How coronavirus is changing the way Muslims celebrate Ramadan

How coronavirus is changing the way Muslims celebrate Ramadan

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The World staff

Producer
Stephen Snyder

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An aerial Muslims attend Friday prayers in the courtyard of a housing estate next to the small BBC community center and mosque in east London, Britain, July 10, 2015. 

Credit:

Paul Hackett/Reuters

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Ramadan begins Thursday evening. It’s the monthlong observance by many Muslims around the globe marked by fasting and prayers. 

In a normal year, Muslims typically fast during daylight hours and gather together to break the fast every evening. This year, though, Islamic communities are adapting to the reality of marking the holy month during a pandemic. 

Noor Hadi is an imam in South London for the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. He spoke to The World’s Marco Werman about how the families he serves are adapting to a month of worship, fasting, sharing food — and social distancing.

Related: COVID-19: The latest from The World 

Noor Hadi, an imam in south London.

Credit:

Courtesy of Noor Hadi

Marco Werman: How is this year’s Ramadan different from past years?

Noor Hadi: For us Muslims in the UK, as you, of course, know, we’re going through a lockdown across the country. So of course, Muslims won’t be able to congregate at the mosques when Ramadan begins. I think what’s different this year is the fact that what we will usually do at a mosque, we’re bringing [it] all online, going to be going live, delivering them lectures. What’s different this year as well [is], because Ramadan usually brings such a togetherness feeling, people usually break their fast together. They usually open their fast together, as well, before sunrise and after sunset. So they’re going to miss that feeling of breaking and eating together. 

And just practically, for people to break the fast together, you’re going to be encouraging families to put a laptop in the kitchen. 

Yeah, exactly. And so — we’ve set up a virtual breaking of the fast together. And before actually breaking the fast, we normally have a custom in the mosque where there’s short talks and there’s inspiring lectures and prayers together. Those short talks will be online. You know, they will be virtually eating together and breaking the fast together. 

Related: Amid lockdowns, churches find creative ways to keep in touch with the masses

So it feels like you’ve got online workarounds to help people who would normally be isolated. What do you do for people, for families, who don’t have computers or wifi? 

Without having a computer or wifi, we’ve actually set up a helpline. We have a national charity in the UK known as Humanity First with a helpline. Even if you don’t have Internet, just contact us through your local telephone. And we have youth members actively waiting for those calls from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. And we tried to dispatch someone on that very day to go to those families and actually help them [with] running errands, like getting groceries or prescriptions, medication. Just through the helpline service, [we] helped around 5,000 of all UK households. 

Related: Wajahat Ali on maintaining one’s faith through crises

It occurs to me that congregating as Muslims in the UK isn’t just an expression of faith, whether it’s Ramadan or Friday prayer, it’s also an expression of solidarity in the face of continuing microaggressions and outright animosity. What does the Muslim community lose by not having the monthlong moment of community and solidarity of Ramadan? 

There’s this whole idea that, fine, Ramadan does bring a lot of togetherness and this sense of congregation and community aspect to it. But it’s easily forgotten that … there’s another aspect to Ramadan, and that’s the whole purpose of being able to self-reflect and improve yourself as Muslims. You try to stay optimistic and positive when it comes to this. And this month is giving us a time, just like the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, spent in isolation during Ramadan. And it’s giving a month of days just to actually self-reflect, try to improve your morals, try to increase or enhance your worship as an individual. 

This year is peculiar in so many ways. What does Ramadan mean to you this year? 

For me, I see that this Ramadan, not only do I get a lot of time to actually self-reflect and try to improve myself as a human being, but because I am Muslim, a huge part of your faith is that you also help one another. We believe that one of the rights that Islam or your religion has upon you is that you take care of humanity and you try to serve God’s creation. So now that we see that our neighbors are in need, it gives us extra zeal this Ramadan, because we know that doing this and helping others is actually increasing our spirituality and helping us get closer to God as well. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

RAYE – Distraction lyrics

[Verse 1]
South London, I’m a South London girl
I wonder what I should get a tattoo of
I know that my momma would kill me
So maybe I won’t then, maybe I won’t then
Where is my distraction?
Written in my phone, I see your name
It must’ve been a few long weeks since I heard from you
I’ve been doing fine, thanks
Maybe I won’t then, maybe I won’t then

[Pre-Chorus]
Thing is I’m weak when I’ve been rolling
I might just give up and let your call in
I would be the girl to lose this one, I would be the girl to lose this one
Seeing as you know I’m the baddest loser
And if I wanna win, I’ve got to lose her
I won’t be the girl to lose this one, so I begin to find a distraction, a distraction

[Chorus]
I just need to find something, a way to stop me wondering
I just need to find something, a way to stop me wondering about you

[Verse 2]
East London, you’re an East London boy
You had me strung up like a puppet toy
Oh shit, wait, I’mma stop talking
I’mma stop thinking ’bout you, where is my distraction?
Shopping, I’mma buy a paintbrush
Grab a couple colours that carry half the weight of everything I’m feeling
So I could try to pretend
I’m really artistic and I don’t really miss this

[Pre-Chorus]
Thing is I’m weak when I’ve been rolling
I might just give up and let your call in
I would be the girl to lose this one, I would be the girl to lose this one
Seeing as you know I’m the baddest loser
And if I wanna win, I’ve got to lose her
I won’t be the girl to lose this one, so I begin to find the distraction
The distraction, the distraction, the distraction

[Chorus]
I just need to find something, a way to stop me wondering
I just need to find something, a way to stop me wondering about you

[Verse 3]
North London, I’m in North London now
Decided, you don’t get a home and now
If you like, you can always call me phone
Hear the dialling tone and then the answer phone
I’ll be fine if I ignore the sound, when you call to see if I’m around
The moment that you think that you have won
I will have found the perfect distraction

P Money – 10/10

[Intro]
Yeah
Live on the mic, you know who is in charge
Who’s in charge, live on the mic you know who’s in charge
Live on decks, you know who’s in charge plus
Live on the mic, you know who is in charge
Come again?
Who’s in charge, live on the mic you know who’s in charge
Live on decks, you know who’s in charge
It’s (Sounds of the Sir)

[Hook]
10 out of 10
This one right here, 10 out of 10
It’s Money Man pon mic and Spyro on deck
10 out of 10
She don’t look like the type, but she just likes grime
10 out of 10
If her face is an 8, it’s okay cause her back’s
10 out of 10
The vibe in my ends, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Leeds, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Manny, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Scotland, 10 out of 10
Can’t forget Bristol, Newcastle or Birmingham
Dun know, 10 out of 10
And if you can’t go Dam, come South London
Cause we got the 10 out of 10

[Verse 1]
Yo, keep it raw to the core
Big BMW, me plus four
Came to the dance 21 man deep
Cause everybody with me’s got a plus four
Head start, prepare the four plus four
See me with a few grime dons on tour
I don’t really watch football but when you’re in Nottingham
You gotta phone Sketch for the score
I got them like give me more, give me more
What did he say? Give me more, give me more
Four reloads got a next man sore
Can’t hide that fact, everyone saw
Gyal are like rah, never seen him before
10 out of 10, have you seen him before?
Everybody’s trying to the best in the war
I’m already the best and I’ve been to the war
Cool, cool, cool

[Hook]
10 out of 10
This one right here, 10 out of 10
It’s Money Man pon mic and Spyro on deck
10 out of 10
She don’t look like the type, but she just likes grime
10 out of 10
If her face is an 8, it’s okay cause her back’s
10 out of 10
The vibe in my ends, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Leeds, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Manny, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Scotland, 10 out of 10
Can’t forget Bristol, Newcastle or Birmingham
Dun know, 10 out of 10
And if you can’t go Dam, come South London
Cause we got the 10 out of 10

[Verse 2]
Yo, man’s overly trill
Certain man are getting gassed over a wheel
These times they ain’t even got no whip
Tell me, what you gonna do with that wheel?
Do what I want, how I want, when I feel
It’s all La Roux when I go for the kill
Short skirt girls wanna go for a meal
Pass me the drink, let me make it a deal
Know what I’m like, know that I’m real
She knows what I’m like, knows that I’m real
Came in the game with the OGz still
Live on the stage with the OGz still
Who’s paying me, who’s got the bill?
What day, where is it, who’s on the bill?
Eskimo Dance, serious skill
Wanna sign me? Better have a serious deal
Cool, cool, cool

[Hook]
10 out of 10
This one right here, 10 out of 10
It’s Money Man pon mic and Spyro on deck
10 out of 10
She don’t look like the type, but she just likes grime
10 out of 10
If her face is an 8, it’s okay cause her back’s
10 out of 10
The vibe in my ends, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Leeds, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Manny, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Scotland, 10 out of 10
Can’t forget Bristol, Newcastle or Birmingham
Dun know, 10 out of 10
And if you can’t go Dam, come South London
Cause we got the 10 out of 10

[Bridge]
P, know that it’s me
When you hear this tune, know that it’s me
P to the M, O to the N to the E to the Y
We’re OGz
On top of that, we’re OG
Snapbacks on sale, you can wear OGz
Wanna be me? Cause when you look over here
You can see 10s rolling with me
P, know that it’s me
When you hear this tune, know that it’s me
P to the M, O to the N to the E to the Y
We’re OGz
On top of that, we’re OG
Snapbacks on sale, you can wear OGz
Wanna be me? Cause when you look over here
You can see 10s rolling with me

[Hook]
10 out of 10
This one right here, 10 out of 10
It’s Money Man pon mic and Spyro on deck
10 out of 10
She don’t look like the type, but she just likes grime
10 out of 10
If her face is an 8, it’s okay cause her back’s
10 out of 10
The vibe in my ends, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Leeds, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Manny, 10 out of 10
The vibe up in Scotland, 10 out of 10
Can’t forget Bristol, Newcastle or Birmingham
Dun know, 10 out of 10
And if you can’t go Dam, come South London
Cause we got the 10 out of 10