Ramadan under lockdown: three Muslims tell their stories

Ahmad Haidari performing one of his daily prayers Pic: Ahmad Haidari

Mosques are shut and Muslims across Croydon, Hackney, Lewisham, and Tower Hamlets started observing their holy month of Ramadan last week in a changed world.

Here two people from Croydon, and one from Hackney discuss Ramadan from their own point of views during the lockdown. The interviewees have been spending Ramadan doing their prayers and worshipping Allah from the safety of their homes.

Ahmad Haidari, from Hackney, Kadeeja Warsame, and a woman who decided to remain anonymous, both from Croydon have mixed feelings and believe there are positive and negative sides to the impact. Haidari said: “Ramadan during Lockdown in my personal opinion has good and bad aspects. The good ones are, I am relaxed and it is being easy, as I’m home all day not doing much except daily prayers and daily routines. The bad is; as Ramadan is a month of worship, this lockdown has caused millions of Muslims to miss prayers in congregation in the mosque.”

For the anonymous Croydon resident, Ramadan this year had to be different from all previous years. She has been allocated as a key worker as a carer, and is the only one leaving her house, as a mother of three girls. She said: “I am the only one leaving my house, which means I have to also do the food shop as I’m the one already outside to keep my family safe. Due to the corona virus, only one carer can go to a client to reduce the spread which means I’m leaving the house three to four times to the clients as it can only be me going. So, this year it’s harder as I would usually take work off for Ramadan.”

Quran Pic: Ahmad Haidari

Some everyday activities such as using social media, watching certain movies, or listening to some music, may be viewed as Haram and are restricted as there can be some sinful words, posts, or scenes which shouldn’t be seen for repenting. The anonymous interviewee said: “As a key worker, now it consists of work so I am restricting in doing my usual activities. So, the restriction is the lockdown and not Ramadan or my activities.”

Haidari said: “The main activities that I do during Ramadan are praying Salah, reciting the Quran and worshipping Allah by praying, and when it gets close to breaking the fast, I start cooking and making desserts, and after breaking the fast I watch movies or series.”

The three interviewees have given their perspective on their feelings during Ramadan, and all three had quite similar responses on their feelings being towards feeling close to Allah and Islam. However, Haidari also said: “My feelings in Ramadan are: when I’m hungry I think of people who are poor in poor countries where they can’t afford to eat whatever they want, they see everything but they can’t eat, so for me it’s the same as them as I can see different edible items but can’t eat until I can break my fast. Also, sometimes in the middle and towards the end of the holy month, I feel weaker compared to how I usually am, I usually feel thirsty and hungry if I were not on lockdown, but this year I don’t really feel much hunger or thirst.”

Cooking and food for Iftar (when they are allowed to break fast) Pic: Ahmad Haidari

After completing the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims believe Allah rewards them for the completion; they were asked if due to the lockdown this year would be more rewarding than it has been before. Haidari said: “In my personal view, Ramadan is a month where you mostly feel it when you are working and fasting. This year Ramadan is easier compared to others as we don’t go out and don’t work, just stay at home relaxed not feeling the hardship. At the same time I’ve increased my worshipping time as I recite the Quran mostly and pray 5 times, which I couldn’t if I were working, as I was all previous years, I could miss some Salah’s and wouldn’t be reading the Quran as much, so when it comes to reward we always expect to gain more reward but I can’t give an exact answer to this question as Allah knows better.”

Warsame believes it is as she can be on time for every prayer, and also has more time to pray and repent, as well as under lockdown, she can spend the day reading the Quran and in connection with God (activities she could not complete if she was working). The Croydon resident said: “For me it is, as I am helping and still working while it is all going on and still making time to make sure I don’t miss on prayers and repent. I think there is nothing more rewarding than fasting as well as helping those who can’t help themselves in a time where no one is remembering that they have been forgotten.”

At the end of Ramadan, they will be getting ready to celebrate Eid, to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Due to the lockdown, all mosques around the four boroughs, and around the UK have no choice but to be closed. Muslims are doing the best they can to worship Allah in their own homes, and get through Ramadan with their strength and Faith.

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