ahead of the start of Islam's holy month of Ramadan in Banda Aceh.


Officials largely attributed the increase to Pakistanis flouting restrictions. After a dip, the country is back up to more than 5,000 new cases a day.


Iran on Saturday began a 10-day lockdown amid a severe surge in infections that followed a two-week public holiday for Nowruz, the Persian New Year.


Economic hardship also looms over the month for many. In war-torn Syria, Abed al-Yassin was concerned about what his iftar - the meal at sunset breaking the fast- will look like this year.


Lebanon is being squeezed by the worst economic and financial crisis in its modern history, exacerbated by the pandemic and a massive deadly explosion in Beirut in August.


To prevent large gatherings in Ramadan, Saudi Arabia has forbidden mosques from serving iftar and suhoor, a meal just before the fast’s start at sunrise.


ramdan13 A Palestinian shopkeeper displays lanterns and other decorative items ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan.


Last year’s Ramadan in India was marred by rising Islamophobia following accusations that an initial surge in infections was tied to a three-day meeting of an Islamic missionary group, the Tablighi Jamaat, in New Delhi.


In Pakistan, authorities are allowing mosques to remain open during Ramadan with rules in place that include barring worshippers over 50 years old and requiring masks.


But given how rules were widely ignored last year there, doctors have been asking the government to close mosques.


Afghanistan is leaving it up to worshippers to watch out for each other, keep their distance and stay away from the mosques if they are feeling ill.


ramdan14 A woman on a wheelchair carries a free food supply bag as others wait at a distributing point ahead of Ramadan in Lahore.


Malaysia has some movement restrictions in place and has declared a coronavirus emergency that suspended Parliament until August following spikes in infections. But it has lifted last year’s ban on taraweeh prayers and Ramadan bazaars, which sell food, drink and clothes, though strict measures will be in place.


Ramadan also typically has a distinct cultural and social flavor for many.


In another Cairo neighborhood, people posed with a giant Ramadan lantern towering over one street and snapped photos.


The tables may be gone, but not the month’s spirit of giving.


Related articles