Faith in times of Coronavirus
By Shadan Muneer
As millions of Muslims observe Ramzan, the month of dawn-to-dusk fasting, how will social distancing and self-isolation work in a world fearing contagion from an unseen enemy?
Fasting but no feasting, the piety is in plenty but the frolic is amiss. The warmth is palpable but handshakes and hugs are missing. The roads are less crowded and people are adapting to a new way of life and a new way to observe Ramzan.
The Holy Islamic Month of Ramzan brings about a position change in the lifestyle of Muslims across the globe as they fast from dawn to dusk and engage in special prayers at night. The emphasis of the month is on spiritual cleansing and imbibing and strengthening the tenets of Islam.
This Ramzan has not only been different but also challenging with lockdown and economic slowdown and battling global health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. All over the world from Mecca to all major countries including India, Islamic authorities called upon the community to observe Ramzan abiding by the restrictions imposed by their respective Governments as part of fighting the virus and urged people not to gather in Mosques for prayers and to offer them staying at their homes.
The usual festive mood of Mysuru city has taken a backseat this year. Mosques are empty, absence of makeshift food stalls offering scrumptious Iftar delicacies, the aroma of lip-smacking samosas, the ever-bustling markets at Meena Bazaar and people thronging shopping hotspots are all being missed but people realise it’s hopefully a small price to pay to contain the contagion.
‘Star of Mysore’ caught up with people from different fields in city to understand how they are coping with this year’s Ramzan under lockdown.
Stay safe, follow guidelines and pray for pandemic to end: Hazrath Moulana Mohammed Usman Shariff, Sir Khazi
“It is for the first time that we are experiencing such a crisis. All places of worship including Mosques, Temples and Churches are shut to fight Coronavirus. As with most religious festivals in India, Ramzan too is centred on community interactions and practices and it is for the first time that Indian Muslims are observing Ramzan confined to their homes. It is definitely a never-before experience with no congregational prayers or special night prayers due to lockdown.”
“We have called upon the community to strictly abide by restrictions for safety. There are always positives in the spirit of Ramzan, make use of this opportunity to reach out to the needy and help them in the best way possible.”
“With Eid-ul-Fitr round the corner and with restrictions in place I urge everyone to have a simple Eid, express gratitude to Allah for the day and pray for the pandemic to end. Eid comes year after year and when everyone will have a shelter on their head and food to eat that will be the day to rejoice and feast. The need to save humanity along with communal harmony and peace should be the goal of every Indian and that is the true spirit of Ramzan as well.” he stated, thanking all Corona Warriors.
Simple and thrifty: Tasneem, Mayor
“It is important for people to understand the necessity of restrictions and follow them. This year, Ramzan amidst lockdown feels different. It has given way to a more inward observance of spirituality. I have managed to make time and balance my personal and professional life. I am making efforts to make time for prayers and handle my responsibility towards the citizens of Mysuru.”
“This year’s Eid will be a low-key affair for me and my family as we decided not to splurge on any buying. The atmosphere is sombre with the loss of lives, livelihoods and migrant crisis. Do not venture out unnecessarily and avoid unnecessary buying. Instead use that part of money on charity.”
Rare Ramzan but getting out of this health crisis is important: Hazrath Moulana Mohammed Zaka Ullah, All India Milli Council, Mysore District President
“Ramzan is a month when Mosques bustle and people engage in charity abundantly. This Ramzan is quite unlike any other I have experienced over the past years. This year we are unable to do community prayers and it lacks the joy of togetherness. The feeling of praying together in a Mosque is very different. However, getting out of this crisis is also as important. The more seriously we follow Government rules, the sooner we will get back to our normal routine.”
“We are doing our best in spreading the message of maintaining social distance with a lot of precautions and patience. A big thank you to Corona Warriors for 100 percent recovery rate in Mysuru. With unpredictable situation around us we can learn lessons from fasting and how they can be applied to the restrictions and the resilience related to it.”
Lockdown has made way for healthy home cooked food: Dr. Asna Urooj, Chairperson, Department of Studies in Food Science and Nutrition, University of Mysore
“This year’s Ramzan under lockdown has made our meals shift towards being healthier with the absence of food stalls which would offer special delicacies. Return to simple tradition of Iftar has also been welcomed. It is essential to eat a healthy and balanced meal during Sehri (meal one eats before beginning their fast) and Iftar (evening snack or meal with which one breaks their fast). Fasting in Ramzan especially during peak summer can cause dehydration.”
“Having curds with a pinch of cardamom powder added during Sehri meal prevents excessive thirst and curds also function as a probiotic. Avoid high-fat foods, add a lot of vegetables and greens in your meal, consume lots of fruits which will be cooling. Take a lot of antioxidant food, fresh fruit juices and black cumin commonly called kalaonji which heals a lot of ailments, certain herbs and spices such as ginger, pepper, turmeric also help build immunity.”
“I am happy that I have a lot more time on hand this time for worshiping and to recite Quran in leisure unlike previous years where I had to rush for prayers and cooking as soon as I return from work. Praying Taraweeh with family is a unique lifetime experience for me and we all have decided that this Eid will include simple traditional cooking minus extravagant.”
Best time for spirituality, spending quality time with family: Md. Yazdaan Khan, Director, Habib Industries
“Looking at the positives of lockdown, fasting feels different and easy for me with no demanding physical activities. I’ve been able to spend a lot more time worshipping as Ramzan is all about upping your spirituality and nearness to God. We have had more time to reflect and grow. It has been the best Ramzan for me as I am getting peaceful time to spend with family and also trying my hand at cooking with them. At times we lose track of time and dates and everyday feels like Sunday during lockdown. The flipside is that the lockdown has hit us really hard professionally.”
“Traditionally during every Eid we would invite all our friends, family and business partners of all faiths to celebrate Eid and to dine with us but this year we will not be able to have a get together which will be missed tremendously with social distancing being the new normal.”
Altered the rhythm of sacred month yet most productive and satisfying: Ameen Kauser, Owner of CTC Car World, Car Accessories & used car showroom and Sukris Textile Store
“This Ramzan has been very different yet satisfying for me. Personally I have used every minute of the lockdown productively and done things that I always wanted to do in terms of worshipping and charity as both are crucial aspects of Ramzan. No doubt that Coronavirus has altered the rhythm of the sacred month yet it has also given us a chance to reach out to the poor. With the restrictions in place, many have opted for digital modes of transferring money to charity NGOs but I wanted to make use of this opportunity as I had time and wanted to go the extra mile to reach out to the needy.”
“I personally prepared over 3,000 food kits and distributed among the needy throughout the lockdown and also during the month of Ramzan as feeding the needy is considered highly rewarding charity.” Ameen’s family has been feeding hundreds of people over the years during Ramzan. “Fasting was prescribed by Allah for self-discipline and for everyone to understand what hunger is and how it feels like when the poor and needy go without food and water.”
Feels different but the world is also different now: Dr. Anees Ahmed, Chairman, Al Ansar Hospital and President of Huda Public School
“Ramzan this year is obviously different and we can’t do much about it as the whole world is also adapting to different lifestyle and routine. It has been very challenging professionally whereas the hospital is concerned we faced a lot of hardships initially due to COVID-19 scare but had to keep the hospital functional. We now have a separate team to deal with patients with fever and other symptoms and refer them to the Government Hospital.”
“Lockdown has dampened the spirit of Ramzan. It is for the first time in 60 years that I am unable to go to the Mosque and offer prayers in congregation and it is quite disappointing but we must accept it and take this as a will of God and obey the rules to protect ourselves.”
Missed out on some of the rituals: Heena Taj, Housewife
“Ramzan this year has been quite hectic with taking care of kids, household chores and cooking. The absence of a domestic help has added to the routine chores but has also made us realise the value of our support staff and people who work endlessly to make our routines comfortable. I am thankful to the local administration that we were provided with food essentials at the doorstep. This year we missed out on a lot of rituals like feeding the poor who would lineup in front of the house for alms, the Iftar get-together and congregation prayers and, of course, the Haleem and samosas.”
Having food to eat feels like Eid for us: Shaheen, Domestic help
“I am facing a bit of problems this lockdown, I work as a domestic help in two houses and with the absence of shared auto service I have to walk to reach to my workplace while I’m fasting. I was fortunate that I was paid salary for the previous two months that went under lockdown. I am a widow and a mother of two girls. Having food to eat feels like Eid for us.”