Muslims Try to Keep Ramadan Spirit Amid Virus Restrictions

Wednesday, 22 April 2020 17:35 WIB



Every year during Ramadan, the Light of Muhammad Mosque sets up long tables on the street and dishes up free meals at sunset for the poor to break their daily fast. It's a charity that many rely on in this impoverished district on the edge of the Egyptian capital.

But it's too dangerous in this era of the coronavirus — in Egypt and in many Muslim countries, such "Tables of the Compassionate" have been barred.

So the mosque, which like others in Egypt had to shut its doors as a precaution against the virus, will use the funds that would have gone into the free communal tables to distribute packed meals and cash to those in need. 

As Ramadan begins with the new moon later this week, Muslims around the world are trying to maintain the cherished rituals of Islam's holiest month without further spreading the outbreak.

At the heart of Ramadan is the sunrise-to-sunset fast, meant to instill contemplation of God. But alongside the hardship of abstaining from food and drink for hours every day, the month sweeps everyone up into a communal spirit. Families and friends gather for large meals at sunset, known as iftars. In some countries, cafes and cultural events are packed late into the night. Worshippers go to mosques for hours of evening prayers, or "taraweeh." Many devote themselves to charity.

Muslims now find themselves cut off from much of what makes the month special as authorities fight the pandemic. Many countries have closed mosques and banned taraweeh to prevent crowds. Prominent clerics, including in Saudi Arabia, have urged people to pray at home.

Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Egypt loosened their curfews, moving them back to start anywhere from a half hour to 90 minutes after sunset. That gives time to get to Iftar, but not much: people can't go too far to visit others for the meal unless they're prepared to stay the night.

Other countries have banned long internal travel. Syria gave people a window of two days this week to move between provinces, then restored its ban.

Source : VOA




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