“We’re all missing holding gatherings to break the fast with family and friends”

Coronavirus is presenting all sorts of different challenges to each individual, and many of us are all finding ourselves having to make sacrifices or adjustments.

As Ramadan is usually a time of community where people come together to break their fast and pray, the Muslim festival is looking a little different this year, and the community will know a little of having to make adjustments. We spoke to our Leeds Mind colleague, Kabeer, about his experience of observing the celebrations under the coronavirus lockdown.

What would Ramadan usually look like for you and your family?

Normally the evenings are a mad buzz of activity as there’s lots of cooking going as we prepare to break the fast. My wife and children would prepare plates of food and share them with neighbours’, and we’d receive plates of food that mean you may only prepare one dish yourself but end up with quite a few dishes in the evening. For the last couple of years, I’ve been managing the breaking of the fast at the mosque, so would be ordering food and laying plates for 30- 100 people each night, so it was a really exciting and sociable time of the year when people shared meals with others in their community.

How are you handling Ramadan differently this year?

This year everyone is breaking their fast in their own homes and praying at home where they would normally make an effort to go and pray at the mosque. The positive side has been that people have become closer in their households, as it only requires two people to pray in congregation and people have been having more meals as a family.

How has having limitations imposed on this year’s celebrations affected your/your family’s/your friends’ mental wellbeing, and how have you coped with that? 

I know people have been feeling more isolated, especially if they live on their own, and we’re all missing holding gatherings to break the fast with family and friends. The uncertainty around how Eid will be celebrated is also causing people anxiety as it is a time of year when we meet our families, wear new clothes and exchange gifts. Having weekly sermons on Youtube, receiving radio broadcasts of the daily call to prayer and WhatsApp video calls with family are all helping to stay connected. I take comfort in the following verse of the Quran: “verily, after hardship comes ease” 94:6.

Fasting is about giving up the things that we are normally allowed to do to improve self-control and sacrifice. This year comes with the added challenge of social distancing, which is also an opportunity to cut out distractions and focus on identifying the positive changes you’d like to make to your life.

More tips can be found at: https://www.islamic-relief.org.uk/4-ways-to-have-a-productive-ramadan-under-lockdown/