YouTube sermons and prayers at home: Muslims prepare for ‘a very different Ramadan’

By | April 18, 2020

, YouTube sermons and prayers at home: Muslims prepare for ‘a very different Ramadan’

This was published 6 months ago

In the lead-up to the holy month of Ramadan, Ramia Abdo Sultan would usually gather with at least 100 family members in a community centre.

“We do that because it’s impossible to fit into a house,” she said.

Forat and Ramia Sultan, pictured with their children (l-r) Zahra, Layla and Aneesa, will observe Ramadan from their Revesby home due to the coronavirus. Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

But the coronavirus containment measures have put an end to the large gatherings that are an integral part of how the Sultan family and Australia’s community of 600,000 Muslims normally observe Ramadan, which begins on Thursday.

“That’s not going to happen,” Mrs Sultan said. “But we can break our fast and catch up through Zoom and Skype conversations.”

Ibrahim Dadoun, the director of public relations for the Australian National Imams Council, said the the nightly taraweeh prayers had been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This year will be the first time the Muslims will most likely be conducting these prayers from home without the communal attribute due to the closure of mosques and Islamic centres,” he said.

Imam Dadoun said Islamic sermons would be broadcast online and Muslims would be encouraged to “uphold the Ramadan spirit with their household members”.

The ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a period of prayer and reflection, strict fasting during the day and family gatherings in the evening.

Meals before and after the fast, called suhoor and iftar, are celebratory affairs often involving extended families and friends.

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The coronavirus pandemic has also necessitated the cancellation of events such as Ramadan Nights in Lakemba, where thousands of people usualy flock to aromatic food stalls lining Haldon Street.

Eid festivities that mark the end of Ramadan will also be limited to family members who live together.

“We won’t be able to catch up with family and friends to eat,” Mrs Sultan said. “Attending mosque is a definite no at this moment. So it will be a very different Ramadan.”

But Mrs Sultan said the pandemic provided a “much-needed pause or break” for the faithful to focus on their spirituality without distraction. “The ultimate purpose is to reconnect with God,” she said.

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The coronavirus has also affected how Bilal El-Hayek, the deputy mayor of the City of Canterbury Bankstown, will mark Ramadan.

“The way we observe this special occasion this year will certainly be different,” he said. “No congregating with family or friends, no prayers at the mosque, but instead our prayers will be at home. And of course, no visiting family and friends to break our fast.”

Cr El-Hayek said Ramadan was a time of fasting, self-improvement and assisting the vulnerable. “We are working around the clock and delivering hundreds of hampers to the elderly and families who are doing it tough,” he said.

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, http://www.smh.com.au/national/youtube-sermons-and-prayers-at-home-muslims-prepare-for-a-very-different-ramadan-20200417-p54kuv.html, The Sydney Morning Herald

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