CAIRO (AP) – This year, Magdi Hafez wanted to recall the sacred ritual for the month of Ramadan. Performing night group prayers in the mosque, called taraweeh.
Last year, the coronavirus disrupted the daily life of a 68-year-old Egyptian man who went to the mosque to perform the prayers that were traditional during the holiest month of Islam. The epidemic has disrupted Islamic worship around the world, including in Egypt, where mosques were closed to worshipers last Ramadan.
“I have been going to a mosque for 40 years, so it was definitely a very, very, very difficult thing,” he said. “But our religion commands us to protect one another.”
Still, “It’s a completely different feeling. Ramadan care is nothing like that.”
Egypt has since allowed most mosques to reopen for Friday prayers, allowing them to spend the year in Ramadan, as well as taking precautionary measures, including reducing its capacity.
Ramadan, which begins this week, comes at a time when much of the world is exposed to a new wave of intense coronavirus. For many restricted Muslims, this means that hopes for a better Ramadan than last year have been dashed by rising rates of infection, although regulations vary from country to country.
The period of Ramadan observance, worship, and charity, Ramadan, is when people usually gather for prayers, gather around festive dishes to break their fast during the day, crowded cafes, and exchange their visits.
Once again, some countries are imposing new restrictions. But there is great concern that the community rites of the month may raise a further wave.
“The lack of loyalty to last Ramadan, the hasty abolition of the timely curfew, the reopening of meeting places, have had dire consequences for months,” said Ahmed al-Mandhari, the World Health Organization’s regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
“We are very concerned about the recurrence of what happened last Ramadan, especially since Ramadan coincides with another important holiday, Easter,” he said in an e-mail. Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on May 2.
The number of new cases in Pakistan rose from less than 800 a day at the beginning of last month to more than 6,000 a day a few weeks after the end of Ramadan. Officials attributed the increase mainly to restrictions on outbreaks by Pakistanis. After sinking, the country recovers more than 5,000 new cases a day.
Iran began a 10-day blockade on Saturday amid a severe wave of infections following a two-week state holiday, the Persian New Year for Nowruz.
Economic hardships are also within a month for many. In war-torn Syria, Abed al-Yasini was worried about what his iftar would look like this year, eating at sunset.
“It will be difficult to even have fat,” said al-Yasin, referring to the salad, which is a major part of the holy month in his country.
He is spending his second Ramadan in a tent camp near the Turkish border after being deported from his hometown last year during the deportation of hundreds of thousands of people by the Russian-backed government.
“Our main wish is to return to our homes,” said al-Yasin, who lives in a tent with his wife and three sons. He mainly relies on food aid, he said. Camp dwellers have recently received lentils, pasta ղ mound bags են bread every day.
Lebanon is being squeezed by the worst economic and financial crisis in its recent history, which is being exacerbated by the deadly outbreak of an epidemic in Beirut in August.
“We are living in a time when some people are fasting during Ramadan or not,” said Natalie Najm, an insurance broker. Even with his job, he can barely afford food, he said. “What about others who have lost their jobs?”
To prevent large gatherings during Ramadan, Saudi Arabia has banned mosques from serving iftar food, which is fasted just before sunrise.
Many Muslim religious leaders, including those in Saudi Arabia, have tried to dispel concerns about receiving the coronavirus vaccine during Ramadan, saying that doing so does not mean fasting.
In India, where the peak of new infections has been reported earlier, Muslim scholars there have urged their communities to strictly back down, refrain from large gatherings, and ask volunteers and elders to care for the needy.
Last year, Ramadan in India was marred by a rise in Islamophobia following allegations that the initial rise in infections was linked to a three-day meeting of the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic missionary group in New Delhi.
Authorities in Pakistan have allowed mosques to remain open during Ramadan under current rules, which include banning worshipers over the age of 50 and requiring masks.
But given how the laws were widely ignored last year, doctors have asked the government to close the mosques.
“We are very concerned about the gatherings,” said Dr. Kaiser Sajjad, secretary general of the Pakistan Medical Association, on Sunday. He urged the Pakistani government to work out a better plan to stop the spread of the virus during Ramadan.
“We have to learn from last year,” he said. Sajjad calls for a complete blockade of the eastern city of Lahore.
Afghanistan leaves it to believers to stay with each other, to stay away, to stay away from mosques if they feel bad.
“Saving a human life is an obligation. “You can not endanger or endanger human life,” said Sayed Mohammad Sherzad, head of the Hajj Religious Affairs Department in Kabul province.
Malaysia has some restrictions on movement, declared a coronavirus emergency, which was suspended by parliament until August due to an increase in infections. But it lifted last year’s ban on taraweeh prayers վրա Ramadan markets that sell food, drink և clothing, although strict measures will be taken.
Nwah Elesavi, the Deputy Minister of Mosque Affairs in Egypt, sent a message to the believers from the beginning of the month. “If you want the houses of God to remain open, abide by the precautionary և regulations.”
Ramadan, as a rule, has a clear cultural and social taste for many.
Giant billboards with the faces of celebrities in Egypt advertise the TV series Ramadan, which is a favorite pastime of many. In the bustling markets near Cairo’s Al-Sayeda ain Anab Mosque, shoppers flipped through brightly colored Ramadan lanterns, checked offers, and made deals.
In another district of Cairo, people posed with a giant Ramadan lantern rising in one street in the photo.
One of the traditions of Ramadan in Egypt, which remains the victim of the virus for the second year in a row, is the “tables of compassion” – charity iftars, where strangers break bread together during free meals served on long tables in the street.
Spreadsheets may not exist, but not the spirit of the month.
Nevin Hussein, 48, said his colleagues brought him “Ramadan bags” filled with rice, oil, sugar and other staples to distribute to needy families. It is an annual tradition, he says, becoming more urgent because of an epidemic that has damaged the lives of many of those already struggling.
“This is a month of mercy,” he said. “God is generous, this is a month of generosity.”
Gannon reported from Islamabad and Mro from Beirut. Associated Press reporters from around the world contributed to this report.
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