Ramadaan 2020 will be like no other. The Muslim holy month comes amid exceptional circumstances.
Our mosques will be closed and we will be confined to our homes as we heed the call by our president and public health officials to practise physical distancing, in an attempt to flatten the curve or slow the rate of transmission of Covid-19.
We should use this lockdown Ramadaan 2020 experience as an opportunity to nurture our personal spiritual growth, and learn new forms of social solidarity.
While we will not be going to the mosque to engage in the special evening prayers or any of the traditional social gatherings and celebrations unique to Ramadaan, it is possible to make lockdown Ramadaan 2020 the best yet by occupying ourselves with many spiritual practices and rituals in our homes.
This is also a good time to bond with those in our households – our spouses, children, parents, siblings – and strengthen familial relations.
However, in addition to the overall goal of spiritual transformation, fasting in Ramadaan should inculcate in the spiritual seeker a deep sense of solidarity and compassion with the poor and the marginalised.
The challenging times compel us to reflect more deeply on the structural violence of social injustices and economic inequalities of our world, manifested and exposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
To give practical expression to our heightened consciousness of the plight of the poor through our fasting, we must strive to adorn our fasts with benevolence by becoming more generous with our wealth and time, and by actively and sincerely joining real efforts towards social justice for the poor and the marginalised.
During this blessed month in which we celebrate the revelation of the glorious Qur’an, we need to remind ourselves of the many Qur’an passages that exhort us to turn to God in hope in times of difficulty.
We might find great solace and comfort in God’s promise in the Qur’an in chapter 94, verses 5 to 6, that “with difficulty there is ease”.
At this sacred time of Ramadaan we should also adorn our fasting by acknowledging and showing gratitude to the many health-care professionals in our country and the world who are unselfishly serving in the front line of the fight to save lives.
Let us also show gratitude and appreciation to all our essential workers who have stepped up and are showing up for work every day to help us get through these trying times. We are grateful for their sacrifices and pray that God will keep them safe and healthy.
In conclusion, during this global health crisis, let us remember in our supplication all those who have lost their lives to Covid-19, those who are ill, and those who face months of hardship due to food insecurity and loss of income.
Let us also not allow physical distance to keep us isolated from others – use the phone and other devices to reach out and keep in touch with our families, our friends and our neighbours.
Ramadaan 2020 is set to be like no other. Let us strive to also make it the best ever. Ramadaan Mubarak.
* Omar is Imam of the Claremont Main Road Mosque and Research Scholar of Islamic Studies and Peace-building at the University of Notre Dame in the US.