For the first time in New Zealand’s history, mosques will be closed during the holy month of Ramadan due to COVID-19 affecting the practice of their faith for Kiwi Muslims.
Ramadan is the ninth and most holy month of the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to dusk. Fasting is obligatory and one of the five pillars of Islam. Those exempt include young children, anyone who is sick, travellers, women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating.
Ramadan is regarded as the best time of the year where Muslim’s not only stop eating and drinking but also strengthen their faith by self-reflection, extended prayers in the night (Taraweh), Zikir (Remembrance of Lord) and reciting the Quran.
However this year, Muslims will be performing their prayers at home within their bubbles (family circle) as required by the New Zealand government. This year, those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are exempt from fasting coming under the category of being sick.
Sadly, family and friend gatherings will not take place, which in normal times is an essential part of Ramadan, to share blessings. Iftar (daily communal fast breaking meals) will likewise not be able to take place. No congregational community tarawih prayers.
Distribution of charities (obligatory in Ramadan) will most likely go towards COVID 19 causes. Muslims will not be able to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) that is highly popular during Ramadan.
It will indeed be a very different Ramadan in NZ this year.