COVID 19: Ramadan 2020 – Effects On NZ Muslim Faith
For the first time in New Zealand's history, mosques will be closed for the Holy month of Ramadan. This is one of the most significant faith changes to NZ Islam, brought on by COVID 19 this year.
Ramadan is the ninth and most holy month of the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to dusk. Fasting is obligatory and one of the five pillars of Islam. Those exempt include young children, anyone who is sick, travellers, women who are pregnant, nursing or menstruating.
Ramadan is regarded as the best time of the year where Muslim’s not only stop eating and drinking but also strengthen their faith by self-reflection, extended prayers in the night (Taraweh), Zikir (Remembrance of Lord) and reciting the Quran.
However this year, Muslims will be performing their prayers at home within their bubbles (family circle) as required by the New Zealand government. This year, those who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are exempt for fasting as it may retard their recovery.
Sadly, family and friend gatherings will not take place, which in normal times is an essential part of Ramadan, to share blessings. Iftar (daily communal fast breaking meals) will likewise not be able to take place. No tarawih (late night prayers) in non bubble gatherings.
Distribution of charities (obligatory in Ramadan) will most likely go towards COVID 19 causes. Muslims will not be able to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah (pilgrimage).
One thing that will remain the same however is that the faith of Muslims will remain steadfast, indeed it will be fortified by doing more ibadah (Prayers).
Ramadan is expected to begin on April 23 or 24 and the exact date will be announced by moon sighting closer to these dates.
Tahir Nawaz is a senior analyst of Muslim affairs based in Wellington. He has been involved in community service as the President of the International Muslim Associations of New Zealand (IMAN). Tahir is also the winner of Wellingtonian of the year Award and is also an adjunct fellow at Victoria University of Wellington.