As we continue through the global COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that we will need to live with social distancing for some time yet. This has placed restrictions on us that we could not have imagined just a few months ago. For the foreseeable future, this is the ‘new normal’.
Until social distancing guidelines are withdrawn, Muslims are learning how to continue with key religious practices all while staying safe. Prayers, wudhu and even charity have been affected by the pandemic, but that doesn’t stop us from performing these important duties.
Currently, we cannot congregate in mosques as much as before because of social distancing guidelines, where we must try to maintain a two-metre distance from anyone we do not live with. Large gatherings are prohibited, and small groups must still adhere to social distancing.
One such way that Muslims have been continuing with their daily prayers is in a virtual manner, in much the same way as many other aspects of normal life have been forced to carry on digitally. Prayers have been live-streamed for those of Muslim faith to participate in and bond with their brothers and sisters, as though they were alongside them in the mosque.
Of course, this does not have the same community feeling that we would like but during these uncertain times, it must suffice. While this particular example is of worshippers praying while social distancing in Mecca, there have been numerous other instances of local mosques and community leaders hosting live streams intended for those who wish to feel connected within their community. In fact, we have been hosting live streams each week on our own Facebook page during the lockdown, with the goal of helping connect the Ummah further during these unprecedented times.
For praying at home with the other members of your household, social distancing measures do not apply. If you pray while attending a small gathering, and in compliance with current lockdown measures, you should try to remain at least two metres apart from anyone not in your household and do not share prayer mats.
Wudhu, the act of cleaning oneself before prayer, is an important practice in Islam because Muslims should be physically pure when presenting themselves to Allah (SWT). Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, when good hygiene is at its most important, Wudhu does not lose any of its significance.
To maintain social distance, only one person should perform Wudhu at a time. After finishing the ritual alone, each person should wipe the used surfaces with an anti-bacterial wipe. You should also use your own belongings to clean yourself with, so as not to cross-contaminate any surfaces that may be used during Wudhu.
The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the most sacred traditions in Islam, with all fit and healthy Muslims expected to complete Hajj at least once in their lifetime. Without a doubt, thousands of Muslims will have been planning to make their trip to Mecca in 2020, however, with global travel restrictions in place, this is not possible.
Saudi Arabia has advised Muslims to postpone their trips, with two million having been expected to travel to Islam’s holiest site. The sheer scale of the prayers means that social distancing is practically impossible, while it is likely that those travelling between borders will have to observe a period of isolation (with the United Kingdom enforcing a 14-day isolation to those travelling into the UK from some countries from 8th June).
The simple act of charity has changed during the global pandemic, with physical donations largely halted as we seek to maintain social distance. This has seen many Muslims look to make their donations, such as Zakat, online with no physical contact involved. UK Islamic Mission has long been accepting donations online, asking our brothers and sisters to support our many worthy causes and appeals, such as our Global COVID Emergency appeal where we are raising funds for much-needed hygiene and food packs to help those most vulnerable.
A large part of the reason behind the movement to online donation is undoubtedly because the mosques, where many would otherwise make their payment, is not currently open. By giving your donation to UK Islamic Mission, we will ensure that your money is distributed amongst those most in need.
Qurbani is the time when Muslims honour the sacrifice that Ibrahim (AS) was willing to make in the name of Allah (SWT). We do this by sacrificing a qualifying animal and distributing equal shares to those in need.
During the global COVID-19 pandemic, the need for ensuring that all meat preparation and distribution are hygienic has never been greater. The UK Islamic Mission team will ensure that your Qurbani donation will allow for a compliant sacrifice and that all meat will reach its destination in a socially distanced manner, keeping everyone safe in these uncertain times whilst still achieving our ultimate goal of helping the most vulnerable.
While these times may be hard and we are all contending with our own struggles during the pandemic, we must remember that even when we feel lonely, we are never alone. By following the above advice on how to carry out key Islamic duties from a safe social distance, we can still connect with our community and, most importantly, with our faith.