By GRAHAME ANDERSON
An Asian Sunday Guide
The month of Ramadan is the holiest month of the year for Muslims required to fast from sunrise to sunset. During those hours they must also stop drinking and abstain from sexual relations. And while this won’t include young children, pregnant women, the elderly, the sick and travellers, this priceless time takes on extra significance due to the coronavirus pandemic.
From April 23/24 to 23/24 May, British Muslims will be adapting in many ways to make the most of #Ramadanathome 2020. This of course, is the time when the Qur’an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad.
Ramadan During Lock-down
So given a continued lock-down here in the UK what steps can everyone take to ensure they both respect their religious beliefs and stay safe?
Asian Sunday spoke to Professor Mahendra G Patel, PhD FRPharmS FHEA. The professor is Senior Academic Pharmacist and Honorary Visiting Professor at the University of Bradford, speaking as an active British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin or BAPIO. He told us: “If you’re taking medicine it’s important to ensure you keep doing so at the required times making certain you don’t run out.
“Likewise type two diabetics especially, should keep checking their blood sugar levels in the usual way. Despite the current crisis the NHS is still open for anyone suffering from medical conditions, health discomfort or advice. You won’t be bothering the doctor or using the NHS unnecessarily, and you will get help quickly. Despite coronavirus, the health system is carrying on as normal.
“In more general terms people need to eat healthily, and this includes enjoying lots of fruit and vegetables. Try and keep your diet as balanced as possible and organise things so you are fully hydrated for the long days ahead.
“Everyone realises the act of praying is an essential part of the Ramadan journey, and can actually be beneficial in terms of good mental health. It can also be part of your exercise regime, but remember to keep taking general exercise as well. The Mosques are closed of course, so it’s a good idea to either pray together as a family or as a congregation in the home.
“Try to keep to those social distancing guidelines where possible and look more closely at quality over quantity. And it goes without saying washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water on a regular basis is vital.
“Looking after your health and those of loved ones is so important, so you can really get the most out of this special time. If you need to talk to your Imam for advice don’t be afraid to do so.”
Muslim Council Of Great Britain
The Muslim Council of Britain has a number of key guidelines on their website for reference and advice.
In Terms Of Ramadan Activities They Advise:
Try to stream Islamic lectures or taraweeh into your home, either pre-recorded or live.
Virtual iftars can be organised using the many online and video calling facilities now available.
Pray together as a congregation or family.
For Those Working From Home:
Make sure you take regular breaks for rest and reflection
start your day earlier if you can so you can finish earlier and have some down time prior to iftar.
Give your employer and colleagues advance notice you will be fasting.
Honour your workplace duties with patience and good grace to those around you.
Employers should also note those who are fasting may ask to take their lunch-break at a later time to break their fast, depending on work timings, or to finish work earlier. Try and help is the message here, though employers may be justified in refusing such a request if this conflicts with legitimate business needs they are unable to meet in any other way.
We should also remember aside from fasting, Muslims observing Ramadan also increase spiritual devotional acts such as prayer, giving to charity and strengthening family ties.
Muslims, are encouraged to share their food with friends, family and neighbours, while reaching out to those who may be fasting alone, to share their Ramadan experiences.
With food in mind, plan iftar menus in advance in order to limit shopping trips while sticking to social distancing guidelines. It’s worth remembering this Ramadan can also help save lives and protect our NHS.
A Strong Message
The overriding message from the Muslim Council of Britain is: “We wish everybody a safe, fruitful and prosperous Month of Ramadan this year and ask that Allah (swt) to enable us to learn, grow and become better human beings during and after the month.”
To help you with your #RamadanAtHome, the MCB is hosting a number of social and spiritual events on their social media channels, from daily Qur’an recitations at fajr time to virtual eco-iftars.
For a complete run-down on the guidelines and the latest advice go to: www.mcb.org.uk/resources/ramadan/