How will the coronavirus pandemic effect Ramadan?
By Matt Hall | 23rd April 2020
Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar, begins today - but how will lockdown effect the period of fasting, prayer and reflection for Muslims across the county?
Like athletes who train intensively following strict diets to achieve performance goals, the Islamic community see fasting as fulfilling the physical form of worship during Ramadan.
Through the outward act of refraining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, Muslims hope to reap the benefits of this inwardly, through gratitude of the profound blessings in one's life and ultimately, having greater awe and love of God, his prophets and the Qur'an.
Punchline spoke to Gloucester's Imam Hassan of the Masjid E Noor Mosque in Ryecroft Street, to gain a better understanding as to how coronavirus and the lockdown restrictions are impacting the day-to-day lives of Muslims in Gloucester.
Hassan said: "Islam is a religion of balance that encourages social interaction as well as individual improvement and preservation, and it is during Ramadan especially that the importance of both is magnified.
"This year, partaking in the additional evening congregational prayer, Taraweeh, will not be possible, neither will iftaar events with friends and family.
"But it is our duty as Muslims to seek out the blessings in life, even during difficulty, which we can still achieve this Ramadan collectively and in solitude."
Muslim communities across the country have found many ways to keep the community spirit alive despite the restrictions in place.
The Imam added: "In Gloucester, the Muslim community has planned online virtual iftaars and talks throughout Ramadan. Volunteering, supporting the NHS and supporting all frontline services will continue.
"It is together that the global Muslim family will turn to God, collectively putting our trust in Him, as we enter Ramadan with uncertainty but with strong hope that the world we build moving forward, will be better than what it was before this pandemic"
Mr Hassan echoed the guidance recommended by the British Islamic Medical Association and the Muslim Council of Britain.
He said: "Muslims are to look after their health while fasting, exercise where possible, refrain from unhealthy food and hydrate as much as you can.
"To those who will be working throughout the month, notify your managers and colleagues that you'll be fasting, share what Ramadan means to you and what food you'll be preparing.
"Take regular breaks and, as ever, honour your workplace duties."
He finished by saying: "I pray all those who are observing Ramadan and those who are supporting us during this month, a very blessed month and look forward to enjoying stronger bonds of unity and support between all of us."
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