Ramadan in the time of coronavirus is unprecedented, says MJC

2020-04-24 08:04

The holy month of Ramadan in the time of coronavirus will be unprecedented, the Muslim Judicial Council said on Thursday.

The moon was not sighted in the country on Thursday evening, thus ensuring it would begin on Saturday in South Africa.

Moulana Abdul Khaliq Ebrahim Allie told News24 on Thursday the priority was that all abided by the lockdown regulations, which was in the interest of the safety of all South Africans.

This meant the Muslim community would not be able to congregate at the various mosques to respect physical distancing.

"This is very painful; its absence will be felt," Allie said. "But we are encouraging collective prayer at home."

READ | Moon not sighted, Ramadan to start on Saturday in South Africa

The charity and outreach associated with the holy month would also be affected as the usual sharing with the broader community and homeless would not be possible under the lockdown regulations, he added.

Allie urged Muslims to make contact with humanitarian organisations operating with permits to assist in reaching those in need.

Compulsory fasting would continue as normal, he said, but concessions would be made for the ill and elderly, among others.

Muslims around the world are preparing to celebrat
A Muslim cleric sits on a bench of the usually popular and busy Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town before joining a small group of clerics (not visible) gathering to look out for the crescent moon. Image: AFP

WHO guidelines during Ramadan

According to guidance released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding safe Ramadan practices, no studies of fasting and the risk of Covid-19 infection have been performed.

"Healthy people should be able to fast during this Ramadan as in previous years, while Covid-19 patients may consider religious licences regarding breaking the fast in consultation with their doctors, as they would do with any other disease."

Wudu, or ritual ablutions performed by Muslims, helped maintain healthy hygiene, the WHO said.

ALSO READ | Muslim groups to challenge lockdown regulations in court

Tobacco use was ill-advised under any circumstances, the organisation warned, especially during Ramadan and the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Frequent smokers may already have lung disease, or reduced lung capacity, which greatly increases the risk of serious Covid-19 illness. When smoking cigarettes, fingers [and possibly contaminated cigarettes] touch the lips which increases the likelihood of the virus entering the respiratory system.

"When waterpipes are used, it is likely that mouth pieces and hoses are shared, which also facilitates transmission of the virus."

It also encouraged the promotion of mental and psychosocial health.

"Despite the different execution in practices this year, it is important to reassure the faithful that they can still reflect, improve, pray, share, and care - all from a healthy distance," the WHO said.

"Ensuring that family, friends, and elders are still engaged in light of physical distancing needs to be considered; encouraging alternate and digital platforms for interaction are paramount. Offering special prayers for the sick, alongside messages of hope and comfort, are methods to observe the tenants of Ramadan while maintaining public health."

Read more on:    mjc  |  coronavirus  |  ramadan

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