How Are We Celebrating The Holy Month In The Age Of COVID-19?

With the spread of COVID-19 impacting millions of people worldwide, the holy month of Ramadan, which is scheduled to begin on or around Thursday 23 April, may look very different this year. 

How might Ramadan preparations differ in 2020?

Muslims observing Ramadan use the weeks in the run-up to ensure their kitchens are stocked with ingredients for traditional meals. 

This year, curfews and lockdowns imposed in some countries, as well as reduced opening hours, mean that many Muslims will struggle to prepare as usual for the month ahead: Eateries, Markets & Petrol Stations To Operate From 8AM-8PM In Second Phase Of MCO.

Many shops have seen food shortages as shelves have been cleared of essentials. Some store owners have also rationed the number of products each customer can purchase, making shopping for larger families difficult. 

How will the meals (Iftar and Suhoor) preparations be differ? 

Iftar—translated as “breaking the fast”—is a highly anticipated meal often shared with extended family, and friends. 

However this year, to curb the spread of COVID-19, Malaysian authorities are reportedly doing an outright cancellation for the annual bazaars that are traditionally organised across the nation over the fasting month.

According to Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, as long as the Movement Control Order is in force, Ramadan bazaars will not be allowed to operate. It is because social distancing needed to be observed to break the COVID-19’s chain of transmission. 

Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Terengganu have cancelled all annual Ramadan bazaars in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari announced that the state–which has the highest number of Covid-19 cases–has banned all Ramadan markets and bazaars this year.

At this point, we have canceled the Ramadan bazaar and this matter has been discussed with the President of local authorities throughout Selangor

However, there are also suggestions for drive-through and online bazaars to be held this year. Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari also said that in order to ensure that food sales remained vibrant throughout the month of Ramadan, the Selangor state government would look into efforts to establish a Ramadan bazaar online.

The state government would not limit the number of online Ramadan Bazaars and we will leave it to the discretion of the respective service centres to manage them—and in order to facilitate traders and consumers, all transactions should be done through e-wallet.

How might the duties and rituals be differ? 

But while fasting will likely go on, one tradition that will definitely be impacted is the nightly Taraweeh prayer.

Each night in Ramadan, Muslims gather at mosques for an optional additional prayer, which is in addition to their five daily ones.

With obligatory congregational prayers, such as Friday prayers, cancelled, there is little likelihood Taraweeh prayers will commence this year.