Ramadan 2020 amidst quarantine

Many of us are weeks into this home bound, quarantine lifestyle with the global coronavirus pandemic. And, while many of us are coming to grips (more or less) with our new routines, we are now imagining what Ramadan will be like this year and how to make the best out of the situation at hand. The month of Ramadan is often community-oriented with late-night taraweeh prayers in the masjid (mosque) and iftar get-togethers for breaking one’s fast. But with the ongoing social distancing guidelines in place amid the coronavirus pandemic, Muslims are turning to digital spaces to celebrate Ramadan.

Fasting can zap a lot of your energy so a Ramadan social life often revolves around night events like iftars. Aware that this Ramadan may have some Muslims feeling more isolated than ever, Minneapolis-based Fadumo Osman launched remote Iftar to pair up groups to share a meal over Zoom.

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Bustling markets, street decorations, and iftar invitations are essential parts when it comes to the holy month of Ramadan. Thirty days of fasting, dawn till sunrise, have since forever brought a mystical feel to this Muslim holiday; the latter is awaited impatiently by people of the Islamic faith year on year.

But as with everything else in life, exceptions occur. With less than a month to go before Ramadan begins on April 24, apprehension has taken over the usual excitement reserved for iftar gatherings and family get-togethers. The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has thrown its weight on the shoulders of Muslim families who eagerly count the days with every turn of the calendar before they’re reunited over prayers and mouthwatering feasts.

Currently, the world is on lockdown: mosques are closed, holy Islamic sites in Saudi Arabia are emptier than ever and flights are suspended.

Many have now accepted the reality that the core of the holy month will be affected by an outbreak that shows no signs of subsiding anytime soon. We spoke to a number of Arab Muslims, asking them about Ramadan preparations under such unprecedented circumstances,

In Saudi Arabia, a curfew was set – 3 p.m. till 6 a.m. – to minimize the number of infections. Even though Reemas understands the need for it, she believes this curfew has already shown drastic changes to the way Saudis would normally prepare for the holy month. Like everyone else in Saudi Arabia, I am just hoping coronavirus will all be over by next month but that doesn’t mean I am hopeful. Infections are rising around us […] people are overwhelmed by the lockdown,” Reemas, a Saudi graphic designer, lamented over the current situation.

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