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With many Muslim-majority nations locked up under coronavirus, millions around the world are too heavy from dawn to dusk. During the wake of the coronavirus epidemic, many practices during Ramadan are likely to be limited during Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East and elsewhere. Learn about the best practices you can adopt to celebrate the beautiful Ramadan festival safely and without getting infected.

About Ramadan
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is based on the lunar cycle and lasts for 29 to 30 days. It falls between the months of May and June in the year of Ramadan.The last evening of Ramadan is celebrated as a festival called Eid al-Fitr. Iftar (Magrib) is when Muslims break their fast with light meals and water before having a proper dinner. Suhoor is the last meal before fasting begins and the last meal of the day before the end of fasting. Muslims spend the whole month in resilience and offer 5 ‘Namaaz” each day. The Islamic believers around the world recite the verses of the Sacred Quran and those who cannot read, hear the verses of this sacred text. It is assumed that during the month of Ramadan, the verses of the Holy Quran were first announced to the prophet Hazarat Mohammad, and that is why the Muslim community started to swam and to pursue pure life during the holy month of Ramadan. Non-muslims might wonder why Roza is celebrated or what is Ramadan festival. You can get to know all the details. The exact beginning and end times of Ramadan are based on the sighting of the moon, but it is explicitly stated that Ramadan begins and ends at the same time each year and ends at any time during Ramadan, regardless of what is specifically said.

Importance of Ramadan in Islamic culture
Ramadan is known as the holy month of fasting, as Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. Fasting on this holiday is one of the five pillars of Islam, alongside the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Muslim women gather outside a mosque on the first day of the Ramadan festival. Fasting during Ramadan, also known as Sawm is one of the five pillars of the Islamic religion, along with Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, and Hajj. Throughout the month, Muslims also seek to practice “zakat” or charity, another of the five pillars of Islam. Almost 80 per cent of Muslims spread across the world observe the holy month of Ramadan by fasting. The Arabic etymology of Ramadan refers to intense heat. Fasting is thus a divine cycle of burning away guilt with good deeds.

How is Ramadan celebrated?
Ramzan, or Ramadan, is a month-long holy festival celebrated with pomp and enthusiasm by Muslims around the world. Ramadan is also an opportunity to do charity work and spend time with family and friends. As the month of Ramadan festival draws to a close, Eid al-Fitr takes place on the first day of the new moon. Ramadan Mubarak” and “Ramadan Kareem” are common greetings exchanged in this period, wishing the recipient a blessed and generous month respectively. The followers of Islam resort to complete fasting and penance and avoid eating anything during the day-time of the month of Ramadan. This means that they have to take their meals before sunrise and after sunset; just two days in a 24-hour period. This is Roza’s wide definition, but in fact, it’s far more than just swam or fast for the day. The Roza is the time for self-reconstruction to purify the mind and body. “Ittefaq” is another duty of the Islamic followers. The people sitting with community members pray to the almighty power for the goodness of the community. This sitting is done at a public area keeping silence all over the place during the Ittefaq prayer.

Ramadan in 2020
Ramadan 2020 is expected to begin on Thursday evening, April 23, 2020, and Eid al-Fitr 2020 will fall on the first day of the new moon, Saturday, May 23, 2020. This marks the end of the month of Ramadan. The date on which Eid is celebrated, however, depends on the sighting of new moons, and as soon as a sighting is confirmed, the feast may begin.

Recommended Read: 5 Best Food Options for Iftar During Ramzan Festival

Effect of Coronavirus on Ramadan Celebrations 2020
Ramadan prayers are usually performed in groups in mosques, but with the spread of COVID-19, Muslims will be forced to pray at home. Muslim holy sites, like Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, will be deserted during Ramadan, after the authorities have urged worshipers to pray at home.“The Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which is Islam’s third most holy place after Mecca and Medina will also remain closed during Ramadan, the Islamic Waqf Council of Jerusalem said on Thursday. For Muslims, a major part of the holy month consists of special night prayers called “Taraweeh,” which are held every day in the mosque and conducted by the imam, the leader of the mosque’s prayer. Imams from all over the world believe that the shift to temporary virtual worship could lead to an eventual lack of interest in in-person prayer. But this is not true, as all the faithful are confident of it. Several national religious authorities, including the Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh of Saudi Arabia, have ruled that prayers should be performed at home during Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr. In India, too, many religious and well-known celebrities appealed to Muslims to obey the norms of social distancing during the Holy Month.

WHO Guidelines for celebrating Ramadan during COVID-19
World Health Organization (WHO) had also issued a set of COVID-19 guidelines for religious practices during the month. Let’s see what those guidelines are:

The transmission of COVID-19 is increased by close contact between individuals, as the virus spreads through respiratory droplets and through contact with contaminated surfaces. In order to minimize the effects of public safety, many countries have adopted physical distance interventions aimed at interrupting transmission by reducing human interactions. These interventions are essential control-mechanisms for managing the spread of infectious diseases, in particular respiratory infections, associated with large numbers of people.
Physical distancing steps, including the closing of mosques, surveillance of public meetings, and other restrictions on movement, would have direct consequences for the social and religious meetings essential to Ramadan.

Measures for Conducting Religious and Social Gathering Safely
The WHO advises that any decision to limit, change, delay, cancel, or continue the mass gatherings should be based on a structured risk assessment exercise. When social and religious events are cancelled due to COVID19, virtual alternatives such as television, radio, internet, and social media should also be used wherever possible. If Ramadan meetings are permitted to continue, steps to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 should be enforced.

Some necessary measures for physical distancing even at religious gatherings of Ramadan are:

  1. Practice physical distancing by strictly maintaining a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) between people at all times.
  2. Use culturally and religiously sanctioned greetings that avoid physical contact, such as waving, nodding, or placing the hand over the heart.
  3. Stop large numbers of people gathering in places associated with Ramadan activities, such as entertainment venues, markets, and shops.
  4. Urge people who are feeling unwell or have any symptoms of COVID-19 to avoid attending events and follow the national guidance on follow-up and management of symptomatic cases.
  5. Urge older people and anyone with pre-existing medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer) not to attend gatherings, as they are considered vulnerable to severe disease and death from COVID-19.

WHO has also provided some health measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus because of religious gatherings during Ramadan.

  1. Consider holding the event outdoors if possible; otherwise, ensure that the indoor venue has adequate ventilation and airflow.
  2. Shorten the length of the event as much as possible to limit potential exposure.
  3. Regulate the number and flow of people entering, attending, and departing from worship spaces, pilgrimage sites, or other venues to ensure safe distancing at all times.
  4. Encourage healthy hygiene
  5. Frequently clean worship spaces, sites, and buildings

Questions related to COVID19 during Ramadan:

  1. Will Fasting during Ramadan increase my chances of getting coronavirus?
    There is no such study that suggests that fasting affects your chances of getting coronavirus. Healthy people should be able to fast during this Ramadan as in previous years, while COVID-19 patients may consider religious licenses regarding breaking the fast in consultation with their doctors, as they would do with any other disease.
  2. Will I get coronavirus because of physical activity during Ramadan?
    Always practice physical distancing and proper hand hygiene even during any exercise activity. In lieu of outdoor activities, indoor physical movement and online physical activity classes are encouraged.
  3. What are healthy diet and nutrition during Ramadan to avoid coronavirus?
    Proper nutrition and hydration are vital during the month of Ramadan. You should eat a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods every day and drink plenty of water.
  4. Can I use tobacco during Ramadan?
    Tobacco use is ill-advised under any circumstances, especially during the Roza Muslim festival and the COVID-19 pandemic. Frequent smokers may already have lung disease, or reduced lung capacity, which greatly increases the risk of serious COVID-19 illness. When smoking cigarettes, the fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) touch the lips, which increases the likelihood of the virus entering the respiratory system. When water pipes are used, it is likely that mouthpieces and hoses are shared, which also facilitates transmission of the virus.
  5. How to promote my mental and psychosocial health during Ramadan?
    Despite the different execution in practices this year, it is important to reassure the faithful that they can still reflect, improve, pray, share, and care – all from a healthy distance. Ensuring that family, friends, and elders are still engaged in light of physical distancing needs to be considered; encouraging alternate and digital platforms for interaction is paramount. Offering special prayers for the sick, alongside messages of hope and comfort, are methods to observe the tenants of Ramadan while maintaining public health.

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Author: Prince Mishra

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