The Islamic month of fasting, Ramzan, is likely to begin on April 12, amid a resurgence in Covid-19 cases and a rollout of the vaccination programme in the country. Last year, the holy month coincided with the beginning of the pandemic, forcing Muslims around the world to shift community prayers and social gatherings to virtual platforms.
Several health and cultural organisations, including the WHO and the Islamic Centre of India, have issued protocols to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic.
The WHO in its “key messages” said crowded “mercy tables” should be avoided and individual pre-packaged boxes/servings of food should be preferred. It suggested the use of digital technology for sadaqat or zakah, a form of almsgiving as a religious obligation. It said the International Islamic Fiqh Academy has ruled that zakat money may be used to procure and deploy COVID-19 vaccines.
During the Ramzan fast, most Muslims abstain from food and drink during the day. The World Health Organisation said virtual gatherings and limited physical attendance should be considered for hosting sohoor or sehri (the pre-dawn meal) and iftar (meal taken to break the fast).
The Islamic Centre of India has called for adherence to all COVID-19 protocols during Ramzan. In other guidelines, it said:
— Ramzan fasts are the duty of every Muslim, so all must keep fast.
— Only one and a half paragraphs of Tarawih should be read in mosques.
— All Ramzan observers should be home before the night curfew begins.
— Not more than 100 people should gather in a mosque at any time.
— Wearing masks and social distancing should be taken care of in a mosque.
On Saturday, India recorded more than 1.45 lakh fresh cases of the coronavirus, pushing the number of active cases beyond the 10 lakh mark, highest in the past six months.