Reflections and challenges during Ramadan

Outside of Perth Mosque.
The exterior of the Perth Mosque. Picture: David Blayney.

This Saturday marks the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting and self-reflection for Muslims across Australia and around the world. However, due to COVID-19, some things have had to change.

Curtin University Imam Yahya Ibrahim says the COVID-19 crisis has given more people a greater understanding of what the observance means.

“Basically the effect that you would have suffered with COVID-19 is very similar to what the aims of Ramadan are, to get us to appreciate the simplest things that we’ve taken for granted – water, food, the company of other people,” Imam Ibrahim says.

“And I think the austerity measures that were put in by the government to protect us from the spread of the virus is very much the same spirit that we believe God has instilled in us in the month of Ramadan to protect us from an overindulgence of materialism and other things of that nature.”

During Ramadan, Muslims fast from Sunrise to Sunset, abstaining not just from food and water, but also tobacco, sex, and things like swearing.

UWA honours student Rashdan Ramli says it’s a time of self-control and self-awareness.

“A big part of Ramadan is fasting from water and food, and the reason being is so it can help us self-reflect and be grateful because, in a lot of circumstances, people don’t have food and water available to them,” he says.

Education student Zahraa Kerbelker says the restrictions on gatherings have their benefits and their drawbacks.

“We’re not really going out that much, and that’s the point of Ramadan I suppose, is to have a bit of a detox from the outside world and just focus on your relationship with God, so in that way I suppose COVID has helped,” she says.

The end of Ramadan is celebrated with Eid al-Fitr, and while places of worship were opened on Monday, only 20 people are allowed inside at any time.

Imam Ibrahim says it will be a big difference to previous years.

“Usually, for example, when I lead the Eid prayer, I’ll have maybe 2000 people praying behind me. This year of course with regulations we can’t have more than 20, so we’ve asked people to pray at home and we’ll broadcast the sermon.”

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