The Muslim Council of Britain has issued Ramadan guidelines for individuals, mosques and employees on how to get the most out of the holy month during the coronavirus lockdown.
Ramadan 2020 will be a very different experience for Muslims all over the world with social distancing measures preventing the usual congregational acts of worship for Muslims outside of the home.
This includes taraweeh prayers at the mosque, spiritual talks in the community or iftars with friends and family in attendance.
In the light of these restrictions, for individuals the MCB suggests:
- Streaming Islamic lectures or taraweeh to your home, either pre-recorded or live.
- Organising prayers, including taraweeh, at home as well as I’tikaf.
- Organising virtual iftars with extended family and the community through the many online video calling facilities available.
- Planning your iftar menus in advance so that you can limit multiple shopping trips and limit exposure given social distancing measures.
For those working at home during Ramadan, the MCB says:
- Ensure you are taking regular breaks from work, for rest and reflection – perhaps around salaah (prayer) times.
- If you are able, start your day earlier so that you can finish earlier and have some down time prior to iftar.
- Give your employer and colleagues advance notice that you will be fasting.
- Share Ramadan with colleagues by having a conversation or sharing what you’re doing for it/cooking/etc.
- Should you find yourself frustrated or tired, take a break.
- Employees who are fasting may ask to take their lunch break at a later time to break their fast depending on their work timings, or to enable them to finish work earlier. But employers may be justified in refusing such a request if this conflicts with legitimate business needs which they are unable to meet in any other ways.
For employers the MCB says:
- Be aware and open to discussing Ramadan and what support or adjustments your employee would like. Managers may experience requests for annual leave for those observing – be prepared for people to request to take holiday towards the end of Ramadan to celebrate Eid.
- Be accommodating over annual leave requests particularly as the majority of Christian holidays are national holidays.
- Allow for flexible working and adjusting working hours (i.e. an early start, working through lunch and an early finish) during this period if requested.
- Bear in mind that staff will be required to work from home during some or all of Ramadan as the COVID-19 situation develops, so try and apply flexibility to current working from home practices.
- Allow workers to have regular breaks for afternoon prayers as needed (Zuhr and Asr) if requested – this is especially important for Muslims observing Ramadan to be able to pray their daily prayers on time.
And for mosques the MCB said: “We encourage mosques to remind their congregations prior to Ramadan the importance of social distancing measures, and following the government policy around the prevention of spreading Coronavirus…
“While it is not possible for mosques to serve iftar on their premises or as a group, the opportunity of using the capacity to provide boxed food for those who struggle to make ends meet within the community and in the wider society, as well as helping the NHS staff, is very possible…
“Lectures, Qur’an recitations and supplications cannot be done in person, even though these often attract large crowds. However, these can still continue by pre-recording and/or live-streaming using Skype, Zoom and/or YouTube. The infrastructure to make this possible, is not difficult to put in place – with many mosques ahead of the curve. Whilst you cannot be a physical hub for community gathering, you can find ways to be a virtual hub of community activism.”