Saudi announces that Ramadan officially starts on Friday (dates may vary) amid the continuous battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting (sawm), prayer, reflection and community. A commemoration of Muhammad’s first revelation, the annual observance of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam and lasts twenty-nine to thirty days, from one sighting of the crescent moon to the next.
With the unceasing spread of the virus, Muslims are advised to observe Ramadan at home. Mosques are temporarily closed for religious activities. Social distancing measures are also implemented to control the spread of COVID-19.
As part of these, the Department of Health reminded the public that large prayer meetings are not allowed. Maria Rosario Vergeire, Philippine Health Undersecretary said, “Karamihan sa ating mga kapatid na Muslim ay pumupunta sa mosque para sa Taraweeh congregation prayer.” [Most of our Muslim brothers go to the mosque for Taraweeh congregation prayer].
“Naglabas na rin po ang National Commission on Muslim Filipinos ng memorandum order na sinususpinde pansamantala ang pagsasagawa ng Taraweeh o sama-samang pagdarasal sa mga prayer rooms o mosque sa buong bansa para sa pagdiriwang ng Ramadam ngayong taon,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a televised briefing,” she added.
[The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos have already released a memorandum order suspending temporarily this year the Taraweeh or community prayers for Ramadan in prayer rooms and mosques in the whole country.]
President Rodrigo Duterte also joined Muslim Filipinos as they commence on spiritual journey during Ramadan. “Let this occasion give us peace amidst the adversity and challenges we face each day,” said the President.
“As you embody the religious insights and epiphanies you have gleaned from this undertaking, may you be moved to advance your collective resolve to eschew misguided ideologies so that we may achieve a truly progressive and inclusive society,” President Duterte added.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also issued the “Safe Ramadan practices in the context of the COVID-19” as guidelines in observing the Islamic month of Ramadan.
Here are the mitigation measures for physical gatherings by WHO:
- Encourage healthy hygiene
- Frequently clean worship spaces, sites, and building
- Download Full Interim Guidance here
King of Saudi Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud also expresses his sadness that Muslims cannot pray at mosques because of the coronavirus restriction.
“I am pained that the holy month arrives amid circumstances that make us unable to perform group prayers and Taraweeh – special Ramadan night prayers – at mosques due to precautionary measures to protect the peoples’ lives and health in combating the coronavirus pandemic,” King Salman said in a statement cited by SPA.
The start date of Ramadan, the holiest Muslim month, is set by both lunar calculations and physical sightings which determine when one month ends and another begins.