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Ramadan 2021: How will it differ from 2020?

9th Apr 2021
Ramadan 2021: How will it differ from 2020?

Councillor Rabina Khan (Credit: Rabina Khan/Twitter)

Councillor Rabina Khan

The Covid-19 pandemic is not yet over, and it is certainly too soon to believe that the coronavirus has been beaten. The arrival of the pandemic in 2020 presented new challenges for everyone, along with great uncertainty and anxiety.

Observing social distancing, being unable to meet family in person, wearing face coverings, working from home and having to find new ways of connecting with – and helping others – was unfamiliar territory for many. As a councillor, I taught those who were not digitally inclusive how to connect with family via Zoom to ensure that they could break their fast together whilst being apart and to connect them to prayers and other sources of emotional support.

In 2021, Ramadan will be different for all of us. Restrictions will be slightly more relaxed compared to last year, but many of the usual practices we normally observe, such as going to the mosque and visiting friends and family, will not be possible. We must all continue to follow the Government guidelines.

Ramadan – the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims don’t eat or drink during the hours of daylight – presented numerous dilemmas. With the closure of mosques and a ban on social gatherings, Muslims had to devise ways of being able to join together to celebrate and offer help to those less fortunate, whilst still observing the rules.

They also had to consider the health implications of fasting during a pandemic and prepare themselves for a month when they would be most vulnerable to succumbing to viruses. Although classic Ramadan food is carb-heavy, my family and I prepared by consuming healthy foods to boost our immune systems.

We must continue to do this during Ramadan 2021.The spirit of Ramadan is extending goodwill to others, so we still delivered medicine and baskets of food to the needy, vulnerable and remained isolated outside their front doors to comply with social distancing guidelines.
After a year of becoming accustomed to an entirely different way of living, Ramadan 2021 will be easier to navigate. We will still make sacrifices, help others and adhere to the latest guidelines, but we are prepared.

There are also fewer restrictions this year with outdoor gatherings of either 6 people or 2 households permitted, including in private gardens. However, The Muslim Council of Britain is advising that Muslims follow the same procedures as they did for Ramadan last year; for example, performing the nightly Tarawih prayers at home and sharing Iftars with family and friends online.

Ramadan 2020 was about staying home and protecting others, whereas this year the focus will be on promoting the importance of vaccine uptake, which in turn will protect others and save lives. It is crucial to dispel myths about the vaccine tampering with the spirit of Ramadan, along with the many other myths that have been circulating among communities and disseminated on social media. Regardless of one’s faith, no religious practice should ever compromise people’s safety.

The British Islamic Medical Association has addressed the myths surrounding the vaccine and has endorsed and encouraged the uptake of both the Astra-Zeneca and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.

The latest Government guidelines include ventilation, social distancing, wearing face masks, hand hygiene and last, but not least, vaccination. It is essential that we are all vaccinated, as this is the only way to tackle this virus and achieve a state where it is manageable. People will always have concerns regarding any vaccination, but GPs will be able to answer your questions, allay your fears and debunk the myths that are circulating.

There is no valid reason in Islam not to have the jab as it is halal, and is designed to protect you, your family, friends and community. Refusing to have the jab poses a risk to all of us. Once everyone is vaccinated, we can look forward to the freedoms we shared prior to the pandemic. Since a key part of Ramadan is sharing with others, what better gift to give than that of good health?

Rabina Khan,
Lib-Dem Councillor for Shadwell – London Borough of Tower Hamlets & Special Advisor in Lords

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