For pediatrician Kiran Rahim, Ramadan this year is different from previous years, spending hours behind a suffocating medical mask in an intensive care unit, treating patients with Covid-19.
Under normal circumstances, she takes her children to her mother’s house where family members eat together, or eat breakfast with friends in a restaurant.
But due to the intensity of work this year, exhausted from Homerton University Hospital, Northeast London, will return to her husband and their two and six-year-olds. This exhaustion will extend to the days when you will not be able to fast.
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“Many like me choose not to fast while working in the intensive care department,” she says, adding that “it is difficult in personal protective equipment (which doctors wear), at one time you can only work an hour or two before you have to take it off and have a drink.” “.
Rahimi says that her colleagues in the British Islamic Medical Association sought advice from religious scholars who told them that those who work in a vital sector and in intense working conditions can refrain from fasting.
“This makes me feel comfortable, but I am sad, because I love fasting,” according to Rahimi.
For other health workers, they will have to break their fast alone, separated from their families in 12-hour shifts, in a dismal comparison with the usual atmosphere during Ramadan.
The opportunity to take leave during Ramadan, as some usually do, has faded with the start of the closure.
With the restrictions expected to remain in place until at least May 7, Rahimi, 33, excludes the possibility of celebrating Eid al-Fitr as usual.
“Ramadan can be hard, but you are looking forward to Eid (to ease hardship). I’m not sure if we can celebrate Eid this year.”
Despite the difficulties, Rahimi believes that the current situation may help in seeing things from a different perspective in a spiritually predominant month.
“It will be different, but maybe in some ways Ramadan will be more sincere. We live what we can describe as hell on the ground, but most of us are fortunate as we can still do what we want. We can still provide food. There are many unemployed people and others have difficulty securing shelter.” .
The British Islamic Council warned that Ramadan would be very different this year, and he advised people to stay at home.
With mosques closed, and family members separated – sometimes inside the house itself, Muslims will not be able to break their fast and pray together.
But there are positive aspects, as the spirit of Ramadan calls for the needy.
In Stanmore, northwest London, the “Al Hijjah Mosque” serves more than 150 families throughout Ramadan by delivering meals, cooked in restaurants in the area, funded by charitable donations, and distributed by volunteers.
“I think we see the best in people,” said Asim Muhammad, a mosque official. “We got 200 volunteers within 48 hours, which is great. Usually we serve meals to 1,500 people in our center during the month, and some people depend entirely on our meals.”
Organizers hope to reach 200 families every night of Ramadan. Almost 1,000 people have registered their interest.
Mohamed said that the center put itself at the disposal of the municipality “Harrow” in order to distribute food to the needy, from donations received from the residents of the region.
The mosque will continue to broadcast religious lessons during Ramadan online.
The Charity Association of Ahmadiyya Youth Association on the Internet has organized sports courses, social activities and prayers, while it plans to reach more people in Ramadan.
Abd al-Loudi, director of charities at the League, said that they usually organize large eating groups, to which non-Muslim residents of the region are invited to learn about Ramadan and Islam. But this year the association is looking to engage people online.
Imam Sabah Ahmadi, who is based in London, said that Ramadan will be difficult this year because of the isolation measures, but he will resort to social media such as Instagram in order to give religious lessons, and added that isolation will give the fasting people an opportunity to get closer to God, which is what should be done during the month of Ramadan .
But the most important message is for everyone to stay in their homes and not to visit families or go to the mosque, which will be closed, Ahmadi said.