Muslims across the Channel Islands are marking Ramadan in a very different way this year.
It is known as the holy month in the Islamic calendar and marks the first revelation of the Quran by the Prophet Mohamed.
Mohsin Qadir, who lives in Jersey with his wife and daughter, says it is not only a time for spiritual reflection but a time to reaffirm bonds within the community.
As Muslims Ramadan is an integral part of our faith. In a normal Ramadan we would be increasing our time in prayer, reciting the holy Quran and having daily gatherings for late night prayers.
During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from all food and drink during daylight hours.
The breaking of the fast at sunset is known as Iftar and is a time for families, friends and the community to come together, but coronavirus has made this very different.
We break the fast with our community members. If we aren’t at the mosque we would host Iftar meals with our loved ones and try to share the good times of the blessed month as much as possible. With the current situation we find ourselves in everything has been brought to a standstill. We are not going to the mosque and have been praying at home with our families at home and connecting with each other over social media
Instead of congregating for daily late night prayers, Mohsin says the community now logs into a daily video conference to exchange ideas and share the teachings of the holy Quran.
Dr Sarfraz Jamali is the leader of Jersey’s Muslim community. He says the changes are being felt throughout the community.
I am feeling it. I miss the community getting together and praying together. And likewise the people are missing it. We are waiting anxiously for when it is over so we can get together. It is a different Ramadan, a different experience but we are trying to make the best of it.
The social nature of Ramadan helps people living alone combat isolation. Now the only way to fast together is by connecting by video conferencing apps.
Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam alongside faith, charity, prayer and pilgrimage.
While fasting is obligatory, Dr Jamali says there are many exceptions and this year in particular people should take extra care. He said anyone with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and children are exempt from fasting and those over the age of sixty should take extra care.
A Jersey Government spokesman said people who are vulnerable or suffering from coronavirus should seek medical advice before fasting.
Looking after your nutrition and hydration have always been important during Ramadan and this is no different during Covid-19. People in good health should have no problem with keeping to the traditional fasting hours as in previous years. Religious leaders allow for some exclusions to fasting on medical grounds so religious guidance in combination with advice from your GP is recommended. It is important that all people with faith know that they are encouraged to continue to reflect, pray, meditate, share and care within their communities albeit at a distance from people outside of their household at this time.
Ramadan is predicted to end on Saturday, May 23 with a three day celebration known as Eid-al-Fitr.