Muslims around the world navigate Covid restrictions for Ramadan, again
For Ramadan this year, Magdy Hafez has been longing to reclaim a cherished ritual: performing the nighttime group prayers called taraweeh at the mosque once again.
Last year, the coronavirus upended the 68-year-old Egyptian’s routine of going to the mosque to perform those prayers, traditional during Islam’s holiest month. The pandemic had disrupted Islamic worship the world over, including in Egypt where mosques were closed to worshippers last Ramadan.
“I have been going to the mosque for 40 years so it was definitely a very, very, difficult thing,” he said. “But our religion orders us to protect one another.”
Still, “It’s a whole other feeling, and the spirituality in Ramadan is like nothing else.”
Egypt has since allowed most mosques to reopen for Friday communal prayers and for this Ramadan it will let them hold taraweeh, also with precautions, including shortening its duration.
Ramadan, which begins this week, comes as much of the world has been hit by an intense new coronavirus wave. For many Muslims navigating restrictions, that means hopes of a better Ramadan than last year have been dashed with the surge in infection rates though regulations vary in different countries.
A time for fasting, worship and charity, Ramadan is also when people typically congregate for prayers, gather around festive meals to break their daylong fast, throng cafes and exchange visits.
Once again, some countries are imposing new restrictions. But concern is high that the month’s communal rituals could stoke a further surge.
“The lack of adherence that happened last Ramadan, hasty lifting of the curfew imposed at the time and re-opening of places of congregations … led to grave consequences that lasted for months,” said Ahmed Al-Mandhari, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean…..read more