Coronodan - Ramadan in times of the new coronavirus
In this report, I illustrate how the COVID-19 pandemic challenges the fasting in the holy month of Ramadan and which impact it has on the Muslims around the world
13 May 2020 (20 Ramadan 1441h) - Today we mark the 20th day of the islamic month of Ramadan which means that already two-third of the month has passed away.
The holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the arabic moon calendar, where Muslims from all the parts of the world are fasting for approximately 30 days until the celebration day, Eid al - Fitr, since it belongs to one of the five pillars of the religion. That indicates no drinking and eating from dawn until dusk, whereas a lot of muslims find themselves asked by non — muslims the familiar sentences “And not even water?“ (Yes, not even water.) Obligatory is it for all men and women in a good physical condition which have passed the stage of puberty, around 14 years. On the contrary, old people, sick individuals, pregnant women and travelers are taken out of the duty. They should replace the fast by feeding human beings, spending money and catch up the missed days later if possible. This time of the month is also well known by non — muslims, especially in countries where a high percentage belong to the Islam, for instance Germany.
Surprisingly, more and more individuals are to be seen who tried this out for a few days just to get the experience and put themselves in the shoes of the fasting.
If you ask “badly informed“ human beings what the sense of this month and the fasting, they would quite likely answer, ‚We are fasting in order to feel the poor and people suffering from hunger in many parts of the world.' Honestly, I also used to tell people when asking me the same response but actually this is only a side effect. The importance of the holy month lies in the celebration of the from the skies to the earth heaven-sent words of God, the Qur’an. In addition to the point that during this period the gates of Hellfire are close whereas the one to the Heaven are opened more widely as usual. Moreover, prayers are reached and accepted way fast and more efficient than in any other moment.
Besides from not consuming any nutrition, smoking and any sexual intercourse, these 30 days are about abstaining from immoral acts and anger and breaking bad habits whilst the remembering God through acts of worship such as prayers, reading Qur’an and charity are highly supported and encouraged. Furthermore, muslim individuals are constrained to take care of the weaker ones of the society and donating money to the poorer ones. Significant for this holy month is large hosted Iftars in the mosques, but also within families where women prepare loads of dishes during the day. It is a moment when people are coming together, sharing meals, feeling the huge sense of community.
That is how the usual occasion looks like, but not this year. In this year 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced muslims to adapt their normal routine to the current conditions due to social distancing and lockdown. Nevertheless, it does not keep the fasting individuals from maintaining the actual purpose of this period through attending online religious education classes for seeking knowledge, praying at homes instead of in mosques and attending to virtual Iftars with family members. Moreover, we have the chance to seek a greater spirituality through focusing more on oneself since social gatherings are falling away and now time is left.
Honestly, I already have known from the beginning that this Ramadan will be different as I won’t be abroad without my family for a longer period and living with foreign flatmate(s). Nevertheless, I considered alternatives such as visiting the mosque, spending time with the Moroccan teenagers from placement. Back then, a crisis, caused by a virus, was far out of my imagination. In the first few days of Ramadan (or ‘Coronadan’), fasting didn’t feel exhausting at all since I have done some voluntarily before and practice intermitting fasting for years. Out of a sudden, I began to feel alone here with no company and wishing to be back at home when talking to my mum and the other members. To compensate the distance, I planned to cook all the traditional dishes my mum always used to cook in Ramadan, such as Koose, besides other traditional meals from different countries, for example samosa.
On the contrary, my efficiency has risen up a lot compared to last year, even though I have been using nearly the same downloaded guideline. This happened due to more time spent at home in isolation with no work and school and the total focus on myself with no exterior distraction. One thing the pandemic taught enhanced me, is not to take anything for granted. Just over months ago, I was looking forward for my planned to travel in Spain. Now I do not know if it is even realistic to archive that before ending my voluntary service. Furthermore, I am using my own period of khalwa, reflection in isolation which has been used by the prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and his sahabas (peers) to strengthen their faith, for new insights and lessons I need to emerge more graceful, better and kinder human being in my daily ‚normal’ life.
Sources (last visted at 18 May 2020)