Unprecedented virus lockdown as Muslims mark Ramadan
Holy daytime fasting month will be a sombre affair for many across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. 16 hours ago
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Muslims around the world began marking Ramadan under coronavirus lockdown on Friday with unprecedented bans on family gatherings and mass prayers, while a pushback in some countries sparked fears of a surge in infections.
This year, the holy daytime fasting month will be a sombre affair for many across Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Widespread rules have been imposed banning praying in mosques or meeting relatives and friends for large “iftar” meals at dusk – a centrepiece of the month-long fast.
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman said he was saddened that Muslims could not pray at mosques because of coronavirus restrictions.
“It pains me to welcome the glorious month of Ramadan under circumstances that forbid us of prayers in Mosques and of performing the Ramadan prayers of Tarawieh and Qiyam in House of Allah. All this is due to the protective measures taken to save lives and human wellbeing in light of the global threat of COVID-19,” he said in a statement cited by the state SPA news agency.
Saudi Arabia announced last week the two holy mosques in Mecca and Medina would remain closed throughout Ramadan.
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Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims, in which they fast during daylight hours, congregate for prayers and share meals as a community.
But because of coronavirus, almost all Muslim-majority countries have closed mosques and asked people to pray at home in addition to imposing curfews to limit the spread of the deadly virus.
“I can’t remember anything like this happening before,” Mohd Faizal Musa, a research fellow at the National University of Malaysia’s Institute of the Malay World and Civilization, told Al Jazeera.
Coronavirus has left many in the blockaded Gaza Strip wondering how they will manage this year.
“The markets and mosques are closed. The good people who give us money or aid each Ramadan are facing a tough situation,” said 47-year-old Palestinian Salah Jibril, who is unemployed.
He and his wife live with their six children in a cramped two-bedroom flat on the outskirts of Gaza City.
Jibril said his family normally counted on using the assistance they received during Ramadan to help them throughout the rest of the year.
“This is the hardest Ramadan we have faced. We don’t know how we will cope,” he said.