LONDON - The coronavirus pandemic has disturbed the rituals and traditions of the vast majority of Islam’s 1.8 billion adherents, who will abstain from food and water during daylight hours for the next 30 days.
In most countries, mosques are closed and Ramadan’s traditional evening call to prayer will be heeded only at home, as Muslims experience the holy month in chastened circumstances.
During Ramadan, special evening prayers – known as Taraweeh – are traditionally said alongside the recitation of the Koran. Taraweeh derives from an Arabic word which means to rest and forms an essential part of congregational worship at this special time of the year.
The pandemic has cut to the heart of Islamic worship; vertically, in terms of prayer, and horizontally, by preventing the evening gatherings when people break the fast together, renew bonds of friendship and extend charity to those in need.
The coronavirus has impacted the holiest sites of Islam. The Grand Mosque in Mecca is silent, the mosque in Medina closed and the doors of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque are bolted.
While most Muslim-majority nations have cancelled congregational gatherings, the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, was forced to seek a compromise with clerics following protests.
Group prayers will be allowed during Ramadan but only if worshippers observe social distancing and wear face masks inside the mosque.(FA)