Ramzan (Photo Credit: File Photo)
The Ramzan moon was sighted this evening and Muslims in India will begin fasting from Saturday as they welcomed the holy month amid unprecedented circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic and a nationwide lockdown. Every year, the sighting of the Ramzan moon brings great cheer for Muslims as they scamper to make preparations for fasting and head to mosques to begin special 'Taraweeh' prayers, but not this time.
At a meeting of the Ruyat-e-Hilal Committee, Imarat-e-Sharaiyah-Hind here, it was announced that the moon was sighted in Delhi and in several parts of the country. Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari and Shahi Imam of Fatehpuri mosque Mufti Mukarram Ahmed also said the moon was sighted and the fasting will start from Saturday. They appealed to Muslims to perform all rituals and prayers at home during Ramzan while adhering to social distancing and lockdown norms.
In Kerala and some parts of Karnataka, the moon was sighted on Thursday. There was no rush to the mosques or on streets as Muslims quietly welcomed the holy month with a prayer on their lips for the safety of their loved ones in the wake of the pandemic. President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended Ramzan greetings, hoping that the people achieve a decisive victory in the ongoing battle against coronavirus and create a healthier planet. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also wished the people.
"Ramzan Mubarak to all. May this pious month inspire us to be compassionate and kind towards others, especially those in need. On this occasion, let us resolve to defeat COVID-19 through our collective determination and discipline," Kovind tweeted. The prime minister hoped that the holy month brings with it abundance of kindness, harmony and compassion. "May we achieve a decisive victory in the ongoing battle against COVID-19 and create a healthier planet," he wrote on Twitter.
"Ramzan Mubarak! I pray for everyone's safety, well-being and prosperity," Modi said. As the announcement of sighting of the moon was made, people greeted each other on phone and made preparations at home for sehri (meal before beginning of fasting). Most Muslims felt sad at not being able to perform special 'Taraweeh' prayers inside mosques, but acknowledged that winning the battle against COVID-19 was most important for humanity. Tanvir Pervez, a lawyer living in Ghaziabad, said it is the first time in his life that he did not go to the mosque for the 'Taraweeh' prayers and prayed at home instead.
"You do feel sad that we are unable to go to the mosque and pray. But, right now winning the battle against COVID-19 is top priority for humanity, so we have resolved to abide by all lockdown and social distancing norms," the 63-year-old told PTI. Amjad Rehan Ibrahim, a student at Hansraj College, said Ramzan is always a time for friends and family to connect and bond over sehri and iftaar, but this year with lockdown in place, iftaar parties are out of the question and it would lack the festive feel. I H Rehman, a 53-year-old environment expert, said Ramzan may be difficult with Muslims not able to pray in mosques, but it is also a blessing in such times as it gives people the opportunity to pray to God in this "month of forgiveness" to free "our country and the world from the coronavirus pandemic".
With the lockdown in place till May 3, this will be a Ramzan without the usual gatherings at prayer time and during meals. All imams, Ulema and Muslim organisations in the country have unanimously decided that during Ramzan, Muslims will not congregate in mosques, religious places and perform all rituals like 'Iftaar' (breaking of fast) and 'Taraweeh' (special prayers) at home keeping in mind social distancing norms. Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said he has spoken to state waqf board officials, social and religious leaders, imams on adherence to the lockdown and social distancing guidelines during Ramzan.
He expressed confidence that Muslims will adhere to the lockdown and social distancing guidelines. On the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions during Ramzan, Naqvi said no Muslim wants to stay away from mosques in this holy month, but everyone has resolved to win this battle against coronavirus. Prominent Muslim body Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind on Friday appealed to Muslims to adhere to the lockdown guidelines and perform all religious rituals during Ramzan, starting later this week, staying inside their homes.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind president Maulana Arshad Madani urged Muslims to offer prayers, including special 'Taraweeh' at home. Ramzan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar during which Muslims worldwide refrain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk and end their fast in the evening.