A DIFFERENT KIND OF RAMADAN DURING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK
Most of this year’s Ramadan celebrations – beginning on Thursday 23 April – have been cancelled or moved online due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, is celebrated by fasting during daylight hours, followed traditionally by large communal feasts in the evening. However, due to the coronavirus many countries are facing lockdown restrictions that will force Muslims to adjust their celebrations. Egypt – along with Malaysia, Singapore, and others – has banned all prayer gatherings and encouraged those celebrating to end the daily fasts alone, or only with those in their household. In an effort to keep the community aspect of Ramadan celebrations, many mosques and Islamic groups are holding online prayer services, sermons, and Quranic recitations. Ramadan usually also provides an economic boost for many communities as the feasts lead to increased food sales in local markets. The inability to buy and sell at markets could have a long-term economic effect.
From a Christian perspective, we have seen how the coronavirus outbreak has caused many people to seek answers, and how many of them have joined online Christian services, dramatically increasing a church’s attendance. As Muslims are forced in this season to conduct many of their activities in isolation, perhaps they too will search for answers in these uncertain times and find some of these many Christian resources online. In many ‘closed’ countries, people seeking answers outside of Islam are forced to do things secretly, and when they become followers of Christ they encounter the challenge of keeping things secret where Islam is so entwined in cultural practices and day-to-day life. Now, during a time of forced isolation, perhaps these ‘seekers’ will have a window of opportunity to find the answers they are looking for without the additional societal pressures of ‘tradition’. However, some may be the only follower of Christ in their family, who may find the current lockdown tremendously challenging, as there is no way to escape the scrutiny of their immediate family with whom they are confined. They will be watched to see if they perform all the requisite rituals and traditions and may experience tremendous pressure to conform.
Pray with us for the following:
- For an increased curiosity and boldness in the hearts of those searching the web for online resources to delve into Scripture and find Truth
- For those believers in Muslim families who face tremendous pressure, that the Lord will protect and uphold them, giving them wisdom to respond to their families’ questions and pressure
- For believers to share their faith in creative ways with their Muslim neighbours and friends during this month of Ramadan
Image: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir