Free hot food and breaking fast alone: Observing Ramadan in a pandemic

For the second year running, people across Wales are having to observe Ramadan within coronavirus restrictions.

The holy festival sees Muslims fast during daylight hours, only eating after sunset and in the early hours of the morning.

One of the most fundamentally important parts of Ramadan for Muslims is spending time with wider family and friends, and sharing large fast-breaking feasts each night called 'Iftar'.

Lockdown rules make the traditional ways to celebrate impossible for most people, but the core principles of charity, kindness and community remain.

At the Dar-Ul-Isra Mosque in Cardiff, Fatehulla Tahir has arranged a nightly giveaway of free hot food to anyone who needs it.

In normal times, more than 300 people would stay after prayers in the mosque to break their fast together. Hot food and water would be served for all worshippers. Although prayer is allowed under lockdown rules during this Ramadan, eating is not.

For some people, that was a lifeline.

The mosque began giving out hot food again since Ramadan started on Monday 12 April, and queues have formed each day in the street for a meal.

"We realised last year during the first covid lockdown there there was a huge need from community members to actually have the meal who couldn't really put a meal on the table", Fatehulla explained.

"They relied on the mosque to actually have that meal so during the month of Ramadan we gave out more than 2,100 meals and it's something we've adopted again this year".

Ramadan has also been different for Yousra Elsadig and her daughters Nibras and Najiah. Before the pandemic, they would brightly decorate their house and invite family and friends to join them for their Iftar feast.

When we go Ramadan shopping we can't get all the stuff that we normally get like decorations and Ramadan food that we used to be able to because of all of the pandemic restrictions and it makes it like worse and harder.

Nibras Ahmed, aged 8

Their mother, Yousra, says it has been hard to adapt.

"There's absolutely no way to meet people in your house and we can only break our fast in our houses so it's quite different. It's just myself my husband and my two daughters everyday I guess for the next 28 days."

The pandemic has forced people of all faiths to adapt the way they mark their religious festivals.

For this year again, Ramadan celebrations have to be scaled back but the core principles of charity and kindness remain.