Jeddah: The Islamic holy month of Ramzan likely to begin on Friday in extraordinary circumstances, as gulf nations including Saudi Arabia, birth place of Islam, alike many countries in the world find themselves under some form of lockdown or curfew due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramzan is known as the month of Quran and also as the month of charity, where Muslims become more pious and engage spiritually. Observing dawn to dusk fast and Taraweeh, special prayer, to recite Quran in night at mosques are principle rites during the month. Taraweeh is performed in addition to the daily prayers of five times.
Group gatherings, massive taraweeh prayers, the evening meal of iftar in which Muslims break their fast together, shared food and other religious and social events with family and friends, traveling to Makkah for Umrah are common features of Ramadan.
This year, while many of the Islamic and Muslim cultural traditions of Ramadan will be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic as mosques remain close for the length of the holy month for worshippers. This represents one of the biggest changes to Ramadan brought on by coronavirus.
More dispiriting for many devout Muslims is that congregational worship, line up side-by-side shoulder touching – including Taraweeh night prayers – is prohibited in mosques in a bid to combat pandemic.
Only Imams, other preachers, some employees at Islam’s holiest mosques in Makkah and Madinah can perform Taraweeh prayers with reduced version of Taraweeh. However, worshippers from the public will be not be permitted to attend due to preventive measures of coronavirus.
“For first time in last 38 years, I miss Taraweeh in Haram Sharif”, says Mohammed Akbar, a long-time NRI from Jagtial, who lives in adjacent to Grand Mosque in Makkah. “Maintaining social distance is good for all”, he told.
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh instructed the public to perform Taraweeh and Eid al-Fitr prayers at home amid the suspension of group prayers) in mosques as part of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
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