How Are Mosques Across the UK Preparing For Ramadan Under Lockdown?23 Apr 2020
Normally – when the world is not battling a global pandemic – Ramadan is a month where Muslims truly feel a sense of community. We perform congregational prayers, break fasts together, and spend long nights in the mosque. However, following recent announcements that lockdown will last for another three weeks at least, it is now a certainty that Muslims will spend much of Ramadan social distancing. This is hugely disappointing, but fortunately many mosques are preparing to allow access to Islamic lectures and events online.
The Holy Month is set to begin on April 23rd, and for many Muslims it will be the first Ramadan of its kind. Mosques all over the U.K, which around 2000 Muslims attend to pray in everyday throughout Ramadan, are closed. Gatherings have been strictly forbidden since March, with government officials announcing the closure of all places of worship.
For many Muslims, congregational prayer performed in mosques – Taraweeh – is a hugely significant ritual that takes place during Ramadan. Muslims who may not feel a strong spiritual connection throughout the year, enjoy the month due to the sense of community and togetherness felt in Ramadan.
Although lockdown measures mean that Muslims will be confined to pray and break fasts with members of the immediate household only, many Islamic officials have pointed out the possible benefits this Ramadan will bring. According to Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain: “this Ramadan will give us more time for reflection and the opportunity to be closer to God”.
In attempts to recreate the sense of community felt during Ramadan, Mosques are making use of technology. Nightly recitation of the Qur’an and prayers usually performed in mosques, will now move online. Many Imams have also been conducting weekly online classes through Zoom, which are suitable for both adults and children. These classes will then be shared on YouTube for all to access.
Among the most prominent online events is one organised by the Open Iftar project. The group has been a regular fixture of Ramadan in London, holding public events for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Now, with social-isolation measures in place, the group is taking its events online. An affiliated organisation, the Ramadan Tent Project, will also be holding online events.
Another project was launched by London-based actress, Amina Koroma who is organising a Ramadan Online event for women. There are also various online Ramadan events tailored for young children, which include projects and craft activities such as making Ramadan calendars, making face masks and cooking.
There are also specific mosques that will be holding online events for their congregations in the coming days. The Finsbury Park Mosque in London will also have an online counselling service and aims to organise members to take food to local hospitals during the Holy Month.
In Stanmore, London, the Hujjat Mosque will be running an Iftar on wheels delivery service to provide 150 households with meals. The project is supported through volunteers and launched in cooperation with local restaurants and eateries who are struggling with customers this year.
The Cambridge Muslim College will also be hosting a series of daily online talks from scholars on topics including the Qur’an, hadith, self-improvement, arts, culture and astronomy.
Many renowned scholars and faith leaders are even broadcasting their lectures, as well as question and answer sessions from their homes. London-based Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi of the World Ahlul-Bayt(as) Islamic League has been holding regular question and answer sessions via Zoom. Despite the many challenges this Ramadan will bring, it has definitely allowed us to appreciate the rituals and community gatherings which bring us together each Ramadan and will be hugely missed this year.