All around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in governments imposing lockdown measures on their countries, asking that people stay inside and self-isolate. These are uneasy times for anyone but, for those following Islam, this means that the holy month of Ramadan has also been affected.
Whereas communities would so often come together to break the day’s fast at Iftar, this year that is not possible. The celebration of Eid al-Fitr will have to be limited to those within the same household, but that does not mean that the sacrifices we make during Ramadan are any less meaningful.
Fasting is a time for spiritual reflection, as well as self-improvement, and this period of self-isolation gifts us ample opportunity to look deep within ourselves. This time will be more difficult for some than for others, especially those who live alone and/or are vulnerable. During isolation and as lockdown measures are gradually eased we must strive to look after our brothers and sisters, as well as our own health.
Looking after our health is essential, which is why during the holy month of Ramadan you should eat Suhoor before dawn, taking on the nutrition you need for the day’s fasting ahead, and Iftar to break the fast.
For Suhoor, you should have a healthy meal that slowly releases energy throughout the day, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. Oats are a fantastic source of fibre that will keep you going. Mix this with a fruit smoothie made up of dry chia seeds, seedless grapes, yoghurt and ice to provide a fulfilling meal complete with protein, omega 3 and fibre. The trick is to use ingredients that are low in sugar as high amounts of it will make you feel hungrier as the day goes on.
As well as eating healthily before and after the fast, regular exercise also makes up part of a healthy lifestyle. Under lockdown measures, you are permitted to go outside for exercise, meaning that you can walk, cycle or run in your local area. During the fast, you may prefer to fit your daily exercise in during night-time hours which many Muslims do in Ramadan. Alternatively, you might prefer to consider a home workout routine that you can perform indoors should you not wish to go outside at this time.
As well as considering our physical health, we should also look after our mental health too. Thanks to technology, it is easier than ever before to keep in contact with friends and family. For many, self-isolation is a lonely experience with no other members of the household to help get them through it.
By using various communication channels such as social media, instant messaging and video calling, we can stay in touch with those closest to our heart. One common use of video calling is to bring friends and families together during the evening’s Iftar meal, thereby breaking the fast together.
Ramadan is the month when Muslims have a heightened sense of devotion and focus on worship. With mosques closed alongside other religious places of worship, this means that Muslims are unable to carry out their religious dues how they normally would.
While the buildings may be closed, this does not mean that those who practice Islam are unable to continue their prayer and reflection. Many mosques and organisations have taken to live streaming prayers as a means of continuing to engage the community, some of which you can explore on our Facebook page. This allows Muslims to continue praying together without a congregation that would break social distancing guidelines.
UK Islamic Mission’s Ramadan timetable provides you with accurate daily times of prayer, per the sighting of the moon.
Ramadan is the time for Muslims to immerse themselves in the Holy Qur’an, with many reading and reciting the text across this blessed month. As we now have more time alone than usual, this provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the Qur’an being sent down to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by reading and reciting it more than we have before.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received the word of Allah (SWT) over 23 years, the first revelation of which came in a cave on Mount Hira, near Mecca, in 609CE when he was meditating, visited by the Angel Jibril. In Islam, it is believed that the Qur’an is the final revelation of Allah (SWT) and is unaltered from the word that was spoken to The Prophet (PBUH).
It was customary for the first few generations following the passing of The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to read and recite the Qur’an all year round and consistently during the holy month of Ramadan. This period of self-isolation allows us to devote ourselves to the teachings of Allah (SWT) in much the same way, as it is his word that will give us comfort in such testing times that we are facing today.
While we are all feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in our daily lives, many families are suffering both as a result of losing loved ones to the virus and through economic hardship. With the help of volunteers to reach the vulnerable in isolation, UK Islamic Mission’s iCare Projects are working for the local community in the UK with its food hubs across the country feeding those most affected by the virus.
None of this would be possible without your kind donations. Just £20 will pay for a hygiene pack consisting of gloves, toilet roll, hand sanitiser and masks, while £50 will cover the costs of a food pack that will help to feed a family for up to a month.
Even though we are living in uncertain times, by uniting to look after our brothers and sisters – along with the devotion of our faith to Islam – we will enjoy a blessed Ramadan and Eid, as well get through the COVID-19 crisis.
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