The nationwide 21 day Lockdown, which is being looked upon as a successful model in limiting the spread of the Coronavirus was extended by another 19 days, after a consensus between the ruling parties at the Centre and in the States and the leaders at various administrative levels in states and union territories. This was announced to the nation by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi at 10am on 14 April.
This extended lockdown coincide with the Holy Month of Ramadan, which will be celebrated by the Muslim world globally in a unique manner this time. Though pandemics, world wars and lockdowns have happened across many parts of the world over centuries, an instance of Ramadan and Lockdown coinciding. Ramadana is expected to begin on April 24 or April 25, depending on the sighting of the moon. This is how the Holy Month of Ramadan will look like during Coronavirus Lockdown times, as the world shows solidarity with each other.
Muslims in Udaipur have been instructed by religious leaders of the community as well as elders in the community to hold Namaz and Iftaar at home and ensure that the poor are taken care of. Members of the Dawoodi Bohra society in Udaipur have also ensured that the Masjid presence is limited to a maximum of 5 persons during any of the Namaz slots. The community has been asked to restrict their movement outside their homes to bare minimum. Ramadan for the Dawoodi Bohra community across the globe will begin on 23 April, as the community follows the Misri Calendar and has the dates spelt out. People have been askked to contribute towards meeting the needs of the poor and needy in these times.
Deoband Muslim community has communicated to the members of the community to follow the lockdown regulations during the Holy Month of Ramadan. Deobandi Aalim Mufti Ahmed Gaud, in his message to the people said that the establishment of lockdown and social distancing in its true spirit will be enough to deal with the spread of Coronavirus. Using of masks, sanitizers and washing hands regularly will add to the safety. He instructed the people to be at home during each of the 5 prayers and even during Tarawi.
Further, Chairman of the Indian Islamic Cultural Centre and Lucknow City Qazi, Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, in his address instructed people to pray at home – both the regular Namaz as well as the special Tarawi. Khalid Rashid, who is also a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) said that the instructions of not having more than 5 people in the Masjid needs to be respected and followed in spirit.
At the same time, he also requested people to spend their money in providing to the poor. Those fasting as well as others. Khalid, in his 12 point advisory also said that the amount spent in lavish iftaars should instead be spent on the poor. The Muslims should contribute their Zakaat for the poor and the needy in such desperate times – that would be the substance of Islam.
Chairman of the Central Wakf Council and Minority Affairs Minister, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, in his message to the community, said that the offering Namaz and Iftaar as well as the late night Namaz including Tarawi at home will go a long way in supporting the cause of social distancing and the fight against Coronavirus. Naqvi's appeal came after he spoke with various religious leaders, representatives of social and religious organisations, officials and other office-bearers of state waqf boards, asking them to ensure implementation of lockdown and social distancing guidelines during Ramzan.
Earlier for April 8 and April 9, both Shia and Sunni clerics had appealed to the people to stay indoors and pray on the occasion of Shab-e-Baraat, respectively.
Britain, which is seeing a spike in Coronavirus cases, was apprehensive towards the social gatherings during Ramadan. Since the lockdown has prevented the gatherings due to closure of mosques and community tents, innovation is being resorted to. Members of the Muslim Council of Britan told The Times that it is imperative to observe the Holy Month differently this time by sticking to social distancing rules. The Ramadan Tent Project, which witnesses people from all faiths sitting shoulder to shoulder and sharing the meal at Iftaar, will go online now. Those signing up will get a pack containing everything they need to create their own Iftaar experience. They will all join online through Zoom and other such platforms, while sitting in the safety of their homes. Prayers will be Live Streamed through Facebook each day.
With businesses being affected during the fight against Coronavirus, the sentiments during the Holy Month won't deter or dampen their spirit as they brace for the festival in various novel ways to make the most of the situation, but the celebration will not be as flamboyant as it usually is. The few weeks to the run up to Ramadan is full of frantic buying to lace up the kitchens with ingredients for traditional meals, decorations done up across cities and markets and restaurants opening right from evening to early morning hours. The markets will not be as busy since the lockdown has ensured that there will be no public gatherings and Namaz as well as Iftaar will be done at home. Residents of the UAE feel that this could be the most memorable Ramadan ever, as the #StayHome Ramadan will be an opportunity to boost family bonding with more time to pray with each other
In narrow alleyways in some cities in the Middle East, there is a call for Suhoor, a call accompanied by the beating of drums early in the morning. This is called the Musaharati. Now, with the lockdown in certain places, the Musaharati will not be visible. Many masjids in the Middle East have been closed already to the public, for the fear of spread of the pandemic. The Masjid Al Nabawi in Saudi Arab is closed for public…. This is the first time this has happened in ages.
In some parts of the Middle East, the athaan, or call to prayer, which is amplified from mosques five times a day, has been used to encourage people to stay safe. In Kuwait, the call has been altered to include the phrase “pray in your homes” instead of the usual “come to pray”.
In the US, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society said all five daily congregational prayers would be cancelled at its 10 mosques amid the threat of the virus.
Some mosques, including the Atlanta Masjid in the US, have started to live stream the khutbah, the sermon given before the congregational Friday prayers. This virtual congregation may continue during Ramadan so that prayers can be observed from the safety of worshippers’ homes.
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