Ramadan is usually a sociable time, with the abstentions from food and water by Muslims during the day giving way to sumptuous meals and gatherings at dusk. However, this year things are very different with the Coronavirus pandemic casting a long shadow over the rituals. Billions of Muslims all over the world mostly in private will observe the month of fasting and reflection, which starts at the sighting of the crescent moon. Mosques remain closed to evening prayers with feasting becoming more of an intimate affair within the confines of family homes.
Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic hit most parts of the world, Muslims have become accustomed to a change of the call to prayer because of state restrictions on social gatherings. The familiar summons of prayer in Mosques has been replaced by ‘pray at home’. And with the arrival of the sacred month, the ban on social gatherings has become more pointed.
Prior to the fast, there was discussion on whether going without sustenance during the better part of the day could have an effect on immunity, and how the body can fight off Covid-19. However, with no evidence to support this, the basis of this year’s Ramadan remains unchanged. With global travel coming to a standstill, supply lines have also been affected and there are fears that there might be a shortage of food supply in some areas.
Some states and countries have already amended their curfew times to ease shopping during fasting hours. Clerical bodies around the world have however encouraged families to embrace restrictions by putting a lot of focus on intimate family members. Mosques will remain virtually closed, the usual charity meal tables will no longer be present and frequent family socializing will remain suspended giving a new look to this year’s Ramadan.